What to Believe: Virus Chatter?!!

I’m trying to be proactive here re. others who will ask me, especially those who are emotionally stretched, maybe even freaked out about coronavirus/Covid-19 – here in quick and short form is how I replied to a friend online who has been hassled by all the stuff both supposedly Christian and not, being said about it. He asked “What am I supposed to think about it all?” He loves Jesus. So this is only changed slightly for clarity. I wrote-

“I just don’t buy into conspiracy theories nor hard right-wing people’s raps nor hard left-stuff, the extremes of what they’re saying on this issue. They’re not the professionals, medical experts, etc.. -whether they’re believers or not.

Sure the media hypes like politicians on both sides hype, so… what?! Nothing new. The facts are facts, we have a virus that kills, is more deadly than the flu and this isn’t the first pandemic nor will it likely be the last.

I’d say spend more time in prayer, your Bible, wash hands, only go out if necessary, wear a mask when you do, make a mask as per online patterns if you need to, not all that difficult. Practice social distancing to keep others and your family more safe.

Sure the emotions and “what-if” meter is hitting high now, that’s to be expected. “If we live we are the Lord’s, if we die we are the Lord’s, if we live or we die we belong to Jesus.” Meanwhile keep your heart towards heaven and our King, seek first His kingdom and righteousness and love your neighbor in simple practical ways while keeping some distance and wear a mask when you do. That’s really it, nothing more or less my friend.”

Phil. 4.13 -Glenn

Philosophical Houses

We all think, construct our mental/emotional sense of well-being or at least try to. DNA, chemicals (natural or added by us…), family, school, social conditioning and of course endorphin-rush experiences of pleasure as well as bullying, sexual or other actual abuse, “natural” disasters, viruses, traumatic experiences all shape how each of us thinks, feels and processes.

I won’t quote the zillion sources both Christian and not who would agree with that first paragraph as the obvious is, well, obvious.

Can’t say I agree with the mere “power of positive thinking” nor “name-it-claim-it” hyper-faith approach among many professing believers. At the same time each of us -including atheists, build philosophical houses right through our lifetime.

These mental castles shift and change with our feelings, events such as I’ve listed above and more. Time, aging gracefully or with perhaps chronic pain, relational ties that bring pleasure, severe discomfort, fresh ones that excite us with joyful promise, those which end in misery and regret all influence our younger to autumnal lives and therefore how we think about life -and theology if we think about God at all.

My personal concern this moment regards professing Christ followers. It is not the shifting and changing philosophical concepts and constructs among us that trouble me -but those that are untrue yet feel better to so many due to all I’ve said so far.

In this particular sense I am not talking about people questioning whether there is a God, that Jesus is -THE- revelation of Who He is, His nature and character. My twofold concern here is some have built for themselves a construct which in essence I would argue suits them because their construct of God Himself is personal rather than accurate.

The god of my imagination may be, likely is in spots… imaginary, built of personal desire rather than His Self-revelation. If God doesn’t look like me, at least I’m comfortable with my construct.

Better to admit the myths we create to feel better, to gain some measure of comfort are still myths!

Certainty is equally a myth as so much of any philosophical construct in itself includes imagination and I suppose elements of self-medication via any number of things, call them wonderful or vices, intellectual brilliance, whatever you wish.

So here are some things to consider that in my view are not mere human philosophical constructs. I fully admit I have included them (I would say they included me) in my own philosophy of life. You many choose any exit you like to feel better in the many pleasures and great sufferings along your path, but it is in moment-by-moment faith and relationship to Him over my lifetime which brings me to land right here:

“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” Psalm 127.1

Paul writes to the Corinthian church, 1 Cor. 3: v.11 “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

In light of all this it seems obvious why many professing Christians have gone the way of rejecting some or all of Paul’s writings when their own philosophical constructs seek to overcome what appears quite the harsh side of The Bible’s God -and for that matter, where many trust their own personal view of God -or- that God is nonexistent. I suggest they may be creating God in their own image due to their own philosophical sense of comfort. To be blunt, this is where cherry-picking from the scriptures and at times ascribing nearly everything (mind you, I have no doubts plenty IS allegorical) they dislike to fictional accounts rather than factual, historical events via the Old and New Testament writers.

The hard, mean, self-serving and name-the-group-they-love-to-be-disgusted-with “Christians” (only God knows who is truly saved) in present day U.S.A. are certainly not billboards for the loving, gracious God of The Book. So many of them love what seems to be the “back hand” and horrible revelation of His dealings in both Testaments (oh yes, in the New as well as Old).

Politics and positions aside, we still must face how interesting, troublesome, even frightful is Paul’s writ -and I beg you to carefully read and seek truth over comfort alone in the entirety of 1 Cor. chapter 3 (linked below). It leaves most of us with something other than a philosophical hug and kiss. So- is it the Word of God or merely the word of flawed and sometimes quite gruff, even a “guessing” Paul?

https://www.bible.com/search/bible?q=1%20corinthians%203

For many at various times or even regularly, wrestling with The Bible is exhausting. May it exhaust our personal philosophical constructs to the extent we yet trust in the God revealed there.

I’ve lived in many houses over a lifetime. Some are long gone due to foundations that were wrong, deeply flawed from the start. Others creaked, shook, winter winds blew though here and there, sometimes water leaked in a crack and yet they stood as shelters for my family and I. Some are still standing and occupied by people as I write.

Interesting that like his earthly Dad, Jesus was a carpenter.

I recently drove by the little dwelling my Mom, brother and I lived in for much of my youth. A car was parked in the driveway, yard and front garden trimmed and cared for, people clearly living there all these decades later.

The issue is who built it -and upon what it was built.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

P.R., NYC, And

Straight-up, this world runs on survival and that is in many places all about money therefore business/political power rather than hunting/gathering, fishing, harvesting and otherwise subsistence living off the land. There are people and places in the United States where such is still quite common to native Americans, Alaskan natives and so forth. White country folk have often done such or at least to supplement their needs for food and water, the basics of life.

Then we have those who have re-located to the country to find their dream life, escape the pace, troubles and people in large cities or suburban America. Covid-19, the flu, drug and gun running, political hacks, sometimes harsh biz owners or managers, things like storms, tornadoes and flooding, a person’s DNA perhaps prone to various pre-existing diseases and more these days the lack of hospitals and such aren’t all things we can escape regardless where we live.

No need for me to mention severe political divides here, we all recognize them. What I want to point out is that our love and care for one another rather than apathy about “those other areas” and “those people” in them who suffer greatly is likely about to change. Sure, neither you nor I, family or friends may even take a direct hit from this virus but we’re all being affected by it in other ways as I type.

You can rebuke fear and quote God’s Word which I fully believe in (yep, fear -and- The Bible) all you like but in the end I ask this: if and when any of us experience the care given to Puerto Rico and New York City, then what? I have one response to that and it’s not what you may think.

This morning in communication a good, good man, compassionate pastor friend (I won’t name the state but it’s not where I live nor P.R. or New York) asked how I and family and all were doing. I replied “So far so good. And for you and yours?” His response was “We’re good so far. A few people upset we aren’t having church, but it’s necessary at the moment. My income has been stopped completely, the wife’s cut a bit, son in law’s cut in half, daughter’s too.”

Because we’ve known one another for some years and shared our rather wretched pasts I can tell you he is no stranger to suffering -as in horrid to the extent of leaving the worst sort of abusive family mess. In the end he experienced healing and faith in Jesus and as I said, serves the Lord and others -and I might add, far beyond plenty of believers I know.

Because of our relationship I was able to reply the following, stark as it may sound. “America, we will all begin to experience what 3rd world and many homeless do regularly. Deeper compassion and God’s grace and provision or worst case scenario, teaching others how to live and die as a follower of Jesus. Prayers for you, I am sorry but yep, all in this together…”

He agreed, said God is good, no complaints and that this was a great opportunity to share the Gospel to which I agreed.

I assured him he was truly compassionate and surely thinking straight.

The question for us all dear reader: are we?

Indeed taking into account some corrupt or bricks-for-sense leaders my thoughts today are- if you are poor in P.R. and NYC… other cities, towns and rural areas of our land and world, consider what loving your neighbor as yourself means -and doesn’t mean.

Most of us don’t live in either of those two places but my guess is a good many of us are about to find out what it’s like. Some lessons are learned the hard way.

Plenty of folks world-wide have eaten the crumbs off of our table for years. Perhaps it’s our turn.

God help us to think, pray and act beyond survival mode but in love and with grace. The beat-up guy in the ditch that Jesus told us about got apathy from the priest and Levite and something quite different from the oft-hated Samaritan. A major wake-up call is here.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Chicago Lockdown Update (4/25/20)

So far my family, myself and our JPUSA community in Chicago are all doing well through this difficult time. God rules regardless -and my hands ain’t been so clean prolly forEVER :)!

Meanwhile I finished what is now truly all my tracking for the next (18 song) record. Lot more work to be done, we’ll publicize when it’s available.

Coffee and Sanitizer in Studio B
Stella Came to Play

“RESURRECTION BAND: BEGINNINGS”

My sweet wife Wendi and daughter Rebecca are about to tackle a fairly short book I’ve finished my own writing in focused solely on the very earliest beginnings of Resurrection Band (aka REZ Band or REZ). When Wendi finishes writing Rebecca will help with her expertise in grammar and edit some. When finished, we’ve plans to release it in several forms via Grrr Records. PLEASE don’t bug ’em on this, when all is -finished- we’ll publicize on all our sites.

The other two books (my story of coming to faith, then the next nine months of “roller coaster” until surrender) are in limbo at the moment between other priorities taking precedence and of course, the virus. As per the rest of these projects we’ll let the world know when all is ready to ship.

KAISER GETS ORGANIZED – YES!!!

My office is slooooowly looking somewhat organized!!! Lots more to do but hey, good use of time indoors. Slow we go.

AND A WHIFF OF SPRING

Today, Wendi and I headed out to our side yard for 10 minutes, sat in the warm sunshine and then checked out the very early garden flowers just starting to wake up. Resurrection every year as Spring comes around again.

May our world, nation, states, cities, towns and rural communities wake up to walk with the Risen Christ.

Frankly, there are worse tragedies than death though we do all we can to deny such reality. Love is as real as life and death -may you reach up and out to the One Who created and sustains it here and hereafter.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Small Town Concern?

Covid-19? Until 9 years of age I lived in or near (country outside of ’em) very small towns in Wisconsin. Every year after my parent’s divorce I spent several weeks in those places with my Dad. Our family has regularly visited, vacationed and I’ve done countless concerts and church services, fished, hunted and otherwise interacted, loved and been kindly accepted in such communities. If God had called I would have lived happily there: fact!

It’s no secret a majority of small town America votes red, but this isn’t a post about politics. It’s not about fake news or equally stupid judgments on big-city “elites” or “dumb” rural folks.

A longtime friend posted a link on a small town Ohio model of what the flu looks like vs. Coronavirus -the dude in the vid has a Master’s in his medical field, lives and works in a small town. (John Mellencamp’s “Small Town” lyric is in my mind as I post this now.) First, what I said in a thread where some folks pushed back against in my view, fairly politically to the right friend. The common rap is faith in God (which I truly have and frankly am not afraid likely due to the reality of Jesus and very little fear of dying even if this kills me…) wash your hands and be kind to neighbors, end of discussion.

Some folks go to the extent of defending a political position, calling out media hype (as if that and pols on both sides aren’t up to their necks in that regularly) as if no solid info. ever comes from anyone or anywhere but those they like.

Ok- Here is what I said via 3 comments in that thread, then the link follows right after. Even in your virus information overload state I believe this is truly worth your time if you care about small town America.

“Mike, I agree. Been praying for friends around the nation in small towns and rural places as the healthcare situation re. hospital closures and such is huge. As for the media, at the bottom of the page you cite here is this: “At about the 5 minute mark, in the table that shows expected flu deaths, the table shows a mortality rate of 0.06% for ages 50-69 (which is consistent with the graph shown earlier), but say “0 point 6” (not “0 point 0 6”) and “1 in 167 cases” rather than “1 in 1667″. Our apologies.” Note they compare flu in their estimates -healthcare pros. not knee-jerk pols or non-media folks like most freaking out or saying merely “God will protect”, end of discussion. History doesn’t lie and plenty of people die, many who were serious followers of Jesus with tremendous faith. Dumb ain’t faith. I’m with you, praying as well as washing hands and etc.. Lord have mercy and remember that “the media” also dispenses solid information whether you like it, agree with it or simply blow it off as hard right or hard left propaganda.

Note my quote of it above- the health care folks creating this model corrected their mistake when they caught it. May we be people of such integrity and humility when we make them.

One last nickel- “The beginning of wisdom is the fear (reverence) of the LORD.” Tons of God’s Word and laced through the Book of Proverbs is “Acquire knowledge, get wisdom, understanding” and such. So we know the beginning. The end is driving 80 miles an hour in a snowstorm with black ice and “trusting God” (who has commanded us to wise up).

Thanks my friend! Amen.” [comments slightly edited for clarity]

The link: https://vimeo.com/397672277?outro=1&ref=fb-share&fbclid=IwAR2jzkEWwv6LnGmvU2EZByLJKqfbpm2Hk_U55zzs5y75msJf8utIfpDMdTA

This like all disease, doesn’t give a rip how you vote or what you THINK you know. City or country, pay attention in humility to the directions and input of folks who’s daily job is to know more than you or I. Praying, truly, for so many friends in so many rural and small town areas in this time!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Love LIVED Out

Jesus in Matthew Chapter 5:

19. “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20. “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

These guys had the very Word of God, daily searched it and the scribes whole day job was scrupulously copying it. They had the essence of God’s Own Self-Revelation… but they did not walk in transformation.

This is one of the continual and all-too-often criticisms, yes, from agnostics, atheists and true Christ-followers alike of any sort of professing Christian, various denominations, associations of churches, independent churches, informal gatherings -and you and I. And often the charge of hypocrisy is accurate. Deny it all you wish but both church and world history after careful, thorough or even surface study reveals the truth of it!

Remember that these are Jesus’ Own Words to some of the key religious leaders of that time and place, not mere conjecture. And no, I honestly, before the Lord do not have any particular axes to grind about any church as such… but core truths motivate me to myself repent when there seems to be any verifiable truth I need to. In my case, daily.

Ok, so it seems at least part of the context of this text answers the question as to live out what Jesus considers practical right living in the here and now. I’ll list them in reverse because at least for most of us the second is FAR easier than the first: “but whoever keeps and teaches them…” As in (B.) TEACHES- “speaks, writes, shares the commandments and not mere options of the Lord and (duhhhh -A.) KEEPS- lives ’em out, does ’em, application.

I can hear many of my dear and truly Christian friends mind’s melting down about now… “HEY… CHRIST ALONE SAVES… ***NOT*** OUR GOOD WORKS BRO!!” Full agreement. But I don’t recognize Jesus offering anyone an escape clause here. John’s comments in 1 John 3.18 comes to mind- “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”

Others will argue the kingdom of heaven and kingdom of God are not the same, or that the issue (I agree to an extent re. the text) isn’t getting inside the gates but rather one’s standing and position at the end. Neither postion annuls Jesus very Words on the issue.

CLEARLY Jesus Himself and the righteousness He graciously bestows upon faithful -followers- via His atoning incarnation, death, resurrection and more IS our only claim to salvation, but such texts that call us all out regarding if and how and what we daily choose, live out those choices with our minds, hearts, souls and strength (remind you of another thing Jesus said??) are obviously not unimportant to Him.To seek shelter in a storm or get soaked is often if not always a choice is it not?

There are plenty of us who have gotten thoroughly soaked (and not by His Spirit) due to foolish, slack, self-seeking decisions that place us first, Jesus and our neighbors (“teaching others”?) far down the list of our love and focus.

I’m convinced these are things essential to consider as we choose our priorities, consider our own needs and those of others in the world around us.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

DO… What?!

In time of pandemic or any occasion, what are we to DO?

Years ago a dear friend named Bob Hays quoted a Bible verse at a gathering we were both attending. I’ve never forgotten the important emphasis- thanks Bob! Further, sometimes it may describe you or I, while at other times it certainly does not and has not -and such is important when accenting such biblical texts.

Ok, “Love God, love neighbor” is ALWAYS correct regarding our life, but there’s more to it, for God’s will is involved or we do neither as He would have us do.

So, the verse Bob brought to the gathering? In 1 Chronicles 12 there is a long list of warriors of the tribes of Israel. The first half of verse 32 states:

“Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do…”

The rub is that there have always been as now, individuals, men and women and groups of them from this or that “tribe” who believe they have THE.ANSWER/S. Further, among professing Christians throughout history the same is easily documented.

Some were correct. God had indeed spoken to them, gifted them, called them. Their hearts and minds were open. They were wise enough to “count the cost” and consider the crosses, both spiritual and at least some of the practical ramifications of this, that or the other action or inaction. They laid their lives down for God and others and served the Lord and the people with honor and distinction. None of them were flawless regardless.

Some were sadly, even tragically wrong. They had faith in faith, faith in their own ability to “get it” perfectly or at least close to it… and things blew up in their face. Some took others down in the ditch with them due to presumption, arrogance and any number of motives. They may have failed due to a depth of ignorance of Father, Son, Spirit, the Word of God (Bible), interpretation or application. God and His will was in the north but sometimes things went south due to massive personal agendas which effectively cemented their heart and therefore mind and ears shut from truly hearing the voice of the Lord.

Often it is only in retrospect, AFTER the fallout and collapse, gross failings that any of us (individually or tribally) truly LEARN.

God via His Word in the Book of Proverbs continually calls for each of us to “get knowledge” and “get wisdom”.

Genuine humility is so foundational to “getting it”. The humble study to show themselves approved, listen for what is truly the voice of the Lord via others even when they don’t want to hear it, recognize the essentiality of historical information that can be cross-referenced and is true- whether or not they, friends or enemies care to do so or not.

Consider also the plurality of that last paragraph. There were numbers of people, not merely a big shot know-it-all individual. “SonS of Issachar.”

Most each and every major leader in both Testaments with the clear exception of Jesus Himself royally BLEW it in one or more areas of decision and judgement. That ought to help sober us from hero -or- idol worship, perhaps self-worship… no?

I often quote Jesus’ “My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me.” It’s true, I have no reason to doubt it. And yet plenty of His sheep (including this one) blow it. The idea you’re always correct no matter WHO you are or WHAT your experience with God is itself a myth, fictional. SOMETIMES we know what we or for that matter, someone else or even our state or nation should do. Sometimes.

The world and entire Church in it now as in any time… NEEDS sons… and daughters of Issachar.

Time to pray, consult with people with greater, deeper relationship to God, maturity, wisdom, education and expertise in various areas than your own perhaps favorite way of doing things. Time to bail on personal agendas.

By the way, if your heroes are regularly, typically defensive and reactionary by nature, pray for them and find some godly folks who aren’t. Pay attention or I guess you’ll just have to pay.

One more thing: the RSV renders James 3.2a “For we all make many mistakes” in the context of talking about talking. Anyone can say anything they feel like saying. How much you wanna bet the sons of Issachar didn’t?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn