Treat Or Trick?

CandySo here comes another year of candy, “all saints” and party time for people, especially younger ones. Is alot of it pagan? Of course. So is a ton of what passes for spiritual/”Christian”. Nothing new, this is history repeated.

In a world too quick to forget how many people we all owe thanks to/for, a world of all-too- easily disposable everything (including relationships) we have… cigar box guitars among other things.

Today I was invited to do a bit of music and chat, answer questions with a group of younger peeps from Norway. These are always interesting to me- and I love Norway as I’ve toured there a number of times through most of the country.

In the process I brought a one-string (diddley bow) with a pickup in it (the “body” being an Altoids tin), my Shane Speal 3 string cigarbox git along with my Taylor acoustic.

Most of this group are students in a music school, and as usual, they not only relate to blues but I always love seeing their faces as I pull out these little el-cheapo slide guitars. Playing them acoustically or via one of my (in this case Pignose) little amps, they do cook chili 🙂

So I always make the point “it’s not what you got but what you do with it”.

What do we do with holidays, parties, events we share with others? What -could- we do, how -might- we make these times and relationships giving, beneficial, encouraging as opposed to merely “tolerable” or even a drama, pain or added salt-in-the-eye to what for many is an already stressful life?

The time was well-spent I think, and I enjoyed their questions, attentiveness and awareness.

How can we create more “treat” and less “trick”?

Let’s see… who was it that I read saying “I have come to give you life, life more abundantly”?

I want to participate in that, be part of the conduit for it happening.

“The thief comes not except to rob, kill and destroy”. I used to work for that guy. No more.

Enjoy your weekend!

And thanks for stopping by 🙂
-Glenn

Feeling Lost?

20141023_144920Ever been lost in the woods?

I’ve likely related this story before in my blog, but can’t seem to find reference to it so will perhaps be telling it again now.

Dear and good friends are dealing daily with a battle, that being cancer, advanced.

As I woke up today praying for them (as I have off and on yesterday and through the night each time I wake for a moment), a memory picture popped up in my mind.

Years ago I went on a hunting trip to a huge tract of land was recently able to visit again.

It’s truly a beautiful piece of property in Illinois where our National Guard practices on the weekends but the DNR allows hunting during the various seasons Monday to Thursday.

That year I’d gone out on opening day (September 1) and it was super hot. In fact something like 95 or more degrees. This tract of land includes more than 2,200 acres.

At noon I’d walked a very long way in and alongside the woods ending up in a canyon area where a small creek/river runs.

I’d been all over the property for some years but this particular place was completely new to me.

Though I had a map and compass, it was near noon, so which way was west? I decided to eat my lunch and literally lay on a small mound in the creek where smooth stones lay over sand and the cool, spring-fed water tricked over it about an inch or two high.

Placing my pack, etc. on the nearby bank, I filled my hat with cool water, put it back on my head and lay down to take a nap in one of nature’s “air conditioning” spots.

About an hour or more later I woke feeling better from the food and a cool nap, and then remembered the fact that I was fully lost.

Until the sun moved I wasn’t fully sure of basic directions.

As it became clear which way west was… I put the pack on my back, climbed up a near-vertical canyon wall finally reaching the top. After I tossed everything on the flat I stuck my head over the edge.

Peering a very long way down the treeline and massive field I could just see- the parking lot!!

All I could do was laugh and give God thanks for the craziness of it all.

Here I had been so very close to where we always parked in the morning and gathered at day’s end but had never realized this very different deep drop off and creek bed was there.

Discovery of the closeness of God is essential, especially in times of struggle, pain, confusion and a journey that has potholes, canyons, some even fatal.

None of us are as certain as we think we are and of course the battles, confusion and fearful events often arrive with no warning. What to do?

What does our “sun” look like? What if there is thick cloud-cover and no trees or moss or other “signs” of direction?

What if we lost (or did not bring) our “map”?

Have you ever gone somewhere and forgot to bring your lunch, your hat, your compass?

We are not always prepared for these “wilderness” moments, the “dark night of the soul” experience. Indeed, life sometimes brings us a nearly vertical, hot and difficult climb.

Yet those who choose to surrender to and follow the Lord Jesus are not alone.

It’s being alone- especially “without hope and without God in the world” by and in which one is TRULY LOST.

On that hot day, God provided for me but also gave me eyes to see, give thanks and acknowledge His provision.

He brought joy at the end of the climb, the ability to have a bit of humility and laugh.

He provided a deep, emotional sense of grace in realizing where I was even when I didn’t fully know “where” I was- and assured me that He was with me the entire time.

I am praying this is the experience of my friends even as it has been mine for most of my lifetime.

“In the world you shall have tribulation. But be of good cheer- I have overcome the world” are not empty words when you’ve experienced them in a living relationship with the only Savior Who -is-.
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Thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Along The Journey

As I was searching through the web for something entirely different today, I came across the news report (on a rock music news website) that Jack Bruce, legendary bass player/vocalist for the 60’s supergroup Cream had died of liver failure. I lost count of the Cream songs I both sang and played in several bands in the Milwaukee area but to say Jack, Eric and Ginger were a major part of our playlist and inspiration in those days would be a massive understatement.

Four other bits of news came my way of a more personal nature in the past few days.

Kim Sperlazzo had passed away due to cancer. She and husband Bob are longtime friends of Wendi and I and REZ Band. Bob and another bro. produced one of the very first progressive venues and concert ministries in the Chicago metro to welcome REZ back in the day.

One of my grandsons and a mass of his friends along with family celebrated his eleventh birthday with an amazing party, treats, bonfire with s’mores and a guys-only overnight with movies last night.

But I had to leave a little early due to dear friends of ours who had just gotten word of their Doctor’s report: husband and father of three boys has stage four cancer. This in a family already dealing with varied and difficult illness issues.

A visit to the hospital and many prayers later I lay in bed thinking about the flow of life, death, the journey we are all on.

Today it was time for me to do a thorough sweep, mop and room, bathroom (toilet, sink, etc.) scrub while Wendi was at our nephew and soon-to-be-bride’s wedding shower.

In just 3 days, all these events appeared on the radar.

Somewhere between the horror and shock elements, the joy and celebration events, thankfully, the majority of these friends follow the Lord (and with that, the biblical clause for them is: “death, where is your sting?” due to salvation in Jesus). Yet one has to consider one’s effort and stewardship of one’s life and time. I’ve done so regularly for a long time, but either way, it’s still important for every one of us.

I am SO glad to know Him, to recognize in all the pain and sorrow as well as grace, joy and fun in life a Savior Who indeed is THE only Savior.

He is indeed the only God “near” and “not far away” though for some very sad people, at the arm’s length they keep him.

Celebration of a life is one thing… eternal life yet another.

Things to consider along the journey…

Things I am thinking about as we approach another Sunday gathering.

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Rice Hater!?

20141019_135207Great service this past Sunday a.m., and then I brought our traditional Sunday lunch up for Wendi and I, that being beans and rice.

Now there may be some who hate rice, but a great lot of the world live on it as a staple and there are many good things we can say about it.

BUT- for all the spices, flavorings, adding it to soups, even cold salads, etc., and even the many and varied varieties of rice there still may be any number of reasons to truly dislike it, even perhaps hate the stuff.

My guess (and that’s all it is) is that the main reasons most would is that they’ve had a lousy-bad experience with it- and if it isn’t cooked properly it can be horribly hard, super gummy and just baaaad.

So it turned out our sister-in-law (originally a Southerner like my Wendi) was in the kitchen today cooking lunch.

Without any explanation (and my wife didn’t know Tina was cooking) I prayed for our lunch, Wendi looked at the rice (which she likes me to bring separate from the beans, so two bowls), took a bite and exclaimed “THIS IS THE BEST RICE I’VE HAD IN YEARS… SOMEBODY KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING”! Followed by my laughing remark that due to Southerners knowing how to cook rice (because they eat it, likely more than most upper-midwesterners eat potatoes… which is a lot) both she and our Sis-in-law were the reason.

She promptly asked for her phone so she could brag to Tina on the AMAZING rice.

Now, Wendi is the best cook I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat food by, and she is a riceologist par exellance.

For her to tell someone they’ve done rice super well is a serious compliment and rather unusual.

After the call, Wendi said Tina simply said “I just followed the directions”.

🙂

If more Christians (myself included) loved and lived like God desires us to, according to the Bible… what a different church and indeed world it would be!

“I just followed the directions”.

Wow. Yes. God help us, regardless of those who may for any number of reasons worthy and unworthy of it, really dislike or even hate rice.

Thanks for stopping by!

-Glenn

The Trellis

20141013_170723I suppose in using metaphors (for example, an “ark”, based on the actual ark Noah built and used), one might take artistic license to describe this or that from time to time.

No doubt there is plenty of symbolism in scripture and there is hearty debate, perhaps more in current times, regarding what portions are fictional, merely symbolic and written to establish a spiritual and/or moral point.

Was it Samuel Clements who said “I find those things in the Bible that I DO understand trouble me most”? Whomever, I agree.

Today I found myself standing outside for a time just before getting Wendi and our dinner upstairs.

It was a slightly cool day in Chicago, and as night fell the rain which also fell much of the day picked up some. I love rain a lot but getting soaked in it is something else…

So I moved toward the side of our amazing garden, and stood for a few minutes under the lush trellis which the vines and flowers have thickly covered. A few drops of rain would occasionally spray me but mostly just fell all around as I stood with my coffee cup and enjoyed the moment, dry, safe and warm.

I’ve used a phrase continually, that being “biblical sin lists”. In most cases when one or more areas defined as such by the human writers of the Old and New Testaments were “moved of the Holy Ghost” to mention them, definition of what was and was not, is and is not “missing the mark” in terms of God’s view is rather clear. I’d say it’s human, even church-based “sin lists” and not those in the biblical record that give me the most trouble.

It is the matter of -who- gets to define both what is sinful and what is righteous behavior that I think most of us have the greatest practical problem with.

If we revise clear statements with slack interpretation or, I suspect often, a great deal of human bias for or against a position the Bible seems to lay out quite clearly, it is not amazing but rather unsurprising we take one another to task over the meaning and definition of what sin and righteousness -is- with regard to the particular issue.

Do any of us “cherry pick”? I like this and do not like that so this is cool and that is not? Yup. Human preference does not qualify righteousness. God defines or we define. So… not only how we read the Bible (and ALL come with their lenses, bias, their chosen prejudice…) but if God and His Word are not the final authority then it comes down to personal human opinion. Which is likely the way we want it.

We are then, effectively, god.

This sad, even blasphemous mess isn’t about politics, governmental laws, nor even about the law of God as we understand it in the Old Testament.

Do ALL people in each matter always twist, bend and misinterpret scripture this way? No. Do we all make mistakes? Of course. Do any of us always love what the Bible says? No.

Does God have a will? Does He bring us commandments or only promises?

Does anyone truly consider their personal or shared reason against the Bible and it’s annoying, even deeply troubling parts more authoritative than what is clearly written? Put bluntly, is what you or I think equal to or even surpassing the cannon of the Bible?

In such a case you have decided that what is between your ears (or possibly, YOUR interpretation of the scriptures) IS God’s Word.

If Christ is the ultimate trellis, if He alone keeps sin from having dominion over us, it seems it is His right to tell us, and our right to discover, not re-write the cannon. If you argue the Bible is less authoritative for X, Y or Z reason, you are telling me that you are The authority in the particular issue.

Jesus never did anything with Old Testament scripture but that He quoted and affirmed it. He fulfilled the law for us as we cannot do- perfectly.

When John wrote (John’s Gospel chapter One) “the law came via Moses but grace and truth came from Jesus Christ” he was not saying that what Jesus defined as true was somehow erasing the law of Moses and in particular, the moral and ethical core of that law.

Adultery is still adultery, theft is still theft, murder is still murder and so forth.

If you separate Jesus from His Word and the Word He constantly quoted, what do you know about Him? There is some but very little historical record of Christ outside the Bible. This is a problem one cannot simply gloss over.

As for me, the trellis is a good place. I played in the rain plenty before following Jesus and His Word. Grace does not annul our need to believe, repent and in love, obey Him and what He and His Word calls us to.

“The Word of God, both Old and New Testaments, which is the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine and practice” as the churches have often said.

Here I stand.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

GK’s Inspiration?

downloadfileIf you don’t care (and no problem at all if you don’t) what inspires me to creativity, please feel free to pass over this blog post.

From my earliest years I was interested in people. Who were they, where did they come from, what do they think and how did they come to think and believe as they do?

As I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs, I was a history, news and communications junkie and still am. Encyclopedias were huge to me, online the CIA (and other) Factbook on various nations and cultures, but also the English language websites of many countries, provinces and such have always held my interest as have many exotic subcultures and of course being a musician, their music.

Geography, maps, terrain, various flora and fauna, all of it interested me and continues to.

I people watch. I study humanity and the all-too-often lack of it.

The “why” and varied perspectives on many and wide-ranging wars in history have long been part of my interest and concern for the human race.

Certainly my own sense of guilt over small-time drug dealing and my pre-conversion life of influencing people and the misery (mine) that I passed on in whatever measure was in part the reason I finally came to faith in Jesus and trusting the Bible as opposed to this or that human philosophy as though fallen human nature could somehow bring peace to my soul much less eternal life.

But it has been a life of study, interest and education in all of these that bring me to a continuing conviction that I must do what I can in lyrics, song intros. and other comments in live shows and of course writing blogs as well as one-on-one and larger conversations with others who care deeply about people and events and seek to encourage uplift instead of pass along ever more self-centered misery to a world rather swimming in it.

Laments: I have spent countless hours in the Book of Psalms and find great inspiration there for integrity in both pain as well as seeking and finding the Lord in the journey no matter the circumstances.

When one experiences and studies and then is moved to care, one not only communicates but acts (as in activism) rather than merely talking and/or theorizing about promoting, provoking and being a part of the process of positive change. Or not. Put bluntly, I couldn’t live with myself by doing nothing in the face of sin and it’s effects.

So I suppose it is in part, that “missing the mark”, which of course I and everyone reading this does… the “negative” that inspires me as much as the positive in promoting good and encouraging change, healing and a godly life. But it’s a matter of character and action not merely politicking for one’s position, or to “get liked”, or career advancement.

If love, and I mean God’s love toward ourselves, others, towards whomever “the least of these” may be isn’t the core generator of our thoughts and actions, it’s all going to be “wood, hay and stubble” in the judgment… which is indeed only a matter of time -not merely “if”.

I’m fully convinced there is a God Who loves beyond all other “love/s”, Who sacrified and Who continues to interact with humankind, His followers in particular.

If the Artist, the Creator, THE Alpha and Omega is not The Source of our inspiration, then I’d say our creative work is a waste of time and largely myopic as opposed to an acceptable offering.

As John the baptist said- “He must increase and I must decrease”. It’s HIS glory and loving others as Jesus does that both costs most as well as rewards the greatest effort and deepest sacrifice along the path.

“Do all you do for the glory of the Lord”, “Let all you do be done in love” and so on, says The Book which inspires me most.

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn