Considering Turf Wars

Living in Uptown, Chicago where street gangs vie for business… considering both business people and drug lords in the news… politicians, the tech industry, nation vs. nation etc., etc., the longer I live the more I see turf wars.

We can truly think and say it’s about right vs. wrong- and sometimes that’s absolutely true… but a great deal of the time it’s about “your way” or “my way”. And you and I both assume our personal way is THE best way, period. Sometimes either you or I are correct. Sometimes not. Sometimes neither of us is!

Then we have what some consider a filthy word: “compromise”.

It’s been many years since I heard a well-known minister carry on about compromise being pretty much a synonym of “selling out”, the “slippery slope”, the “going to hell in a handbasket” syndrome.

Again, this -can- be and at times IS the case.

My own perspective is that there are times when an argument is at core a matter of turf, of win-or-lose, about power, authority and who gets to ride in the lead float in the Big Parade. Petty in my view, just kingdom-of-self stuff.

As time moves along I hear of church folks, ministry staff, political leaders, business and other people, unions and corporation execs. all sliding down this same old funnel.

I wonder if many Americans have faced the fact that within our broad, immigrant society of 200 years we’ve got a DNA that just screams “excess”… “no moderation here!”… “all or nothing in this game” and the like?

For all our good qualities (and there are many), Americans are often known for our lack of moderation, lack of sense, lack of long-term consideration of how X, Y or Z will affect people and even entire nations.

Jesus said “To whom much is given, much will be required”. We have SO much, especially in comparison to most of the nations and people groups outside of the U.S.A.!

So I would like to posit this: sometimes “compromise” isn’t a dirty word. Sometimes it is synonymous with “sense”, “proportion”, “consideration” and even “love”. Not bleeding-heart, hard-core leftist ideology, but a desire to link rather than separate.

I find this Spirit (yes… Holy Spirit) and spirit among plenty, even most of those I meet in The Evangelical Covenant Church. Do we all agree on everything? NO. Do we fuss and fight over issues, jockey for position and sometimes see relationships sever? Yes.

Nobody does it perfectly.

But you can’t have community if you don’t fellowship over what you have in common. Sharing is not an option. It’s actually commanded by God in both the Old and New Testament. Now, you can rebel against Him and His Word, plenty of us do (I sin daily, I’m sure of that!) but let’s not pretend ours is the pristine life of faith and love.

Further, common sense seems less and less common in our culture.

Again, I don’t mean by this to say “If you saw things MY way, THEN you’d have common sense dude!”… not at all.

What I mean is that the lack of patience, lack of listening and really trying to hear what, why and how someone you disagree with has come to their position on this or that often blows common sense, any true sense of sharing grace (important word, no?) and at least being sure what you THINK you understand the other person or people-groups views are… right out of the water. And we all drown for it.

After four decades of living close-quarters with hundreds of very different (with very different views) people of widely differing ages, subcultures, spiritual experiences (or lack of them), etc., it does seem to me the general sense of education, communication skills, listening, actively learning to interact rather than “take your marbles and go home” produces (and perhaps signifies) an element of humility and sane compromise. Perhaps there is something God-honoring in a desire to stick together and stick it out even when the crosses show up… and show up they will in ANY sort of gathered people.

When this isn’t done on both sides of the street, aisle (Congress), woods, neighborhood, bad things happen. Little castle walls go up. Moats get dug, fortifications and weaponry appear on the parapets.

Jesus said “Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword”. And He also COMMANDED US to love one another. All this with the knowledge (I assume!) we would never fully agree with one another on any number of issues.

Your turf? My turf? Maybe “our” turf is closer to what the Lord calls us to?

Matter of fact, when it all boils down, it’s all HIS turf.

Thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn

GK Solo Blues and Cigarbox Guitar Building- Chesterton, Indiana

OK, I’m all-day in Thomas Centennial Park in Chesterton, Indiana Sat. Sept. 28.

It’s for a worthy cause: Frontline Foundations does amazing rehab work with those who don’t have the resources. Artwork is part of the therapy through which they bring recovery to folks with addiction issues. Many artists will be displaying (and selling) artwork. “In Conjunction with the Duneland Chamber’s European Market, live street artists will utilize a variety of mediums to express their creativity; completing a work of art from start to finish over the course of a day.”

I’ll be there from about 10am to 5pm with other artists bringing music, cds, arts and crafts. I’ll also be doing a workshop, on-site building cigarbox guitars and basses… and checking out recovering peep’s cool artwork too. Frontline wants to raise awareness and hopefully get some sponsorships going for people who like myself, deal with addiction and recovery needs.

Aracely (another friend of mine and label-mate at Grrr Records), myself and several other bands will bring a broad variety of music. That will begin at 11am, Aracely plays at 1pm, I’m up at 2pm with a solo blues set.

More info.: http://www.frontlinefoundations.com/hooked-on-art/   219.728-1638

Hope to see some of you there. Come hear, see, learn and maybe take some sweet art home with you!

Thanks for stopping by, -Glenn

BBQ, Aging and LIFE!

A really great weekend in Des Moines area- sweet times with Nathan and the band at Berean A.G. in the Altoona park. Good bbq, music and a pretty day weather-wise. Oh, here’s a pic from the Colours Festival from my Czech tour this summer. I add this cuz it’s how I look these days (mercy!): GKcoloursPic

Wendi and I got home and the laundry is spinning as I type…

She’s got some dental work to be done, I (once again) have -got- to begin exercising and eat healthier. We’re getting closer to her hip replacement, a number of meetings with doctors and such and we’ll have a plan and dates on all that. Thanks for prayers.

Funny, as we age… well… as I age… heh… hair goes, hearing goes, eyesight, etc., etc.. The other day I totally spaced on something I was saying to my family and one of my daughters said “Dad, if you hadn’t done this all my life I’d be worried” and we all laughed.

It’s true. I was around 17 years old visiting my Dad (parents divorced so I was visiting) and he forgot something obvious, I told him I did the same all the time. He laughed saying “I think I have a touch of old-timer’s”. No laughing matter for folks with Alzheimer’s and I don’t mean to speak lightly of that at all… but the fact is that aging is an entire new journey for a lot of folks and few people are told (or think) enough about it prior.

From very early on I was around folks a great deal older than myself and so have never thought them “odd” or whatever. I think the Lord schooled me early on about such things.

The truth is that I’m happy to age. But Wendi and I often remark that it’s too bad wisdom comes so late in life when you could have used it so very much when far more young!

This is where one of my true worries comes in… that of biblical illiteracy in so many peeps these days.

I suppose this, too isn’t really all that “new”, but it does seem fewer people are seriously studying The Bible and are just not clued in on what God thinks, says and feels about them, their neighbors, life and both what authentic love is and how to share it.

So many want to write their own story exclusive of the Story of God. That’s a train-wreck no matter what you think you gain.

This is a burden to me. If I had known His Word much younger I could have at least escaped -some- of the addictions if not all that eventually nearly killed me.

And the fact is I was (as all of us are) an “evangelist” for what I believe in, for what I thought was good -though much of it was like gravel in my guts. Drug, alcohol and sexual addictions are just that, monkeys that not only ride you but eat you little by little until there is less of you and more of the devil riding inside. Been there, done that.

Jesus DOES set people free- but such genuine freedom and life doesn’t happen by mindless drifting and choosing friends, situations and pleasure trips that only wrap and chain us.

Someone once said “The dog you feed is the one that grows”. The Book says “Don’t be deceived, God is not mocked. Whatever a person sows, that they shall also reap”. Yep. Yes.

While some say Christians are mindless dolts who buy into a sort of mythology that is better left in the ditch, I’d say the pain of loss, aging and death itself is a wake-up call from God.

The Bible tells us “The one who has the Son of God has life. The one who does not have the Son of God does not have life”. Fact. No joke.

If you think I’m flippin’ crazy and a mess you should have hung around me B.C…

So it’s your move.

Thanks for stopping by!
-Glenn

Ohhh The Humanity?

Had a nice chat with a former denominational president this morning which once again reminded me of the old paradigm “Believe, behave belong”.

He mentioned how this has been turned on it’s head over the past few generations in culture. It’s now (as a book study he was in brought to light) “Belong, believe, behave”.

We had begun to ponder this several years ago when hearing this new phrase on an overseas tour.
Sometimes Christians (and other groups) are so obsessed with behavior that belonging is impossible, so focused on the newcomer or “outsider” coming to faith that the concept of honest, slow and relational interaction outside of these two matters isn’t even considered.

I was often guilty of this as a young leader.
As we age we either become more brittle and at times, indifferent or our hearts grow (spiritually speaking) and therefore engage at a different and often deeper level with both God and others.

I find the temptation to remove myself from the associated pains of getting close to really difficult people as real in my life as anyone.

Like Jonah, I have often wanted to head in the opposite direction! How about you?

“Face value” is only one way of determining what’s true and real about others, and when you cross-reference and over a long stretch of time begin to unravel and discover who a person really is, how they became who they are (at least who they are at that stage in their life) and what their actual issues are, well this takes a level of love and commitment that goes far beyond most people’s willingness to give.

I find it’s not others’ misery that troubles me as much as my own reluctance to share it with them.

It’s true that hurting people hurt others- so when you’ve had your stuff stolen, watched others hurt by the individual in question, a rather habitual routine of blow-ups, continual, blatant lies being told (about those who have loved and served the person most) and on and on… well it becomes clear why people just want to live a quiet and near-hermit existence far from the crosses associated with such relationships.

A mentality of avoiding and escaping from the presence of troubled people, letting “someone else” deal with them is a common thing. It is indeed part of the reason for attrition rates among leaders in churches and ministries.

The great joy of service is of course being present during some of the victories, healing and grace of change in people’s lives.

What can take a toll and actually works to drive some away from God’s calling on their life is the darkness and personal hurt which is part of the job. It is the worry and struggles that can enter in not only bringing negative affect in the minister’s life but the lives of their spouse and children.

None of this is meant to sound like a violin-and-crybaby routine, I’m simply saying that over my years of personal experience as well as in countless discussions with leaders and former leadership in Christian pastoral, counseling and other ministry areas, these things can take a toll.

For myself? I truly understand the cost and yet cannot simply ignore the call of God to love and serve the “least of these” whomever they may be.

For me it comes down to surrender to the Lord, not salvation by works or trying to impress anybody.

I do indeed deeply appreciate those who serve the most difficult people day-by-day! In His grace, the Lord has given me a number of personal “safety nets” where it’s only now and then I must deal with such troubled folks directly.
The fact is that it’s far more easy to write and sing songs about life than live it side-by-side with messed-up folks.

Only God knows who truly believes. Positive behavioral change? In the end, I would say it’s equally true only God knows who has experienced that! Belonging? Hmmmm…. that has a lot to do with you and I.

In my view, these are things worth considering. Thanks for stopping by!

-Glenn

Minty Amp Clone

Wow. A dude at cigarboxnation.com had offered a clone of one of the famous little Minty Amp designs available from Radio Shack (parts… you must build it). Had a friend build me 4 of ’em. I mean they COOK! Very cheap and simple but amazing tone and very gracious regardless of which speaker or cab you use with ’em. Little 9 volt battery-powered thing, just 1 gain control, no tone, plug in a guitar cable and the amp turns on, unplug the cab;e and it’s off. Knock-off of a Smoky practice amp but in my view, better and more versatile.

http://www.cigarboxnation.com/group/home-made-guitar-amps/forum/topics/minty-amp-clone

Oh, they named it Minty because you can actually install it with 1 or 1 1/2 in. speaker in an Altoids or other such tin and carry it around as a practice amp. But I think I may use this thing live mic’ed after building a few cabs with larger speakers… it sounds that good. Not certain about that yet but I’ll sure give it a go!

Thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Love WHO??!

If you don’t follow Jesus some of what I’m about to write will likely seem ridiculous to you- but that’s nothing new when considering this or that group’s ideas about life, no?

I happen to know, love and enjoy yet fully disagree with (sometimes all at once!) brothers and sisters all over the world who are:

-agnostics

-a few atheists (who I personally think are agnostics but don’t realize it… for they have no more “proved” God isn’t than others have proved He -is-…)

-Catholics (how many “popes” and “false doctrines” do protestants have?)

-Protestants (one of which I am in the broader sense… while at the same time shudder at the schisms among us… but I guess the first word in protestant is protest!)

-military personnel (whom I support as individuals while not always in agreement about their deployment)

-peace activists (“blessed are the peacemakers”… though “there is a time for war”)

-those who both agree with and strongly disagree with me on any number of things

My point is simply all whom God has created in human form are my brothers or sisters… some “in Christ” and some in the daily sense of reason and choice, who in the practical are living as though they are God. No offense meant by this, I’m simply saying that most of the time and in the larger decisions, we either center ourselves in ourselves, center ourselves in others or else in God. That’s my personal view, feel free to disagree.

Jesus’ commands boil down to two: Love God over all others, Love Neighbor as yourself.

The Christ-follower will ultimately conclude that of all He taught humankind, these are the most important but most difficult things to live out in the daily scheme of things.

And yet this is my quest.

These two are my greatest fails!

I am left to trust in His mercy and forgiveness and to grow in authentic humility in my fails with regard to these two core commands of the Lord.

Yet this is His view and as a disciple who seeks to mature, must be my view more and more.

When we consider all the things that divide us- and frankly, everyone reading this WANTS space between themselves and even others in the local or larger church… nobody wants to be forced into constant fellowship with those they deeply disagree with on what to them are core matters of life. So what must our position be if we are to mature, spiritually speaking?

You can be a close friend and totally disagree on core issues. It isn’t always comfortable. But even the Holy Spirit (Whom Jesus calls “the Comforter”!) makes us UNcomfortable at times! Distance from Him is distance from God.

But when it comes to people and relationships, Jesus even calls us to LOVE our ENEMIES! Whew! Was this just symbolic or a figure of speech? I don’t think so.

I suppose for me, one of the “boils down to’s”) in this is that my sister or brother and I are all flawed, imperfect in our thoughts, speech and deeds… all need grace and mercy… all want to “win the argument” and can all be a bit or a lot self-righteous, arrogant and even downright nasty on occasion.

So is it up to THEM… (shudder when you hear that word:) or ME to love though at times in strong, deep disagreement?

Is it filthy, horrid, damnable COMPROMISE to love while holding a totally different view on this or that methodology, doctrine or even theology?

I’m not saying X isn’t wrong, nor that Y isn’t more scriptural re. this or that teaching or position… I’m saying we are called by our Lord to love one another regardless. Sometimes people of ANY and ALL views fully stink when it comes to such a heart attitude!

I know I know: “slippery slope”… “the road to perdition”… even scripture tells us “don’t even EAT with such a person”… but do any of these trump and rule over Jesus’ commands to love one another- as fellow believers or simply neighbor?

Something to think about.

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Joe Filisko Harmonica Lessons… Plus!

Had an amazing weekend up in Intl’ Falls, Minnesota with friend Darren Olson and the Ev. Cov. family in that neck of the woods. Thanks to all who came out to the Cigarbox Guitar and Bass workshop- what a blast! Thanks for the kind response at the blues set and both services this past Sunday. Sweet people up there! So glad to be home with my Wendi as of last night.

Ok, so now it’s my pleasure to point you to a friend of mine and a great websource of info on harmonica playing due to him:

If you or those you love even THINK about playing harp, you/they would benefit from a look/listen to my friend (and musical co-conspirator as time rolls on) Joe Filisko. This (below) is a wonderful intro. to Joe and his heart and skill at teaching harp playing. Accessible, understandable and fun.JoeTeaching

Click, enjoy, learn and pass it on!

Joe Filisko: Lessons From an American Harper

-Glenn

Transitions

I recently spoke to a gathering on a Sunday morning about transitions.

When change happens- whether expected or not, it often upsets the “normal”… whatever that may look or feel like to us.

But if you think it through, all of life is a series of transitions.

We were swmimming inside of our mother, then were born. We were off to kindergarten, perhaps moved from one house or town to another, perhaps multiple times.

Our parents may have had, adopted or fostered other siblings.

It’s possible our parents divorced or separated.

It could be we worked at a part-time job.

Maybe we graduated high school, entered college, university or trade school or worked a job or all of these.

Perhaps we moved from our parent’s home into our own place or moved in with others. Maybe we travelled and ended up studying or otherwise living in a different country and culture than that in which we were born and raised.

It may be we married, had children, then grandchildren.

Perhaps during some of these chapters of our life either we or those we love/d were hit with serious illness, maybe even death.

Eventually we begin losing our hearing and/or sight, longtime friends move or pass away. Things change.

See, between beautiful moments and natural (un-natural?) disasters any number of small as well as deeply significant changes take place over our lifespan.

Transitions happen and many of them are far beyond our ability to control or at times even slightly shape to our liking.

This is where self-medication often leads to addiction, shocking events seem to call for extreme and not-too-thought-out choices which often have massive ramifications.

Not transition itself, but how we respond, roll with, ride the waves in such times is what I’m getting at.

My advice from a fairly long life of transition?

Learn how to hear God’s voice. Yes.

Learn to listen and do your best in love, obedience and core faith, to obey.

The Holy Spirit will never conflict with His own word

1.(The Bible), and if you have a solid relationship with Jesus by

2. prayer

in daily study of His Book, simple application best you know how, solid links and

3. on-going relationships of love and trust with godly leaders who have heart, wisdom and guts to speak the truth in love

to you, pray for you and walk alongside you, any storm of transition can be weathered. And I mean all of the storms of life!

Then notice

4.practical doors (circumstances)

opening or closing, and indeed at times, supernatural stuff

5.(dreams, visions, prophetic utterance)

are all means through which the Lord speaks.

I have tried to follow my own advice and hear the Lord’s voice in these 5 areas and through the many transitions can honestly say these 60 years have far more been a blessing than a curse to me.

I’m not saying I have loved each and every transition, every single moment or train-wreck along the path… far from it! But I do believe the Lord has spoken and more than not it seems His voice has confirmed His calling, gifting and the varied plans for my life along the path.

Jesus said in John chapter 10:

v.3 …the sheep listen to his voice

v.4 …the sheep follow him, for they know his voice

v.16 …they will hear my voice

v.27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me

This ability to pay attention, to attentively listen to the voice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to hear the Spirit as He speaks, to recall His word (Jesus calls Him “the Spirit of truth”) and it is His power, strength and comfort that brings one safely through the many sometimes difficult transitions of life.

This has been my experience and that of millions of Christ-followers during our spiritual journey. We do not nor must we walk alone or totally deaf to His voice!

Give thanks, look up, you are never alone. Listen, walk with Him and you will indeed make it through and even recognize how He has carried you throughout the transitions of life.

The last transition? Eternal life due to Jesus our Lord!

Thanks for stopping by. -Glenn