Last Night, Cook Co. Jail

A friend named Pete and myself were kindly welcomed by officers and men. As usual we knew a few of the guys but most were in this division/dorm passing through (often extremely slowly) to court dates, possible release or prison sentences.

Prayers, songs (including a couple classic Christmas tunes) were sung, lots of clapping and outward responses.

They always get excited, ask questions and love it when I do blues-based songs on one of my cigarbox guitars, which was the only thing I brought, along with a harmonica for a “special” I did for ’em. Super response!

One of the bros asked if he could sing a song he wrote (acappella) and I said “Absolutely!”

It was a sweet song of praise and whoah… the pipes this bro has… God blessed us with one of the best singers I’ve heard for some time 🙂 He asked if he could sing one more at the end of the night and again, YES. So good!

I had been invited to also bring the message and because we’d just passed the 2nd Sunday in Advent I spoke on Luke chapter two -the birth of Jesus, and focused on Him and the shepherds.

Volumes have been written and preached on those sheep herders but in the end, they were (like the apostles Jesus hand-picked) “low-life” peeps, they smelled bad, spent long and lonely hours in fields facing wolves and all sorts of weather. The rough life and elements, long night vigils spent smack in the doorways of makeshift pens was anything but upper-class respectable.

So to whom does God choose to reveal the birth of the Messiah? Low-class nobodies who spend the bulk of their time with dumb animals.

In and through a poor and very young virgin girl He works one of the most astonishing miracles (and most heaven and hell shaking as well) then picks these outlier men who had never in their lives expected it to see an angel army and hear the voice of one of them proclaiming the Who, what and precisely where He was doing this eternity-changing act. The wealthy, powerful, rulers, politically positioned? Naaah. He revealed His plan of salvation to a young girl and these poor shepherds out “in the sticks”!

What did they do after being fully freaked out at all they saw and heard? Went and checked it all out -and found all was exactly as they had been told.

How many lessons are there to be learned from people we may ascribe little or no value to? How many of us have been given new, amazingly changed (for the extreme better!!!) lives due to paying attention when God showed up in our life regardless of how He did so?

Both young and older, mostly minority people of color behind bars very often in my experience -come to revelation of the reality of the Savior quicker, deeper and often with a much greater real-world response over their remaining lifetime in comparison to those who believe they and not these have great worth and value.

God continues to use the base, the simple, the “scum of the earth” to confound the wise. He brings the mountains low and the valleys up. The incarcerated are some of the most truly Christian, indeed ever for the smallest blessings, grateful people I’ve met.

NO ONE is without value in His eyes. No one.

If you think of yourself as worthless or with very little value on this earth I’m telling you your heavenly Father completely disagrees with you. Seek Him, follow Jesus and in time you will see more than the skies open up to what He desires to do in your life!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Advent Time Diddley Bow Build

Why? Basic art therapy I suppose… and because I have a ton of boxes. This little one along with a 98 cent Menards yardstick called my name. Got a load of old acoustic wound strings and such, and again, if you build thoughtfully using the right string and don’t torque it up too much even a solid yardstick errr… half a yardstick… can work for a neck on a one-string slide guitar and quite small Montecristo box.

So here ’tis!

Total Length: 18.25 inches  Depth: 3.25 in.  Width: 3.75 in.  Scale bridge to nut: 15.50 in.

Appx. a light gauge wound G tuned to a C -and I’m lovin’ this little thing!

Slide only, no pickup.

I already recorded a Christmas tune on my paint stirrer diddley titled Nine-Six -for Grrr Records and when it’s ready they will post it as a free download via GrrrRecords.Com

When I finished the Montecristo I immediately got inspired and wrote another Christmas tune (title is Snowflakes) which will be included in this year’s free download of Cigarbox Guitar Christmas 2019 -along with a slew of other holiday songs, over at CigarBoxNation.Com That will be available right before Christmas.

Hope you’re enjoying Advent 🙂

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

AMAZING Night Tonight!

Wow. Just Wow!

Uptown Church did a live Christmas Nativity scene complete with costumes, live music, hay, sweet candle-like lights, even treats! It was a cold Chicago night but they warmed up one Wilson Abbey entrance, the sidewalk and whole street. SO cool and a lot of folks stopped to enjoy, take pics and such.

The other WA doors opened to Everybody’s Coffee as part of Uptown Chicago’s annual Winter Walk night- and hosted a beautiful, smiling set from The Crossing (our amazing trad. Celtic band) followed by my solo set comprised of Christmas songs, some of my own holiday tunes, bit of blues and even a fresh blues-harp based song for the season called “Nine-Six” which Grrr will release shortly.

My sweet friends Wade and Mary Jane came and gifted me with 30 (Thirty!) cigar boxes to make guitars out of! Yep… WOW. SO kind of them. And two other friends came with ’em, just really cool folks.

Next, after chatting w. folks and thanking the EC staff for their excellent coffee and kindness, I put my gear away and buzzed across the street to Grrr Records artist Leper’s new cd release party. Packed house, great live interview (Ed chatting with skot from Leper) and off the charts food as well. [My Wendi’s chili was flat-out superb.] Kudos to the entire Grrr Records staff and friends who curated, decorated, cooked and supported this talented band I’m proud to be a label-mate with.

I’m just *so* grateful for family and friends that have made this day special.

Wishing God’s grace to YOU in this season!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Jesus Movement -Then and Now?

A Facebook friend recently sent me 3 successive clips. They were the history of Calvary Chapel and the Jesus Movement, a full tv show with William F. Buckley Jr. interviewing Malachi Martin dealing with the movement, and a Love Song tune of the era.

This can be and in many ways is a deep well. But in a nutshell response I replied with the following-

“Ahhh the “good old days”, when for some of us young ‘uns the spiritual times were simpler including the theology, doctrine and lack (Allelulia) of hard-wired methodology. On the other hand, race-riots, young service personnel being shipped home in body bags, Kent State and police brutality, Nixon, drug and sex addiction… wait… maybe all this is still in various ways happening today. Hopefully enough professing Christians will come to deeper connection to Father, Son, Spirit via His Word so that solid theology, depth of understanding to love Him and “the other” via doctrine (which is the core point of it) and fluid methodology rather than clinging wistfully to what either was or what we merely prefer painting us into static, spiritually immature corners. My prayer and personal desire -let it be HIS desire we fulfill!”

Mine was a simplistic reply of course. Here’s what I’d add:

IF and AS enough people (sizable minority) actually “pray without ceasing” through their day, are active in BEing “at peace with one another”, DOing “all you do in love”, and rather than lip-servicing “my faith is real” while clinging to weaponry and seeking the obliteration rather than cooperating with God the Holy Spirit to the possible salvation of “the widow, orphan, refugee, and those “not like us”, don’t hold your breath over “a new Jesus Movement”.

I’m one of the JM veterans and for what it is or isn’t worth, the first one imho happened due to 3, perhaps 4 major things.

1. Jesus moved. 2. Most of us (a majority of white students and street people) recognized and called out the atrocities (see above) and Emperors’ new clothes for what they were, 3. recognized beyond all material gain and “security” we’d enjoyed none of it met our deepest need for God and His love in Christ, and banded together to live out our faith come-what-may. (4.) Traditional churches on occasion were gracious and did not seek to co-opt the young Jesus Freaks but laid aside cultural and political “Berlin Walls” and whether they did or did not, houses sprung up in the U.S. and elsewhere that welcomed the hippies, surfers and “street Christians” who boldly, simply shared the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Most aged, got culturally conservative, got “a real job”, married, had kids and decided they were best fit for “normal”. Many via the several levels of pain, illness, dashed hopes and church politics or big-shot and often sin-mired leaders simply quit. Plenty continue to love God and populate churches (traditional and quite the opposite), a great number serve on the mission field of the larger world or in church leadership to this very day.

The reality is that there is a cost for following Jesus and many did not count it. Even quoting the very Word of Christ in the four Gospels (I mean the hard, demanding, “sounds like boundaries and even exclusion to me!”) then and now are what we are tempted to avoid.

Sometimes by this we avoid the Holy Spirit. Our thoughts about His thoughts become more important to us than His clear commands.

One reason I love blues music for all it’s simplicity is that it’s lyrically rather matter-of-fact about the injustices or perceived injustices of life… and the song continues to be sung. The cross is in the DNA.

If we avoid our crosses we avoid Him and those pesky, unlikable, unlovable “others”, and there you have my assessment of what was and why what some wish for may or may not take place.

Jesus is still moving! He’s never stopped. He will return too, ready or not.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

“Peace On Earth And…

Goodwill towards men”?

Is this what I’ve learned from world, national, state and local history?A more in-my/your-face question: is it what I have experienced -and- projected via my own life in the day-to-day?

To those paying attention to sheep and the night sky these are clearly God’s desire. But sadly, some will not bow to Him in order to receive them for they are also God’s doing.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” -Luke 2.13, 14

“…among those with whom He is pleased!” Yow. That’s a can of worms, no?

Ahhh but if there is no God, whatever. I mean literally whatever… whatever you like, however you feel, even civility like many things in which we engage or not, is a matter of personal preference and not much else.

Same goes for the Scriptures. I don’t happen to subscribe to a hardcore extreme fundamentalist or extreme reformed (Calvin-esque) or extreme Arminian understanding of The Bible. But I do believe it’s true, the Word of God and not merely a matter of human authorship -and without going into why I believe this I’m as convinced as I can be that what’s between your ears OR mine doesn’t come close to the truth, reality and indeed salvation that only Jesus Christ offers.

So do we want peace, is goodwill towards humankind- friends, foes, people like and unlike us really something we even seek?!

No doubt there are those that read my last longer paragraph above and separate from me in their viewpoints for any number of reasons. How much of our positions boil down to “what I want to believe or disbelieve”, in a word: preference? I’ve written a blog on that recently if interested.

Luke’s Gospel clearly states that the “glory” of God is paramount -but not if what you or I desire is more important to us! Honoring Him, worshiping Him is moot if you don’t believe He exists. Further, even if you profess faith in the Risen Savior Jesus if what you desire smacks up against Him (and yep, His Word) well whatever is what you actively live out in daily life. Does it bring you true, inner peace? Either way, is it building a bridge of loving relationship to God and your neighbor -or a wall? “Goodwill towards” others??

Look, I have written strident lyrics and preached plenty of tough messages, given countless rather raw interviews for most of my lifetime and have not always sounded out “peace” and “goodwill”. Certainly Paul, John, James (!), Jude, John the Baptist, indeed Jesus (note we’re not even considering the Old Testament prophets here) did not always sound like “peace”! Repentance where God calls for it is part of the issue.

Jesus Himself said “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”-Matthew 10.34-36

In fact some of the more “rock your world” statements leap out of Matthew’s Gospel. Text after text the often difficult words, convicting commands and indeed even the grace of God in Christ seem sometimes more slap than hug. I admit this openly.

Neither love nor truth simply kiss up to your personal persuasion. The issue is “What does God think about —–?”

If we humans are effectively God, I am not convinced we really want the love and peace that is only sourced in Him, His nature, His character, yes, His Words and ways.

The angels brought that amazing Advent message to illiterate, not-so-sweet-smelling, poor, “low account” shepherds when the most powerful, wealthy, highly educated people of that time and place had to wait their turn to hear the Good News. Luke tells us these sheep herders literally walked it. They acted on what the angel and multitude of heavenly hosts told them about God’s gifts of love, peace and joy in the Advent of the Christ Child.

What am I, you, willing to do in relation to God and others to connect with His love, joy, and peace?

This is what I’m pondering at the beginning of Advent 2019.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

GK Christmas Set- Chicago

As part of Uptown’s annual Winter Walk, my friends The Crossing (trad. Irish/Celtic band extraordinaire) will play 5-6:15pm, then I am pleased to bring a bluesy/folksy solo Christmas set 6:30-7:30pm this FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6th @ Everybody’s Coffee (Wilson Abbey) 935 W. Wilson Ave. Chicago, IL 60640 -And here’s a pic of EC’s/WA’s amazing Advent Calendar!

As always, thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn

Advent 2019

Begins today! This incredible tune and lyric has filled my thoughts now. So rich, so good, Thank you Lord Jesus for Your grace, power, compassion to a fallen world!

As always, thanks for stopping by.

-Glenn