A Home, Not Merely a House

Bob Dylan’s “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest” had an intriguing line: “It’s a home, not a house”, an ode re. the devil and temptation really. Frankie listens to the character “Judas Priest” and ends up in a brothel – which is merely a house. I think even professing Christians have often ignored, forgotten or explained the devil and demons out of their conscious thoughts – rather than studying Jesus’ Own thoughts/words/interactions with them.

In any case I misquoted this Dylan lyric for years remembering it as “It’s a house, not a home” because that is what my own growing up experience was in a quite broken, fragmented family. There were some moments of unity to be sure, but a great deal of deep individualism and self-interest beyond much else all too often.

The fact is that also describes much of “the church” on earth and for the most part always has. But like obsession with the devil (equally a train-wreck as what I’ve just noted above) one can be so self-obsessed any of us can forget that a home is as much about our interaction and treatment of others as it is theirs with us. Read that again. Wherever you go there you are. A fairly constant misery comes down to self because it’s yourself you can never, ever escape though you may well deny your own propensity for sin and self-serving motives, decisions and actions. I repent of these pretty well daily as I must!

The photo I used here is home to of one of the most amazing, good families I know. They are (like you and I dear reader) sinners, though people of faith in Jesus. They’re longtime friends I am blessed to know and link with. All the ups and downs of life lace through their individual and shared family experience in this big and welcoming rural house outside of a very small town in the Midwest of the U.S..

Oh there are plenty of families all over the world like theirs, but in the colder climes (such as those in the pic) and also warmer areas of our world there are fractures so deep and chasms wide enough that seem to keep distance a marked enduring thread through many families. That has been my own experience in listening, reading, touring and certainly shared by others reading this.

I found genuine, honest, self-giving people who became far more a family to me, then to my own eventual marriage and family than many of my friends ever have. Grace. And yes, commitment on my part as well as theirs.

I worry for those who just give up looking for such relationships due to hurt -real, imagined or a mix of both. Hurt will be a part of 2021 just as it was 2020 and every year from the beginning of Adam and Eve’s journey. Cain and Abel’s story ended too soon.

I would ask you to please don’t make the mistake of not facing up to your own part of why you end up with a house as opposed to a true home as it is as much your responsibility as it is the rest of the family’s. This balance is often ignored.

“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, “None is righteous, not even one”, “Forgive and you shall be forgiven”, “As much as it lies within you be at peace with all”. The truth is that these are forgotten, ignored words and advice often railed against, run from. This is why like Frankie Lee who paid more attention to the devil than his own conscience, ended up playing a game. It’s a game, a false act any and all of us can play. It was Dylan’s imaginative lyric of a deceiver which led to the other’s self-deception and consequent living a false life in the end. First line of the lyric? “Well, Frankie Lee and Judas Priest they were the best of friends”.

Since my own family disintegrated due to illness, poverty and adultery, my parents divorcing when I was nine years of age and with an endless set of lessons about how self-interest above all others destroys rather than heals, creates -true- community and indeed echos the Words and Truth of Jesus Christ in relationships -rarely have I expected Dylan, the family whose home I picture here, my own home or anyone else’s life to be some sort of pristine, sinless, grace-filled utopia. It isn’t a possibility this side of heaven. That is as mythological as the concept we can self-source grace… which has but one Source, and He alone is God.

What I and many have learned -even among the homeless, dirt-poor people of color, refugees, prisoners and other “undesirables”: there is a righteous, holy and just Savior Who knows how a house, tent, underpass or even jail or prison cell is only a home when the occupants learn and practice His love in relationship to Him and one another.

Other than that, even a rich person’s mansion is simply a shack which like all else, will leave one cold as death inside the human heart -without warm relationship to the One Who alone causes the heart to beat.

Things to consider along the journey?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

John 1.16-18

Fantasy? Myth? The guy typing this wouldn’t be alive to do so but for His invasion, His knocking on -my- door with such intensity -and- gentleness (I know… but both are true) and with repetition -I could no longer be deaf to Him.

16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.
18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father,
He has explained Him. -NASB

16 For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift.
17 For while the Law was given through Moses, grace (unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing) and truth came through Jesus Christ.
18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known]. -AMP

I often return to the first chapter of John’s Gospel as it is so deep and compelling, indeed foundational to our faith in Jesus.

So many look for favor and truth. Grace being UNmerited, UNearned, UNearnable mercy, kindness, favor, and truth came in, by and THROUGH Jesus. The Lord, Deity within Himself has shown, demonstrated the compassion and likeness of the Father. Father, Son, Spirit are One.

Now for all who profess faith in Him, it’s our turn to practice what He preached, to love others more and more as He loves us- in grace and truth.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Fire, Hot Water

Ever really stop to think about these things and the importance of them for quality of life… even life itself?

This morning as I did the dishes I reflected upon these simple but oh-so-good gifts. We’ve kept our windows and hallway doors slightly open to help create fresh air drafts in view of the virus that has hit so many. So at night a truly warm blanket and good sleep are also gifts!

In a Sunday’s Advent message a pastor friend mentioned the early dawn light he experienced in the cold, dark and unfamiliar winter woods of Northern Michigan while on a hunting trip. I could immediately relate having experienced the very same in the very same area years ago. Later on one of those trips I came upon a bonfire another hunting buddy had built in the woods. Warmth! We sat on fallen trees by the fire sipping hot coffee to warm up. So good in a rocking cold blizzard time that season!

Another friend hates the cold and recently spoke of getting together the ancient approach where one creates and uses a “bow drill” to create a spark and eventually flame. I mentioned a gift someone got me of flint and steel to take camping and that it was a fun way to get things going.

I have an old thick tin cup that I take with me to the woods for tea-making. Of course for that, coffee or to cook much less to warm up on cold days one appreciates a fire. When lit and sustained w. clean water, hot drinks and/or cooked food is not far behind.

This morning I took a long hot shower -and gave thanks for it considering what an unusual luxury it would be for countless millions in our world.

And we feel slighted not getting a gift we wanted for Christmas or birthday. Whew?!

“Neither grumbling nor complaining but rather the giving of thanks.” Now where did I read that? And how often do I DO that last bit?

There are literally millions of folks who wish they had heat and clean water like so many of us have right at our fingertips.

If we could learn to be -more- thankful, grateful and extend, share, give to those in need in 2021 -regardless of any and all other issues… it would put 2020 in a different light. Light. The Light has come.

May He turn on the inward lights for those of us who focus largely on ourselves. There are so many all around us in deep need of a new life in this coming New Year. If you feel like you’re in hot water as you read this, you can now ask Him who you can help. He’s ready to show you.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Fresh Christmas Writ- Old Tune

My friend, pastor Rick Lindholtz re-wrote many of the lyrics to Come Thou Fount which here focus directly on the birth of, and our relationship to Jesus. I rarely like such re-writes of classics but this blew me away and I decided to bring it online in this crazy time of pandemic, loss and need. Thanks with Blessings of Christmas to all -especially Rick and sweet family! -Glenn

COME THOU FOUNT OF EVERY BLESSING -new lyrics by Rick Lindholtz

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
to Thy birth in Bethlehem;
Jesus calls me to the manger;
May I ever come to Him.
Teach me of Your grace incarnate,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise Your name! I’m fixed upon it,
name of Thy redeeming love.

May I gather with the Shepherds
to behold the child of peace;
May the chains of sin be broken,
that my soul may find release.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

At the Inn, no room was vacant
where the Lord could find His rest.
Let my heart become your home now,
let me know Your presence blessed.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

In the video clip I give explanation first, music starts about 59 seconds in. Simply shot on an old phone by an older guy:) Enjoy, Merry Christmas and as always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Come Thou Fount – New Lyrics by Rick Lindholtz

A Christmas Prayer/Lament

A CHRISTMAS PRAYER/LAMENT

LORD God- I pray for Your grace, healing, compassion in hearing and that you would carry so very many friends and those I’ve not met personally who are suffering this Christmas! A husband, wife, son, daughter, loved one is for the first time not at the table nor seated near the trimmed tree. I ask for Your comfort Dear Comforter -please meet and embrace those in their lament, in their sense of loss, pain, struggle in this time and space. You sent Jesus to fill us, to bring light into the darkness and so much of the world suffers due to injustice, greed, the current virus, poverty, racism, incarceration and death! Dear Father, make things right for those wronged! Bring peace to hearts seeking it Prince of Peace! Spotless Lamb, forgive Your people, grant mercy and genuine repentance to those who continue to build and defend kingdoms that all end, swallowed by Your eternal kingdom of grace! Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us! In Your Name, Amen.

SO Loved that He GAVE

NO- not asking for money here :)! Just something I’ve mentioned off and on and really have in my heart re. Advent and Christmas, all year long. So simple but so often and easily forgotten, overlooked, ignored, in the rear-view-mirror, off our radar and etc.!

“For God SO LOVED the world that He GAVE..” That’s Jesus Himself talking. So… what does HE know about giving ‘eh?

How much do I love Him, love my wife, family, bros and sis’s in the local church, people in the neighborhood whether professing faith, no faith, another faith… how much do I reflect the love of Father God?? And what did He give the shallow, mean, undeserving, messed-up, addicted, prisoners (both guilty and not -yet still incarcerated)?

How often we are takers self-righteously judging others as being takers- when God calls US to give!

Three more powerful statements come to mind: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5.8 “For that which He died, He died to sin once for all…” -Romans 6.10 “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” -Revelation 22.17

Does this not sound like a loving, giving, gracious God to you? Note, I’m not talking merely about people nor our ability to literally provide spiritual redemption because that isn’t in any of us to give!

Yet there is this nagging and obvious matter of loving our neighbor whom we don’t like, disagree with, want to send away and out of our presence. That’s not God’s heart nor view, but one day He will in His perfect judgment (unlike yours and mine!) do so at HIS will if they have not, would not, did not -come-. He offers, they (we) choose “who we will serve.” SERVE. There’s that “giving” thing again. “Well done you good and faithful servant.” One who like their Lord -gives.

Christmas is about God giving us the best Present- the Person and presence of Jesus Christ! If that motive, attitude and heart is not in us, particularly if we profess saving faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, what defense do we truly have as to how the responsibility is entirely on others? Is hospitality on them and not on us also? Perhaps we’re the takers.

Even when I open my Twitter site the first pop-up shouts “You’re in Control!” -and we like that. When the Holy Spirit is in control and we yield to Him we will find it’s “more blessed to give than to receive”.

There is one more powerful chapter and statement that God makes to Ezekiel in the Old Testament that is super foundational to my thoughts here. “”When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.” God directly to the prophet Ezekiel, 3.18

Are ALL gifted as evangelists? No, certainly not. Are ALL followers of Messiah Jesus called to prophesy (to Israel and/or the gentiles) with the gift of prophecy? No. We have not all been given the same spiritual gifts.

Yet there is something about withholding even food, water, clothing, shelter, healthcare, care for prisoners that (Jesus- Matthew 25) is the great separator from GIFTING OTHERS which is such a part of true Christmas. Since when are alms sinful or careless? They are indeed often sacrificial. “For God so LOVED…” comes to mind. It is the core of why Christmas exists, for the Christ-Child born of a virgin came into the world to SAVE – that is, set free, deliver!

Are physical or other gifts NOT part of Jahovah Jireh’s nature? In Mt. 25 is Jesus NOT talking about sharing, that is, giving those things needful for life and indeed, comfort to those around us?

Christmas is so much deeper than commercial sales and ever more “stuff”. We all know this.

So how much do I love the world- those around me?

How about you?

This Advent/Christmas Season I suggest we mull over not only our our losses and pains of this crazy 2020 year, but the depth of loss in other’s lives.

Love Gives. God gave us -each one of us -UNdeserving… His Very BEST.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

4th Sunday in Advent -and The Blues

I’ve been a blues listener, singer and player from my early teens. In a Covid Christmas and regardless of the very real pain of loss, confusion and accompanying emotions, temptations to self-medicate I return again and again -and this 4th Sunday in Advent believe and therefore hope in Jesus Christ.

I’m nearing 50 years (Jan. 3rd) to the night He came to me in answer to my question “Who are you and what are you trying to say?! I don’t understand!” I plan to post an audio podcast reading of that chapter of (I hope) an eventual book I’ve been working on for several years about my journey and how He answered me that night. Nobody could have been more shocked and believe me, many were in the next months at how my life changed.

Advent is about His first arrival and looks to His return -in God’s Own timing.

I continue to write, sing and play blues (as David and the other Psalm writers did w. all their laments) but… this:

17 My soul has been rejected from peace;
I have forgotten happiness.
18 So I say, “My strength has perished,
And so has my hope from the Lord.”
19 Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness.
20 Surely my soul remembers And is bowed down within me.
21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.
22 The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.
26 It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the Lord. -Lamentations Chapter 3.17-26

If Christmas is about me, you, us, we’ve missed the most essential gift of all and I mean for –all– time. Jesus loves you and He’s the source, reason and the “how” I love you -and am able to love myself. His grace and power changing my motives (right through my life to this moment) has made even a Covid Christmas truly bright! I truly wish you the same!!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Our House

And a little one too! A quick build w. pallet wood, old windows and heat… by some gifted elves -in our large side yard! A sweet “bubble” for coffee and chat even in virus time.

Christmas Chalet in Side Yard

I’ve lived in an intentional community w. a -wide- range (age, subculture and every other other you might think of!) from my 18th year until now. In Advent and as Christmas comes, amazing mates put this lil’ chalet together as a warming area for folks to mask yet hang out together in fresh air. We just need snow and to make a ski/sledding hill, ha! Grace and love at https://jesuspeoplechicago.org/

Christmas Chalet Warming
All we need is SNOW!

As always, thanks for stopping by- and Merry Christmas! -Glenn

My Other Blogs, Etc.

Just a note to say if you look to the right and down on my site here you’ll find links to several other blogs I post in from time to time- the arts, worship and more. Further, links to my social media posts also. Just an fyi if of interest.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Missed a Spot

Funny, I don’t know if it’s old age or what, but for the second time this month after taking a loooong and quite careful, thorough shave -I realized I missed a spot just under the side of my jaw. Know how I discovered it?

About 10 minutes after I’d left the bathroom sink I decided to go back and take another look, remembering I’d missed that spot a couple weeks prior.

Perhaps you’re wondering what the significance of this bit of mundane might be- ha?! Well the fact is all of us right through our lives miss various “spots” we thought we’d taken care of, no?

I’ve several very intelligent, well-read friends who are clearly more thorough in various areas of knowledge and more importantly, wisdom. We discuss things like truth, certainty, and without using the phrase “your truth” the term “perspective” does come into play often. Well -when doesn’t it really?

If you read my writings you’ll see plenty of Bible quotes on our own limited knowledge, wisdom and understanding. From time to time I (and countless others) discuss what (my terms moreso than theirs here) might best be called misuse or irrelevant appropriation of Scripture. You know- “THIS RIGHT HERE SETTLES IT BUB!!” sort of thing.

Then again where is the perfect mind, the flawless philosopher (none but God…) and where indeed is an authentic intellectual who never misses a spot? Whiskers to be shaved away, a sort of facial “mountains low and valleys up” experience when one realizes one has been wrong but planted a flag in one’s own perspective of truth. Even the best mixed and laid cement cracks, because there is no such thing as “flawless” but the Person of Christ Himself.

Once again I ponder how in the world I missed that inch-by-quarter-inch patch of week-long growth just under that one side of my jaw… and I laugh at myself. And then finish up with the razor, water and towel.

Nobody who has ever communicated truly believed truth was non-existent nor impossible to ascertain -nor beyond the possibility to comprehend at least to some extent. The real issue is a matter of the heart and soul alongside the solid scholarly and painstaking hard work of study and continued learning. Humility and effort, both. When Pilate asked “What is truth?” washing his hands and reaching for the towel he’d just missed one of the most essential truths ever. In fact, Truth was standing right in front of him and he never faced it because it did not suit –him-. Neither the truth about Jesus nor the Living Word Himself were for Him, sufficient.

I think it wise to re-visit faith, belief, long-held views in the light of God’s Word and honest soul-searching. I also think this is as rare as the humility in admitting none of us lives in capital C certainty -and yet “without faith it is impossible to please God”. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to God the Father but by Me.” Tell Jesus and John, the writer/quoter of Christ why you’re certain your narrative is flawless and then like pre-Paul Saul, “kick against the pricks” as the King James version renders it. I found that push-back against the Lord futile. But there is both gift and mystery in a fertile faith that the Spirit of God gives those with truly open hearts AND minds. “Whosoever will, let them come.”

Truth that does not suit us is no less truth -and that’s as true for me as it is for all others.

Things to consider along the journey!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn