More OPEN in the ’70’s?

Here is my reply to a q from a good, gracious friend in the faith.

He writes:

“Good afternoon brother. Hope that you enjoyed a couple of days in the woods. Question for you. I’ve been seeing the trailers for the Jesus Music movie and it has gotten me thinking. What happened? I mean it seems like in the 70’s people were more open to the message of the early Jesus Movement and music. As a movement folks seemed more caring. Today seems less open to the message and many of those delivering the message seem different. What happened is [over] a relatively short period of time.”

My Friend- thx again, always love getting out in nature very much! Excellent question! I truly love the simplicity of times in woods and on or near waters but also love people in need so I cannot in good conscience live out there…

So to your concerns. A lot of believers came to saving faith in Jesus in those years. The simple Good News in a complex society of injustices, war and racism brought healing to soooo many of us! The problem of not being open in society around the church… and not being open within it… that’s more complex again. I don’t mean you when I say many of us don’t want to think too much. We love simplicity and for good reason… and sometimes bad.

If (Greek) a “disciple” of Jesus is one who listens and LEARNS the mind has to engage with greater depth. Self-defense, protection and “me FIRST” above all else and massive, often false judgment of “the other” has to take a back seat. Look at what Jesus both said and did and you’ll find NONE of the latter in Him. Look outside and within the churches and you’ll find far too much.

God the Holy Spirit showed up big time in the late 60’s-early ’70’s and thousands of people were desperate enough to understand surrender to Him and His ways at the most basic level. So on one hand simplicity was the greatest blessing to us then… but mark this: continuing in simplicity and ONLY simple-minded concepts when God challenges our socks off for change and growth in our heart and activity of serving OTHERS as opposed to ME ME and ME and MINE is a train-wreck.

So hearts grow hard instead of soft. We tire of the personal sacrifices and call to forgive, be kind, live out His deepest commands to love as Jesus loves -because there is real pain involved. We look back on earlier times when such change seemed nearly effortless and in some areas of our lives it was. So frustration, anger and vitriol are what many of us spout in the face of our enemies rather than the (talking about professing Christians now) fruit of the Holy Spirit.

People long for “the good old days”, we have that bent for the nostalgia -and stated bluntly, when white males controlled most everything… which in my view is a real-world denial of equity, growth and grace received and shared.

Israel wanted a worldly King, a Czar not a suffering Savior. They wanted dominance, not redemption to share with Samaritans, gentiles and riff-raff.

The Spirit continues to work to move us beyond spiritual kindergarten. Having experienced first love many of us would rather bail on further education as both listeners and learners. The kingdom of self must go.

God have mercy. -Glenn

Sustaining Advocacy

Plenty has been written and a great deal more of late in light of the pandemic, racism and issues of history both past and present injustice taking a toll on those who advocate for sense, love and righteousness -not only in the world but within the churches regardless of “kind”.

Thankfully a lot has been offered as advice for tired, disgusted, even rightfully angry folks who are calling for positive change/s in local and larger society.

Taking breaks, starting or re-visiting a hobby or two, getting out in nature, getting a pet and any number of good, helpful, health-giving ways for the life of an advocate are often cited.

Professional help as in therapy, spiritual direction, a good feet-on-the-ground counselor, focus on God and His Word (The Bible), simply attending a concert or taking a long walk, etc., all of these and more can and do work wonders for people suffering as we navigate often deeply troubling, painful issues that tempt us to “self-medicate” in damaging ways.

Addictions and suicides are up as I type… but these are not true answers to living in a broken and in-need-of-change world.

Advocacy means a hard, long and often pushed-against slog through struggle, rubble and at times, death. Surely there will be those who tell you to “Just drop it! Leave it alone! It’s no use, you’re only wrecking the peace!” when in fact those for whom you advocate don’t have a just peace due to those in positions of power actively working against change -or doing nothing because they are already comfortable with the status quo.

I fully admit that there are times we ought not, even are called by God the Holy Spirit Himself to do exactly that, nothing. To critics who judge in ignorance, it can look like “nothing” when in fact God has perhaps called you to do something -in another way- or at another time or both.

Nobody has the burden of advocacy Jesus did and does. Note also that scripture references the Holy Spirit as “Advocate”, as well as “Helper” and “Comforter”.

Every follower of Jesus has access to God and the peace of Christ -which passes mere understanding, that is, our ability to mentally fully understand that very peace itself… because we have access to the Spirit of peace, the Prince of Peace in prayer, meditation, by speaking and listening to Him. “Casting our cares upon Him because He cares for us” -this is essential!

I’ve met and now know a large and wide group of advocates right through my lifetime.

Those who are willing to act on such advice I mention here (and these things are only a short yet beneficial list) will continue to advocate. Burn out and quit are far too common, but wait, there’s more 🙂

“MY peace I leave you, MY peace I give to you” still holds as true as when Jesus was foretelling His disciples He was about to leave them. Consider that in the same breath He told them He’d send the Spirit, the Comforter to them, that they would not be left as orphans in the cold.

Advocates need advocates. Well, all but One 🙂 as He unlike ourselves, is self-sufficient.

I’m deeply grateful for “times of refreshing” from the Holy Spirit.

I’d have long ago left the plow in the field had He not sustained me.

I’ll end this post w. a link to a load of English translations that call us to remember an essential truth as followers of Jesus who advocate. I first noticed this many years ago as a young believer, guitar player who appreciates little effects pedals that help notes to –sustain-, to lengthen and not decay:

https://biblehub.com/psalms/54-4.htm

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Flies!

In a gathering of solid leaders all of whom I have known for years a discussion was held.


The issue was how to best proceed with serving a large group of people in a poor neighborhood in the inner city.

Two key and very appropriate concerns were voiced by one good-hearted person about motives. One was their own concern to serve for others and not themselves. They also brought up the matter of how to encourage others to join in serving without causing them to feel shamed, judged, leaned-on about doing so.

After these and a number of inspiring comments, ideas and exchanges of positive interactions with those in need were shared, we prayed and the meeting ended.

I had a sense the Lord wanted me to communicate something with the individual and another key leader who also has received a deeper call to serve another much larger group.

The essence of my message was that from time to time we all have two sets of flies buzzing around our heads. There truly is a devil and demons who would love to sideline us -take us out of service, out of the battle, off the field.

Self-condemnation, self doubt and an outsized self-judgment in the extreme is one tactic. Another is being so worried, so fearful someone will get their feelings hurt, misunderstand our motives, and/or misjudge us we give up communicating about an issue entirely for fear of these very possible negatives.

I have long taken a “back seat” sensing a call to say less and less in such meetings where ever and with whomever they happen. Younger people should and will step up and grow when older folks give them the keys and the wheel. There are then “pick-and-choose” moments to offer input. These are lessons aging people like myself must listen for and become aware of for other’s benefit.

It is as always, core to Christian leadership of -any- sort that other’s benefit ought to be the lion’s share of our focus and not we ourselves. Yes.

We DO need to check our motives, consider our tone, words, delivery when sharing a legitimate concern for ministry. People HAVE felt condemned and wrongly, harshly judged by leaders who call them to engage in various areas of service. These are legitimate things to know, confess, be careful about, repent when we blow it as we all do. Sensitive communication with grace, tact and patience for younger –and– older sometimes immature, perhaps truly self-centered people is a constant area for leaders to be aware of and learn how to do well!

Having considered all this- it is still indeed “The Book of Acts”, not merely concepts, theories, ideas. People are served when we engage. I have found withdrawing to pray, “passing the torch”, learning when to speak and when to be silent is part of our life-long road in a continually growing discipleship.

We cannot literally serve everyone, meet everyone’s needs and fewer still, their desires! We do not all have the exact same spiritual gifts or calling. That’s an important Bible reality. Unlike God, we each truly have limits to what we can give and do. This is why TEAM is so very important.

Being sidelined for fear of judgment accomplishes nothing. Such is not God’s plan for His servants on earth, the church.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

The Word Nobody Wants to Own

Me, you dear reader, your closest friends and mentors, your most disgusting enemies all richly deserve this term and any honest definition of it in any number of areas. Certainly with regard to making judgments on individuals, groups and entire tribes and nations right through history in my view and I suspect most thinking people -it fits.

It is often considered and at times surely used as a “slight”, a “stick in the eye”, a put-down and knee-jerk response to what you or I consider plain ‘ol stupid.

Ignorance.

We will freely admit nobody including ourselves, knows everything about everything. A little more depth in thought and we’ll likely admit very few of us can rightly accept the term “expert” even in areas we may know a great deal more than the “average” person (whatever “average” may mean).

Today and many days I find myself considering Paul’s statement “If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know…” (1 Corinthians 8.2) and he follows that up in verse 3 with “but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.”

The context of that chapter happens to be about idolatry and in essence, the Corinthians who professed faith in Jesus needed some help, instruction, guidance about the issue and connected with that with regard to judging and miss-judging one another on the issues involved.

His initial statement speaks directly to the matter of ignorance and a deep and obvious need for humility. That dear friends, “doesn’t come with the water”! It is UNcommon for believers or pre/unbelievers to own ignorance as a reality on topics of discussion and especially if the issue is a controversial, contentious matter.

I am convinced there are a lot of understandable reasons many believers remain ignorant of the broader Church on earth, most have scant knowledge of either Church or world history, often even national, regional or local history.

We often are so in lockdown (now there’s a term ‘eh?) by choice of “only one or two close friends” or perhaps just those of our “tribe” are allowed -in-. In other words, we are only loyal to those who do not challenge our ignorance and/or imbalance in an area, subject, topic.

God indeed knows who loves Him- and even if we are convinced we also know, we do not know as He does!

The lack of humility, taking/making/choosing to step into dark waters of a wide spectrum of thoughts, writings and yes, history of both the Church/churches and larger world is something in my opinion far too many Christians have simply not given time and effort to.

I get it: personal pain, suffering, mental and/or physical health, pandemic, burdens involving family, work, even time to get rest and recreation, financial concerns and more tax us to the hilt. Who has time to study all the historical stuff? “I never liked history anyway!” and “We know so much more than they did then…” or even “A LOT more than those people over there!” of another tribe than the one we’re part of and comfortable with.

Yup. Got it. So “done learning”? Got it all figured out? Lockdown until we are face-to-Face with God?

As has been often said, the Christians at Corinth were some of the most blessed and gifted and some of the most messed-up, conflicted and un-transformed people -all at the same time! That’s likely why Paul wrote his two longest letters to them dealing with issue after issue and a great deal of it boils down to two things: ignorance and the great and obvious need for application.

I’m not suggesting you need a seminary or at least a TedTalk 30min. course on X, Y and Z, I’m simply saying the lack of education and a wider view of the wider Church (not only the one you like) and world (ditto) is something we need and need a lot more of.

What you may learn in the process is how to be gracious toward people you strongly disagree with -and maybe even begin to recognize your own ignorance and imbalances in the process.

Loving God is directly connected with loving people. Take one more slow read of those two verses above.

We’ve all a lot to learn.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Blues Music: Deeper Studies

Sharing with my readers some of my further studies on Blues Music here.

Yes indeed. Lament, joy and protest in this musical mode is well documented. Maybe that’s why some folks don’t want to go there… Well, for music aficionados and especially in the blues genre, here are only four of -many- excellent places to dig in and learn, to consider a whole lot that you likely were never taught in a white school be it public, parochial or home-school.

Lord have mercy! And I’m seriously asking Him for that, not merely quoting a blues phrase often sung.

https://downatthecrossroads.wordpress.com/2020/10/20/the-blues-as-protest/

https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200197401/

https://folkways.si.edu/was-lead-belly-a-protest-singer/african-american-music-american-folk-blues/music/video/smithsonian

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

The Gift of Perception

I’ve been meditating on a foundational reality that it does seem many may fully disagree with, consciously ignore or merely have more faith in themselves and the environment/natural elements than in God.

And- “What have you been given that is not a gift?” (see 1 Corinthians 4.7)

Each breath, movement of fingers to type, moving food to mouth, the fact I have food to eat, clothes to wear, a roof over my head and that of my wife and family, friends- many life-long, gifts given me, skills, work to do, the heart and passion to -do- that work, service opportunities and the grace to survive, even learn from and endure the pains of life on this planet, the cup of good coffee I just put to my lips, eyes that still see, ears that still hear and the ability to perceive all this neither begins nor ends with me. God. Yes, GOD.

Giving thanks, praise, worship, allowing HIM to define and shape me, guide my decisions and actions, behavior changes we both wish to bring about in me -and even those I don’t wish for but that I’m convinced He and those who love me wish for my growth and better reflection of His love and grace… THESE THINGS DON’T “JUST HAPPEN”.

Again, there are those who disagree and believe they have good reason. I understand that and indeed, expect it.

When the ultimate thought is that we are each little deities, that the natural world is all there is or shall ever be and the conclusion that there is little or no spirit or spirituality because there is ultimately no God, no Jehovah Jireh (the God Who sees/provides) means all I have said and that which followers- mind you, followers of Jesus who are believers are all deceived and indeed self-deceived means… what?? Does it follow people who have no faith in God are not only more intelligent but actually more wise/correct, more perceptive, more kind and gracious (grace… where did that concept come from?) and more loving? How dishonest for agnostics and atheists to apply perfection to all who think and live such personal “faith”. If nobody’s perfect we can conclude none of us are.

All mysteries are just that. The issue is our satisfaction in explaining them -or not. Theories abound, no?

And yet I never find it mysterious that I or others who profess to be followers of Jesus “act like the devil” at times, and of course many are no more Christ-followers than a load of gravel so there’s that. Certainly such acts are equally true among those who consider Christ and the common Christian view, the Bible as the Word of God and truth to be mere and mythological narrative only.

Doubt is also as real for the “believer” as the “un(or pre-) believer”. I wonder how often those who believe they have excellent reason to dis-believe also doubt their own “secular theology”?

The tests, arguments, belief and unbelief are nothing new, have always been in the minds of humans and shall continue to come -until Jesus returns and “every eye” sees Him.

My own position of faith and relationship to the risen Christ, the Father, the Spirit have taken me a lifetime to express. I expect to continue expressing these forever.

Meanwhile I give thanks, praise and worship to the One who has and continues to “show up” in my life for these past 50 years.

Indeed, even perception is a gift!!

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

The NEWS

I’ve written several times about the beauty and the horror of the World Wide Web’s many options. Then there is the basic fact people of all ages with a search, a few clicks or even simply opening their browser can find options galore on nearly every subject- truth, lies, actual reality, fiction and percentages on both sides of the spectrum.

Of course the days of only a few radio and tv networks and channels are as gone as the dark ages. Ok, many pundits are saying all these changes may be or already have ushered in a 2000’s version of the dark ages all over again.

What I want to say is again, something I and plenty others have said all along: it’s discernment, even the will, ability to do hard and personally-costly research that far too many professing Christ followers seem to just live without.

No doubt there are those who read, listen or watch my various communications who think “THAT guy is so brainwashed, no objectivity in his thinking about several matters at very least! Idiot at worst. Self-deceived!” Or variations of such.

Nothing new under the sun.

Of course in some areas sometimes they may be quite correct!

What ALL -and I mean all of us must work hard at -and at times do not- is putting in the effort via prayer, a deep and often painful study of what God does and does not say in scripture about any topic, then adding world, national and local history, and again time spent actually studying the perspectives of others with whom we disagree.

We may well come away thinking much the same, slightly different or completely convinced anew after repeatedly doing so throughout our lifetime.

Those who stop studying stop learning. Is it simpler, easier, even more comfortable giving one a sense of security to just –park– and be done listening to the opinions of those with whom we disagree? It is. It’s also such that brings us to the “news” we accept as true.

How many people have their feet firmly planted in news-source cement shoes? “Unless X, Y or Z says it (mostly only one or two of those) and tell me what I already think and believe [or want to believe] I’m not going to give those other jerks the time of day!”

So much for the integrity of actually hearing.

Now I’m not saying any of us must daily listen to stacks of propaganda from any “news” source. We all know YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and plenty more sites are thick with foolishness, click-bait for folks who aren’t interested in being challenged, thinking outside their own tribal thought processes.

The question is- are WE THINKING, DISCERNING, WILLING TO KEEP LEARNING or is it all about me, my tribe and shutting our minds up because we already know everything there is to know about everything and everyone, especially our enemies?

See, it’s a command of Jesus to love, of Paul, James and of course Book of Proverbs and more in God’s Word to continue studying/learning/applying, to ask for wisdom, not merely knee-jerk “reality” as in “reality tv”! God have mercy, now THERE’S a butchering of a term related to something millions love to watch regularly. So much for either truth or depth.

Things to consider as we make our media choices.

Also worth considering if we find ourselves continually burning up with rage, in a quicksand of deep and hopeless misery and despair, and find ourselves either outright hating our enemies or close to it on the basis of what we’re reading/watching/listening to:

Faith, hope, love? Grace and mercy? Justice, fairness, balance? Wisdom? These things take both love and effort.

God help us do our part to grow in these! The Good News of the Gospel of Jesus must not be disconnected from such.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

 

BOOKINGS OR SERVING? = GK DETAILS

It has been said (and often by myself) “Blessed are the flexible for they shall be used.” 🙂

Even as I type I’ve an ongoing discussion with a longtime pastor friend of mine inviting me to bring music and a separate message to a men’s retreat they are planning at their church.

Because we’ve done ministry together before there and as we know one another well including what gifts and artistic offerings are likely available, I don’t have to ask a couple of the first questions I’ve been asking people for years.

If I don’t know them I typically ask:

Why me? How do you know about me and why do you think I may be a good fit for this (whatever “this” is in their context)?

Please tell me about your event/venue/coffeehouse/biker rally/festival/church/jail-prison facility/house or porch show setting, etc..

I ask the promoter/pastor/fest director/whomever for as much detail as possible before I fully commit to booking because I want to bring them what they believe they best need from me, not merely thrusting HEY- THIS IS ME Y’ALL, RELATE OR NOT is not wise, gracious, kind nor will that attitude best serve THEM and that’s a major reason I bring music, speak or otherwise show up, not merely to make a buck or expand my bookings or the like.

I search for them online in a number of ways to get a sense of who they are, what they may or may not relate to that I believe I can reasonably bring them with integrity on my part.

NOT doing such homework is in my view, both a mistake and often ends up producing fails for both parties as well as those who attend the event.

If I’m not convinced I’m the guy for their gig I sift through my brain re. the people I know who might actually do a better job for them and try to link both parties up.

To honor my Lord and bring my best to people means caring enough to consider these things and apply them.

That’s my aim!

His, yours, -Glenn

Unpacking, Sorting

I believe I mentioned in a post a tour REZ Band did that involved something like 5 flights of stairs in a beautiful but winding “God help me” air-puffing massive suitcase haul during one of our stays in Berlin. If I had to do that today I’d likely expire on the staircase!

A week ago I realized on a trip Wendi and I took out of state that I’d finally learned… telling her I’d only overpacked by one T shirt and one pair of underwear. She had mentioned it was the same for her -and even as had loaded to leave she’d remarked “Wow, you’re traveling light!” Yup.

It’s only taken me about 50 years to learn how… 🙂

Everyone reading this has overloaded themselves in some areas while other times should have packed more than they did -and you learn as you go, over time, what you really NEED, what you actually likely to USE and so forth.

Same has been true re. vacations.

It is typical that the longer we live and the more experience we have our judgments get a bit more thoughtful as opposed to overloading ourselves with baggage we don’t need -realizing some may hurt us, maybe even kill us if we keep hauling it around.

You can’t engage with as many people as I have as often as I have over the  many decades, concerts, jail and prisons, churches, streets, music scene and venues and totally avoid picking up stuff you don’t need, can’t rightly use. Some of it will end up using –you– if you don’t learn to discard it.

Some have dumped individual people, groups of people, professions, cities, towns, etc., some have dropped all sorts of “weights” while others keep packing the same heavy loads into their minds, hearts, life-choices.

Others toss what they should not have and wonder why their life never seems to move to the positive side of the street.

I keep going to Jesus in prayer, to HIS words, those in the rest of the New Testament and whole Bible, chat and pray with genuine, wise, kind brothers and sisters to help me unpack. Oh I also read up, study a fair bit of tough, nasty stuff as well as the hug-and-kiss variety. We need to consider all of it for the sake of learning, growth and balance.

I actively try to give the weighting-down stuff to the Lord in prayer and by pouring out my hurt, fear, complaints, worries and sorrow to the only One big enough to carry it all.

It’s a continual conversation that “takes a load off”.

I learned long ago I cannot FORCE change, not in myself nor in anyone else. I can try to inspire it -write lyrics and music about it, blog or otherwise speak about X, Y or Z, but I cannot carry the burdens alone: nor can you dear reader.

Further, though I may have been graced by not having the exact same pains of this or that person, neither can I literally live their life for them.

I cannot make their decisions for them.

Even in care giving ministry, with deep love and concern for someone who seems in a spiral and sometimes continual downward trend I realized long ago I cannot assume full responsibility either for their suffering or healing. This is where “everyone must bear their own load” (that’s also the Word of God folks). “Bear one another’s burdens” doesn’t mean I am able to think for them, live my life in their place, make their choices.

Jesus does not call the Holy Spirit “the Helper” for no reason!

Finally, for me to ease the burdens of my own life by self-medicating into some area of biblically-defined sin, selfishness and “THIS WILL MAKE ME HAPPYYYYYYYY!” nonsense only serves to bring me down joining the most broken, hurting people in the same. What does that accomplish for them -or- for myself? Nada.

God’s grace (as Paul said even re. his own thorn) IS sufficient IF we trust Him and pour out our lives to and for Him and others. We must learn to pack -and unpack for the journey.

It’s almost autumn in Illinois but I’ve been doing “spring cleaning” in my office/workspace. Many trips to the dumpster! I’m also blessed with discovering some really great and useful stuff I forgot I had! That’s the other side of tossing the stuff we don’t need.

Continuing prayer, Bible study, godly fellowship, accountability, mentors, and sure, simple fun pleasures that are not degrading, not merely stop-gap-and-dodge maneuvers whereby we put God and His truths and right relationships on the “back burners”… well, you get my drift.

By God’s grace and application of a bit of wisdom you don’t have to continue to carry the excess around.

I think it wise and yes, freeing to consider what you’re packing and ask Him to help you sort it out before you leave.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn