“Steve” Just Arrived via FedEx :)

Steve1 Steve2 Steve3Over the years there have been many kind friends… and I am -not- deserving such kindness, this I know. Well, if I start naming everyone of them I’ll likely forget someone.

But several have built amps, guitars, etc., for me, just out of love and grace. This stuff sometimes shows up in the mail, no kidding.

So I use them in shows, in studio depending on the sound needed for a given song or part of a song, loan them out on occasion for friends who use our studio here in Chicago, sometimes give various stuff away over time when it seems the right thing to do for a person in need.

Today one bro. Steve from Connecticut shipped this sweetheart. Whew. I mean, just Ohhhhhhhhh My!!

He had written me about a “partscaster” as he had some Strat parts lying around. Gracious… I guess he did!!! Oh, for you gearheads, all gold hardware and that’s a Seymour Duncan Trembucker in the bridge position.SteveMain

-So- pretty and such a gift I just wanted to share it here.

THANKS my bro., you are a gift, all I can say is that you know Who will be honored to the best of my ability with this gem.

Now, most of my gits either have generic names or are referred to as “her”. This one will be called Steve. Some will figure I mean Stevie Ray but you’ll know I mean you.

MAJOR Thanks and Gloria Deo! Wow. Time to play some blues…

-Glenn

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First Day of Summer Joy, Life-Work Musings

Spent time walking a beautiful girl down the aisle to a handsome man today. Spent time with wonderful kids and grandkids, dear friends and an amazing wife (mine). Spent time thanking God for immeasurable grace to get through a cold and sing a couple songs in the celebration. Love is like that. Grace. Filled with grace.

Being with those you love most is a gift- and not to be taken lightly, expected nor squandered. It can change in a blink, in a moment, and we all know that but so often do not pay attention nor remind/get reminders that we need to measure our days as the Psalms say.

The plain joy of a day well-spent, of a clean, cool bed and place to rest. A good night’s sleep. Enough clean water and food, shelter, peaceful surroundings without violence, bitterness, mayhem. So many in this world have so little of these and we all know it. We need to think more about the gifts we’re given each day. We need to do more to help others without such gifts as I’ve described above.

I’ll tell you that it’s far easier to talk about all this, blog on it, write songs and sing lyrics that mention such things than it is to do something beyond communicating it all.

Throughout my life I’ve been blessed to meet, know and even live and serve among people who loved in action rather than mere ideas and concepts, people willing to sacrifice for others when they could have been living far more self-centered, pleasure-seeking lifestyles (and I might add, in many cases made a LOT of money plying their gifts in other than sharing ways). I live and serve among my heroes.

The Word echoes in my head- “I know what I’ll do… I’ll build bigger barns to store all my wealth”. And the end of the story- “You fool, tonight God will require your soul of you and where will all your accumulated wealth end up”? That is, what was it all WORTH… REALLY?

Self-satisfaction is the ultimate idolatry, the gut-true “I am god, help me stay on my throne or get-out-of-my-way” gig. Self, not God, is the ultimate false god. This is where everything equals nothing in the end.

Whew.

Grace calls us to make other choices and reap other rewards. And certainly, risk and pains are involved, make no mistake about that!! Authentic love often hurts but the final results are life in the face of death.

I am so thankful for the grace of Jesus Christ in my life!!

May you be blessed, truly blessed with His love. The gift of knowing you are is immense!

Thanks for stopping by,
-Glenn

Shelter!

If you’ve read my blogs the past few years- or heard my Cardboard Box project, you know that one of the many ways I try to help folks is by letting them know about our inner-city Chicago homeless shelter.

Cornerstone Community Outreach is one of several shelters individuals, care groups as well as the City of Chicago contacts regularly for assistance for the many homeless people throughout the metro.

While poverty and at times, mental illness, returning veterans with ptsd and other issues such as drug or alcohol addictions play a role, there are plenty of people who just need food, clothing or temporary housing and job skill training. CCO does all it can and I have often told our staff people they are my heroes. It’s true, simple as that.

Everyone CCO serves is someone’s son, daughter, sister, brother, mother, father or grandparent. They’re real people with real names and genuine needs.

The tragic fact is too many in society (as well as “Christian” society) just keep walking past them much like the priest and levite in Jesus’ parable about the man who was beat up and left by thieves.

Full disclosure: while I’m thankful to Grrr Records for sending quarterly cheques to CCO (appx. 70 percent of the sale of each Cardboard Box cd or download goes to their work) I had planned on doing a great deal more individual concert-fund-raisers for CCO and due to my wife Wendi’s advancing health issues (severe arthritis and perhaps more… we’ll know soon as we get recent MRI results back) I’ve been doing a great deal more care-giving at home. The point is that I have not been able to follow through for fund-raising sets and promotion of CCO to the extent I’d like to.

As Wendi and I navigate health issues and options, perhaps I can do more… it’s my heart to!

Meanwhile, if you’ve not (or have not recently) checked out these sites, please do, I would be surprised if your heart was not touched by the true stories and needs at Cornerstone Community Outreach.

http://www.ccolife.org/

My friend Jeremy Nicholls (New Zealander) and his sweet wife Beth (Peoria native) are gems, and have served on staff at CCO for many years. His blog is an amazing read, and if you scroll down through it you’ll find stories of the sort I’m mentioned:  http://freeingprisoners.blogspot.com/

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Sweet Weekend in Michigan

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So it was longtime friends, some new faces and time for playing a bit of blues on cigarbox and found-object
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guitara as well as guitar and bass-making in Three Rivers -where they also had a cool antique auto show.
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Then it was on to a worship, dinner and blues set in Sturgis, Michigan with more good friends. Very cool stops, now home with my Best girl and family! Thanks for stopping by,
-Glenn

Michigan Gigs- GK Solo This Weekend

Fri. and Sat. June 14 & 15 in Three Rivers, MI at The Pink Paisley Poppy Emporium- NOTE: correct times are appx. 10am to 8pm or so (w. breaks)! I will be singing, playing, chatting, demonstrating and selling various cigarbox and found object guitars outside (and inside if the weather doesn’t hold) at The Pink Paisley Poppy Emporium @ 6 North Main St.

Sun. June 16 I’m bringing a bit of music and sharing with friends at a house church in Sturgis, MI about 2:30pm, we’ll have dinner and I’ll do a concert at 7:30pm Very limited seating. For address and more info please phone: Christopher Kirk @ 269.221.1266

May your weekend be bright!! -Glenn

Number 10 CAN Make Music!

Number10Can   My song “Recycled” from Cardboard Box is about people over stuff. But for you people reading this… here are some “d.i.y.” things you could do with a large tin can if you were so inclined…

Working in our large industrial kitchen the other afternoon I was in part, doing a job of de-papering, taking both lids off of and smashing the big #10 size cans of spaghetti sauce to box up and leave for the local scrappers. This is a great recycle as well as easy way (in our big city) of getting the metal gone.

Being a cigarbox and found-object guitar and bass building and playing sort of alien 🙂 I’ve both seen others and myself have played around with making canjos, ersatz hand drums, etc., with tin cans. But these larger number 10’ers are cool as they provide two huge lids (can be used for a fake dobro on a 1, 2, 3 or 4 string cigarbox by mounting ’em under the top of the box inside and bracing them (which gives a more metallic, dobro-like slide guitar sound to a cardboard or wooden cigar or other type non-metal box) in place with wood, screws and epoxy. Then again you could have one secured to the inside bottom of the box as well as one with holes of your making (shape, number of holes, etc.) in the CanLidother lid that is mounted as I just described inside the top of the “guitar” body… and leaving the rest of the box open inside (after the box lid is glued/screwed shut tight) you get the warmth (sound) of the cardboard or wood mixed with more or less metal sound (and cool looks) and all you’ve done is used one or both can lids.

Then there is the cool factor of using such cans with their grooved/ridged sides- after smashing ’em flat, mount inside a picture-frame sort of wooden holder and you have a mini-washboard to use as a rhythm instrument with a spoon or rock.

AND, you coulMiniWashboardd simply build a frame (as in a bit thinner box) around the can with the ridges set the same way the neck is (inside whatever box you build- and under the can) and with a piezo pickup have a pretty cool (and flashy in the lights!) slide guitar, also a dobro-sort of vibe but thinner than a typical cigarbox guitar.Number10CanAsGuitar

For clarity re. the pics here:

You see the original can with paper, also comparison to a normal sized veg can as well as the other elements.

If you’re not in a hurry as I was today, you soak the paper and get it all off, nothing but metal left. With a can opener you get both lids off (likely have the first one off already to use whatever it contained, so now do the second one). Smash it flat. If I were building something with the can I’d step hard on the can on a hard floor but also likely bring a thick towel and large-faced hammer, maybe rubber mallet, and carefully smash it as fully flat as possible. The towel would likely help keep marks off the ridged surface. If using one or both lids in a cigarbox, carefully cut the hole about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch smaller than the lid is, then you have room to screw or bolt and/or epoxy the lid underneath in place, also hiding the rough edges. If you wish hole-designs, drill and or can-open/cut ’em prior to installing into box.

And I haven’t even talked about painting these babies yet?!! There’s no end to this.

I may make one, none or all of these in the future, we’ll see. Just sayin’ 🙂

Thanks for stopping by, -Glenn

Thoughts on the 23rd Psalm

At any point in life we or those we care about get ill, encounter an accident, are in great need. Wendi and I have a number of friends we’re praying for now who are in distress. There are several physical illness issues, mental illness concerns and more. Wendi is heading toward a hip replacement. We are aging and many of our friends are.

We just heard of a friend’s suicide, his Christian parents are in understandable (but not understandable unless one has experienced it) pain and grief. And on it goes.

While the following Psalm and my comments do not entirely fit the above scenario, elements of them certainly do. We all experience “valleys” and sometimes due to our sinful choices, others interaction with us, both, and at times even by God working maturity in us- and “all chastening for the present time seems grievious”. Some brilliant person taught us “Things grow in the valley”. Yes.

What an amazing psalmist, what an incredible lyric- thanks to God and King David!

Psalm 23
Glenn’s Thoughts

This short psalm of six amazing verses holds so very much truth and life.

Years ago I was asked in an interview who my fave bluesman was. With no hesitation I heard my mouth say “David!” The interviewer asked “David who?” to which I replied, “King David, Book of Psalms dude, longtime king of Israel”. And we both laughed. Then I repeated my standard line about David, Asaph and his sons, and so on, writing all those laments because they lived in the real world with real issues.

It has been an established, fruitful tool for many recovery groups to ask members to memorize the 23rd Psalm. For a great many reasons, this bit of writing has become one of the famous portions of scripture. What some perhaps miss, and far beyond the beauty of the prose are practical and deeply spiritual truths which David himself clearly considered.

Remember, this is the “man after God’s heart” who also was a powerful warrior, yet also an adulterer and murderer. He suffered under a horrid, demonized, perhaps bi-polar king (Saul) and worse- sky-high family issues that in some cases never resolved in his lifetime.

Some Bibles will place this heading before verse 1, and it tells us a lot in itself:

The Lord, the psalmist’s Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.

GK- Indeed, above all else David knew God as God, and in fact, as LORD. Not merely best Friend, Companion, Deliverer, etc., though He was clearly all these to David. King David was indeed a brilliant writer of a great portion of the hymnal of Israel (The Book of Psalms) and was reportedly skilled in music on several levels, with instruments and so forth. Yet his song writing (though we only have his lyrics to account for) was a gift, a deeply honest, confessional, doubt-and-faith-complaint-and-praise offering that his nation and plenty of other nations (in time) became blessed with.

We also must remember he had himself been a shepherd, a strong, able man who took his work seriously and protected the sheep with his own life in a land of varied, dangerous animals. Thus he learned to fight with whatever was available, sling (remember Goliath?), bow, sword and so forth. He not only intimately understood music, lyrics, composition and worship, not only the daily and nightly work of a caring shepherd but also a military life. Certainly all this granted him an understanding of the God who Creates (music), the LORD as a warrior (military leader), but also as a caring Shepherd and indeed, LORD. David learned early his best Friend was God.

1. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

GK- IS the Lord your (and my) Lord? Really. Really? Then what He considers our actual needs shall indeed be met. This doesn’t mean we’ll never want X, Y or Z, rather that “He knows our needs before we ask Him” as Jesus said… and “You are of more value than many sparrows”… and “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”. Satisfaction comes of -this- relationship with the psalmist’s (here, David’s) Shepherd, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, the Lord of Hosts, the Father Who sent His Son (Jesus) Who sent His Spirit. THAT is how satisfaction is found, and in HIM is WHERE it’s found. David knew His God and walked with Him. Imperfectly, but consciously and devotedly. His “I shall not want” is more than words…

2. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.

GK- Ever felt like you were -made- to lie down… to stop, to consider, to just quit for a bit and take inventory? Does it ever seem like God allows illness or extreme tiredness, or allows some sort of “rug” to be “pulled out from under you” just to get your attention, to help you find a place of submission but also contentment in -HIM- alone? When we learn we can’t depend on anyone or anything like we can (and must!) on Him, we’re really beginning to find that deep rest of soul that only such a situation and relationship can bring us! Green- that is, fruitful pastures, places where healthy stuff sprouts up, a lush place of sweet, fulfilling sustenance. And then “leads”… not “jerks”, “forces” or “kicks” me beside still, quiet waters. Think about this: no food nor water, no life, you die, kaput! So the Lord is coaxing us, writing on our wall, via His Word and prayer, through any number of voices (real or “voices” as a figure of speech) He guides us to a place where He meets our needs- and we recognize it’s Him doing the cooking, the serving, bringing us a place of safety and rest.

3. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

GK- So many worry that God (if there is one…) is all about wreckage, hyper-rude control and scorched-earth. Not the true God, not the Lord of David and the Bible! He is all about restoration, about bringing health, life and energy to the broken, the rusted, the trashed. And it’s -soul- restoring. Jesus said “What does it profit a person to gain the world but lose one’s soul?” When one’s deepest self is riddled with sin, darkness, despair, anger and bitterness how can one go on as though such is life?!! But the Lord restores and in fact He does it in part by guiding us “in the paths of righteousness”. Hmmm. Right-living, not only thinking, speaking and writing, but in terms of choices, decisions, behavior, character, loving God and one’s neighbor as Jesus loved/loves! Those paths are “do as Jesus does” and in fact, it’s all about Him, not David nor you nor I! Note: “For HIS name’s sake” (caps. my emphasis). It’s about honoring God, the Lord Jesus, not making a name for ourselves whether at school, in the workplace, in our local church or artists guild. The honor is about him. It’s all about God’s glory… or it isn’t.

4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

GK- “Even though”… there are plenty of those in our lifetime, no? Such is life in a fallen world among fallen (including me) people. Though Christ-followers seek Him, actively (!) listen, study His Word and must be about applying it in daily thought, word and action, we all fail. So there are times our own choices, others’ choices, natural disasters and what I would say those events God either allows or at times, orchestrates for His own purposes- in which we are going into a sort of personal (or shared) “land of darkness”. These facts in no way prevent the God of the universe going though such a place with us. “I will never leave you nor forsake you”, “God is a VERY PRESENT (my accent here) help in trouble”, on and on the Book speaks comfort to His people.

Recently I heard a commentator say that “shadow” is of course, not substance… and that it may well be God via David is telling us we at times walk through a shadow rather than actual valley of death. While I think there is merit to that point, it’s also clear most folks die- from illness, accidents (car wrecks, drowning, etc.) and on it goes. Volumes of world and church history, the lions and gulags and classics such as Foxes Book of Martyrs makes it clear that good and godly Christians do indeed die and even do so with great suffering on way to heaven.

John Wimber and others have been used of God to bring miracles of healing yet themselves died of cancer or other painful ailments. John himself often said “Some I pray for are healed, some die. God alone knows the details, there is still mystery this side of heaven”. Truth.

David claims he will “fear no evil”- not that evil doesn’t exist, happen or come upon and even walk along with him, rather that he lives in faith with the Father and trusts in God’s power and ability to carry him -through- such darkened valley experiences. How? Because “You are WITH me”, Emmanuel, God WITH us! You can walk (or crawl) though such tough experiences in life with your swollen eyes on God… or not, but you will still end up experiencing pain in this life.There are indeed times of full and amazing deliverance… but to expect or demand God do your bidding as you see fit puts you in God’s place… and such an attitude is not only unbelief, it’s folly and will not serve you nor build your relationship with Him. But the comfort comes in what many will consider at least 50% strange:

“Your rod and your staff, they comfort me”. Hmmm?

You can find plenty of commentary on what a shepherd’s rod and staff were used for, but in the end one was to help him fight off wolves, the other was to snatch up a wayward lamb and if needed, even to break it’s leg to then be carried by that shepherd. A broken leg is better that to wander off only to be attacked and eaten by wolves. Hebrews 12 sings in my ears as I consider the chastening of the Lord, the need for faith and closeness even when it hurts. There are far worse hurts- and those with zero true comfort attached!

5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.

GK- While there are many believers who bank (literally) not only on God’s provision but a sort of prosperity mentality (get what you want by faith and using Jesus name to cash in on whatever it may be you want), yet the Bible DOES proclaim His blessing on those who seek and obey Him, especially in the midst of the storm. It is then when we experience the power, blessing, closeness and provision of God toward us. Yes, even prosperity in a right and non-self-centered way! God protects and even serves us that which we need right in front of the eyes and noses of those proclaiming to be our enemies, in their very presence. The “anointing” comes from God’s Own hands, bringing healing, health and provision to the extent we have to share with others. There is a strong witness given when one’s “cup overflows” and we willingly, lovingly pass that cup to those around us. The “enemies” think they are God, and do not trust in, serve, follow nor surrender their lives to Him. This spiritual dryness and even death is a massive contrast with what David is able to witness even coming through valleys full of enemies! His life is about the glory of God, not his own glory nor personal fulfillment.

6. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

GK- “Surely”… something beyond hope… faith, hope and love, certainly so. David is saying “This God I serve blesses me… and I will bless those coming after me due to His blessing.” Goodness (the character, the very nature of God) and lovingkindness (or “mercy”) “will FOLLOW me”. I don’t know that many consider the fact that these things do not run to catch up and jump into us, rather they are characteristics and virtues God the Holy Spirit works in our lives (indeed, sometimes if not mostly via “valley experiences”) and throughout our lives we leave something other than a trail of tears. Rather, that bit of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians chapter five) including God’s goodness and mercy flows though us and reaches out to positively affect others. Note: “ALL the days of my life”. This is a consistent walk we are called to, and consistently growing fruit of God’s grace is very much part of our legacy.

Finally, David is assured of eternal life, is he not? After all this, “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever”.

Not merely visit, show up for an hour or so each week, not at all in distance from God, but rather “dwell”… a priest who lives in the house of His Lord. “Forever” is indeed a long time. Where will you spend “forever”? Is it “forever” you wish to know, be loved, love and serve the true God?

Jesus tells us “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to God the Father except through me”. (John 14.6)

Perhaps it will take a valley… or several of them. Perhaps as a Christian who has not matured very far (spiritually speaking) you will have to learn obedience though things you suffer. Perhaps not. But the God who is love is with you and waiting for an eternal relationship with you. Is the LORD truly your Shepherd?