SHOUTING RESURRECTION DAY!

AT THE RISING OF THE SUN… THE RISING OF THE SON.

GOD, THE SON.

THE SON OF GOD.

BY THE LOVING POWER OF GOD THE FATHER.

BY THE STRENGTH AND PRESENCE OF GOD THE SPIRIT.

RESURRECTION!

EMPTY GRAVE. EMPTY, EMPTY… THAT WE MIGHT BE FILLED!

THE EMPTINESS OF YOUR GRAVE AND MINE… TO ALL WHO BELIEVE.

REPENT AND BELIEVE.

IN LOVE, FOLLOW!

ETERNAL LIFE.

ETERNAL.

YES: RESURRECTION DAY!

JESUS LIVES FOREVER-

AND HIS OWN WITH HIM.

ALL THANKS,

ALL GLORY TO OUR GOD!

“Aslan is not a tame lion -but he is good.”

Good Friday & EASTER!

Easterparade

These sweet flowers are blooming at our Cornerstone Farm as I write!
Pretty, downright beautiful. But a few things had to happen first.

Wendi had to decide where to plant them. She asked me to dig a hole,
break up the ground, we mixed in the fertilizer and other nutrients.
We watered them well. Over time there had to be enough sunlight and
rain… and a little protection from critters who like to eat bulbs,
flowers and buds around the trailer we steward there.

But last week I went to do some work at Cstone Farm and saw the glory
of these flowers for the first time this season. What caught my eye
was a patch of three in a row, lined up like a parade 🙂

Jesus’ parade on Palm Sunday brought Him into town as victor, as (so
the people thought) the conquering King who was about to restore the
glory of Israel by somehow overthrowing the occupying Romans. That in
a nutshell, wasn’t God’s plan… though it was theirs.

In John 12.24 Jesus tells us “”Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a
grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if
it dies, it bears much fruit.”

We don’t like the idea of death bringing life. We really don’t! We are
so often focused on the beautiful ending while doing our best to
remove ourselves from the difficult dying. I’m no different.

But for life to happen, death happens first.

Years ago we learned that mulch is easy when you have a lot of leaves
lying on the ground from autumn onward. They decay and offer a natural
sort of protection, and when they break down over the months, produce
a certain richness to the soil that is helpful to growth.

We call Good Friday “good” though it surely didn’t look or feel like
it at the time. But it was indeed GOOD. Even necessary. Love gave all.

Thankfully, Easter morning came, a stone rolled away and the Son of
God walked out blooming brighter than any Spring flower can.
Resurrection, eternal life and a love beyond all others began to shine
in our decaying world. Faith, Hope and Love has a new name: Jesus
Christ!

I am so thankful He did what He did- both Good Friday and Easter
Sunday! I am so thankful love is more than words. I am literally
eternally grateful for the grace of God offered to “whosoever will…
let them come”.

What He gives, nobody else can give!

May you and I truly follow Him regardless of the cost.

Easter Blessings to all! -Glenn

Storage, Stuff & The Economy

Spring. A time to clean, no?

My wife and many good women and not a few men go a little clean-crazy
about this time of year. And of course if you think about it, it’s a
good idea.

I don’t know that Spring is the issue, but at least once each year
(should probably be a quarter or ever bi-monthly…) it’s time to go
through all the stuff and do a yard or garage-sale, give it to a
re-sale shop or in some cases recycle or hit the dumpster with it.

Basic soap-and-water and dusting stuff needs to happen, sweep up the
garage, shop or shed, get tools in some sense of order again,
whatever, it all makes sense.

But in much of the western world and certainly America, we have far
too much junk, stuff we’ll never ever use again, do we not? At least
seems true for most of us.

My wife and I have lived in an intentional Christian community for
most of our lives, living in one room. We have a basic amount of
storage available to us, and every so often it’s time to discard one
way or another. The humbling truth is even people who live pretty
simple lives and aren’t hardcore materialists can STILL accumulate a
lot of stuff! Reminds me of the great Veggie Tales line when the one
character asks the other where he’s going. The guys answers “To
Stuffmart, I gotta get more stuff!”.

After 9-11, or for our Japanese friends in crisis, or for those rebels
in Libya, etc., “stuff” means sooooo little! Clutter can of course,
even get in the way of relationships.

Jesus told us “a man’s life does not consist of the abundance of his
possessions” and to “store up treasure in heaven, not hear on earth”.
But one of the issues of our present economy is that many people have
so little money that “stuff” isn’t selling like it was only a few
years ago. And there is something about our being moved by the ad
agencies to buy ever more stuff we don’t need and will rarely if ever
even use.

I understand how the fallout of all this hits corporate execs.,
workers and even the need to jump-start the economy- but economizing
seems like it’s near always a good thing, no? The biblical (and
practical) concept of “stewardship” comes to mind.

Some of you may not know (blatant plug if you live near us in
Chicago…) one of our mission businesses happens to be a self-storage
place: http://www.riverviewstorage.com/

While we love the business and use some of the facility for those who
live in community here at JPUSA, the fact is that not only large
cities but nearly every small, even super-small town I drive through
has a self-storage place if not two or three! Americans apparently
have a lot of stuff!

Likely, some of that stuff isn’t just antiques or great gear stored as
an investment. A lot of it is just not needed, but for whatever
reason, there it sits.

A.W. Tozer and many others speak of the need for simplicity. An
ever-increasing mound of stuff complicates life.

For years I’ve enjoyed using old “obsolete” computers which run Linux
(my fave operating system) fast and great. But even then I regularly
clean up extra files I know I’ll never use again. Along and along I
try to save space and order my various desktops, laptops and pdas with
a sense of “am I REALLY ever going to use this again?” in mind. I do
the same with our storage. Every so often it’s time to just CLEAN!!!

I have a load for the computer recyclers nearly ready to go.

As much as I love books, I do the same with them. The same question
comes to mind: am I ever going to crack these pages again? If I really
am, keep it. If not, move it out.

Sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot for lack of cleaning up. Nice
for the self-storage companies… but not real sensible toward living
a prioritized life of stewardship.

Matter of fact, I have a bunch of clothes I need to get over to our
freestore at our shelter soon… because it’s a fact I’m not going to
wear all that stuff and it’s been piling up for awhile!

Partly it’s a matter of economizing. Partly it’s a matter of priorities.

Something to think about in Easter week…

Thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn

CAPITALISM, CORPORATE AND THE DONKEY

(Two Days, Two Rants)

James 4
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don???t they come from your
desires that battle within you?
2 You want something but don???t get it. You kill and covet, but you
cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have,
because you do not ask God.
3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong
motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
4 You adulterous people, don???t you know that friendship with the world
is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world
becomes an enemy of God.
5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he
caused to live in us envies intensely?
6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ???God opposes
the proud but gives grace to the humble.???

Has it occurred to us that the latest, largest economic meltdown since
The Great Depression happened largely due to Wall Street business
persons in suits who played fast and loose with the stock market,
banking and loan practices and other business interests to the extent
the entire world is now nailed to an economic “wall”? If you’re
hearing me say it’s the corporate folks and not the poor who’ve
trashed the economy you’re hearing is good indeed!

Did the poor in any way contribute to this collapse?

Now, no question it’s easier to blame the wealthy out of pride, envy,
jealousy and so forth. No doubt all of the rich are not self-centered
people with no soul, love or funding of charities. I’m well-aware a
great deal of money is given to a great many good causes including
various attempts to help widows, orphans and the homeless each year
from the very wallets of the rich.

What I’m saying is that the real donkey needing to be pinned isn’t the
political party bearing that figure, rather it is that strata of
society as well as the politicians who routinely kiss up to that
strata, and those who lobby for laws suited to make big business
persons wealthier while ever-deeper cuts are made that directly affect
the poorest of American society. Doesn’t this bother anyone?

I’m also saying that for these people who have often moved their
employee base offshore to other nations (profit is at the core of the
motive) while American workers suffer more and more for work… how is
it we scapegoat politicians (largely) for such an economic mess? We’d
better engage our minds and not simply work to protect our own wallets
in these matters!

I’ve spent many an hour in Acts chapters 2 and 4, in fact did again
today, and there I find in the early church a love, compassion and
giving heart- in particular to “those who had any need”. While we may
be fully angry at the trillions spent by -any- American government on
programs we individually find great fault with, please know believers
on -both- sides of the aisle (as well as independents like myself) do
not automatically support all defense spending either!

Trillions one side likes spent while the other does not, are trillions
spent still! Face it, it’s not the money, it’s where it’s going that
we’re arguing about.

Meanwhile, in the crossfire of all of this concern for the economy we
find more and more heaved into the “lower class”.

Then we wonder why people get into crime, selling dope for a living
(when it is in fact, a dying). What part of “do whatever I can to make
MORE MONEY” do we not understand?

One criminal wears a suit and may or may not do time in Federal prison
for unlawful activities. Another criminal may or may not end up in
prison for organized crime, dope dealing, prostitution or whatever
illegal activity -in order to make as much money as possible. Markets,
right? Capitalism ‘eh?!

I frankly find a great less sense in our system than I do in how they
served one another Acts 2 and 4… and I’m not so naive as to believe
Christians much less unbelievers will accept or live out such a
lifestyle of sharing and service: “there was not a need among them”.
But what a different world it would be and could be if more followers
of Jesus re-examined their own commitment to love their neighbor
rather than support thieves on either side of the political spectrum!

What a different world it would be if Christ-followers would with love
and courage, deny political clout to the robber-barons of our day!

Alas, I think many believe “manifest destiny” is at work, and/or that
somehow the rich have pretty well “earned it”. Again, I personally
think the first is nonsense and the second just ignorant.

I’m sure some -have- earned their wealth honestly and with some
measure of ethics toward their workers. I’m equally sure dope dealers
and gun runners figure they too have “earned it”! Nonsense.

Knowing how to make ever more money at the direct, ultimate expense of
your neighbor is no more loving than it is patriotic. No matter which
party you support, no matter how much money you’ve put in the bank.
And of course, more is never enough.

Such is the way of the world James speaks out against in chapter 4.

God help us! -Glenn

The Poor, The Outcast, The Economy -RANT-

???Yep, a rant. But if you’ll read through I think you’ll find it is a rant with
actual substance. And by the way, I edited this about 4 times before
posting 🙂

So I???m thinking about this new cd project we???re about to release. It???s
blues, mostly acoustic, much though not all done in the traditional
delta style of the early part of the last century. Aged. Like me. Like
cheese I hope 🙂 Parts of it are electrified.

I make no apologies for the fact that ???Cardboard Box??? is the title for
a number of reasons, one being that people make sharp and often
ignorant, prejudiced and even racist judgments about the poor,
homeless and addicted, perhaps considering them about like a piece
of cardboard. Then again, some have only that to sleep on at night. Lots
of good value in cardboard…

It???s quite clear that many people who get into these situations have
made horrible, sinful (according to the Bible) choices and in some
cases are indeed lazy and would rather not take ???responsible??? actions
for lifestyle change. Personal responsibility is a reality and trust me, it???s
the one I call us all to -very- often.

It is equally clear that many- and I mean many people have ended up in
deep poverty, jobless, homeless and even addicted due to a number of
family, friend, illness and economic issues, often largely not by ??their own
choice.

No doubt a person smokes dope, drinks to excess and sleeps around by
choice- but how they began or continued or even have lived for some
years on such a road is not as simple nor as damnable as many
Christians think. Quite a few people I???ve known and read over the
years reduce 98 percent of these folks to ???they chose sin and they???re
now reaping what they???ve sown??? with zero other consideration.

I don???t expect those with little experience in daily ministry to the
poor to agree with my take on this, but is it not clear that Jesus commands
us to love ??our neighbor without a lot of extra detail? Unfortunately a great
many of us do not love our neighbor. Fear, prejudice, ??scapegoating and raw
ignorance add up to our ???go away???, ???go someplace else??? when they come to
mind.

This is quite unlike Jesus??? view of the good Samaritan???s treatment of the
beaten-up guy in the ditch. Remember that in that ??story it was indeed the
priest and the Levite (two of the groups ??considered most holy in Israel) who
walked right by the injured man.

Have you ever wondered how that guy ended up in the ditch in the first place?

Was he an alcoholic? In our day, he may have been a drug addict, a crack user.
He ??might have lost his job and ended up homeless. He could have been
sexually abused as a young boy, got caught up in male prostitution,
eventually gave into (or was pushed into) drug abuse and eventually
thrown out of a car into the ditch.

I???ll be honest, I myself might on this or that occasion, pass right by
this sort of
person.

Thank God- so many people such as those who work at our Cornerstone
Community Outreach here in Chicago???s inner city- like many others in the
various shelter and job-training, etc. areas of social work- deal with
such people
every day. The best of them do not see their clients as bits of
cardboard, blocks
of wood, less-than-human, or as garbage.

They ??get to know their names, their stories, often hearing about
horrific childhood
experiences, military service that left them broken, sick, divorced and perhaps
addicted to this or that drug or alcohol.

There are plenty of reasons why people end up on society???s ???ash heap??? but not
plenty of people who care about them, learn their names, ??treat them
like someone???s
son, daughter, sister, brother, mom, dad, grandma or grandpa. Street people, the
poor, the homeless, the jobless ARE ALL THOSE. Fact.

Racism, class-ism, discomfort with this or that subculture, ethnic
differences, urban
vs. rural ideas of what America is or ought to be, all of these are
involved in the way
we treat, mistreat or ignore the poor, the street people, those we
dislike and just don???t
want to be around.

Look, if you knew me, really knew me, you???d know I???m not a
???bleeding-heart liberal???.
What I do know is that there are too many Christian people who do not DO much of
anything about loving their neighbor -especially neighbors like these.
And I think a great
many if not 98 percent of the excuses as to why we do so little for
them are plain nonsense.

By the way, how often throughout the Bible does God accent the
wonderful rich as opposed
to the horrible poor? How often does He blast and say quite negative
things about the rich?
Please do a thorough study and ask yourself where God stands on such
matters. Sin is sin
for ALL classes in society.

Let???s go a bit further:

IF the church- meaning ???assembly of Christ-following people???, not this
or that organization…
actually did our job as they obviously did in Acts chapters two and
four, IF we extended real
mercy to those around us in need… no government (left or right), no
taxation, no political
issues that are often argued and even screamed about regarding the
poor, homeless and
???mis-fits??? in our society would even enter the discussion.

The blessing and sometimes the shock is that there ARE Christians
throughout the world who
???get it???… and ???give???. They love in deed. They love ???the least of these???.

The sad reality is that far too many believers do little or nothing
besides criticize and blame this
or that government… when (I???ll repeat myself for clarity) IF the
church did our job the government
wouldn???t have to do it for us.

Some will argue from all sorts of angles that indeed no government
should legislate caring for the
poor. If you or yours ever get sick, lose your job or end up mentally
ill from a car crash, etc., you may
think differently though you attend an otherwise wonderful local
church. I???m being blunt and I think
it???s past time to be so on this issue.

We have an increasing population of hurting people in our world and
likely, on your block, certainly
in your town or nearest town- regardless of where you live. While many
of us ??simply don???t want to
be ???bothered??? by these people, God literally commands us to love one them.

How, when and if you love your neighbor in service is truly, in the
end, your choice. But it is also a
biblical, Old and New Testament -command-.

Blaming a person for their mess is easy, simple, often correct and
quite cheap. In the end it is the
least we can do and while we are busy calling sinners out for their
sin (don???t miss the fact that I
do so a lot and expect I???m doing so in this article) the real question
is what we???re doing to help
them get up out of their particular ???ditch???.

Often, the answer is not much!

If ???none is righteous, not even one???, if ???all we like sheep have gone
astray???, if ???let the one without sin
cast the first stone??? rings a bell, then perhaps you are ready to hear
these words of Jesus also: ???the
poor you shall have with you ALWAYS, and you can DO GOOD TO THEM
-WHENEVER- YOU WANT TO???
(caps. my emphasis). Indeed. In deed.

Too much talk. Too many excuses. Too much blame-shifting. Far too much
changing the discussion from
???what should I be doing about this???? to ???it???s THEIR FAULT???… ???what
should THEY be doing about their
situation???.

Do I think people are often reaping what they???ve sown, that they???ve
made lousy choices and therefore
ended up in the mess they???ve made for themselves? I indeed do.

I also think God has called us to sow mercy and justice, not excuses
or blame. I truly think we sometimes
change the conversation to politics and argue around the real issue:
loving my neighbor costs -me-, often
hurts, and sometimes sees little ???return for investment???. Is this not
equally true about God loving us? It
cost and costs Him, often brings Him great pain and at times He sees
little return for all He???s done and
doing for us.

???As you???ve -done it- to the LEAST of these my brethren, you???ve done it to Me.???

Seek the Lord on this. Study His Word on this. Search on the web for
local ministries and other organizations
where the poor, homeless and outcasts of whatever sort are being
served. Pray and then volunteer. Give
financially. Open your heart. Get beyond excuses to positive action.
Get to knowing some of these people in
relationship.

Do something more than gripe about taxes and the ???bums??? who make your
life difficult. If you???re having a
rough time economically, just getting by in ???survival mode??? with your
own job and dealing with your own bills,
ask yourself how much fun it would be to be as poor, out-of-work and
addicted as so many of these street
people.

God calls us to give. He calls us to serve. He commands us to love our
neighbor, not run our neighbor out of
the neighborhood.

End of rant. God help us… truly help us help others! -Glenn

Aurora Show, Artist Retreat Weekend, Slice of Life Today

Grace all weekend, well, starting out on Thursday night at The
Roundhouse in Aurora. GKB shared the stage with a number of other
talented musicians. Great response, lots of old friends and I think
made some new ones as well… Great fun, bit of witness, short set.
And the conversations were great.

Wendi had a rough night sleeping, a bit ill so not feeling up to the
artists retreat, so off to Lake Geneva solo for me Friday afternoon.
But she was able to really rest, hang out with her sister later on
Friday, so that was good.

I had quite a time with a great group of believers, Lisa, April and
crew were very sweet, and the Strong Tree Artist retreat seemed a good
and edifying gathering for all. Broad age group too, nice! People
shared songs Friday after I brought a teaching and interacted a lot in
question-answer mode. The same for four more sessions on Saturday
along with some worship time. A great bro. (Michael) brought a fine
teaching and songwriting exercise on Sat. afternoon as well. We
finished with dinner and a prayer, a sort of commissioning time.

Nice drive back to Chicago, no issues… brought smoked cheese home
for my babe (I may be the one from Wisconsin but she loves it too :).

This a.m. Tony (from The Crossing) and various friends led a great
worship set, Neil brought a fine message on Lazarus and resurrection.
Today I’m praying for a couple different friends in trouble, looking
over emails and a slew of Facebook email… will try to respond to
those tomorrow.

Enjoyed a bit of the Bulls winning game, a little football (soccer to
you Yanks) and watched the news, took a nice long walk with Wendi, did
the thrift store thing together, played a bit with one of my
grandsons, held our new baby grandson for a while, now early to bed
(wonders never cease!!).

Spring Fog & Growth

Ever feel like you’re “in a fog”? And in need of growth? Then you
notice there are various, sometimes quiet answers, even solutions
popping up that you hadn’t noticed… until someone pointed ’em out to
you?

Me too.

Here’s a coffee sign I like, from my visit to Star Lounge coffeebar
yesterday and ha, I’m clearing my own fog with java today 😉 There’s
actual fog at Chicago’s lake front as I type now.

My Wendi pointed out our sideyard prettys here at JPUSA. Sweet. Spring
is in the air! And GKB in The Roundhouse, Aurora, IL tonight, short
set at some point between 8 and 10 pm.

Maybe we can burn a little fog off?

Enjoy the java… and Springtime! -Glenn

Imag0387Imag0388Imag0389

Beyond Grey Days

Greyday

As I’ve often said, I personally like grey days… but many do not and
I fully understand.

There are so many hurting people and I and most of us who work in
daily ministry meet a lot of them as part of the call God has on our
lives.

This is one reason why it’s a little easier for me to understand and
write blues lyrics and music. Some of it comes from my past of course,
but only on occasion from my present life- but a great deal of sad
inspiration comes from hearing and being a part of other’s rough
sailing.

As we have personal and/or shared experiences with the dark sides in
life, whether our own or other’s sins and the grief they bring our
way, whether only a matter of being in “the wrong place at the wrong
time” or with hurting people who hurt us… grey days happen.

Our mental, emotional, even physical needs are not always met. Or at
times it sure seems like there are huge holes inside of us. We carry
the cares rather than figure ways of “casting” our “cares on Him, for
He cares for us”.

Indeed, God and the churches often get bad-rapped because of grey days.

Does God not either create or allow the weather such as it is? Does
God not either seemingly put into place or at least allow horrific
people to ply their evil trades, people such as dictators, or mere
Wall Street or political crooks, drug lords or criminals who scourge
society? Even the Book of Job speaks of the devil getting permission
to bring horror upon horror to a seemingly innocent man, though he
himself was a part of God’s family and by all accounts a good and true
man!

Then what about whatever abuses (sexual, emotional, injustices,
you-name-them) we have to deduce either God brought into my life or at
least allowed to smite me?! The Hitlers and the Pol Pot’s are one
thing… how about horrible coal-mine accidents, car crashes, cancer
that takes a person down a road of agony? Sure, some are healed,
miracles happen and victims live, even thrive, are restored to full
health and even wealth after the misery… but often that’s not how
things go.

I have long ago made peace with the fact that we do not have all the
answers, not even the wisest of human beings (be they believers or
not) can offer a full, satisfactory answer for all of this.

But this I know: I have breath and can think. Today, THIS day I can
focus on myself and my pain (or “painS”, whatever they may be) or I
can focus best as I’m able, on Father, Son, Spirit and others.

I KNOW I won’t live forever on this particular earth. I’m positive
there will be a change, a transition, it’s not an “if” but rather
merely a “when” and “how” matter. So I have only this day, from the
time I awake until I sleep. Nothing more or less. And the rest of the
day or night is not assured in any case.

So when the day is grey, what then?

I can either stare at myself and allow -self- to occupy the lion’s
share of my thoughts, time, effort and consideration… or I can find
a real and healing therapy in caring for others.

I find a lot of verses that speak to such things in the Book. Here is
but one small section I’d ask you to consider in the context which
I’ve been writing in this blog:

Philippians Chapter 2

1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with
Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the
Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete
by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of
one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to
your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

GK- You might feel like dirt. They might feel like it too! Is your
focus on you or others?

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as
Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God
something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death??? even death on a cross!

GK- Whew! And what is it I’M whining about in my life??!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the
name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on
earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the
glory of God the Father.

GK- We are indeed to be about glorifying God, our very lives bringing
HIM honor and gory, not ourselves some sense of personal fulfillment.
It’s HIS name, not mine that is important. How does HE feel, not
merely how do I feel today…

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed???not only in
my presence, but now much more in my absence???continue to work out your
salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you
to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

GK- One of my fave verses here- v. 13. Do we really believe this?? Do
I? Yes. Even on grey days. My feelings are not in control, God is. I
must bow to Him, not them.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may
become blameless and pure, ???children of God without fault in a warped
and crooked generation.???[c] Then you will shine among them like stars
in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will
be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in
vain.

GK- Then, consider what Paul says about his own potentially “grey
days”… which from scripture it seems he had plenty of… and from
historical tradition, he had plenty of at the end of his life:

17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the
sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice
with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

GK- Indeed, “eyes off of self” and “dying to self” means we must learn
how to roll with the waves, for waves will indeed come. My boat does
get capsized, you may be looking up at a hole in the roof of the cabin
of your 737… this is a fallen world with real sin, human error, bad
judgments, horrible choices that people make and things such as
natural and other disasters, disease and etc., are part of the mix.
This is reality whether we like it and can make peace with the facts
or not!

What I worry most about is that our thinking, emotions and responses
are often faithless and rebellious rather than loving, obedient and
trusting toward the Lord, His Word and His Church. When we make such
choices based on our pain rather than on the Person of God, we
effectively try to take over, begin to taking HIS place in our own
life.

I am neither other’s Lord or Savior… nor my own! Never!!! NEVER -CAN- BE!

Therefore, on grey days one must decide as best as within their own
power, to trust, obey and follow even through the valley of the shadow
of death.

Frankly, I find focusing on and serving -others- to the best of my
ability some of the best therapy and healing that has ever come my own
way in such times.

There is a time for every purpose under heaven. But it’s -always- time
to focus on Jesus and others, to love, trust and obey. Though all this
is a matter of our own individual choice, notice it is more than
optional- it is a command from God. For those who’d like to debate
such a point, I leave you (and myself!) Jesus’ own words:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing
that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the
commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,”
answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord
is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your
soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is
this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment
greater than these.” Mark 12.28-31

The Gift(s) of Today

Another amazing day. It began with myself and a van load of friends
driving off to support another friend who asked me to sing and speak
at his brother???s funeral.

I heard the story of a fun-loving guy who like many of us, had his
issues, loved and lived a rocker???s life and died before his time of
illness that took him quite quickly.

I witnessed the affection and sorrow of his father, brother and other
family members and friends, saw the grace of God in hearing how he
prayed and trusted Jesus just prior to his death.

We arrived home in time for me to have a brief nap, then off to my
eldest grandson???s fun birthday party. His younger brothers and a lot
of friends and parents had a blast… they played games, ate cake and
ice cream and celebrated together for nearly two hours. A fun time.

Tonight I was asked on the spur of the moment, to sing a couple songs
and share with a visiting youth group from a church in Michigan. A
great youth leader and very cool group of kids.

All-in-all a wonderful day, and again part of the cycle of a life
Jesus fills in such incredible ways.

Tomorrow, Lord willing, I rise like so many millions will on any given
Sunday, and spend a time gathering with other believers focused on
Father, Son and Spirit.

There was and is no need for book burning, anger, no stark demands
-but rather prayers for mercy. I need mercy, those yet without Jesus
need mercy and certainly all followers of Jesus need mercy.

May we share the gifts of love and mercy God has given us- with more
and more of the compassion and grace our Lord did and does. Good
Friday is coming…