Electrified Harmonica Tone

A friend emailed me a series of questions about getting great amplified harmonica tone. There’s a whole lot of good stuff online about this, but here is essentially, how I answered himAs for electrified harmonica, there are several issues re. sound, all of which I won’t addres here. Here are the main issues as I see (hear!) ’em. Certainly “a start”:Small tube amp, ala Fender Champ or Princeton- or a no-name but like, 15-20 watts, could have an 8 or 10 or even 12 inch speaker. I prefer 12 for fuller sound (low end).Some mics (that you blow harp into) are better than others but any you can plug directly into said amp will work.A good harp (my pref. are Hohner Special 20s or Lee Oskar).Crank the amp just before bad feedback… set the tone mostly or all the way to low end (heavy on bass and lot of midrange, light or no treble). Best as you’re able, fully cup hands around harp and where it meets the mic. Enclosing the space much as you can.All of this leans towards a rather “honk” and overdriven tone and sound. How the amp then gets mic’ed and the tone set by the engineer and via p.a. is important but it isn’t the core deal.Lastly, IF you aren’t yet getting what you like from all this and have tried various amps, mics, harps and techniques, you can try a touch of Ibanez Tube Screamer or other overdrive, compression or distortion pedal like that. It’s a last resort and can get quite artificial-sounding but might work if all else doesn’t bring you the sound you’re looking for.You plug harp mic into pedal, pedal into harp amp. It’s a “cheat” that sometimes works. Hope this helps answer your questions. -Glenn

“Me” or “Us”?

Note- I wrote this prior to any fresh political victories or defeats…

I recently met with a group of good, solid Christians from six different states. I consider each of them a friend.
Like most gatherings of Christ-followers, imperfect, all of us having partial knowledge as the Word of God says in 1 Cor. 13, and varied in our beliefs both spiritually and biblically when you dig down into some of the issues of our times, yet friends!We DO have more in common than we do not… and further, what (and Whom) we have in common is a lot more essential than points in which  we differ.But in that safe place of friendship which has taken time and much discussion to forge one part of the dialogue dealt with politics. Religion and politics, now you’re talkin’ ! :)I found myself stating something about like this:”I believe in the free-market system but capitalism as it is often practised in this country is something I neither believe in or even find scriptural.”What I meant and mean by that is simply that many western economies strike me as far more individualistic and self-serving than truly Christ-like in scope, especially regarding treatment of the poor, the widow, the orphan, the culturally “different”.Major business elements bankroll candidates which win elections which upon taking office are then beholden to do the bidding of those who put them in power- from any side of the political spectrum you’d care to name by the way. This, in my view, is simply the way our present system is, like it or not.There are those congregations who do business much the same. The principles of truth, caring for “the least of these”, consideration of how a decision will affect everyone including the most broken and needy- all of these huge issues. There are often no simple nor “everyone was satisfied” answers.While there is no doubt that I, others in leadership whether in various denominations, local churches and ministry centers have at times have made foolish, unbiblical and self-centered decisions that caused hurt to others -it is equally true that in nearly any situation all won’t be pleased, will not agree, all will not and do not think they got “a fair deal” in this or that decision which affected them regardless.Some reading this will certainly take umbrage with what I’m writing here. You may think me quite the “leftist” though my thinking as well as voting is far more broad and multi-faceted than along any one party line.Yet in any society, local congregation, political system or otherwise, when our individual sense of wealth and power (however you choose to define these) seems to get crimped, often hurt, anger or both surface.We think “Hey, if I RULED THE WORLD it would have gone like X, Y or Z… not like it did.” Yes, and if truth either began or ended with either you or I the world, the church and even political systems would still be bankrupt due to our own self interest and capacity for personal corruption.SHARING among those we dislike or would rather figure out of the equation is hard. It’s expensive. It drives us nuts because of course you and I are “worthy” to win, worthy to get our way, worthy to get and maintain control. Hmmmm.Natural disasters, illness and other issues of life remind us that none of us are truly in control or will ever be. Being truly safe isn’t about winning. In fact according to the New Testament and the words of our Lord Jesus, quite the opposite.”Whoever loses his/her life for MY sake and the sake of the Good News will find life.” Jesus wasn’t tossing out a glib principle, simple theory or dogmatic concept. He spoke certain, penetrating, in fact lethal truth here and elsewhere. Dying to self is winning. Demanding control is a losing proposition in the end.YES there is joy more abundantly, YES He paid for us fully that we would find eternal LIFE, YES there is a heaven no matter how some of us run toward hell and YES no body will “come to the Father except through ME” (that is, Jesus).Was Jesus a capitalist? By any stretch of the biblical record, was He?Did Jesus ever seem to “play politics” with or among His disciples? Ever?He laid His life down for them when each and all of them fled. Love gives, serves, shares, cares about -us-, about the “them” among us, not only “me.”Indeed, the one with the most toys loses. For “if you try to gain your life, you WILL LOSE it.”Capitalism is often more about control and gain-gain-gain than it is sharing. I am not saying capitalists never love, never share nor are not true Christians simply due to some capitalistic default. History shows rich people have often been the greatest philanthropists and many of them were indeed believers. The wealthy Joseph gave a garden burial vault for the body of Jesus… heh, even though He only used it for a sort stay!I am saying that the individualistic gain principle behind the system as it is most often practiced, and the “love of money which is the root of all evil” should inform us more than our personal ambitions or hell-bent desire to WIN- in the church and in the political and economic spheres.”To whom much more is given, much more shall be required.” YES. Exactly right. Those with the most should give and share the most.It will not be our church leadership roles or lack of them, political gains or losses or our bank accounts but rather how we did or did not deal with “the least of these” that will measure our love in the end. God help us!

God’s Continual Kids

I’ve been a grandfather for quite a few years now, and between that and having another birthday the following thoughts came to me the other day… and left me laughing and grateful to God as well.I and all of us probably look, to God, like my 6th month old grandson.God knows we want to walk but stumble, to talk but coo and gurgle, to sing but can barely carry a tune.He sees us upset when we’re hungry, grumpy and distraught when we’re tired.Sometimes we just need to be picked up and held, rocked and sung to, prayed for.On the dark side, at times we’ll have a fit -and may just need to scream ourselves out, finally learning that fits must not be given manipulative, controlling status!

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Ears To Hear?

A few days ago a close friend and I were in discussion about a number of things. At one point this person made the observation: “It’s truly sad younger ones seem so disinterested, even a bit hostile against hearing anything from older people these days. If they would recognize the wisdom that comes from experience they’d end up a lot happier and less in pain”.The same thing has been said for endless generations by the “elders” of tribes, churches, national and international leaders of all sorts. It’s certainly been said by most everyone who has ever parented or become a grandparent. And it’s a pain in the neck to hear it said if you’re not part of that older group of people…It’s also true. And for we OOOOOLLLLLLDDDDDD people, it can often be a real hurt to at times find ourselves left with little input but for prayer, as observers to miseries brought on younger ones by their own lack of experience.Of course Jesus (perfect, unlike any of us!) repeatedly said “For those of you with ears, hear”.Don’t get me wrong, plenty of older people are disconnected from hearing other’s sage experience and advice also. You don’t have to be young to be stubborn or old to be hard of hearing!Interesting that a disciple in biblical Greek is “a listener, a learner” Another saying that pops up from time to time is “live and learn” and I suppose that pain itself is often a great teacher.I’m thinking of a recent event where some dear young friends of mine put themselves through a number of travel woes due to not checking for the presence (or lack) of spare tire, etc., and who after being bailed out of a flat-tire situation out by some elder folk, had occasion to push their car quite a distance uphill to the nearest gas station… because nobody thought to check the gas gauge before they left the tire place.My response to the person telling me about this was “I remember the many times my own lack of experience, or humility, or sometimes outright stubborn rebellion against parents and/or leaders of several sorts (church or otherwise) ended up with my own pain. When nothing else teaches, repeated pain often brings us to a humility and an opening of one’s ears to the point we begin to actually think.My Dad was not a preacher, but I think he’d have made a pretty good one with some training. He was not a “wordy” person, not a non-stop talker (which has often been one of my own bad habits…) and of course wasn’t always wise or correct in his thinking or advice but he was more often right than wrong and sure knew a great deal more than I did, having lived a good bit longer than I!My Dad rarely gave much more than a couple sentences about how I might find a good chance at success if I did it like this or that… but he regularly would notice me messing the job up and simply stop, look, and say “Glenn- THINK”. Just that one word, and what an important thing.Scripture calls us to “not be foolish but try to understand what the will of the Lord is”. Certainly it’s true that the foolishness of youth can indeed simply age into the foolish dogmatics of the aged! We want what we want, we’re not listening, considering, there is little (from the Book of Psalms) “selah”, which is usually interpreted from the Hebrew as “pause, stop and think about it”.When we are/were young, we were often ready to move, jump, play with little thought about consequences.Only last night I heard a horrific story on the local news. A boy was playing around in front of his sister who was trying to pull her car out on an icy Chicago area road. As she tried to move forward he was laughing and jumped in front of her car. Each time she tried to carefully advance he did it again. Somewhere around the fourth or fifth time he slipped and though she braked, the car struck and killed him. What a brutal, horrible thing to live (or die) with on one’s mind!Late last night I read about the large number of homeless addicts who live in the storm drain tunnels under the city and suburbs of Las Vegas. One guy who was interviewed talked of wanting out after many years. He talked of being “addicted to methadone and marijuana” and the fact he’d been wasting his life and really wanted to get out. He spoke very directly about him being his own worst enemy and that he had nobody to blame, that he’d repeatedly made the same poor choices and had “done this to myself” and “have to change and get out of here”.He has come to realize this but it has taken quite a number of years. Time. Time indeed.Nobody but God knows how much time any of us have. Nobody but God knows what sort of “hard knocks” may be needed for us to learn.Thank God the Book of Proverbs (as well a human history and my own personal experience) shows we don’t -always- have to touch fire in order to get knowledge, wisdom and understanding. We really CAN get some from others’ mistakes and shared experiences.In my own case, the basics took 18 years, the last six of those in addictions, then I came to faith in Jesus. Believe me, I’m sure not beyond stubborn pride and rebellion even to this day… but I know what sowing such attitudes has always brought me- and it ain’t pretty!Yet, when I was young it seems (to me at least) that there was a bit more cultural respect for older people. I have often considered how blessed I was and am from the beginning of my faith walk with the Lord to be in the presence of older, godly, experienced Christians. Flawed and imperfect they were and are (as I am now and always will be on this planet) but I can say with zero hesitation they were all a great deal more experienced than I was. They had lived life, made excellent and horrible choices and lived to tell the tale.I learned to listen and by God’s grace, to apply at least a good number of the truths learned from classes “my elders” taught and teach. Most of the time I still take notes in a pda when I’m sitting in a Christian meeting where there is teaching. I try really listen regardless of the age or experience of the speaker but I must confess I trust the long and large view of those more experienced.I continue to nurture and appreciate relationships with pastors on our own leadership team at JPUSA and also in the Ev. Cov. Church of which we are a part, but there are many, many others in leadership (and otherwise) who are simply older, more mature and/or have made progress in their faith and life obviously beyond my own- and I’ve benefitted from their input.I could offer a long list of  many of these as personal friends, mentors, disciplers of -me-! Without such input I’m not only certain I’d still be pushing vehicles uphill hoping for a gas station… I’d very possibly be living in the dark of storm drains… or would be long gone from this earth due to my own stupidity and lack of intentional listening.The God of grace has seen fit to extend mercy to us- and often that mercy will not feel or seem like it. I have found Him to speak early and often through godly folks who have lived longer and who care enough to communicate experiences and truths I’ve sorely lacked. Thank GOD for His provision through the older, godly saints! If you’re not hanging out with such people, make the needed changes or you’ll surely miss much of what God wants for your spiritual health!Jesus profound words come to me now: “You will not see me until you say ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”. Amen.

My 1st Sunday, 2010 Sermonette Notes @ JPUSA

TOWARD A GREATER INTIMACY WITH GODSeveral Definitions of the word “Intimate” include:close personal relations, an intimate friend characterized by or involving warm friendship or a personally close or familiar association or feeling, warmly cozy, knowledge, understanding arising from close personal connection or familiar experience, detailed, deep, a close union, relating to or indicative of one’s deepest nature, essential, innermost, very personal relationship, a close friend or confidant.Mt. 1.23 they will call him Emmanuel,” which means “God WITH us”Mt. 28.20 I am WITH you alwaysJames 4.8 Draw NEAR to God and he will draw NEAR to youJohn 6.37 the one who COMES TO ME I will NEVER send awayMay we have more than a form of religion denying the power, shrinking away from God’s presence! Prayer- both listening and speaking, sharing thanks, fears, desires, concerns, Study of the Word of God, readingdevotionals and great spiritual books new and old, sensing the Holy Spirit among us even in our fellowship with brothers and sisters- recognizing His love, His touch, His blessings, His nearness is all part of the process.It’s a life-long pursuit WITH a loving Father Who is “a friend that sticks closer than a brother”!May we make forward progress in a genuine, spiritual intimacy with God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. May we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord this year! Amen.