In Time of Trial (or not)- SHARE!

” 10 And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?” 11 And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.” -John the Baptist, Book of Luke chapter 3

Saw a news clip recently that one of the wealthiest peeps on plant earth, net worth reportedly at 97.8 Billion USD as of March, 2020… has moved from Microsoft to spend his time, efforts and certainly monies in his philanthropic work. He and wife Melinda established their foundation quite some time ago, and along with Warren Buffett and other super wealthy folks have bonded together around sharing with less fortunate people around the world among a host of other excellent and worthy causes. Why?

The obvious is they have so very much loot as well as expertise in business -but with a conscience and desire to make people’s lives more live-able, even SURVIVEable!

My many conservative friends regularly focus on independence, individual responsibility and what is arguably sometimes sharing with deserving people (however they define such) and are at times truly generous… with strong caveats.

My many progressive friends regularly focus on interdependence, shared and corporate responsibility and sharing with people -often without regard to whether they (in their view) deserve such or not.

Regardless of anyone’s politics, the simple, direct and in my view fact of the matter is John the Baptizer literally lost his head over confrontation in speaking truth to power. In the practical, natural world ain’t NO power like money and the political sway it brings.

We can talk all day long about “forced” sharing, taxation and such, but when pandemics and hit, look around at who is spending TRILLIONS to bail out whom (and where). I fully understand the concept in a largely capitalist world that is utterly convinced THE way to fix it is pour more (gained by taxation) money back into the corporations and sometimes in small ways, that ol’ “trickle-down” idea where the poorest of the poor… well hopefully they get some crumbs under the table. Make no mistake about who -owns- the table as well as means of production… but that’s another twist, no?

John had hurting, distraught crowds coming to see and hear him. When they asked he answered in quite direct fashion: you got two – give one to the person with none. Simple. Effective. Rich or poor it’s one boots-on-ground way to engage with your neighbors. No mention of who deserves anything.

Ahhhh but does it take BILLIONAIRES to actually turn the tide of the world’s ills? I’m absolutely NOT calling for some sort of mob action French Revolution, be certain that’s nowhere in my desire nor do I believe is it in God’s will for humankind!

I’m saying there are billionaires, millionaires and oligarcs (thinking even of the bum Al Capone yet giving to the poor in Cicero in his day…) who could turn many a tide of pandemic, injustice, food insecurity upside down in our world. Could.

Kudos to Bill and Melinda, Warren and others who are at least trying to make a serious positive dent with their fortunes.

Sadly, we have likely, millions who barf endless excuses why “survival of the fittest” is not only just but somehow the will of God, especially when it comes to taxation – though this is exactly how banks and other corporate blow-outs have been solved by plenty of government leaders and note: regardless of who was in power.

It is indeed not as much of a sacrifice unless you are the poor widow Jesus observed and commended, but she gave all she had – and the temple priests weren’t exactly pristine people nor did they all and always act honorably with the offerings. Some thing never change?

What will it take for true followers of Jesus to share as a matter of regular course, giving away one when we already have another? What, my suffering is more important than your suffering ‘eh?

The reality is not merely distrust of government, we need to face our own hearts in these matters.

Meanwhile, consider:

“And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” -Hebrews 13.16

How do we love our neighbor as ourselves? Share.

The first and last virus to conquer is the one we carry in our hearts and the attitudes it produces towards those in need around us.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Beloit Show Postphoned

Due to Coronavirus/Covid-19 concerns from govt., wisdom of health officials, my own sense of personal responsibility for others’ wellbeing: myself and Todd Anthony Joos and The Revelators Beloit show Sat. Mar. 21 is POSTPONED until suitable to re-schedule.

Meanwhile a GK live via social media concert is being planned. More details when we’ve got date, time and details all set!

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Epidemics: Sense or Nonsense?

Blind Willie Johnson wrote and sang “In the year of nineteen and eighteen, God sent a mighty disease” in his song “Jesus Comin’ Soon”.

Today we recognize COVID-19 coronavirus as something akin to 1918 era “Spanish Flu” pandemic which swept the world and killed millions.

For myself, I am not so certain “God sent” or regularly “sends” disease or other so-called natural calamities to plague humankind -but it would be ignorant to simply ignore the many clearly non-allegorical narratives in The Bible to say with certainty He never afflicts -or never allows- such to affect human beings. Denial of such in Scripture will not change the Hebrew or Greek words nor their contextual interpretation.

Having said this it is of great importance we face our own individual and corporate DNA, our typical mental and emotional “defaults” when considering such horrible and disastrous historical events. What do I mean by this?

We often believe or disbelieve there is a God, that He is the God of the Bible, and likewise that if He exists, that He is a good Father Who actually cares about us, even that He interacts in our lives out of love and desire to protect us, even offer us eternal life as per Jesus’ teachings.

Our judgment of God’s character and nature may be as much a virus as a sustaining gift -and we have much personal responsibility in that it is our own judgment of God which is a core matter. I believe His judgment of us is far more important, but if we conclude we are the center of things… well, read on please.

A principle in Scripture that comes to mind: When God gave Israel a king because they determined to have one like the other nations did He warned them it would be a mistake, that they would turn to a king and reject Him… They did not relent and He gave them Saul. What a terrible lesson and in our world and time we may well wonder if anyone has paid attention? The people had no actual ability to “bottle Saul up” any more than we do many horrors of our time.

There simply is no power greater than that which is His Own.

For more specificity, Paul writes Timothy (-once-…) about Christian leaders who have fallen into habitual sin telling him to “Rebuke them sharply”. Some of us LOVE to rebuke others, in particular, sharply. Must I quote a host of other verses that speak to correcting others gently, to humbly take care when doing so lest we are (and we are) likewise tempted, to communicate with grace and humility because we are as prone to sin as the rest of society?

Reformation often comes in times of crisis. It’s no secret that historically, massive groups of people came to saving faith in Jesus during famines, wars and indeed, the very influenza epidemic Blind Willie and other blues singers wrote and sang about.

We so want to re-write The Bible, to make God IN OUR OWN IMAGE -meaning “He thinks like I do, does as I would.” Some naturally tend toward hard, even harsh condemnation of others because it suits THEM, not God. Others will gently and with deep compassion state “God would NEVER do such horrid things to people He loves” when the Scriptures are rather laced -BOTH Testaments mind you… with more than mere illustrative narratives that He is a God of judgment and justice, not merely (what our concept of love is) gentle and only forgiving.

Some LOVE slamming texts about judgment and people “getting what they deserve” while others only focus on biblical writ which depicts the God Who indeed IS love, anxious to forgive and fully pardon -as if there is rarely a call to repent, nary a rebuke nor destructive judgment in Scripture. I’d say both extreme views are more human than exegetical (solid, thorough biblical interpretation and methodology) of The Bible.

So which is it? Is this coronavirus thing part of God’s history-threaded “strike fear into ’em, turn or burn you snakes!” plan to reform the world and perhaps the churches… or is it merely part of a fallen, imperfect world where disease has always and with more regularity than we want to face, killed and kills all sorts of otherwise seemingly innocent people? Does God orchestrate or does He rather allow this sort of thing?

Does He ALWAYS deliver/save/protect believers, have none of them died in plagues, often while serving the dying, being “the hands and feet of Jesus”? Have there never been any God-loving-serving-truth-believing martyrs among us? Though “we have the mind of Christ” do ANY of us always understand God’s ways, means and methods as to how to get people’s attention toward Himself, reformation in self-centered/seeking church folk?

When will we catch more than an illness but in the very painful positive: recognize our own vulnerability was and is always present- and thus become vulnerable to God and His Word above our own self centeredness?

I don’t know. I do not know! I truly don’t believe I have the final and absolute understanding of whether the Lord “sent” or did not and never “sends” calamity but it seems quite clear horrors on this planet and amongst all humans deal with to varying degrees, do and often will occur regardless of faith in Him as a GOOD GOD -and I believe He is truly GOOD for more reasons than not! But the object of this post isn’t to defend either God’s existence or His character. It is to consider the reality of the razor’s edge of uncertainty and personal soul-searching about our own motives, goals and self-talk which at times tells us far more about our concept of God than it does about the true God Himself.

I indeed believe He hears and answers prayer- if, as and when HE wills, not always as we will.

IS He “A VERY PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE”? I absolutely believe He is!!!

I also believe He gave us brains to think, soap for our hands, doctors and scientists and blesses us with their wisdom in times of illness.

There are fools who think in their heart “There is no God!” just as there are fools who drive ninety miles an hour during raging storms and expect to survive because of faith in Jesus -who, last I checked, never blesses stupid choices of human beings.

Finally, God never rejoices in the death of (even!) the wicked. “He commands all people EVERYWHERE to repent.” Christians- “judgment begins with the house of God.” Let us serve our neighbors with grace and humility knowing we are as vulnerable to pain and death (this side of heaven) as they are. Making ignorant statements about those who fear while not lifting a finger to love our neighbor speaks more of our sin than it does theirs.

I wish you the peace that only Jesus can give! I wish for all of us the wisdom and sense of balance that the “only wise God” desires for us all.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Diddley-Bottle and Canjoe

In the past few days I’ve built and played two down and dirt-simple 1 string slide gits, doing both with the idea of them sounding good if possible, with a 1/2 piece of pvc I’ve been messing with as a slide.

That pvc as well as metal, ceramic and glass slides all sound great on either. No pickup on either one, at least at this time. Note: 28 uke string on the detergent bottle, appx. .024 wound acoustic string on the canjoe.

Simple, quick, fun using bits I had laying around.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Bad Luck?

Between breakfast and finishing up laundry today while my wife was grandchild entertaining a classic blues tune I’d not thought of for a while buzzed my memory.

More on that in a moment.

Some years ago I was part of a jail visit evening with some other brothers, all professing Christ followers. I’d been several times with these bros. and can vouch for their commitment to the Good News and service to those behind bars.

This night was like most, one bro. who had been quite changed, had spent time in prison and related 100 percent to the men. The other was a good man, but rather Triple A aggressive. Now, the Word of God was shared but in a rather “turn or burn – NOW” manner, and being “the third wheel”, all going rapidly that night and the meeting about to begin I prayed for him and that the guys wouldn’t get a rather “slapping in the face hellfire” delivery causing them to judge God by it.

Trust me, I’d done it myself and that is likely why I recognized the “zeal but not according to knowledge” of the young firebrand. So the meeting was great, the main speaker rocked as usual, the men responded to his sharing as well as songs and sharing I brought and as we began the long walk to outside I happened to mention one of my main concerns.

Talking together as we walked I accented the vast majority of non-white faces we saw time after time, and that for them the prospects of food, clothing, safe housing beyond gang re-recruiting and even churches or other Christian ministries willing to open heart, door and risk in both spiritual and practical ways were… sadly slim. I added “Of course there are some, but many of these brothers (and sisters) are doing great inside and will hit the wall re. the lack of care and opportunities outside. We need to address this more and more.”

The young bro immediately exclaimed “Hey, God is on the throne, if they follow Jesus they can pray and He will guide them and take care of all those needs, it’s a non-issue.” I worked to measure words and tone of voice responding “That’s largely true but we can pray God will fill our gas tank and on occasion He will… but the practical issue is our options are basically get money to gas the car or we ain’t goin’ nowhere. So the option to steal or do illegal stuff is right there unless we can find someone, groups, programs, job opportunities -where we live or can physically get to- or it’s temptation time and often the route right back into incarceration.”

He said a few more things, I said little but to say “I hear you but unlike air, making an honest living for people of color with a record or two or three isn’t as easy, simple or automatically provided.”

So today that old “Born Under a Bad Sign” Albert King (covered later by Cream) tune that I had sung a zillion times in bands as a kid was popping back into my head. I fully DO NOT believe in astrology and do indeed believe there’s a point at which you’re playing with demons to go that route, but the fact is Albert could easily write such a lyric recognizing the pain of past, present and at least super-likely future of African-Americans in the United States (and elsewhere).

“Bad luck an’ trouble my only friend, I been down since I was ten…”

Now, what I write is similarly true for poor Latinix people, somewhat but often not -as- true for white folks with a record.

Plenty of Christians want to blow off the practical truth, reality and flat out accurate history of what people of color experience in my nation- North and South.

Fiction is fiction and sometimes we spiritualize to keep ourselves out of the hot seat with God as well as our neighbor. We accent the power and faithfulness of God and the responsibility of the individual rightly -but wrongly to escape His very commands toward us. Bogus. Ignorant. Immature. Sometimes merely a dodge. Note, I say all this as an evangelist and pastor… who shares the Good News of Jesus with people by word and God help me/us, in deed, not mere spiritual platitudes.

Lord help us to wake up to “the others” real-world need and circumstance, not merely our own.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Invite/Friend, Un-friend/Block?

Social media (esp. if you have a large group of followers) is what it is- as per my last post “friends” are not always close friends. Then again in this time of extremes and extreme polarization a true friend this past week asked “At what point do you un-friend or block a person?” and he asked not wanting to come across rude, mean or his motives/intentions being judged so. Sometimes folks seem to troll a post (or posts) and it can get difficult to have a conversation because it’s monologue versus monologue rather than dialogue.

In the past few years I’ve slowly and very rarely un-friended/blocked people when it seems my posts -largely my own writing and mind, horrible, stupid or sound, sensible as they may be- get the continual sparring match treatment from a few.

Believe me or don’t but when I (rare percentage of the time if you check) post an article or meme it’s because I agree with core points and often disagree with a much smaller element or two in them. But it’s rare I post such because I truly understand the hard left vs. hard right extreme views many of my social media peeps take.

Many of you have no idea how often I’m tempted- when such a person does the jab, punch, jab, punch and in particular avoids the two or three key points of what I posted. Those points are so often ignored, tossed due to their own bias that there comes a point I just won’t allow them to hijack my post/s any more. I’m not going to be an advertisement for an opposing view when rabbit trail arguments and defenses do not stick to the main, core points made. Why? It’s a dodge, a “I disagreed before I read the article”, a “This is all koolaide fake news and bias rubbish” thing and as long as I allow them they’ll continue to advertise the prejudiced, thin thinking and frankly, “change the subject” m.o. that they become (from a long history of back and forth on my site/s) infamous for. Nope. Not having it. It’s dishonest and non-productive.

I don’t care that folks disagree with me, I expect it. I also don’t care to use language, put-downs or cheap shot grade-school volleys to “put the sucker in his/her place” and you can believe I’m often tempted to empty all in my own English vocabulary and abilities to do so… thank God for the Holy Spirit and fruit of self-control! Such restraint is so important to genuine, non-fake or hypocritical “dialogue” which isn’t dialogue at all but rather a ploy to bash a person’s opposing viewpoint and perhaps gain a measure of ground or respect from those who already take the same view the troll does.

I have no idea how many extreme political operatives there are both left and right but whew, sometimes it seems like quite a few. This exact same thing is going on constantly in theological, doctrinal and methodological “How to get it CORRECT” debates in social media. No wonder folks take social media “fasts”!

So- when on my own sites I believe it’s honest disagreement, point by point (CORE…) directly related to what I post, I’m good with that. When it gets into 20 back-and-forths with the same individual who seems to keep coming back to “win” or somehow invalidate -and especially is their more common than not tactic, they will be gone. I don’t need an echo chamber and have a LOT of hard right and hard left friends who are truly friends who thankfully do not play the games I mention here, but those who do- there is a point at which I see no reason for them to monopolize a convo. that isn’t a convo..

Lastly- those who may still wish to push back on this very post and reasoning within… how often have I gone to your site/s and treated you like the trolls have? Straight up now: how often???

You ever think I, like most all of us deal with getting triggered by some of the foolish, fake, cheap-shot comments, memes and “articles” people post re. folks I love, like and agree with at least portions of? There is a time to be silent.

‘Nuff said is ’nuff said.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Do You…

value your opinions more than you value your friend/s?

If so I’d guess you have very, very few friends indeed.

Not saying there’s no such thing is truth, right and wrong, etc., but it does seem some folks are so self-focused, tense, either mad as heck or freaked out to the point they’ll throw a “friend” under the bus quicker than a “New York minute” these days. Just to say, this has been rare for folks I’d call actual friends, but mercy, it seems the times we’re in have been all too often reduced to “My way or the highway!”

“Friends lists” in social media can be daunting of course, how close are/were you really? In our day of extreme polarization sometimes even blocking or un-friending a person is in order and I’m honestly never fretting when folks do so w. me knowing how triggered some are and of course, like myself, in many areas entrenched in a position they believe sound and best. Understood.

There are trolls and political operatives ready to pounce, these are not friends in any true sense.

But- the above question is one I put to myself, yet deeply thankful knowing that by God’s grace I’ve ended up with far more friends than enemies in my lifetime -that in itself is a miracle.

Between my sins, my triple-A personality, my German heritage in-your-face DNA and upbringing and sometimes simply because I passionately care about people and therefore how they are treated or mistreated via laws, no laws, bad laws, politics-over-humanity and at all costs let us either get in or keep power… sigh… there are likely thousands of reasons to agree or flatly disagree with me or anyone else, right??

But as someone seeking integrity in my walk with Jesus, believing we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and recognizing deep agreements as well as sharp disagreements are all part of life and relationships of all sorts, I still come to the question.

Another quandary seems inescapable due to gifting, calling and experience.  There is a time to speak and a time to remain silent. Loving people and entire groups while full-well believing they are dead wrong on any number of issues, well -isn’t that exactly how God deals with us? Isn’t it??

Loving neighbor and indeed the command to love our enemies then smacks up against (either “side” about any issue be it spiritual/doctrinal or political, etc.) prophets who call for repentance of individuals, rulers, whole people groups and nations -all in the Bible. Not once but repeatedly this leaps out of the text. They don’t embrace foolishness but confront it head on. They speak truth to power one on one, to full tribunals, entire nations.

Prophets don’t sound continually kissy-huggy. So… depending on our position on a particular issue sometimes we may well believe we’re doing the will of God by shouting truth (“righteous indignation”?) -or is it mere rage, put-downs, venting vitriol in the public square?

“… an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.” -John 16.2b

Jesus has an amazing view of things indeed: “”Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'” -Matthew 23.37-39

Were and have there always been false prophets? Of course. “By their fruit you shall know them.” says Jesus.

“And the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth…” -2 Timothy 2.24, 25

There is a time to boldly speak truth but a John the Baptist or even Jesus’ “sons of snakes” call-out should not be our default character and m.o.!

Meanwhile, is it our opinion or rather God’s Word and loving our neighbor which binds us most to our friends… maybe enemies as well? Worth considering I think.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn