Thoughts-Words, Speak/Refrain

It’s likely been 20 years or more since I realized my prayer life and times kicked in far beyond what they’d been earlier.

As I age and with so many friends and a few not-so my ever-expanding list of who and what to pray for has gone sky-high (see whut ahh did ther?).

I suppose closer to 50 years ago I began reading, even memorizing Bible truths about speaking and being silent. Hooo-ya: is that not a continuing lesson, an out-of-turn shoulda NEVER said that all the way in the spectrum to HOW could I pass on speaking even a word in that moment… arrgghhhh…

A word fitly spoken, a time to refrain from speaking, spiritual gifts including evangelist, pastor, teacher, prophet and on it goes, the fact is, gifted or not, led of the Spirit or not, at the right or the wrong time we all pass on info. to others. Communication happens -whether it should have or not!!

So “the wisdom to know the difference” (to borrow a bit from that ol’ Serenity Prayer) also relates to this topic.

Nobody gets it right all the time. God and I and anyone who knows me even in passing knows I sure don’t.

I love to quote Jesus on this point often- “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil person out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” -Luke 6.45 You could dig much deeper in scripture but even a quick read of this in context along with, say Psalm 37.30, 31; Matthew 12.34, 35 brings us to the issue of heart, motive, goal.


It’s interesting in a time when so many are in what I’d say is a pattern of re-thinking just about everything including faith, the Bible, church and certainly issues around politics, disease and how to navigate loss, pain, racial, cultural divides and more that how, when and if we communicate is a massive fulcrum upon which all of us pivot or in any case, sit.

For myself, it’s not always easy to know when to speak and when to hush.

My desire, hope and experience is that love isn’t continually silent, certainly not regarding true injustice.

God loves, cares and has not Himself been forever silent though at times we may not have ears to hear.

Listening to Him (via His Word, the Spirit genuinely speaking through others, in nature and our circumstances as well as in prayer times) is on occasion difficult. even painful -and painfully needed. The ebb and flow of life, negative and positive produces real treasure to share and encourage those around us.

Listening, really listening to Him and others is not effortless, but so greatly needed.

God is listening to us always. May we do likewise.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Multiplicity AND Exclusivity Part Two

Yesterday I tried to set the stage for understanding of how God, the creation and people are not continuously static nor fluid. Though God Himself is unchanging (“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”) we are not. We each and all change in some, sometimes many areas of our lives while in other matters never change.

One of several helpful lessons I learned from being the youngest child, my Dad marrying late in life and him often in convos with friends much older than he was that age is a huge difference-maker.

Older people seem to end up either more gracious or more brittle, with more kindness or conversely meanness. As one who seeks to please God above all else which do you think the Spirit desires in we who profess to follow Jesus?

The reality is that there continues to be two mission fields- the one around the church and within the churches themselves.

Showing up doesn’t equal following the Lord, living a life that reflects His love, confessing and repenting of what He Himself calls sin in His Word nor confessing Christ before a sometimes hostile world and sometimes hostile church.

Reformation first and always must begin (and has in history) in “me”, the individual. RE-THINKing, RE-forming -being formed by God the Holy Spirit indeed must happen for a loving, truth-facing/bearing disciple of Christ. Consider the harsh, mean focus of the religious leaders called Pharisses, Sadducees and the scribes (who clearly delved into scripture daily) or teachers of the law who opposed the true Lord and Savior rather consistently in the four Gospel accounts.

On the other hand His GOOD News of salvation, mercy, forgiveness, the pardon and welcome of Jesus was among His own disciples sometimes diluted by “They’re not with US Lord, shall we pray the Father to rain down fire upon THEM?” as though all who disagreed with them were another form of the prophets of Baal. His response to them? “You do not know what spirit you are of.”

MY way isn’t always God’s way! Consider the vast differences within the larger church in the world, the ongoing disputes and disagreements between otherwise professing followers of Christ from the earlier history of the church until this day! MULTIPLICITY EXISTS AND WILL NOT GO AWAY BY OUR INDIVIDUAL/SHARED CLAIMS TO ORTHODOXY.

Flawed, unlike the Perfect Savior we trudge on and often leave blood in our wake.

“But” you say, “I KNOW the truth! THEY deny it!” There are times I’m sure you are correct -and other times you are not regardless how deeply-held your particular position may be. Me too.

What to do if this is the case re. understanding, application of God’s Word, in some cases denial and rejection of what it says, churches containing unsaved, backslidden people, a world full (like the churches) of sinners, people who sometimes more closely live out the good, gracious commands of Jesus than we professing disciples of His do?!

Face multiplicity as reality and learn to treat others with the grace, compassion and indeed agape love of Jesus.

SOOOOO much easier said than done.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” Matthew 23.37/Luke 13.34 When the Lord sums it up it seems to me “you were not willing!” leaps up in my face.

To demand all think, dress, play music, do church, live in “civil” society, vote and otherwise choose as you do isn’t going to “win” hearts to Jesus, neither in nor outside of the churches.

Why is such attitude a fail?

The Perfect (and ONLY so) Jesus Himself lived, daily walked among flawed and sinful disciples, seekers, enemies during His earthly ministry. How did He treat them? Multiplicity of belief and actions even when He was correcting them was done from a motive of pure love. For you and I dear reader, not so. We are often more concerned about others conforming and converting to -us- than to Him.

Finally, what about this thing called exclusivity?

We could discuss sanctification as a doctrine (which is another of those issues the vast sea of believers on earth have varying views about) but unlike God, we are not fully perfected/holy/separate in the literal sense. God IS. We’re not!

God has every right, claim and ability to be fully exclusive. Read that sentence again please. It’s Who He IS, the only nature He has in Himself. Notice any difference between the LORD and us???

When we claim or live out exclusivity (not uncommon at all…) in a world and Church/churchES chocked full of multiplicity we can so easily become like the Pharisees Jesus debated, rebuked and called out in public. He told His disciples the leaven of the Pharisees was hypocrisy. It was and still runs through each (and I do mean each) of us.

When Paul wisely writes the church in Corinth to “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”

I am convinced Paul is calling for a brutal honesty, integrity, humility, needed confession and repentance.

When do we not need a re-thinking reformation in our hearts and lives where faith, hope and the love of God mark us in our interactions with both God and others?

John put it in the most simple terms: “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.” 1 John 4.16

If we will not learn to interact with others in/by/from God’s love, grace and compassion what we say, write and shout about doctrines and “church preferences” display not the mind of Christ nor heart of God, but instead brittle, exclusive people who are merely fighting a multiplicity in humankind that will never go away prior to the church being gathered into the literal presence of God at the end of time as we here experience it.

What of Christians who swing at the air trying to land blows in the lives of sinful people or defeat demons and doctrines of devils? That’s a fruitless effort in a fallen world of multiple choices, multiple options, paths, cultures and subcultures both in and outside of anything we might consider “church”.

For those who prefer to keep shooting, shall we not best make God’s love our aim?! Paul sums it up perfectly:

“All that you do must be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 14.1

I am fully convinced our exclusive God has created a world of multiplicity and seeks to redeem us to Himself as well as one another. It’s Who He is, and also how He made us and the world we live in.

All will give account to Him for what we did in and with it -and how we treated one another.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Multiplicity AND Exclusivity Part One

Ok, big words for big worlds here.

Dig into dictionary definitions of both and things still don’t clear up for folks who are afraid of or even hate either or both of these terms and their ramifications. Of course… depending on who you are that is…

When considering narratives and reality, each of us has both of those as well – and they’re not always the same, in sync with at least some people on the planet, maybe even on our block or county. Yep. Complexity is part of life.

I’ve often discussed options in my writing – we all love to have them ourselves but at times truth be told, don’t like others to exercise them. On one side of that is multiplicity, on the other exclusivity.

Most urban dwellers have to make peace with folks around them who don’t think, dress, talk or behave as they wish them to. Small towns tend the same to a point and rural folks living farther apart in terms of space get more of a “pass” on dealing with this stuff -sometimes at least. More distance, more “buffer zone”.

The God of the Bible is exclusive. Nobody else exactly like Him though we all bear His image. According to Jesus- no life or eternal life but from and in Him.

The God of the Bible reveals multiplicity in the Trinity – Father/Son/Spirit which the Celtic Christians often refer to in their prayers and poetry as The Three. “I am God, there is no other” is a theme running right through the scriptures.

He created humans with foundational characteristics of exclusivity AND multiplicity, male and female, and each/all with different elements of facial features, hair and skin color, etc.. Human creatures in comparison to all other creatures offer some similarities but also glaring contrasts in human abilities versus even species most “like” us.

Consider the most trained, sophisticated gorilla piloting your flight to London, or sea bass your Caribbean cruise ship, perhaps a grasshopper in front of the room instructing your university course. Well, your narrative might be different than mine or others… but…

When we study the vastness of multiples in flora and fauna throughout the earth we see drastic, truly drastic differences, uniqueness as well as similarities.

California alone demonstrates everything I’ve written here. If only studying that state in the U.S. we see exclusivity as well as multiplicity in layer after layer of humanity and the natural world, even climate differences.

If God is the God of the Bible, and if Jesus existed/exists, spoke the truth and John quoted Him correctly, this among a number of Christ’s “exclusivity” phrases stands out clearly though it may provoke to no end:

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17.3

Note, this is Jesus praying and mentioning Himself by name. For context see: https://biblehub.com/parallel/john/17.htm

Two more scripture statements, then tomorrow Lord willing, I plan to publish the second and concluding part to all this.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14.6

From 1 John 5.11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 13. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

One exclusive God Who reveals Himself in multiplicity- The Three.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Alternative Jesus

Alternative: “Some common synonyms of alternative are choice, election, option, preference, and selection. While all these words mean “the act or opportunity of choosing or the thing chosen,” alternative implies a need to choose one and reject another possibility.” Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/alternative

What we know about Jesus is from the Gospels and other eye witness accounts in the New Testament

He did not own land or house

He was homeless, a traveller, did not own a a horse or donkey

As far as has been reported He had but one article of clothing and a pair of sandals

Several women and as well as homes He visited and weddings He attended fed Him

He did miracles at least twice to feed thousands, once to pay His and Peter’s taxes, at least a couple times told his disciples where to and when to haul in a large catch of them- reportedly had real power over fish and bread

Jesus was a trained, experienced carpenter but there is no record of Him with woodworking after He left home -until He was nailed to it

His consistent, continual focus was the love of and for God the Father, the people and their needs, the Good News, the kingdom of God, mercy, justice, forgiveness, eternity, God’s judgment

He was followed by friends and foes, believed and hated, envied, falsely accused, arrested, a prisoner, rejected and abandoned by His own people, unjustly executed by the occupation forces of a foreign state due to the demands of local, corrupt religious leaders

According to His amazed followers He rose from the dead and according to scripture His kingdom and ultimate rule has no end

How much are any of us like Him?

To be truly at all like Him deserves serious consideration of these issues and acceptance of the possible consequences of living as He did

In light of all this and the historical record of how the lives of His immediate followers ended-and countless more of them in history -it seems sensible to ask how truly like Jesus we are -or honestly want to be

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Unity?

When recently asked about unity a long list of things immediately popped up in my mind. I think two general areas of thought sum it up:

Unity or uniformity?

Agreement with you and your tribe on Bible interpretation and application, form/method of “doing church together” and secondly, civil (or uncivil) politics?

I’ve gone to Jesus’ discourse with His disciples in John 17 many times and that along with plenty of other texts such as Paul’s “preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”, verses about being “of one mind, one accord” and Psalm 133 over and over.

I’ll soon have lived, Lord willing, in an intentional Christian community for 50 years among a wide and I mean wide variance of age, ethnicity, race, subculture, both people seeking to follow Jesus to “Don’t know quite yet” to longtime church attenders and you-name-it sorts of people. For 28 years a main ministry (as in “serving”) was our Cornerstone Festival which linked a super-broad spectrum of thousands of people from churches and ministries like and quite unlike one another for four days to one week annually. It was to many of us a bit of “heaven on earth”.

By “unity” do you mean you with your Christian neighbor down the block even though you attend two truly different churches who do not agree on any number of issues? When you use the term are you meaning to say you and I and all professing Christ followers should vote Democratic, Republican, Libertarian or Independent or we’re not in unity as believers?

Or when calling for unity do you define that word to mean “Either we agree (on whatever and to what degree?) or you’re being divisive and a tool of the devil.”?

I suggest to live out Jesus’ words, those of Paul and others in God’s Word on the matter of unity also must at times, in a spirit of (Holy Spirit directly involved in our attitudes/fruit of the Spirit) conversation with grace, respect and getting at what both or all “sides” of a discussion must be WITHOUT RANCOR. How can iron-sharpening-iron happen, how can any of us ever grow to love those unlike and not in agreement with us by regularly burying our deep concerns about HOW to love God and others if we don’t have such discussions?

On the other hand, often it is not honest, open discussion being sought. It is winning, control, a whatever-it-may-be demand being met. Example- the motive of Saul over/against the motive of David. The motive of Jesus or that of the religious rulers who sparred with Him continually.

I never thought relationship to God or others was itself a lockdown of “either you/they agree with me/us or for the sake of unity (or is it uniformity you seek?) we don’t talk about it.” The rub is “Do ALL you do in love”. And that, my brothers and sisters is where we fail or grow in spiritual maturity, a maturity that it seems many in the body of Christ would rather not pay the price for.

Patience seems near the top of the list. Sometimes silence is the wise choice as per a number of texts in Proverbs and elsewhere in scripture.

So what about repentance, individual growth in Christ and church reformation?

These never happened in silence while what is also truth and fact is when we take a strong and absolute view our typical demand is for the other person/s to repent because we’re convinced they need to, not us. “What THEY think is bogus, not us and what WE believe”!

“A time to be silent and a time to speak.” -Ecclesiastes 3.7b

Note, at any time anyone could have said “That Bible translator is an agent of the devil sowing division not unity!” Oh… in history they actually did -and burned a number of them at the stake. I think power and control had a lot to do with it, don’t you?

I suggest imperfect, sinning saints who also make mistakes (note, 3 things there…) may strongly disagree and even have, in fact NEED to have conversations about things that deeply affect our witness for Jesus as well as “the least of these.”

Now, speaking as a white guy with other white folks- do you mean unity with my Black and other people of color and their churches kind of unity?

We need unity, lots of it. It costs and many are unwilling to pay the price including many of those who so often call for it.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Two Salvation Issues

Yep, straight up, the Jesus Movement was excellent and a passing fad all at the same time. And as usual it takes time and perhaps a lifetime to recognize authentic, lived-out loving faith in Jesus vs. surface, pop-culture, “try it out, see if it fits, discard if not satisfying to ya”. The first is salvation by God’s grace and a surrendering follower in ongoing relationship with the Risen Jesus Christ, the second is something else and something of personal construct.

Now let’s face it, current atheists, agnostics or pre-believers may well argue that personal construct (purely human-made) is as easily slapped onto we who say we believe and truly follow Jesus Christ. Sometimes they’re correct.

Best as I have been able, I’ve written my own story -as all reading this post are, though perhaps not in literal written form. Further, nobody but you (or in my case, I) has lived inside your own mind, choices, experiences though in some moments they may have shared -some- of them alongside you. Plenty goes on in each person’s brain and personal experience others can only at best guess at.

So how does anyone know anything -or truly know anyONE?

I’ll skip to the second question. Watch their life as it unfolds. I don’t mean only one moment, one day, month or a few years, but over their lifetime. Consider the consistency of words, actions and convictions which demonstrate their key choices and actions. You may come closer to a sense of what they truly believe -if anything much at all, or if merely drifting. Or backsliding. Or whether upon inconvenience or deep suffering they bolt from what they had portrayed as saving faith.

Look, I’m convinced Jesus Christ is real, died and rose again and that HE ALONE is Savior. I’m equally convinced He doesn’t need a Savior -we do.

Many said “I will follow You” and did not. Others said “No way” and eventually realized He is exactly as He said -“I am the way, the truth and the life.” (john 14.6)

Like any garden, imperfect as all are- the unfolding of the seasons reveals whether a garden is truly worthy of the name.

Worth considering I think. And as always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

“Success”?

What is a God’s-eye view of success? A time is coming nobody will argue or merely surmise on this point.

I suggest that it is often -not- getting “our own way”. sheer math, garnering higher numbers including the volume of people whom you or I may have convinced, enlisted in business, or joined up to whatever club or social site we’ve organized. It isn’t about who did or didn’t get impressed by whatever it is we’ve said, “accomplished” on some level or other. All these are surface issues -there is a far greater depth than these.

“SUCCESS”: noun- 1530s, “result, outcome,” from Latin successus “an advance, a coming up; a good result, happy outcome,” noun use of past participle of succedere “come after, follow after; go near to; come under; take the place of,” also “go from under, mount up, ascend,” hence “get on well, prosper, be victorious,” from sub “next to, after” -Source: https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=success

One day all “success” will be sized up for what it truly was. Metaphorically, Jesus tells us wheat vs. chaff, Paul adds gold-silver-precious stones vs. wood-hay-stubble. It will not be mine nor any human judgment that weighs “success” in that moment. Sobering and important regarding the choices we make, paths we take, actual motives behind our actions in life.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Hand-Me-Down(s)

Lots of folks know I build little one, three (sometimes two) string guitars, no frets, played with some sort of “slide”. Most of what I build is merely for myself, to give away to unsuspecting peeps (HA!) and to try out a fresh concept or two. Some are literally “found object” gits, I mean truly “whatever I find” throwing creativity at various parts along with one or a few guitar strings.

When I was young our family was poor and living in rural Wisconsin where the MacGyver concept of “dog-legging” stuff to connect together and thus meet the need was common and among poor people rural and urban alike this approach is more typical than many likely realize.

Now, if one has either a fair bit of money, severe lack of time, lack of creativity, is budgeting in advance impaired, maybe just lazy anyone can simply throw cash or credit at an item. Then again…

The other thing I’ve mentioned on occasion -in those days when our family shopped it was St. Vincent de Paul. Then, Goodwill, Salvation Army and other thrift shops weren’t cool, yard/garage sales were rare and so we had to make do with whatever we had.

For all the pain and suffering (and there was plenty) in the early U.S. (and world-wide) Depression years there was also as per poverty and/or simple living backwoods people a “do-it-yourself, make it yourself, figure it out” vein of creativity, a puzzle-solving, “is there another way to” get things made or done approach to life.

I’m now typing this post on a very old MacBook Pro laptop gifted me by dear friends as nobody had use for it.

It’s old enough that the operating system and apps just wouldn’t fly, rather crawl, clog and botch up here in 2021.

Everything works, the battery holds power for a good long time and the power cable is fine. It has NO HARD DRIVE.

It’s so old that I simply plugged in one of my Peppermint Linux usb drives (the entire operating system loads “live”) via one of the usb ports and it rocks, speeds along just fine, has all the apps I use daily.

I just found out -thanks Jon!- I likely have an old hard drive I can pop inside and load Linux onto it. I just may try though I don’t need it to get good productive work done on it.

See, there is often a workaround and I’d say nearly always though not entirely so.

Status, pride, the bother of impressing others, sometimes legitimate needs that what you can toss together or try WON’T get the job done sufficiently, that’s also a fact.

In my world but for a very few absolutes by my best understanding, humbly opening up one’s mind and heart, seeking alternative ways of doing -can- often bring one to a deeper appreciation of creative imagination.

In a very literal sense, even eternal life- salvation in Jesus is… a hand-me-down.

There are times do-it-yourself just. won’t. work.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn