Dawn!

What a perfect name for an incredible woman of God.

This past Thursday evening we bid goodbye for now… to a Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, mentor, pastor and dear friend.

I have publicly stated for some 35 years or more that Dawn Mortimer was the most godly person I’ve ever known. I’ve actually known quite a few, but none as consistently gracious, wise, loving, kind at heart and typically concerned with justice for the underdog. She was my mother-in-law but more a mother to me than my own Mom.

She loved Jesus and the larger as well as local church her entire life.

When hard-nosed church folk treated us with less than love, respect or at times even sense, she was the peace-maker, the kind one, but also the one who stuck up for the misfits and vagabond, scruffy ones.

She was not without her flaws but they were few.

This amazing daughter of God routinely spoke with compassion and mercy about some of the most taxing, selfish people we’ve ever worked with in ministry.

Back in my Rez Band days, when nobody else in the room seemed to understand my musical and especially lyrical ideas she “got it”, again and again, helping to explain and interpret what I was trying to convey.

If she decided I was being stubborn, ignorant or both (on more than a few occasions over the years) the hardest words she ever had for me were: “Well, just think it over, really pray about it and do what the Lord tells you”.

In such moments we both knew her assessment of the issues were biblical, loving and sound… and that I needed to take them to heart and act accordingly.

As the years passed her emphysema became more pronounced and at 80 years of age, her mind sharp but body failing, it was clear her graduation to heaven was at hand.

I had prayed for several months that the Lord would take her gently in her sleep. By His grace, that’s exactly what He did appx. 5:30 Thursday afternoon, March 27, 2014.

I could not be more certain that I’ll see her again in the presence of God. Well done dear Mother and Friend!

We and this needful world have lost an incredible gift.

Thanks to all for prayers for her wonderful husband Curt, family, extended family and church.

With Love and Deep Affection,
-Glenn

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MILITARY SUICIDE MATTERS

I’ve often mentioned my support for service persons with the caveat that I have never supported each and every deployment.

I do believe we need a strong military as well as reduction of deployment by either political party in power when it seems the actual cause is either political or merely to gain financial advantage of some sort… which frankly, I think we’ve been doing for most of the history of the U.S..

In JPUSA’s work with the poor and homeless of Chicago via Cornerstone Community Outreach it becomes obvious that many returning vets end up in the street, deal with mental illness, addictions and loss of family and hope itself. It is essential we give more than lip service support to these who have laid their lives on the line for us. To survive the hell of combat only to end one’s life after re-entry to civilian mode is sad, horrid and something we should care about.

Applause, cakes, parades and medals don’t get it done.

At present this country averages 22 military-related suicides each day. Twenty-two! That there is even one such act per day is horrible.

I have a close friend who recently lost a loved one to suicide. I sensed the pain and suffering not only of the individual but of loved ones left behind.

While the U.S. Veteran’s Department does a good work, it is under-funded and under-staffed.

I ask you to consider supporting the work of the former soldiers who have decided to bring this matter to light to make a positive difference. Please click on the following link and prayerfully consider what you might do to help.

http://medicinalmissions.com/project-22

Thanks for stopping by, -Glenn

The Web Web

Anyone who knows much about me knows I LOVE computing, Linux-based operating systems, the internet and freedom of speech.

A great many peeps in my 5k friends list in Facebook posted about either giving up Facebook or all social media for Lent, and/or the veracity (that is, truthfulness) and increasing bloat of negativity they read there and via Twitter, etc. at the present time. In social media as face-to-face life, some people vent to the point of others getting tired of it.

For years I’ve known people who avoid most all news in that so much of it is about murder, other horrible crimes and natural disasters with just enough “general interest” or “positive”, feel-good stories thrown in to counter the sick and the miserable stuff.

I love the news and find it much like food: you can eat junk or healthy stuff, exercise or not and the results are your own, great or horrid, no?

I rarely trust everyone’s motives, depth of knowledge and even less, wisdom in using the Web for personal or shared info. because I understand the stuff called propaganda, politics, general news often being pumped out purely for some sort of profit. It’s too easy to fall for what we were warned about years ago re. “yellow journalism” in the press. And yet I’m a news junkie, listen to news radio constantly, read several news services online daily and keep up with several social media outlets that are Web-based along with multiple tv broadcasts and documentaries.

Even in light of all this, the use and abuse of sound-bites that at times may even intentionally lead people -from- rather than -to- the truth on an issue, I think the press is too easily blamed for it’s actions when it seems they may (read that “may”) exhibit bias.

I’ve done plenty of interviews and learned a long time ago editing can turn you into Jesus or the devil with just a few words. And sure, ratings are THE deal in media industry, shock “journalism” and disaster stories often peak ratings like nothing else. It IS a biz, even among Christian peeps.

If we were all honest, we’d admit we LOVE bias we agree with and may even hate bias we don’t, press or otherwise…

I further believe very few people are willing to put in the time to exegete information as opposed to isogete it. Like in Bible interpretation, we exegete to discover the truth of what we read regardless of our personal desire, position or merely trying to gain the upper hand or win in any sense. We isogete to find “proof-texts”, some sort of material that agrees with our already-held views that are directly linked to personal desire, position, gaining the upper hand and ultimately, to WIN. Did someone say “ethics”?

Are we really trying to take great pains to get at reality or merely seeking to create a fantasy others will accept as such?

This scenario is almost as American as apple pie. Making a buck and persuasion. Spin. Cashing in. Drawing you in. See… flick a few rhyming words and even a lyricist can play the game to make a point. So… what’s my point in this blog?

I ask you to consider the internet as you think about the following Bible verses with a view to truth, motives, gaining advantage vs. intellectual honesty, personal integrity and genuine care for human beings whether or not you agree or disagree with them about anything:

Daniel 12.4 “you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run back and forth, and knowledge shall be increased.”

Knowledge is one thing, wisdom (what to do with knowledge, and at core, whether the “knowledge” is factual information or merely stated as though it is) is quite another.

In the present information age, it seems to me there is plenty of one and not near enough of the other.

And did you notice I’ve not even mentioned gossip or slander yet?!

I have friends who hard-core disagree with one another and some who think I’m crazy to like or maintain friendship with the “other”. What some of them say to or about each other online is at times nearly a blatant testament to their love or lack of it, wisdom or lack of it, heart after truth or simply disgust and shock at how “they” could be “so stupid and wrong”.

As I wrote in an earlier blog this year, from time to time I de-friend someone, typically on the basis of what I consider over-the-top political mud-slinging and diatribe. Propaganda. Harsh and nasty word-bombs. When it seems they spew out sludge of this sort regularly, I finally think my Facebook account needs bleach.

These, my friends, are just too much the norm for some folks. Depending on your position, some love such use of language.

This is the glory and tragedy of free speech. Nothing new under the sun, just new, international (cyber) ways to toss it out in the street.

Mature? Loving? For my Christian friends I’d simply ask which Galatians chapter 5, verses 22 and 23 fruit of the Spirit are we referencing?

Jesus has the last word, and will:

“For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks”.

Thanks for considering, and for stopping by! -Glenn

A Sad But Important Anniversary

This Monday, 24 March, 2014 will mark the 34th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. For the past year, through music, film and performance, we have sought to tell the story of this remarkable man. There are strong indications from the Vatican that he will be declared a saint in the not too distant future. He is, however, already recognized as both a martyr and a saint by millions around the world.

We are asking you to help spread his story – a story of faith and of courage, a story of what it means to follow in the steps of Christ.

Even if you have seen it before, click to watch the video below… be shocked by the actual gunshots (recorded by a nun who was in the chapel at the time)… hear his words of hope that form the lyrics of the song… then forward this to at least one friend.

Romero’s message of social justice, non-violence and self-sacrifice are needed today as never before. We’re asking you to be partners in spreading that message.

With love to you all,
The Project
Michael Glen Bell and Duane W.H. Arnold

Electric Blues-Rock Guitarist Extrordinaire

“Ladies and Gentlemen,from Appleton, Wisconsin: SOUP!”

If you could care less about electric guitar virtuosity and expression, stop reading now.

Yep. Cosmic. Songwriting, tripped-out hippie psych, depth, blues/rock, jazz elements, country, bit of pop and rock… brilliant drummer, bass player and likely the best unknown guitarist you’ve never heard of named Doug Yankus. Please read on, this one is not for the faint of heart.

When asked I’ve often mentioned my main electric guitar mentors are Rory Gallagher (Taste, etc.), Jimi and certainly Albert, B.B. and Freddie King. There are others but these carved a love of blues and blues-rock in my heart and brain to make me want to really learn electric blues guitar. But there was and is one more person on the list I rarely mention.

When I was coming up in Milwaukee as a teenage singer/guitarist and eventually band leader strung out on blues and blues/rock, I saw a LOT of live shows. One
of the best bands I caught many times in both Milwaukee and Madison was the three-piece version of Soup. They also had a keyboard player on occasion but I don’t recall seeing him on stage, personally.

Each of these guys could play rings around most musicians in Wisconsin and for that matter, the Midwest, but never caught the legion of fans I always thought they would.

Their principal songwriter, vocalist and absolutely stunning guitarist Doug Yankus was, like the band, rather beyond sonic description. To say he was light-years beyond most anyone I’d heard then or since is hardly an understatement. In the late 60’s and early 70’s you cannot know how shocking his talent was to most of us.

They were so good live I often wondered looking back if it was all the weed, acid or booze I’d been hitting all day… but indeed, here is a live cut to clarify.

Though their music was super-creative and truly all over the map in terms of styles, for my guitarist friends here is a 20 minute live track (“I’m So Sorry”) that was their signature closing tune each night I heard them.

This trip-ed-out blues number blew the roof off nightly. I can tell you from experience that what you’re about to hear was pretty accurate as to what I heard several times.

Drums are far down in the mix, sound quality what you might expect in 1970, live recording etc.. Hard critique from some would say it’s a bit too frantic, band could’ve been a bit tighter in spots, Doug is slightly gone in this little lick or two, but I say have a nice day. The sheer talent and passion here leaves me thinking most of us couldn’t tie the guy’s musical shoes, not 44 years later.

I truly consider myself E-I-E-I-O on guitar when I hear Doug.

OK- some of you after this build-up will likely not finish the song out because Doug and band get flippin’ nuts at the end… but if I could dare you to finish this one song out you’ll understand partly why in some moments I get as intense and frenetic playing guitar as I do, hear one of my major influences in music, and understand how completely over-the-top amazing this guitarist was.

Sadly, Doug passed away years ago, from what I’ve heard, due to complications with diabetes.

Fasten your seat-belts- Start at 19:40 or so…

Yep, I’m still crazy after all these years:) -Glenn

One Day Starts Now

Do most people long for a day with no struggles, no temptation, no pain? Hey, it’s primary election day in Illinois!! HA… well, that’s the least of our worries. But even there we find apathy and distrust, along with worry.

No wonder- people often prove un-trustworthy.

I have been working through Mother T’s brilliant poem which I suspect many reading this blog have read before. What an incredible bit of writing attributed to her and supposedly on her wall as a daily reminder. And oh, there seems to be two versions for she borrowed from one writer and made some changes. Both are amazing… whew!

http://prayerfoundation.org/mother_teresa_do_it_anyway.htm

One day all of this will be “a done deal”. The pains of this world will be over.

Meanwhile…

Scripture tells us that those who follow Jesus have a “blessed hope” and in fact refer to our God as “the God of hope”. It further mentions those in the present who are “without hope and without God in the world”.

At the end of 1 Corinthians chapter 13 Paul accents “faith, hope and love” as core essentials. I would say to believe in love one must have faith. Without trusting in God and in general accepting life “as it comes” while trusting in God’s love for us, hopelessness seems a given.

My personal experience has been that severe “ups and downs” happen. From a largely un-controllable (by humans) environment, natural disasters, illnesses, people-spawned wars, drunk driving (only last night heard another horrible, sad report from friends who lost a mother and her daughter due to another’s drunk driving…), various addictions and simple lust for whatever one might lust after- this is a world that contains potholes. In some places large and even deadly potholes.

Being a Chicagoan I can tell you that unless you really pay attention there are spots in the roadway that we might call “Volkswagen traps”, quite large.

Sometimes you see them in advance, sometimes you’re in one with no sense of forewarning. See, this is life on earth while on earth.

I’ll add that self-medication of any sort never fulfills nor takes away the hunger for authentic, sacrificial, loving relationships- especially one with God. Without Him and without others, the most-used drug is self and personally-eroding choices.

I’ve seen people choose both of these, the life-giving and the destroying stuff sometimes swapping from one to the other in less than a day. I’ve done it myself.

The choices are always before us.

One day the battles will be over. And then… and then the reality of our choices will kick in for eternity.

Did the Lord Christ rule us, or did we assume such authority ourselves, or give someone else ultimate authority while passing through life on earth?

HUGE question with massive ramifications.

Jesus Christ is my Lord and risen Savior, period. Regardless of the cost, I follow Him. That’s His choice and my choice. Whatever that relationship costs, so be it.

One day every eye shall see Him, every knee will bow.

Maranatha!

Thanks for stopping by 🙂
-Glenn