Universal Temptation

In this past Sunday a.m.’s message at Uptown Church (online via Facebook) our guest speaker (Mike) rocked as we’ve been going through “Paradigm Shift”- Jesus speaking in Matthew chapter five.

I have often found Amplified version of The Bible a real help re. understanding elements of the Greek- here it is:

Mt. 5.27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who [so much as] looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye makes you stumble and leads you to sin, tear it out and throw it away [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 If your right hand makes you stumble and leads you to sin, cut it off and throw it away [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Men and boys in particular battle (or simply give in to) lust which of course is key in the mind, with our eyes, desires that are not given to the Lord, not prayed over, not a matter of faithfulness to God, His Word, His commands, His will. I deal with it as do all men and of course plenty of women are also tempted with it.

Note the clarity: [“that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation”].

As porn is such an idol, an addiction and a mega money-maker that can and does often include forced prostitution/human trafficking it cannot be viewed as “harmless”. Further, for married people it is a distraction from commitment to one another and can morph into a habitually selfish, private distancing element.

In very brief, continuing from-the-heart prayer, interaction with God the Holy Spirit, close accountability partner/s whom we voluntarily and regularly share and receive help from, Bible studies on lust (or whatever the issue may be), and sharing groups (12 Step and the like) can and do bring many including I myself through -as opposed to stuck in the cycle of temptation, sin, addiction/s.

Three more super-brief observations-

The introduction of a concept of “hell” in this passage as in many others attributed to Jesus is HIS choice. Whatever hell is, nobody wants it and God doesn’t want it for humans. As for universal salvation, that takes more faith than I have though I’d love it to be a reality- it’s up to God like all else is -unless we decide to take His place. Universal salvation? Nada. Universal temptation? Obviously a reality.

Lastly, I have often heard people minimizing sexual sin vs. other sins while Jesus and other New Testament speakers never do. Note here as in many other NT texts there is most certainly a connection with displeasing God and judgment re. sexual sins. I’m not debating and don’t particularly care where it falls on some sort of list of sin, sinful, exceedingly sinful. It’s easy to recognize sexual sin named along with judgment in the second Testament though we may want to disconnect the two -Jesus does not do so.

God help us “make straight paths for our feet” and be healed from choices that directly compete with God’s choices for us!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Fans and Friends

Straight up, I have both. Sometimes they’re the same people, sometimes not. Facebook has always made me laugh in this regard and it’s in part why it’s good to have (in my case) a GK Solo, GKB Band, and my own personal friends site in Facebook, Twitter, WordPress sites. I have the freedom to be myself and communicate as I wish to whomever. So:

FAN- an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator, an ardent admirer or enthusiast (as of a celebrity or a pursuit)

FRIEND- one attached to another by affection or esteem

I’ve kicked around dumping my personal FB site for some time, but in that so many people seem to resonate with something, maybe just my music, or the band I fronted for 28 years, or whatever, sometimes with what I think or say, at least for now I’ll hang in there.

Yet the difference between a true friend and a fan is obvious to artists who have been public artists for some years.

On several levels I realized in my teens the difference between friends and fans, and it largely helped me navigate my own sense of peace and sanity with the way a genuine friend interacts with me vs. how a fan does.

To be sure even your closest friends may sharply disagree and yet remain and grow in friendship regardless due to common bonds that draw you together -so you “keep coming back” out of respect and commonality. If it were only about pity or trying to -be- someone’s literal savior you might be talking family, not friendship, or trying to live out a (wasted effort, plus self-centered) “messiah complex”.

Family members are often committed to one another over need, even a conviction that “this is just what families DO” (not somehow automatically wrong by a long shot!) and then there are times when even that can be so dysfunctional, even enabling, or in extreme cases abusive that parting ways on some level if not as a matter of course may be the best road to take for the sake of all.

Note- that’s extreme, but we live in an extreme world with plenty of differences including spirituality, education, lifestyle choices, general or specific maturity and/or actual experience in these areas. All of these can bring us together or move us apart.

So fans, sweet as they can be, are sometimes more like groupies than true friends. This isn’t always their fault. How many beautiful women have been super-admired for their physical beauty alone -and how did/does that work out in terms of true friendship much less long-term relationship?

To this day there are elements of fandom toward various historical or present dictators that some people admire. This is how and partly why they achieve and remain in power regardless of the misery they foist upon “their” own people.

I happen to be completely unknown to some and at times, respected and followed by some. I never expected to be agreed with by everyone and regardless what I produce via music, so what comes my way is every shade of love, or like, or so-so all the way to disgust. This is the norm for my work just as it is for every musician or communicator. If you get out in traffic you must expect the possible costs as well as benefits.

One thing I’m sure of- as much as I appreciate fans, friends are far more important and by God’s grace I have so many in close association and co-service I’m super, SUPER blessed. So especially to my fellow artists but all others as well:

You can live without fans but not without friends.

This is obviously not meant to be a Bible study on friendship but that would serve you well regardless of whether you’re a friend, fan, acquaintance or simply a passerby at my site. It has been super helpful for me to return to Bible truths about this topic (as for all others) again and again.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Take Care Where You Sit

Defensiveness, self-pity, self-righteousness are often our response to avoid change. -Pastor Jeremy, Uptown Church Chicago

Psalm 1.1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! NASB

…Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of I.e. shallow thinkers who are quick to mock or disdain. scoffers (ridiculers). AMP

…or sit in the company of mockers. NIV

SCOFFERS,
Hebrew: to scorn, make mouths at, talk arrogantly, to boast, to scorn, to mock, deride

Verse 2? Here comes the “rather”, the sense of “instead”-

Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands; he meditates on His commands day and night. ESV

ESV Notes:
“Instead…” Here the Hebrew expression כִּי־אִם (ki-’im, “instead”) introduces a contrast between the sinful behavior depicted in v. 1 and the godly lifestyle described in v. 2. “he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands;” Heb. “his delight [is] in the law of the Lord.” In light of the following line, which focuses on studying the Lord’s law, one might translate, “he finds pleasure in studying the Lord’s commands.” However, even if one translates the line this way, it is important to recognize that (Glenn’s italics for emphasis here) mere study and intellectual awareness are not ultimately what bring divine favor. Study of the law is metonymic here for the correct attitudes and behavior that should result from an awareness of and commitment to God’s moral will; thus “obeying” has been used in the [ESV] translation rather than “studying.” “he meditates on” -The Hebrew imperfect verbal form draws attention to the characteristic behavior described here and lends support to the hyperbolic adverbial phrase “day and night.” The verb הָגָה (hagag) means “to recite quietly; to meditate” and refers metonymically to intense study and reflection. “his commands” Or “his law.” “day and night.”

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Why I Love God!

Thoughts for Father’s Day – and every day of my life which is by His grace, eternal…

First off, I could quote a ream of Bible verses and I’ll mention a few here, but this isn’t a Bible study. My purpose isn’t to write an apologetic piece defending either God’s existence or The Bible or Christian rites -and certainly not gracious or even at times horrid behavior of professing Christians through the ages.

I’m simply letting you in on just a little of how I think about God.

It comes down to His nature, what I personally believe, have experienced for close to 50 years of walking with, listening to, speaking with and in general, in relationship with God- Father, Son, Spirit. It IS all deeply informed by The Bible which I assert as true.

Coming from a fractured family, my own obsession with myself, music, drugs, sex and the flippin’ crazy nasty history of humankind in the world, the U.S. and places I’ve lived both rural and urban, to come to saving faith in Jesus Christ was for me, a shock. I mean a total shock.

From that moment (3 a.m. on Sunday, January 3, 1971) to mid-June 2020, this I believe:

God is more than male or female and has no equal on many levels but consider the Trinity and you have 3 and not merely 2 or 1. The “He” Hebrew gender pronoun was the best concept among Jewish writers, and God considered so utterly holy that His name was not to be uttered. Jesus did teach his disciples to pray “Our Father“… so there’s that.

Holy. A term and concept beyond human ability to grasp, in most core essence, the otherness of total – complete purity.

As mentioned prior here, –no equal-. None.

Many would simply define God as “God is love” and that’s a wonderful, true description -but Who God IS and how God reveals God to us is due to Love and so many other qualities of the very nature and character of God. This is part of why there are endless books, poems, songs, sites, rituals and conversations about His nature and character throughout human history.

In that He has no beginning nor ending, He is constant. No created human is equally or more consistent in terms of unchanging character. God’s thorough perfection needs no adjustment, no “fixing”, no repentance for wrong-doing. The “court of public opinion” consisting of flawed, self-seeking humans cannot rightly “convict” God in His nature of crimes He never committed nor commits.

As I’ve said publicly for years I don’t always like or agree with what He did or does, but in that I’m not God and with respect to what I’ve just written here I trust His judgment above mine and all others. I don’t have to understand or agree with all I read in The Bible for Him to act in whatever way He deems right. Neither I nor any one nor group of us are His equal, not in judgment or any other area.

We need forgiveness for sin, not Him. That’s a major reason Jesus came, lived, died and rose!

ALL the Lord does is with a view to humans that He indeed created, so the issue of selfishness regarding His glory and call for our worship/honor/love/obedience to Him as God is not only His right -there is no other as worthy of these.

We love Him because He first loved us. God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

The heart and posture of God toward us is truly amazing grace: For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He commands all people everywhere to repent, believe in and follow Him. There is a judgment coming, His perfect judgment- but His desire is that no one should perish. He has given each of us great latitude to decide if we’ll trust Him over ourselves, make choices that line up with His desires -or not.

No father can truly compare nor compete with our Father in heaven- and nobody is either capable nor have they proved their love for me as He has, this God, this Jesus -God the Son, this Holy Spirit has been consistent in His love, grace and compassion toward me in all the joys, sorrows and pains of life. Yes I love Him! And as He changed and continues to change my heart and attitudes I’m able to love people, not only wife and family, but all people. For all this and more, I LOVE Him!

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

The Truth Is

“The truth is incontrovertible,” said Sir Winston Churchill. “

You may love ol’ W.C., despise him or have mixed views of his various character, political positions and/or decisions (mixed bag for me, brilliant and horrific depending on the issue) but I think he nailed it in his quote here.

That fancy word, by the way, means “without or beyond controversy, too clear, not capable of being challenged or proved wrong.” HA… even this very concept is something most all of us would dispute!

What I wish to say here is that “The truth both converts and creates converts.”

What humans argue about is what “the truth” IS in any particular matter. God has no such internal arguments though at times is clearly at odds about what is true with/among His Own people as well as those who don’t believe He even exists. Consider that for a bit. He loves us regardless -don’t neglect considering that also!

In the end, what you believe or disbelieve is based on layer upon layer of fact, fiction, personal desire, experience and sometimes plain old ignorance.

Two final thoughts of mine on this are the oft-quoted “All truth is God’s truth” -as well as Paul’s statement in God’s Word (The Bible) “For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.” -2 Corinthians 13.8

Re. this statement of his, Winston agreed with God whether he knew it or not. He knows now.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

What Can We Do?

Toward the end of a recent discussion in social media I wrote:

  • “The real issue is what you and I are doing about these atrocities today. Doing. Today.
  • [A bro responded:] The question is: what can we do?
  • [I replied:]
    • Relationship 101.
    • Time, effort. Prayer w. action to
    • Publicize
    • Protest, demonstrate
    • Mt. 25 ground-up stuff (water, food, clothing, housing, medical care, incarceration visits/care)
    • Legislation to those 6 ends re. justice “for the least of these” whoever they are in your neck of the woods
    • Ground-up gut-level heart-check, off the couch, not endless memes, vid clips and debates in social media w/o practical loving our neighbor. Bearing witness in action not merely quoting scripture (as does the devil himself) but application.
    • Book of ACTS, not concepts, not self-defense, castle-moat-personal kingdom nonsense.
    • I’d say these could turn the world and the churches and the hearts of un/non/pre-believers upside down. Reflecting the words and example of Jesus knowing professing Christians and and those that are not will flak you for it.
    • These are a start.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

A Brief History of Change

First off, reading more than one source for one’s historical study and then beliefs is important, even essential because as has often been said “The victors write the history books.”

The massive divide (aforementioned here in my blogs) between urban and rural people due to personal desire, culture, comfort, what we were raised with and such all plays a major part in dis-union, differing views.

Urban demonstrations/protests that often resulted in gunfights, shootouts between “sides” including police and state militias isn’t unheard of right through U.S. history.

Two of many areas of study in my life have been the histories of cities, counties and states where I’ve lived and also the major events, rural and urban. White European settlers, U.S. born-and-bred folks, freed slaves, immigrants of various racial hue and of course Native Americans of many tribes all played and play a role.

Studying the industrial revolution, it’s many affects on the nation and in particular the eventual rise of trade unions, the West Virginia and other states coal miners vs. mine owners/management and the many riots, violence and bloodshed when the workers chose to organize regarding what they deemed (my term here) “plantation owner’s ethics” is an area of American history worth studying.

Chicago’s tactics on both “sides” are of interest- black as well as white blue-collar workers brought demands to corporation owners and management. Wages, work hours, child labor and safety issues were all major concerns which eventually brought about changes to laws and business practices of the wealthy, politically positioned -and in many cases professing Christian tycoons in Chicago and elsewhere.

In city after city where such street battles ensued it was not uncommon for authorities and business leaders to label the bulk of street demonstrations and those calling them out on fairness, equity and the ability to organize unions as Communists, Marxist-Socialists, even treasonous and enemies of the State -whether they were or were not.

There WERE a minority of actual communist-party elements, anarchists and true socialists involved, but often the demonstrators would be more accurately identified as sympathetic to at least some of those political views as dangerous and un-regulated business practices herded many into a continuum of poverty, disease, early deaths and other suffering due to long hours, an array of work conditions contributing to women, children, “lower class” corpses being pulled out of burnt buildings -not destroyed by arsonists or criminals but simply due to unsafe work spaces.

DID mob bosses infiltrate and in some cases play major roles in unionization of workers? Yes. Truth. Were some of the demonstrators guilty of tossing molotov cocktails, pulling a pistol and firing first, indeed so. Were they all in lock-mind and lock-step with later-day Soviet or today’s Chinese Communists? Certainly not.

The fact is that most of the demonstrators and marches were put down because those in political, civic and business control wanted peace and status-quo, not changes that were likely to affect their gains.

So many of the labor policies we take for granted as right, safe and beneficial in 2020 came as the result of those street events, union meetings and demands for change in our nation.

It was not unusual for a given business magnate in Chicago to pick up the phone, get the mayor on the line who then deployed the city police with weapons and in essence end the protest. When that didn’t work, the state militia was called in as many of the business/political leaders of the day having had bankrolled the pols and system itself would indeed get a quick response from the governor. Downtown Chicago has quite a history of such blood in the streets long before drug and other vice gangs came into the prominence they have today.

So you see, when I speak of change in our system/s, criticize and call for review and indeed mention injustice in our land, it starts with knowledge that change is not only possible but on the basis that so-called “worker’s riots” and so-called “race riots” in the “Great State of Illinois” have a long and inglorious, tragic history! Other cities and even rural areas in the nation are also likewise in the books as they should be. Know this: if we were to play the “who started it” game white folks win hands down. So let’s consider our times, now.

For black and brown and other people of color it’s much as it’s always been- “Hands UP!” Then “Shut up!” Then “Lock ’em up.”

If it ever seems I fret over status-quo “normalcy”, it is the historical lack of justice in status-quo policies, especially for “the least of these”. How interesting that in many of those street crowds where police and militia began shooting that a fair number of black workers were on the street along side the whites seeking humane change.

As for the clarion cry of “SOCIALISM”… the nation is certainly going to hell if we give an inch? Have a good, thorough read: https://www.truthorfiction.com/harry-s-truman-socialism-is-a-scare-word/

I pray, hope and work for change. Always have, always will. Call it what you want, we either stalemate in our cozy white injustice or we can progress with compassion and care for those in need. For the sake of “the least” we must all face the music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxvVk-r9ut8

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

People and The System/s

Here’s the deal- people can be redeemed. We can change! Some of us refuse, will never give… note “give” an inch. Systems can also change because people design them -and I mean just about any system be it governmental, economic, most any of them. Why? They’re no more infallible than the humans who create, implement and maintain them.

But systems once entrenched often take a long time to bend- often more like large (decaying?) oaks than flexing green willows.

Big shots who stand to lose most, little folk who believe in them, their words and systems or for any number of right or wrong reasons (or a mix of both) may detest or be so suspicious of a change that they will fight, maybe even die to prevent it.

I believe patience is a gift from God, a fruit of the Holy Spirit and a mother-of-all-babies cross to embrace, but there is a time for Book of Acts (not Book of Ideas, Concepts, Ideology) efforts regardless if one gets stoned (and I ain’t talkin’ pot nor other drug here…) in the process because without the process and people willing to step up and work for positive, beneficial change it just won’t happen.

Addiction to power, money, in particular a position of control as to where “rule by decree” rather than patience, genuine consideration and change -regardless of the fallout- is a proven path to longevity. I would argue there has been a sorry dearth of “benevolent dictators” in human history. Yet- longevity is fraught with turmoil because of perceived or actual loss.

Are you willing to decrease that others may increase? You might lose your head over it.

Those who have often not shared in the benefits while yet taking the hits inherent from the inequities of a given system must communicate and indeed sacrifice. We pretty much choose our sacrifices, our offerings nearly every step of the way.

People as well as systems can be redeemed. I do believe sometimes a system needs to be completely done away with. The wisdom, patience, and for authentic followers of Jesus, the love in the decisions and actual application of remedies can make all the difference. It must, for without it- “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

In my Twitter feed this a.m.:

Lance Mann@lancemann Somebody explain to me why white Evangelicals call it Marxist for me as a black man to want and seen van be [GK- I believe typos, think he means “to want to receive”] equal treatment in America?

Beth Moore@BethMooreLPM Because it threatens the system. Here’s the pattern: 1. Act horrified like the gospel is about to be destroyed & spread paranoia. Say stuff like, “I never thought I’d see the day!” 2. Distort it theologically. 3. Label it something sinister. The goal: Discredit to dismiss it.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Dominate

Who and what dominates you? Who should, must, truly deserves to?

None of us are exactly pristine in self-control so unless patently liars we don’t even dominate ourselves though we often think, choose, act as if we alone have such right, and in a sense, humanly speaking, sure that’s our right as in some senses and areas of life it truly does come down to personal choice. Even THAT gets debated, among professing Christians depending on your personal and/or shared theology.

Among others throughout The Bible, Peter makes a statement that is easy to never read, pass over or simply ignore toward the end of his first letter to the churches: “To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

The Greek word “dominion” means “force, strength, power, might”

In the Amplified version “To Him be dominion (power, authority, sovereignty) forever and ever. Amen.”

Fact is WE want dominion and it’s what has often prompted “wars and fightings among you” based on our “lusts”. The lust for control is so often the true mind, heart and guts of brutality, and I am now speaking of all people but in context, white Americans who have been asserting control for the history of our nation.

God ALONE has right, eternal right, does and will and shall always exercise the right of dominion for all power and dominion IS His and scripture is clear that in the end of things all will know this. as reality and fact.

In light of our self-righteousness, defensiveness and unwillingness to yield in justice for ALL we so often default to power-plays, force, control, violent measures. Let us face these truths and repent where we must.

“As you have done it to the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto Me.”

The core of Peter’s message in context is a call and exhortation to humility in the life of believers. Domination? That is God’s alone.

Things to consider perhaps? As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

The UNglory

There were absolute atrocities on both sides in the American Civil War. As Christians who study it we could easily admit “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

The conquering “winning side” was in truth, often harsh and corrupt in it’s treatment of the South and Southerners, not all of whom supported the Confederacy or all of it’s “ideals” including “the peculiar institution” of slavery.

Germany and the German people suffered greatly under the policies of the Allies after World War I. In part, their literal hunger and other miseries gave rise to one of the most horrible despots and Wars the world has ever known. Most in the churches were silent. The few who spoke out were ostracized, often beaten, eventually rounded up, tortured and many murdered or died in the camps.

It took decades and generations before the bulk of the German people as a whole were able to face the shame and publicly acknowledge complicity in their actions toward “undesirables” who had been deemed “threats” to the National Socialists and the Fatherland.

In full or partial support of our government/s at the time- and the military personnel during the Vietnam War -we must admit without many thousands in the streets protesting and at times sadly and I would agree wrongly destroying property, enough votes, finances and the unity of the American people were brought to bear as issues that would not end until the War ended. Regardless of your view/s it ended at the behest of a clear majority of the American people.

To this very day there are Southerners who cannot face a horror, a shame, cannot bring themselves to admit moral, spiritual and human failure for the Civil War. To do so would mean thousands died needlessly, brought their cause -no- “glory”, and died –in vain-. For many that is a bridge too far, a horror they can never face.

The souls of the German people had to reckon with crimes against humanity they had in too many ways been complicit. Public confession, repentance and desire for forgiveness have been expressed by German Christians and non-Christians alike many times. I was present having been invited to bring music sets to one such amazing, huge and heart-rending gathering of German Evangelical Christians and Jews. There were few dry eyes that night!

In my view, the exact same issues arise in regard to our actions as well as “total support” for the thousands of dead in Vietnam, both U.S., allies and Vietnamese -armed as well as citizens caught in the crossfire. Thankful some Americans have stepped up and done so. Peacemakers, regardless of political agreement/disagreement then and now.

In all three wars the last vestiges of “honor”, “glory” and total support of actions or in-actions are core to accounting for the tragic and needless brutality and loss of life.

Personally, in my lifetime I’ve made a long list of mistakes and indeed have sinned and repented and fully embrace and expect this is part of life as a Christian (or not) on planet earth. I’ve faced true, partly true and on occasion untrue accusations of wrongdoing, inaction, complicity in pain toward others.

Repenting for what you are honestly convinced you were/are not responsible for is understandable to me- and so is the integrity of confession, acknowledging mistakes or outright sin you are guilty of. It’s a two-way street and ALL of us live on it.

Here’s the punchline for the moment as I write in June, 2020:

More than one entire tribe of people have suffered, live in a continuum of injustice, fear or rage due to white folk, unjust laws and at times outright violence, even murder by those in authority. Racism is a reality and nobody chose their skin color or place of birth. We each DO choose how we think about, talk about and treat others.

When we choose to focus only on our own lives – away from the cross of Jesus and our personal crosses due to “the glory of the Republic and it’s fallen heroes”, yes, ancestors, sons, daughters and other loved ones… more blood, injustice, racism and a propping up of a nation in dire need of repentance, reconciliation, restoration and healing will not happen.

Change WILL come as the majority of the people demand it. The work is absolutely painful even above what some of us will ever be willing to do -but it is essential for healing, grace and a witness to the love of God so many of us profess to be the most important light worth shining.

I noticed in one march yesterday they sang “This Little Light of Mine”. I’m still singing it, sing it I must!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn