Information or Formation?

Data alone does not equal relationship does it? Though we may or may not be persuaded by information, there are nearly always gaps in our actual data, typically elements of our understanding and even approach to research that leave holes in our “certainty”.

Faith does not answer all questions. In fact many of us much of the time don’t even know what questions to ask.

Relationship based on long, close and regular fellowship with a person gets us closer to getting a real picture of who a person truly is that we may experience something much deeper than mere information.

According to Jesus in the Gospels there is an entity called satan or “the devil” who apparently has a fair bit of information about both the Lord and us. What he does not have is an honest relationship with God. Information does not equal maturity or being truly shaped and formed by truth.

Scripture speaks to this often. An obvious example is that enemy of Jesus quotes God’s Word to Him. He had no intention to live it, no real relationship of faith, love, trust, obedience to the Lord.

There is no doubt some have used scripture as a weapon, what the Book of Hebrews calls “the sword of the Spirit” and yet they use it to dominate. How often do atheists and/or agnostics use information to dominate? Conversations, events, all sorts of people are seen as targets to be struck for one’s own glory whether in winning a debate, controlling an electorate or subjugating a person or people group to the self-gratifying intent of the dominator?

Religious and non-religious people abuse information.

Spiritual types sometimes do it to create a god (not the true God- Father/Son/Spirit) of their liking. Non-spiritual people do it at times to judge God as if He were un-trustworthy -more like themselves.

This is why a deeper, on-going relationship is both a risk, often costs dearly, and is massively important to separating fiction from fact rather than merely “banking” on information that may or not be as solid as a slower version of quicksand.

Many decades ago I first discovered a piece of information: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” (Jesus- John 14.6)

Our relationship has proved His words to me again and again. He is indeed exclusive, and has every right to be.

Things to consider?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn


Opinion Vs. Opinion?

I often hear and read folks talk about God and of course, plenty from a Christian perspective however they came to that belief.

As much as I appreciate that everybody who claims to follow Jesus is at different places, stages, experiences and for that matter education regarding what they believe about Him and what His Own words, the rest of the New and Old Testament have to say -it is right there I think some miss the boat as they sometimes dismiss the Bible.

How easy it is to baptize our opinions and desires as truth!

Some have decided they rightly dismiss all but the four Gospels and Jesus’ Own words but as I’ve stated plenty in my prior posts, to me that makes zero sense.

What some -do- say relates more directly to variance of opinion as to what Jesus and for that matter, Paul, John, James and the other writers say with regard to faith and practice. That is, regardless of opinion on such things we don’t -and on this earth won’t always agree in terms of interpretation.

Therefore it seems to me sometimes very scholarly approaches to the same Bible texts still can become a quagmire of head-butting one another, yes, even if the same codex is used, thorough, careful exegesis is applied and all exegetes cite the same sources that brought them to their conclusions. Plenty of Hebrew and Greek Bible scholars disagree with one another, such is really quite common throughout church history to this very hour.

IF my salvation is merely based on human opinion I think my relationship to the risen Jesus Christ as my Savior is rather suspect, no?

Indeed, one’s own personality and that of those we trust, listen to most and are closest to us as friends, mentors, even scholars deeply trained in Bible languages and related historical issues ALL have their own personalities, trusted sources -or at very least, personal opinions that affect their (at least current) stance on issues.

It is due to all this I find myself thinking of the logical holes in ALL OUR VIEWS including those you love, trust and cite most often -as if any of them or we ourselves have no gaps in our education, knowledge and understanding regarding the various issues of concern?!

I keep coming back to “If anyone thinks they know they do not yet know as they ought to know”, “Let God be true and every human a liar” and of course, the Book of Job where God shows up in the end confronting Job with his depth of ignorance. Ignorance, arrogance and a deep, deep need for humility are issues I personally recognize in my own life, how about you dear reader?

If His “ways are past finding out” then we must in humility not seek to merely win arguments with one another. Can we not learn to find comfort in The Comforter and find that “peace that passes understanding” in light (or cloud) of the mysteries? Are we not sometimes tempted to rather avoid such in order to be accepted by our “great” wisdom and if nothing else, sense of pomp?

I think all of us are also at times tempted to “play to the stands”, curry favor with an audience or congregation we seek to be liked by and so speak, write and publish from that motive rather than genuine integrity or simply by admitting “I’m still not 100 percent certain about that”.

If my own arrogance isn’t checked, if it is at core my deep rage or hurt which colors my opinion of God, people, doctrine or the church even with it’s sins and horrors, I suggest distortions within me may eventually move me from God’s Word to my own. That, my friends, can and has eventuated in a construct of false deity based on opinion rather than slow, careful, thorough, work. And work it is.

Is it faith in Jesus or ultimately human opinion that forms a disciple of His?

Paul to Timothy (2.15): “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.” Notice “word of truth”, not illusion, unreality or myth.

I know of no human on earth who has the knowledge, wisdom or perfect understanding of God or His word of truth flawlessly -including me! “Do your best” before God? Do the work of such? This is our task in love for God and our neighbor. Opinions come and go – according to Jesus, God’s words do not.

Perhaps worth considering? As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn


Nearing the end of John Wesley’s life he journaled about the various Methodist societies he’d planted, continuing to visit and preach as well as meet with congregants in each as he still could in terms of travel and old age.

One term I don’t think he much used came to mind today.

Years ago in Jesus Movement times we often heard and used the term “on fire Christian” not meaning “Bible bashers”, white nationalists demanding their version of a theocratic state on earth by voting or weaponry, not merely meaning “hot-headed loudmouths demanding all sinners (but themselves) repent” but in terms of God the Holy Spirit so enflaming their hearts in worship of the Triune God, love, study and application of His Word best they understood it, and a deep commitment to (for core example) Jesus’ words in John chapter 15 with passion and conviction.

I had camped plenty with friends as a young dude and since- and can tell you there are many ways to start a fire, put one out and for that matter, carry on in such a way as to never get one started.

One of the finest fire-starters in the affluent western world is clothes and/or blanket lint from an automatic dryer. That stuff catches so quick! Unless there’s enough of it as well as other suitable kindling, etc., it will also burn out fast. So there’s that.

Wesley wrote about several of the once deeply passionate societies essentially losing their first love and he would sometimes preach on biblical texts directed toward encouraging them to “do the works you did at first” ala Jesus in the Book of Revelation. Losing one’s first love isn’t as much a difficulty as it is a reality in plenty of people’s lives. You focus on self above all and it happens.

Pain happens. Crosses appear. We look to people rather than Jesus to be our savior/s. One’s physical or other health issues rise up. Those we love in family or friends suffer. It seems our prayers are not always answered or if so in ways we do not “see Jesus” in the day-to-day. The fire begins to die for lack of tending, kindling, cover during hard rain and/or strong winds -but is it not a matter of sufficient care?

I affirm healthy self-care, completely affirm lament (been a blues musician most of my life). But struggle, pain and lament is only part of the story, it’s not the entire story.

So, how do people fall away, lose the fire of the Spirit in real life?

Jesus spoke to this in His parable of the sower. In the most simplistic, basic elements notice how spiritual fire goes out:

Matthew 13.22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing.

Mark 4.19 but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing.

Luke 8.14 As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

(Context- Matthew 13.1-23, Mark 4.1-20, Luke 8.4-15)

Cares of the world, desire for other things, cares and pleasures of life alongside riches/wealth (however you wish to define that) is what chokes, causes stunted growth, lack of maturing by and in the seed that has been sown in the people, indeed, even in ANY form of church or Christian assembly. How does Jesus define “the seed”? It is the word of God, the kingdom spoken of and demonstrated by Him. He is King and is calling us to HIS kingdom.

Let there be no question as to why people fall away years after following. There are loads of reasons indeed. So did they ever truly surrender to Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior as well as first Love, best Friend and daily relationship by prayer, study and application of the Word of God? Love their neighbor with the love and truth in/of Jesus Christ? Live out the sacrifices of personal cross-bearing out of love for Him and others? Please see “the Beatitudes” of Jesus in Matthew chapter five for a fuller picture.

If ultimately there is “a great falling away” let there be no mystery as to how it happened or happens.

Spirit of God, let YOUR fire fall -and as Jesus speaks of “lamps trimmed and BURNING”, may YOUR light shine in and through me, in and through us until the day of the Lord and the fervent heat puts an end to all injustice and mere human kingdoms.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

License Plate Lil’ Guitar Build

There are always options! I was ready to toss a cigarbox that I’d cut part of the top off of for another project some months ago… and then remembered an Illinois license plate sitting amongst my parts. Even if the sides are a tad parted so no perfect fit, this is for me and maybe a give-away in a show sometime. I figured regardless of tone I can stick a portable pickup on ‘er, play a few songs and pass it on later.

The little 3 stringer is 21 1/4 inches tip to tip, scale is 16 1/4 inches bridge to nut, and just slightly reinforced inside with braces so the plate doesn’t cave totally in due to the torque from the string tension.

Tuned A E A (low to high) with acoustic strings .030 .024 and .011

It’s a slide-player only, and sounds pretty nice especially for a little wooden box, just 8 by 10 inches and 2 inches deep. I DO love small gits that offer big sound 🙂

Had some cheap mini machine heads and planted those in place.

Simple, fun, therapeutic!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Quick, Simple Guitar Tuning in G For Slide Playing -and A Few More Ideas

I’ve long loved 3 string slide cigarbox guitar playing, on occasion building them but regularly playing them in solo blues gigs.

I also LOVE my “Thrush Bird (woodpecker)” Tele (thanks SO much Glen) and have recently put one of my cut-down Danelectro Honeytone amps inside a different sort of cigarbox in that it was made with a slant on 4 sides so sits like a monitor wedge. Simple to use, 9 volt battery (or a.c.) powered, great for street busking.

What I’ll share here is to many of my guitarist readers and especially those who often play slide on a 4 string cbg (again, I much prefer 3 strings or even much of the time 1 string diddley bows) a fun tuning for those with a six string guitar they may wish to play slide on. Standard 3 string cigarbox git tuning would be (low to high) G D G. Here’s a variation for 4 string or using just 4 strings on a 6 string guitar.

There are a LOT of variations for the following, but I find it quick, simple and quite cool to set up a 6 string git as a slide by lifting the bridge up enough so that the strings are higher that normal in that one can play both without OR with a slide. For those who cannot get comfortable playing the same guitar in both typical fingering strings down to the neck and slide approaches, one must of course push those strings down on the neck to play w/o a slide while when using a slide of any type the issue is to NOT push the strings onto the neck. Playing with a slide means exerting just enough pressure to get the string/s to sing out. That’s why lifting them higher than normal is essential.

Ok, so much for basics.

So tune a 6 string normally, then drop the high E string down to a D. Once stretched and tuned, there are other things you -could- do to use the low E and A strings, but keeping this simple, ONLY play the 4 higher strings with your slide. You now have a G tuning using only the top 4 highest strings, those being (from the D string up- D G B D -and a very bluesy vibe. Doing this is very quick (de-tuning the high E to a D) and once you learn where the notes are in this scale of tuning you can learn to use fingers only or change up between using a pick and your fingers. There are various ways to mute/silence the low E and A but I usually do that dampening by the butt of my picking hand pressed against those bottom 2 strings.

Years ago I learned how move quickly between fingers and pick within a song by using my thumb, index and middle finger to pluck while sort of pinching the pick between the top inside of my palm and bottom of my middle and ring fingers.

So I’ve been doing a few songs like this live from time to time and really enjoying the sound of it. G tunings abound and many old, amazing Delta blues players used various open G tunings on both dobros and guitars. Very cool indeed!

Have fun learning and playing!

As always, thanks for stopping by, -Glenn

No End

The God of the Bible, the personally known and walked with risen Jesus, the Spirit of Holiness and Truth has -no- beginning nor ending. Jesus plainly states His “words will never pass away”.

You and I dear reader, have an end. The drug, the bottle, sex, perhaps our health, elements of sanity, our ability to live in our chosen philosophies, closest friends and a stack of other people and experiences will all end. We all know these realities are as sure as the air we breathe -as certain that our breathing will also one day end.

Who, what remains? What if anyone or anything is eternal?

There are reams of Scripture that speak to this, indeed Jesus’ Own words often do.

Meanwhile the addiction, the clinging to what is quite obviously not eternal as our main or perhaps only focus can be and for many is the false god, often including these and a long pile of gods to whom we worship and spend our time and lives on. Our time and life has an end.

My suggestion is to consider the One you are not, Who He IS and what HE says about all this.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Jesus and Movements

A friend of mine recently wrote what I believe to be an honest critique, confessing his own embarrassment as well as concern for history in many of the churches, a burden for untaught and sadly at times, un-lived out examples of discipleship in Christ. It’s worth a read indeed. And yes, I happen to agree with 99 percent of his comments. Link below.

One line immediately got my attention. The root word is “movement”. When one feels, thinks, actually participates and therefore is part of a movement there is activity involved. The core term is action.

I often state the Book of Acts was/is not merely a book of concepts, ideas and theory, rather it is a record of the early church on earth after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Did those early disciples always get it right?! Of course they did not anymore than any of us including myself! Yet they were part of a movement that again and again brings several things to light.

-Love was a matter of thought, shared community and action.

-Carrying the Good News of Jesus to the poor, widows and orphans, early on, the gentiles (“nations”, people of other cultures, values, languages, etc.) and NOT domination over those people was core.

-In essence, it was -as the Jesus Movement of the late 1960’s and to mid-’70’s or so, a move of Jesus, of God the Holy Spirit.

-Excesses? Yes. Mistakes? Of course. Temptations and sin among leaders and all others involved? Certainly. Luke wrote Acts including naming names and specific issues including deep arguments between leaders. One reason I love and believe the Bible is there is no pretending a fully “sanitized” church exists.

Here’s a core matter: defending a movement of people isn’t always focused on Father/Son/Spirit, those in need of salvation, widows and orphans, the poor. It can rather be defending one’s self and participation with a community of people. I’m not saying this or that tribe isn’t rightly loved, cared for or defended and shouldn’t be! I -am- saying it was never a movement of people that actually saved me -only Jesus Christ could, did and does that!!

If a movement never fails you you’re not paying attention. Imago dei doesn’t exclude sin nature, excess and foolishness in any of us!

How easy to self-defend a movement that cannot not in itself be salvific but indeed one we call home, feel comfortable in, a tribal sense of acceptance, value and worth and so must be defended “at all costs”.

I’ve seen such in -every- kind, style, community, house, evangelical, liturgical, mainline, fundamentalist, fill-in-the-blank fellowship right through history to this moment.

One element I believe is genuine reality in the many splits and “circling the wagons” among plenty of professing Christians is “us versus them” to the extent we cannot or will not confess our own sins, mistakes, slack education, information and any sense of respect and authentic loving concern for those who take a different view than we do, that is, among our chosen tribe. This is not to say we can always nor should always produce what others demand we produce for them. If Christ is Lord alone, people are not including the dude writing this.

Tribalism (often a good thing, working on a future post re. this) can be not only a defense of self but a damning of all who we see as enemies as they are not part of -our- community or cause. Please read that again.

As much as I am indebted to the Jesus Movement leaders and people in general who helped shape my own discipleship in Him, I never thought of that or any movement as somehow sacrosanct, flawless or that a group of humans had the ability to do in my life what only the living God could -my salvation and ultimately discipleship. No formula or template for discipleship I have experienced or studied can do what God accomplishes in us. I’m not saying various approaches to growing as a disciple of Jesus are not beneficial as many indeed are! I’m saying they’re not sufficient to change one’s heart and life without our loving obedience to God the Holy Spirit according to His Own Word. That, dear readers, is a matter of a movement of the Lord Himself, not merely or only a movement of people, even people in any sort church or other Christian gathering.

Looking for the perfect community, local or larger church (including you-name-it) or gathering of believers is going to eventually mature us in realization that on earth no PERFECT, FLAWLESS group of humans exist. Or it will drive us crazy and right out of fellowship with said movement. The problem is “wherever you go, there you are”. You may find comfort but not un-flawed people!

Movements come and go right through Christian history. I find goods and bads, edifying and horrifying stuff in most all Christian sects, communities and gatherings prior to our time and now.

“I can RELATE!! I’m HOME now!!” does not somehow automate nor equal relationship with Jesus Christ and never did.

In the end defending a movement is best done by out-loving those we may see as “the opposition”, and as such we are loving others rather than merely defending ourselves and our preferences.

The article I mentioned above:

Perhaps these are matters worth our consideration? As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

A Simple Day

Slept well, yesterday great news for 3 friends all dealing with cancer.

My Wendi has dealt with arthritis in all her joints for years, and is doing super well. Today was another phys. therapy workout for her which she has been really benefiting from. When we can re. our schedules we take walks together. When that can’t happen I walk alone or hit the treadmill each day along with working out w. light weights. This has been part of my routine for months.

While she was in p.t. today I walked a loop from my parking spot over a north side Chicago River bridge around south along the river over another bridge and back north again to the vehicle.

Sweet weather, sunny, nice cool breeze and just very nice. Lots of bike riders, joggers and walkers on the trail.

Then Wendi and I did a little shopping, got home and I did some web work. I gave a blues guitar lesson to one of my grandsons, fun stuff.

Wendi then made another amazing supper and then, tonight a small miracle – Chicago Fire won 2-0 against Toronto.

I do love the people of Canada and TO as a city… but so glad my team won one as it’s been quite rare this season 😦

Worked on gear and set lists for a couple upcoming shows and interacted w. a couple booking requests.

A simple day indeed but a good one. Hope your summer is going well!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Practical Balance Essential

You can of course lament the greater percentage of your life away -which in part means being brutally honest about the real pains, struggles and injustices you and those you love or at least care about experience, and that’s not only good but loving. When at the tomb of his friend Lazarus with the dead man’s sisters Jesus wept. Can’t you imagine they all rejoiced upon Jesus raising him from the grave?!

You can pretend all is wonderful most moments of most days burying your head in the proverbial sand as though other’s grief is mostly “their own fault” (some is, some is -not-) and whistle in the sunshine in those moments when the clouds part for you. Your pleasure may be another’s misery -or vice versa. And yet “God gives us all things richly to enjoy.” There are plenty of neglected joys and pleasures in our lives, but camping on them and ignoring the reality of this fallen world is not what Jesus did nor what He calls His followers to do.

Ever try to ride a bike without balancing? Skateboard? Ice skate? No balance and you go -boom-, yes?

While Proverbs 11.1 speaks directly and contextually to people ripping off the poor (and anyone else they can) with dishonest scales in the marketplace (surely cause for lament) John the Baptist quoted Isaiah 40.4 in Luke 3.5 when he stated “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth.”

In other words, God’s Justice is Coming. That should be reason to rejoice! Indeed Paul tells us “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” (Philippians 4.4)

Plenty of us are walking, no, hobbling at a slant, some severely so. Mental, emotional and spiritual health are affected when we wallow in misery as if there is no kiss, no embrace of the grace of God in our world or conversely, entirely remove ourselves from the real world with real hurts.

We NEED balance. I see it in Jesus, Paul, all over the Bible. Do not trip yourself up by trying to live the majority of the time in either. God is present and cause for rejoicing yet does not turn our eyes away from grief as He moves us to help alleviate suffering in ourselves as well as our neighbor, those around us in need.

And with that I’m going to continue praying for and checking in on several friends in distress but first, to enjoy my coffee and planning a camping trip.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn