Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ministry Follow-Up

Has it already been more than 8 months since my last blog? How can that be? Where has the year gone?

Just over 8 months ago I wrote my last entry. A young couple was being forced out into the cold with their barely school-age son. Where are they now and what came of that midnight call?

Without giving too many details here, they are living in the home provided, have updated it extensively and remodelled inside, they are regular and active members of the congregation, they are now an integral part of our web-presence as a congregation, and they are serving as an example to other young couples of what happens when you put your life into God's hands without holding back. And if that isn't enough, there was a new spiritual awakening to ministry within the hearts of this young couple on the fringes of our influence as a church.

And I didn't even mention yet that this young husband and father is an avid chef and gaming enthusiast. Why is that significant? He is using his cooking skills to help engineer a young families outreach and his computer savvy to build and set up a new computer system to run the church assemblies video and sound controls. In our small congregation, those skills are unique to this young man and desperately needed as we seek to minister in the 21st century to a community of people otherwise largely unaffected and unreached by our membership.

There are opportunities galore beginning to arise from seeds sown more than a year ago, as well as opportunities arising to minister more and more to the younger people we will need to pass on the torch, so to speak, because many of our members are aging and slowing down a bit, several of whom have been members since the congregation began back in the late 1940's.

The work is slow going, mostly because we are all part-timers in a sense. We are living and learning ministry again in a time when we do not have a paid staff of full-time workers. What we are learning so far is this: God will use us if we will trust Him and do whatever we can each day. Even a weak effort can have terrific results because of God's answers to our prayers.

2008 rapidly approaches and is just a few days away. What will be our story or stories this new year? Only God knows for certain. But we already know that as we give our lives in ministry, the results are always greater than expected when we put our trust in God.

Rely on the hope you have in Jesus.
Put the full weight of your trust in Him.
Love deeply and genuinely and do not stop loving no matter what.

2008 ... another adventure approaches. To God be the glory!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ministry in the Moment

James Taylor's Time In A Bottle has long been a favorite of mine. I've often wondered how many of us have wished we could save time up in a bottle from those days that seem to drag by so we could use it when time seems to be slipping away all too quickly. These last few days have been like that.

Two days ago (it seems like a week ago) an acquaintance called to ask if I could come over and talk with him and his wife for a while. They were facing a crisis and needed to take some time and get perspective. So, of course, I went over and spent the evening with them.

We stayed up until after midnight, ushering out the day of turmoil that had thrown them for a loop and greeted the new day with a prayer together for wisdom and guidance and peace. And while you always hope that those days are miracle moments when God will make everything better, it just didn't work out like that. I did not get to sleep until almost 3am and the young couple didn't sleep well, either. The next day I was scheduled for a 10-hr day and was simply unable to make the calls I wanted to make to help them out. But I did make one call - to let them know I was praying for them.

That was it. That was the miracle moment. I didn't know it then, but God used that moment to focus the day and move His people to get His work done. And I thought at the time that it was about the only thing I would be able to do, and it would never be enough. Calls needed to be made and arrangements arranged. I needed to get things done and come through in the pinch. And I did not even begin to realize that I already had. I spent most of the day doing my job the best I could, all the while wishing that I could be somewhere else making things happen.

God does that. He uses the little things you do, not just the grand and complicated things, to make a difference. He takes the small moments when we submit in helplessness to work His best work behind our backs. When we want to make a day of helping someone and then it seems we only get to do a fraction of what we wanted to do, God shines.

While I was testing car exhaust systems all day, God was working. While I had wanted to make arrangements for a storage facillity, God arranged for a new home. While I had hoped to get a foot in the door with this couple I only know a little, God was preparing a way to get to know them well and serve them and be served by them and for blessings to rain down on all.

The bank had foreclosed - almost without any notice. The home was to be vacated almost immediately. The sheriff was knocking at the front door. He had a court order. He had the force of law. But we had a little talk with our Father and God made it clear who sits on the throne where it counts.

Immediately vacated now has been translated to mean by next Monday afternoon. A possible storage facillity is now being exchanged for a home to live in. And a partial answer hoped for became a solution that blesses all involved. We had a little talk with our Father and the King of heaven and earth made a miracle much more than we had asked for, and just what was needed.

What do you do when you make plans that seem doomed to fail? How do you respond when time seems to be running out and answers cannot be found? Where do you look when the carpet is yanked from beneath your feet and you're lying there, flat on your back?

You remember that now, finally, everything is looking up - and so you talk to the One who makes miracles happen. And then you trust Him and keep looking for the things you CAN do. And watch for it ... for it is surely coming: the miracle of the moment.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Life Notes - Relational Thing (2)

Christianity is a relational thing.

A friend on a forum where I take part in the discussions recently wrote:

"If I could sing praises to God with the instrument alone in my home, then I could do it in a church building with others. Worship is worship is worship. If I'm home doing it and NOT worshiping, then what am I doing? Pretending to be worshiping?"

So I wrote her a note back to share how my own thinking about instrumental music and Christian worship got started with a similar question. Here's what I wrote to my friends on that forum, many of whom, like me, have questioned the fact that where we grew up going to church, we never used instruments to accompany the vocal singing. We never used them at all, except for the occasional pitch pipe for the first note of a song or a hymn. We sang a cappella style. Why? I wondered. Here's a few more of my thoughts on the subject of music and questions we ought to ask ourselves...

I grew up asking that very same question! I asked a lot of questions then, and still do, I guess. And I agree with your answer, as far as it goes. Would you mind if I share some more questions? If you do, then stop reading...because I have a few I'd like to ask anyone who never sings a psalm, hymn, or spiritual song to the accompaniment of musical instruments. I ask to learn.

Please note that I am not seeking to accuse anyone with these questions, but rather am seeking to get us all to focus in on the influence that music has in our lives...even subliminally.

Here goes:

1) Do you only listen to a cappella music, or do you sometimes listen to Contemporary Christian music and just not sing along - even in your heart? Also, do you ever listen to Rock'n'Roll or Country or Metal or Classical or Jazz or R&B or other genres of music? And do you know any of the lyrics to Garth Brooks' song Unanswered Prayers? or the Kentucky Headhunters' version of Spirit In The Sky? or Cat Stevens' Peace Train or Morning Has Broken? or any of dozens of other poular tunes of almost every genre that express the faith of the writers? How are those songs okay to hum or sing along to if we should never use IM in praise to God?

2) IF you listen to other types of music than just a cappella, do you pay attention to the words to keep your mind and heart pure and undefiled by the messages of songs that do not seek to glorify God at all, but rather quite the opposite? (Why allow subliminal messages that promote acceptance of sinful thinking?)

3) IF you only listen to non-verbal instrumental music - or at least, non-vocal - do you seek to find out whether the composer wrote that song in appreciation to the Lord? Would it matter to you if a song using IM was written to lift the soul and open the heart to the very Spirit of God? (And do you ever feel so lifted when you heard a song played with IM accompanying?)

4) Do you believe "secular" music to be sinful, since it does not focus on bringing glory to God? Do you listen to such music on the radio? What do you do when someone else turns on such music in your presence, or when an elevator has Musak playing softly as you ride in it?

5) How do you feel about music that links nationalistic patriotism with faith in God - the way God Bless America or America the Beautiful does? And what do you do with John Denver's Thank God I'm A Country Boy? or even a song like Barry Manilow's Oh Mandy that speaks of someone who came and gave without taking? Do you quickly shut off the radio when such a song with IM stirs you to think about Jesus or God in some way?

These are all good questions, some admittedly more valid for some people than for others. And I have wrestled with every one of them many times over, as one who grew up in the non-IM churches of Christ. I wrestled with them when my Dad played a song from the hymnal in our living room on the organ or piano. I wrestled with them when I first heard The Imperials perform Water Grave. I wrestled with them while I was in a very conservative preaching school and listening to Amy Grant and Ray Boltz and The Imperials on my compact tape player as I worked at my Grounds Maintenance Chief job that helped to get us through those lean years.

But I was never satisfied to just accept the music, even when in High School as a part of the Chorus we had Christmas and Easter programs that included the Hallelujah Chorus(?) and Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee and even Handel's Messiah. I searched the scriptures and read all I could find on why we didn't use IM in worship and what the words meant in the pertinent passages and what the messages of those passages were. I read as widely and as exhaustively as my reading skills and eager mind could find and allow. And I sought to expand my reading as I expanded my skills in reading languages. I spoke with brethren privately who taught me and whom I respected as students of the Word to ask what they taught and why. I studied and memorized all the arguments for and against that I could get my greedy little hands on. I did not just accept that we live in a world moved by music and have not enough control over all that we hear. For a while I even took to using the stairs, no matter how high the climb, to avoid the Musak - so I know what it means to be serious about this.

You know the conclusions I've reached so far. I have not made any of them secret at all. I have poured out my heart here. Would you share with me what you struggle with about IM as well? I hope so - so that I can continue to grow and so encourage you...because I have studied long and hard and have not arrived at perfect knowledge. I live what I know and I trust in grace all along the way. So...will you journey beside me in this study? We may not agree, but I, for one, will be richer for the time spent sharing the journey...and maybe you will, too.

Life Notes - Relational Thing (1)

Christianity is a relational thing.

I am basically an adequate guitar player, nothing special. I have the guitar my Dad used for most of the time I can rememeber him playing, both at home and occasionally in public performances. Dad was better than me at it. But I have his Alvarez flat-top guit-box with the special leather strap my brother made for him. And I have an Ibanez 12-string that my wife bought for me a few years back. It is as awesome as I thought it would be for all those years I dreamed of having one. And the last guitar I have is a hand-made (one of four like it) original that my Dad crafted from home-made forms and store-bought wood and home crafted tools that look and function just like the ones in the book on guitar-building he read. Dad's craftsmanship rendered a rich, full-bodied classical guitar with a capital Z carved into the end of the keyboard. My Mom has one, my sister another, and my brother has the last of the four. In truth, my brother finished the work that my Dad began but could not finish on my guitar, due to the lung cancer that claimed his physical tent.

I shared all of that to give a glimpse of the kind of musical influences of my family as I was growing up. Still, we attended only non-IM churches of Christ all the time I was growing up. Dad never had a problem with playing hymns and singing them together as a family at home, because it came from the heart as Paul said to do, so maybe that was a good influence that helped me to see things the way I do. We had organs and pianos and guitars and bongos and tambourines and morracas and chimes and even a xither. And my Dad built a harp during the time he was beginning to make guitars, too.

So I finally picked up a guitar in college, 28 years ago, and never - until this last Christmas season - had ever played an instrument in an assembly of the saints. At our Sunday assembly we sang music celebrating the coming of the Word that was made flesh and I preached about the Savior and we closed the service with the congregation singing Silent Night as our sound man and I played guitars and one of our elders played the piano. It was a wonderful time of encouragement and praise and fellowship. And it was the first time I played in an assembly of saints...but probably not the last, Lord willing.

Now I know there are some who will mark me for doing this, perhaps even here, but I do not stand or fall before any of these. I seek only the blessing of my Father in heaven, for He is the only One who can make me to stand in His presence. My heart and my voice accompanied by my guitar and Tim's guitar and Ken's piano and the voices of the congregation with their hearts sang the melody together. Some may struggle to understand this, but I must say that it was one of the most spiritual moments for me. Finally I offered the gift of my Dad and of my own heart to the Lord. No one asked me to give another gift because it wasn't the right one or because it wasn't their gift. No one asked me to offer a different gift at all. All who were there understood that we all offered our gifts to the Lord, and we all took time to encourage one another further before we left that assembly.

And so I wonder ... how many others, like my Dad, have longed to offer the gift they had to the Lord but were told it wasn't the right gift? (Like my Dad was told when he was asked to lead singing but told them he only sang lead when he played his guitar, due to insecurities about his voice.) My Dad's voice was a wonderful, rich baritone voice trained by singing and performing country music whenever he could and wherever he could. And I remember well those times he would play the organ and accompany us as we would sing the songs we had sung that week at church. I remember him calling out the chords as they changed, so I could strum along on his guitar. And I remember wondering if the saints we assembled with had any idea what they were missing when they told my Dad it wasn't acceptable for him to play his guitar in an assembly, or even at a fellowship in someone's home. Dad accepted it with grace, but declined to lead singing without his guitar, because he really never learned how to do that - and no one offered to teach him, either. I barely struggle through leading songs and still do not have the skills to teach someone how to lead a song well - so I could not teach him.

Well, now Dad is asleep in the Lord, waiting to waken to the trumpet's call and rise to live with the Lord forever. And I look forward to the day when Dad and I will pick up guitars together in heaven and sing for Jesus as He listens face to face. What a day that will be!

That's a part of what I mean when I say, "It is a relational thing."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Okay, so I am finally responding to my 'tagging' by a friend. A month ago a friend tagged me and so I was supposed to write about five things no one knows about me. Here goes ...

First, I miss my Dad more than anyone else I don't talk to on a regular basis. Of course, I have a pretty good reason: my Dad died on Christmas morning in 1994. Still, I find that as I get older, he is the one I miss most of all the people with whom I have not talked since that day. He was becoming my closest friend that year before he died. I was beginning to understand him, what motivated him and what moved him and what left him unaffected. And I think he had begun to understand why I am who I am, too. I can hardly express how much I miss him.

Second, I like cats. (I can only barely believe this myself.) I have always been a dog person. Why people would even tolerate a cat or a bird or some worthless other 'pet' was beyond me. Then I married this woman who had a cat. And her cat used to 'hug' me. He'd put one paw on either side of my neck and rub the collar bone to massage his paws, while rubbing his noggin against the point of my chin. It looked and felt like a hug, even if it was just him asserting his dominance by holding me in place. When Pete died I was almost as crushed as my wife was. Now we have two cats, or a cat and a kitten, really. They think they're in charge. But it's okay, because I know how to hide their food. LOL

My garage is a mess because I can't make people move their stuff when they leave home. I have my sisters' dry food in boxxes from the apartment she left to live with us in 2002. That's right...five years ago! She claims she gave all that stuff to me so that I could get rid of it anytime, but she still comes back for odds and ends occasionally. Maybe I hold onto it so she'll have an excuse to come back by. Sounds pretty bad, huh?

Fourth, when my Dad was cutting my hair as a little boy, he never cut it short enough. I used to cry and he thought it was because, like my older brother, I wanted it longer than he'd leave it. Mom used to think it was because I didn't want a haircut and she hated the crew cuts Dad liked to give. I guess I let her think that, but I don't remember why. What I do remember was the grin that would paint itself on my Dad's face when he was cuttin our hair. Maybe I just liked that grin and wanted him to keep cuttin and grinnin.

Fifth, when I was younger, I wanted to grow up to be Jesus. Not be LIKE Jesus. I wanted to actually BE Jesus. As I've grown up and matured, I came to accept that we are just supposed to be like Jesus. But I've been reading the book and praying and studying what Jesus said. And what He did. And what He calls for His followers to do. And I'm beginning to realize all over again that we are the only representation of Jesus that many folks will ever see. And so I want to really BE Jesus that people will know what it is like to walk with Him.

When I am dead and if anyone ever wants to put down a gravestone somewhere, I want to have lived so that they write this:

"The longer Glenn lived, the more He lived Jesus.
And now that he's gone, all I see when I think of him is the face of Jesus."

That would be...amazing.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Tagged and Bagged!

Aaarrgghhh !! I've been tagged! If you want to know something deep and dark about me though, you'll have to wait. My wife just reminded me that tonight is Trash Night, so I have to go for now ...

But if you want to know why Bobby sent you here (for those who clicked to this site from little sorrel's blog), read the other posts I have here so far ... and keep watching for my answers to this tagging.

Thanks for playing with us ... and if you would like to be in on these fun and games, leave me a comment with a link to YOUR blogsite and I'll tag you when I'm done.

Gotta run for now. Tagged by Bobby and my wife on the same night! What a wonderful day!

Sunday, January 21, 2007


In this day and age, many people hail heroes whose armor is tarnished with scandals of personal misbehavior. Some of those heroes seek redemption through acts of generosity and service to others. While this is admirable, there is truly only one way to redemption that really matters: Jesus Christ.

If you would choose a hero, a champion whose banner you will wave in glory, honoring their name, choose wisely. Moses was a great and mighty prophet and man of God, but he would not choose to be the object of your adoration. Neither would Elijah, Daniel, Samson, David, nor even any one of the apostles. All of them would point to the one named above all other names, whose power and glory is forever established in the Heavens.

Even here in Chicago, on such a day as this, I ask you to celebrate NOT "da BEARS", nor even the Saints (though they DO have a better name) ...

Today I say, as always, Celebrate Jesus!

But don't get me wrong ... I am still pretty happy, as such things go, that our BEARS won.
The thing is, though, that win or lose, they are not the source of my hope and my faith. My life does not hinge on their temporary success ... and certainly not on whether they ultimately may win or fail in the "big game."

As Paul said it so eloquently,

" So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2nd Corinthians 4:18

Thursday, January 18, 2007


How secure are you? Or, at least, how secure do you feel? Sometimes I wonder if we're too secure. It has been over two weeks since I posted my first blog. You know why? Because I forgot my sign-in details. How amazingly silly is that?

You would have thought a relatively intelligent, fairly savvy, not totally stupid person would have thought about writing such things down. Even someone like me could remember this stuff, right? Maybe not. My brain is getting too crowded with this stuff.

A few years back I started getting a new message whenever I had to choose a password at a new site: the password strength checker. What a clever tool! Now I can type and re-type my passwords until they are so strong and secure nobody would ever be able to break them. Sadly, almost, I found out how true that was. And so began an odyssey over the years, a dance of sorts, between my ADD tendencies and these wonderful password strength checkers.

It is a challenge, is it not, to your very soul to see how strong you can make these passwords? I aklmost feel as if I would be inviting the beasts who want to decipher my passwords in, if I were to settle for less than an amazingly strong rating. And so I have gotten very good at picking tough passwords over the years. And then I got to the point where I wasn't going to use sites that required them, because it was just too humiliating to not be able to sign in to the new email address I gave my friends and family so I would actually read what they sent. And I would have ...

Now, almost from habit, I create newer, simpler, more difficult than ever to decipher, ultra-strong, herculean passwords ... almost without even trying. And I immediately forget them. But over the years I remembered how often I would forget them, so I began writing them down in places I do not forget. I was really proud of myself when I found that I could even password-protect the file I kept them in on a private piece of non-wi-fi electronics I have for such things.

But this time I forgot to write my password down. I had promised myself that this would be a thing of the past. And it has been, for what seems a long time to me. (I won't say how long ... duh!) But now I'm beginning to wonder if I have become too secure. So secure I must resort, at the promptings of others, to asking the servers to reset my wonderfully ultra-strong passwords.

At times like these I begin to doubt my sanity and the sanity of a world where you have to secure even the thoughts you want to share with strangers. And these are the times I am glad, almost giddy with overwhelming joy, that I don't have to count on a password that has to stay hidden for my salvation from this insanity. This password is freely accessible to anyone who wants to use it. It is a name. Jesus.

Forget all the other passwords and security gizmos and memory tricks. Just whispering His name is enough to make me feel really and truly secure. Jesus. Yeshua. Iesou.

Okay ... so now I am back to blogging. And I have a new password for this thing. And it isn't "Jesus", okay. So I'll be back soon, and I won't forget this time ... because I wrote it down ... someplace secure.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

New Beginnings

What do you do when you just aren't sure how to begin a new chapter in your life? I think I have a terrific idea how to handle this. I'm just gonna lay it out there. If you have ever wanted someone to write about something, drop me a comment in the box and I'll respond. I'm not saying that I'll be eloquent or anything, but I will tell you what I think about it and ask you to respond. Maybe the second blog you see here will be your idea in print.

I'm an average kind of man with a much larger than average body. At 6' 7" and over 300 lbs, very few people ever call me little feller or shorty. I've been an athlete and a couch potato and athlete is a lot more fun. Couch potato is easier. So you're going to get a wide variety of viewpoints here, but mostly mine. Sometimes you may hate what I write. I'll do better next time. Sometimes you'll love what I write. I do ... usually.

Politics are not out-of-bounds here, but don't expect me to fit in neat little pigeon holes. That just ain't gonna happen. Religion is more my line, particularly the teachings of the carpenter from a couple thousand years back. Music is another passion, but I'm not real trendy, so help me out once in a while. I watch TV some and rent movies because I just don't like theatre prices and sticky floors. But I'm not cheap and I love giving things to people. Food is another good subject, but it may be hard to get more than a colorful and mouth-watering description here. Still, my better half is a great cook, so send along a recipe if you want.

This year I am focusing on making what I do count in a significant way. If you want depth, we'll dive into the riches of the human soul and divine mysteries. If you want it light and airy, drop by from time to time and you'll find that, too. Mostly I just guarantee one thing: we're going to have some fun around here. Otherwise I'll get bored and stop writing.

The ball is in your court ... hook me up with an idea or a topic. Stop by for a chat. I promise to try to make you glad you did.