End of February 2015 Update

Wow, where to start!

PERSONAL

Wendi is walking every so often with NO cane or walker after having both hips replaced last year. AMAZing grace!!

Working out daily, groovin’ on low-carb diet strong again, doing the Dr. visits after some years, so far so good πŸ™‚

Enjoying my family, back at metal shop one day each week, recording a project for release one day each week, more webwork happening, writing and new project work, responding to tour requests, blogging, about to build a special rig for busking with cigarbox/found-object guitars, etc., very much looking forward to that when warm weather comes! I’ve some rather unique design features for street and even typical solo concerts.

As usual studying a wide variety of things in various areas of interest. Typing this via a new live AntiX Linux distribution. Built a few quick diddley-bows (1 string slide guitars) out of junk… all sound cool and have inspired fresh songs.

GK SOLO BLUES

I’m slowly back to recording tunes for a solo cigarbox/found-object solo blues project. Little by little my friend Joe Filisko will blow harp on some of the tunes, I’ll add a bit of harp, maybe some percussion on a few. A lot more songs to record prior to choosing for the project. Release dates and info will be posted when the time comes. A lot to still record and make decisions about. Finished a Leadbelly cover/re-write for that today.

I’ve a list of tour requests, praying, thinking, will publicize when finalized as usual.

Been invited to help produce another bro’s project and will start on that very soon.

GKB

GKB is soon to woodshed on new songs, likely to release a few new tunes prior to our German/Swiss/Czech tour in early June. Roy’s written a ton of ’em, I’ve several, we’ll just select a handful for starters, then pare ’em down and record, play them some live prior to that tour. The concept is when we have a full project we’ll release it as such, publicizing it when that happens, same re. tour dates.

MISC.

Folks have asked about a Christmas cd… perhaps we’ll get to that,Β  but all these others come ahead of that.

I’ve written a number of worship songs as have others here at JPUSA, so we -may- see a compilation project come together in the next year or so.

I’ve mentioned an arts blog dealing with several different art forms, teaching notes, links to a number of too-little-known folks who do amazing work, teaching and mission via arts that I want to promote. There seems to be no single repository of such on the web but there will be soon as I can get things in order and be certain the links are all good. Will pub that when ready for action too!

All-in-all a GREAT deal of grace in my life, and certainly easier due to my sweet Wendi’s health. She is SUCH a GIFT to me.

May you find and know the Love Eternal… Easter is coming!

Thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Thoughts On Social Media

20150219_125822I will eventually find an old blog post I wrote years ago about “Web Church” and perhaps re-post it.

The gist of that blog was simply that I don’t think any sort of social media exchange- even to the point of live chat or Skype (even with webcam) can fully replace face-to-face relationships.

In short, unless you can get a more full picture of who someone is, even chat with their closest peeps some, it can be quite a shell-game as to who they -really- are in daily life.

Even face-to-face people lie, or simply wear protective “masks”. So when one can hide behind a firewall, type or send pics, video, audio and simply words out to an international audience, some of whom have little to no discernment… or at times, even deep interest in truth, you get my point: web church and mere web relationships have their loose threads and at times, fully propagandizing (posing, not truthfulness) possibilities.

But on to today’s post πŸ™‚

I’m pretty constant in reading news, checking out friends and other’s sites, Facebook and Twitter, etc., online. I mostly do so daily.

Same as via any medium of communication, slowing down, taking care for what one says, reads, posts or responds to is likely more important than we often think about or consider.

So much is pulp, not worth the time. Some tweets, posts or blogs are quite funny and can lighten your day. Some is pure rubbish and unfit for consumption. Then you have the adverts.

Sometimes one learns about serious pain, misery (prayer time!) or super-cool stuff like marriage, babies being born, birthdays and celebratory stuff via social media. Like anything, social media is a mixed bag of good, not-good, truth and fable.

Then what pops into my little pea-brain is this (stay with me, it may seem out of nowhere for a bit):

Colossians 2.17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the body/substance belongs to Christ.

“SHADOW”:

shade caused by the interception of light

image cast by an object and representing the form of that object

sketch, outline

“BODY” or “SUBSTANCE”:

the body both of men or animals

a (large or small) number of men closely united into one society, or family,
a social, ethical, mystical body

in the NT of the church

that which casts a shadow as distinguished from the shadow itself

–Which comes from a root word which means:

to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction

to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health

to save in the technical biblical sense

Years ago we heard a Bible teaching titled “Shadow or Substance”. Certainly, Paul in his writing to the Christian church is in context, saying “rules and regs. don’t provide what only the Risen Christ Himself can, does and will if you will trust Him”.

So many peeps get snared thinking this or that ritual will “fix” them… or conversely (and just as shallow) that if they do their best to -not- participate in X, Y or Z form/ritual, they then escape the lack of Christ they have decided such will condemn them to.

Big point: God is ALL about relationship. He sent God the Son in human form (there is “form”, “body”, “substance” for you!) and the third Person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit was then sent to fill, empower, Comfort and indeed convict us. He calls us to be part of His family, the “body of Christ” as it’s often called in the New Testament.

As we seek Him in faith, and do the messy, imperfect work of close and closer fellowship with Him and His people (“the church”) we find substance, not mere shadow or form. John (1 John chapter 1) talks about our following Him and then walking in the light together. Light, not shadow. Substance, not mere form.

So you have Paul’s solid teaching that Jesus -plus nothing- is sufficient.

You also must wrestle with the fact that Jesus as well as Paul- indeed taught… “doctrine”, certainly had patterns of doing as He walked the earth. So it is not merely and fully “who cares about sound teaching” as some say… “because it’s ALL about relationship”. It’s also about honest, authentic, relationship based on Him, indeed what HE thinks and says (Bible time!) and how HE teaches us by the Holy Spirit via the Gospels, Book of Acts, Paul and other’s letters in the New Testament.

In other words it’s both/and.

There is both nearness and distance between ourselves and God, between ourselves and one another.

Both in social media and our relationship (or lack of one) with God and others, these things ring true. You may experience shadow or substance with Him, with others, online or offline.

If we think in terms of marriage- you can be distant though communicating all the time (by not communicating in love OR truthfully, or keeping conversation shallow or simply one-sided), or you can share love, truth, depth and intimacy in a marriage.

I am convinced face-to-face is best with the caveats I’ve already mentioned here.

No air-brushing photos, no pretense.

And maybe that’s why many choose social media over face-to-face. Maybe we think we’re better people, or more “safe” at such a distance. Maybe we think we’re more “in control”, but of course anyone can say (type) anything at any time.

Indeed, in Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness even the devil quotes scripture.

So we have both blessing and curse in social media.

Sometimes it’s massively anti-social… here comes another election cycle for example!

Things to consider.

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Worship: 500 Pound Gorillas

In my view there are two 500 pound gorillas in worship, one and perhaps both are mentioned on occasion but all-too-often left out of the discussion regarding true, full, vibrant and yes, even “God pleasing” worship.

First a foundation overview and then on to my two main points.

We -need- to worship God far more than He NEEDS us to worship Him.

His perfect, holy, loving nature and character won’t diminish one iota whether we do or don’t honor, bow, kiss-toward, raise hands, clap, dance, attain intimate worship with Him. Not on Sunday nor any other day of the week. Not this month, this year or this millennium. He is utterly perfect and unchanging, complete with or without us. That may be a travesty of thought for some, but I think it holds true in scripture.

At the same time, He DESIRES us to worship Him for Who He is and I dare say, for all the amazing grace He actively stirs into our lives.

Our -need- to worship Him is near limitless from my perspective.

For example-

Our need OF God, Father, Son, Spirit

Our personal relationship WITH Him

Salvation, forgiveness of sins, gifts of faith, hope and love, humility FROM Him

A deep sense of dependency UPON Him.

All are good and we are needful of these and more via engaging Him in the many facets of worship.

Worshiping Him in “spirit and in truth” (as Jesus said “the Father SEEKS people” who do so on earth) is His desire, command (“you shall worship the Lord your God”) and our privilege.

Yet I say again, it is our need while it is His desire to have a deepening intimacy with us, it is not something He will cease to be God without.

I will say bluntly, I believe we largely cease to be His people and fully human if we do not (or cease to) worship Him.

This said, point One:

WE -AND NOT GOD- DEFINE WHAT TRUE, MEANINGFUL WORSHIP IS.

Too often this seems the honest case, no? Not good. Not good at all. God first… or me first? On what, better still, “whom” is our focus?

After years of study of both Testaments including Old Testament temple worship, the Psalms, words of Jesus, Book of Acts and letters of the New Testament, etc., I find very little ABSOLUTE template for a practical form of -how- the faithful followers of Jesus Christ MUST (by His declaration) worship. If anything, what leaps from scripture is a vast array of varied physical, locational and other sorts of worship styles rather than any particular one. In fact the core issue as I understand it is literally the one I have already quoted in the two texts above.

Yet individuals, couples, families, the young, the old, this and that group of believers brings a set of practical forms, personal desires, openness or hard and closed definitions of what REAL worship “looks, sounds, feels like” and what it produces in THEM… or they just may not believe they’ve had an encounter with the Lord in a given moment of time, private or corporate.

When WE define worship (like most other matters) without a clear biblical definition… and when we have decided our own favorite cultural, comfort, whatever-you-like experience isn’t to our satisfaction we often feel like… what… leaving this congregation for another, starting a new one, blowing off meeting together because “I am not experiencing AUTHENTIC, REAL WORSHIP”.

As the old Covenanters (Ev. Cov.Church of which I am a member) asked, “Where is it written?”
Truth be told, sometimes we don’t really care.

We define what we need and not getting it, do whatever (or not) to “get” it. Funny how worship of God turns into a personal fulfillment quest… which is self-focus, not God-focus. Myopic. ME. Ahhh… not so good methinks.

Point Two:

HEART, SOUL, MIND, STRENGTH… AND YOUR NEIGHBOR?

We often must repent of showing up to get the good stuff of fellowship with God and His people, food, fun, blessings (all GOOD STUFF, I love it too!!!) while not engaging with our hearts. “They worship me with their lips but their hearts are far from me” as Jesus quotes from the Old Book.

How can you or I rightly judge our neighbor (or a non-Christian neighbor or other believers or another congregation for that matter) about their worship when we often fully know we show up on Sunday morning and ignore the needs of those in our church, block, co-workers at our day job, are ourselves only prepared to “get the good stuff” and rarely if ever lift a finger to help “the least of these” all around us when we walk out of the meeting?

What? “The PROfessionals get paid to do this! The government will deal with them. This is why we pay taxes!! It’s not MY calling, not MY job, hey, that’s why we have a staff in our local church [or denomination]!”

Please.

When we divorce focused worship of our God from loving our neighbor among whom God has placed us we’re right back to the Book of Amos where He blasts Israel for the “noise of your songs” for lack of “justice and righteousness” specifically with regard to widows, orphans, foreigners and the poor overall. Look it up. I DARE you to look up in the very Word of God the issues I raise here.

I repent regularly for my own selfishness. Without the mercy of Jesus and kindness of the Father I have no eternity but hell as I’ve never earned any other nor can I.

It is GRACE by which we are able to ever worship in spirit and truth- and do not think that it’s a great idea to experience deep, hot (or however you wish to label it) worship of God while essentially living self-centered lives when it comes to those in need around you.

It’s a both/and sort of thing.

True worship comforts and also convicts us to love God and our neighbor more, yes, even sacrificialy.

I fail regularly at both, but I cannot claim ignorance nor any sort of practical holiness
when I don’t engage from deep in my heart with Him REGARDLESS OF THE ELEMENTS OF WORSHIP as well as loving my neighbor REGARDLESS OF MY LAME EXCUSES FOR DISENGAGING.

“These people worship me with their lips but they worship in vain for their hearts are far from me” comes to mind. Pair that with “As you’ve done it to the least of these my brethren you’ve done it to me”. Ouch.

Finally, I’m well aware God has not called everyone to do everything for every needful person they ever lay eyes upon, read or hear about! I get that, it’s quite obvious we all have limits. The problem is so few care and actively share the love of Jesus beyond their own personal life, family or immediate small group of friends.

True worship moves us beyond ourselves.

We move closer to the true God as well as our neighbor due to His love and His call.

May we experience a genuine worship revival. New songs or experiences are great… but they are not near enough.

Things to consider.

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

The Journey Continues

Some of this may sound macabre, but trust me, you may find sense and even peace in the following.

No matter our present state, it will change. Every one of us will encounter a few things- being born (none of us remember that but it happened:), living (for however long) and dying.

Within a very short number of days this week my life has included/will include:

*playing guitar in a nephew’s wedding

*my wife doing fabulous from two hip replacements but both of us fighting/recovering from intense upper chest colds and cough (nearly an e.r. visit for her)

*one of our son-in-law’s Mom passed away

*a very close friend soon to pass into Jesus’ presence

*and I’m learning two new (to me) songs to play guitar in a wedding this coming weekend

Ahhh… call it “life’s journey” and one way or another we’re on it!

I am reminded how others (and myself pre-salvation in Jesus) dealt with the ups and downs… drugs, sex, alcohol, flooding my head with music to ease the pain, quitting and joining bands, swapping girlfriends, chopping hair off or growing it… you get the picture.

When the tensions and difficulties also mix with the joy and fun in living it’s wise to notice how you make choices, cope, medicate (or self-medicate) and so on.

This week again I’m reminded of several essential relationships that things like marriage, death, community and faith all put in rather stark and important perspective.

Few things matter, those that do REALLY matter. A personal relationship to Jesus (or none) make a difference as to how we navigate the journey. It is not in our ultimate control (never has nor will be) as to the way things happen in life, but oh how essential God’s love and genuine friendships in His love make all the difference as to our sense of peace, grace and well-being… or not.

So what follows here is here is part of this morning’s reading in my personal devotional time.

Come to think of it, this reminds me of a song πŸ™‚

As always, thanks for stopping by!
-Glenn

Psalm 27 (NET)
13. Where would I be if I did not believe I would experience the Lord’s favor in the land of the living?
14. Rely on the Lord! Be strong and confident! Rely on the Lord!

REZ Band Recording Circa 1974

MTRTD- To whom it may interest, recorded and mixed in Gary Rotta’s parent’s house. ‘Twas a basement studio with a four track reel-to-reel Tascam recorder via a tube mixing desk that had recorded one of Elvis’s million sellers (don’t recall which tune).

Fun. Intense. Not quite as crunch as when we played these tunes live but you get a pretty good sense of our vibe in those days.

Mixed by Gary, prod. by Tom Cameron and a little input from myself, from about midnight to 4a.m. via headphones so as to not wake his parents.

Geezers R Us πŸ™‚
-Glenn

On Earth -as It Is in Heaven

I’ve been pondering what follows here for some time. One phrase from what is most often called “the Lord’s prayer”- in particular where part of Jesus’ response to His disciples question “Lord, teach us to pray” includes “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.

Seems to me no matter how authentic our salvation/saving faith/personal relationship to Jesus is, no matter how closely we fulfill the commandments of God, no matter how good our heart attitudes, I doubt Jesus could have meant that our prayers of faith will in themselves bring THE EXACT WILL OF GOD to our earth.

Sound erroneous to you?

Consider that prayer never changes God. He is perfect, utterly holy and unchanging.

He indeed DOES and SHALL “work all things out according to the counsel of HIS will”… and yet does anyone with a brain and honest knowledge of either world or church history believe His perfect, absolute will (which is the ONLY way things happen in heaven before His throne) is what we have a historical record of on earth?

To ask, plead, trust and follow Him individually and corporately in praying “Your will be done on earth AS IT IS in heaven” does not mean that what we have seen nor shall see humans do on earth is precisely as things are done in heaven where all is done literally without sin, in utter perfection.

I don’t know who the wise wag was who first came up with the concept that “prayer doesn’t change God… prayer changes us” -but she or he was dead-on correct in my view.

So what is Jesus getting at in this part of the prayer He taught and teaches us to pray?

Perhaps at core He is saying (let me personalize this for emphasis) “Glenn- I want to you talk to the Father in faith, ask Him to meet your real and perceived needs and the genuine and perceived needs of others. I want you to bless them, friend, enemy, stranger in prayer. I want YOUR HEART TO DESIRE TO DO THE FATHER’S REVEALED WILL BEST YOU KNOW HOW IN ACCORD WITH HIS WORD, because that’s as close as you can live out life with Father, Myself and Spirit in this world as you will in heaven eternally.”

When we seek to love in action rather than concept, when our prayers “walk”, our words to God are far more than mere theory, we are agents of His grace, His will on earth. Prayers like this not only change our thinking about God, ourselves and others, they help us get in tune with doing what we say we do (and ought to) believe.

There is no angel, no other creature (seems there are several) before God’s throne in heaven that do not with absolute perfection and precision perform His absolute will! Not so on earth, let’s face it.

Now, for those who wish to argue further, is it the will of God for anyone, anywhere at any time to -murder-? No. Do people murder people on earth? Why would God break His Own commandment by allowing such to happen when so many of us pray in faith for protection of people who then are murdered? No sin (what God calls sin in His Book, not as the church nor you or I may define the term) is the will of God on earth. Not. Ever. There is zero sin in heaven.

Please, no offense desired on my part, but being very blunt here, I believe some of my friends in hardcore reformed and some in hardcore charismatic/pentecostal circles do theological back flips to answer and explain such a question, but in light of Jesus’ prayer, IS GOD’S TRUE WILL ACCOMPLISHED by every prayed-over act of humankind? Please! This is not the case.

I conclude that His teaching prayer is about our own lives lining up with His character, His Word, His desires, His love, our own attitudes checked, our own motives, goals and desires being a matter of our will getting in sync with our Father’s will to the best of our ability to comprehend it in accord with His Word, The Bible. It’s about making wise, biblical choices and in love, obedient surrender to the only God there is.

Prayer is in part, about agreement, covenant between each of us and the Lord. Will His will ULTIMATELY BE DONE ON EARTH as it is in heaven? Of course!! Meanwhile…

We live in the meanwhile… and though we may mean well and pray well, plenty of us go off the rails, some mentally, some emotionally, some with guns, knives and other devices. Anger, rage, fear and anxiety plague plenty of people with true, saving faith in Jesus Christ. They (we) do not perfectly do His will on earth and must in humility, confess and repent when appropriate.

Neither confession nor repentance is needed in heaven because there is neither mistake nor sin happening there.

On earth, we are no more immune to temptation (note His inclusion of this in the Lord’s Prayer) than non-believers.

To tell me His will shall be done on earth simply on the basis of my or our combined prayers as though the church can somehow get God to get everyone on the planet (as it is in heaven) lovingly following Him in all our thoughts, words and deeds… has never nor will ever happen.

In His good time the kingdoms of this world will fall to the kingdom of God and Christ the King -but we presently live in the “not yet”.

God wants us to WANT His will, done even as it is in heaven, to pray for and live out His will of love, all the fruits of the Holy Spirit (see Gal. chapter 5) and for His gracious love to be exhibited through His people- the church- in this broken world.

Do we? Well… let’s be honest… -sometimes- we do. Sometimes. Thank God for His grace!!!

Praying this prayer is massively important in all it’s aspects, but I’d say this portion is often somewhat overlooked. We want God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. He wants us to act accordingly. God help us to take this seriously.

Things to consider! As always, thanks for stopping by.

-Glenn