“Blessing”?

I woke up this morning with one thought: There is a massive world (perhaps lifetime) of difference between us asking God to “Bless what I do!” and God saying “Do what I bless!”

In terms of theology an extreme Calvinist may blow it in thinking most every desire was predestined and the plan of God for their life while an extreme Arminian may wrongly decide most any desire was automatically a matter of their sin nature and therefore God couldn’t be stirring them to do X, Y or Z. Extremes -false balances which are not balanced in the first place.

Plenty of Christians are troubled by Paul’s comments in his first letter to the church in Corinth. But before we look at that, have a look at this:

Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. -Psalm 127.1

I suspect this was in apostle Paul’s mind as he wrote about the people exalting and putting down leaders in their church. In fact the entire chapter is written to help them think that through, the folly of glorifying one Christian leader over another when all were dependent on the grace and work of God for anything to be of significance much less part of God’s plan. Some of Paul’s conclusions are what may upset us when he writes in 1 Cor. 3:

11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.
14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

“No big deal, I’m saved by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, HE justifies me, not any sort of “works” I do. I cannot be saved by my works!” All true- except the “No big deal” part. In this part of his letter Paul isn’t talking about how he, Apollos or those in the church at Corinth were being (or not being) saved.

Any concept of “God doesn’t care about what I decide, what I build, what I do with my life while in this world” is in many, many biblical texts just not true. On the other hand the idea we can simply make whatever choice we like best because we like it or like the idea of it therefore God is cool with it so “just go for it”… nada.

At this very intersection many who one professed being Christians no longer will. Their will versus His will is the issue.

Some will argue “Glenn, this text is all about eternal rewards, nothing more, not about our relationship to God in Christ” and I’ll say I disagree. Read Psalm 127.1 again. Vanity is selfishness at core. It is worse than ignorance because it is arrogant. Such is never God-serving but self-serving. Vanity, the fact something is foundationally vain means it’s about US, not Him. The motivating factor -or in this case person… is not the Lord of me… or in another sense, it IS the “lord of me”… it’s me, myself taking the place of my true and eternal Lord Jesus Christ.

Granted, not every choice, not every road we take, not every mission, ministry or area of service we work at in or outside the church or mission field is a matter of drawing closer to or farther from the One we call our God… or is it?

At what point might are we possibly separating our relationship with Him from our choices, daily labor? This is a massively important matter because that relationship is core and more essential to what we pursue in life. Just as many have stated, our character is more important than what we do -equally true is that our relationship to Him trumps our works. To therefore conclude what we do with our time and life isn’t important to Him is patently false.

Back to theology very briefly.

Both extremes (Relax cuz it’s all the will of God vs. Freak out cuz nearly nothing is His will) or even fretting over our eternal rewards is in my view, folly, useless, even besides the point. In reality such focus on rewards rather than relationship with God is likely more of a rampant individualistic, capitalistic worldview than based in a living relationship with Jesus.

My choices based on:

  • sincere prayer, seeking the Father’s will and mind on ANY major decisions I make
  • studying and applying HIS Word rather than my desires to careers, hobbies and you-name-it
  • getting sage advice from godly folks who know Him and know me and willingly speak the truth in love to me as I make decisions about my life and paying attention to His voice in these 3 areas as well as via:
  • practical doors opening and closing
  • even the supernatural (dreams, visions, prophetic utterance)

-though I’ll tell you that last area is one I’m extremely careful  with.

This is how I’ve lived out my days. This is how God’s grace in planning and decision-making has come my way and I’m convinced it has kept me from adding to the (already long list) wood, hay and stubble I’m certain I have also produced next to the gold, silver and precious stone service He has performed in my life.

Again, verse 15 is clear- this is NOT about salvation but it IS about our works while on this earth. There is no escaping the fact God cares deeply about our choices. Are they HIS or ours? Do we seek Him and to the best of His confirming information (see those bullet points above) sense His voice and direction or are we simply spreading fingerpaint on someone’s wall because we have access to the paints and the wall, in truth because we “just feel like it”? Gold, silver, precious stones or wood, hay, stubble?

I’ve not only made mistakes but sinned and every day must trust Jesus alone for my sense of peace with God, salvation, eternal destiny with the Father and all the saints. At the same time it’s not simply a shrug and “who cares?” attitude I take as I pray and make choices about what to do with my time and life.

May God grant you and I grace to pay attention and not overlook or worse, ignore what HE deems important in our life decisions.

Jesus Christ is my Savior -and it is His will and mine that He is also actively my Lord!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

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End of The Road

Thinking of Autumn and Winter today. So here’s a little something I wrote several years ago. As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

AT THE END OF THE ROAD glenn kaiser

put on your cap

take this path or that

follow the sun or the wind

let the mood flow

go where you go

and sooner or later my friend

all things stop

the harvest of the crop

it all gets added up

all things sleep

the soul runs deep

here it comes ready or not

time winds down

country or town

sun sets over the hill

moving or still

no matter the will

all returns to the ground

at the end of the road

there’ll be no turning around, no no

at the end of the road

Veteran’s Day 2018

I offer heartfelt thanks to all U.S. Veterans on this day. As I often say, like you, I did not order each deployment and have not always agreed with the suffering so many faced with such, but I Thank you and your families for your sacrifices and service.

I wish you the Peace of the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ!

“The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” – General Douglas MacArthur

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

A Core “Christian”(!) Hypocrisy

One key argument I regularly hear is how professing Christians call others out on the basis of shirking responsibility -and by this absolve themselves of personal responsibility.
“They’re just reaping what they’ve sown” seems to equal “Don’t ask me to do anything to help them, it’s not my job.”
Uhhhhh, except Jesus says it is on several levels but hey, let’s find an exit while judging and blaming others for supposedly taking one?! This is not only painting a lot of “those people” with a wide brush, judging “according to the flesh” but worse, it’s hypocrisy wrapped in “christianese”, religious language that fully ignores a ton of Jesus’ Own Word about how we treat our neighbor, even our enemies.
Yeah I know, I’m an old school, Greek-based modernist so logic and binary thought processes count me out… see, you may have just done what I’m talking about.
That “None is righteous, not even one.” still fits us all. But for the grace and mercy of God… but for our trusting in Him and that grace and mercy, humbly receiving and SHARING these with others, we each often share in the very blame we cast.
Mercy is the need: for each of us! CHURCH: how are we doing in extending what we want to reap?
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Chicago Cigarbox Guitar Festival 2018 Report

It was another extravaganza-cool event by my friend Brian Rogan and volunteers in a great venue. What a cast of players, builders and fans at the Friendly Tap in Berwyn, Illinois!

Great atmosphere, response of crowd at both stages and just general cool peeps as usual at these affairs. That night a bit of rain and some wind blew in on the streets but it was sure enough cookin’ inside!

Here are a few pics -and if you happen to be a Facebook friend you’ll find a live clip of my last couple songs of the night from Brian’s smartphone on my timeline. Or- via the Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGczLQK5pq4

Finally meeting up with Stacy Puckett and yet another friend -major harp-ologist Jeff Stone who tore it up with new friend, brilliant bluesman Mississippi Gabe Carter, all of this was a real treat!

There’s talk of extending things next November including perhaps a cigarbox git building workshop and such… stay tuned 🙂

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Falling Leaves, Lives?

Sitting in one of my happy places looking at the burning bush just outside our window.

It’s autumn again, and only God knows how many left for any of us- time to give thanks (always is!!!) for breath, life and grace to experience it. U.S. Thanksgiving Day coming around again the end of the month.

Years ago a friend (rightly so) told me I all-too-often talked about where I’d come from, what we Christians call our “testimony”. He was correct in that I go to that all too often when I speak and of course I do not always mention it either.

When I’m in front of people behind bars and various other groups I find it important because of course addictions are massive most anywhere you go in our time -and that’s where I came from back in the day.

Like the beauty of the fall colors, the world keeps turning, temptations keep coming and we either turn down dark streets with next to zero light not knowing or not caring where we’re going… sometimes thinking in a quite mis-guided sort of faith that we’re “bullet proof”.

Then the day comes the leaves are off the trees and it’s freezing, we’re outside of everything without a coat, hat, gloves or a fire, without anyone to help us survive much more experience love, peace and warmth.

One of the most distressing things for we who hit such walls in life (often self-induced but not always completely via our own stupid choices) is when those who claim to love God and express on some level, His love, we find harsh, aggressive and condemning attitudes, words and facial expressions.

Why would anyone want to hang around such people? What “fragrance of Christ” comes from such a person, at least when they’re in that mode? I mean, they may love dogs (so did Hitler it seems) but is it “Good News” or “you piece of filth -you’re garbage and that’s what I think of you”?

It’s one thing to bring tough, needed words, to call for repentance (to turn around, fully going the other way) and faith in the Lord, another to blast, jerk and without genuine care and compassion just unload on someone “in His name”! Trust me, I’ve been guilty of it and hope to have grown in spiritual maturity and simple kindness over time. “Mercy triumphs over judgment” says the Book many claim to follow.

Also- I am not by myself “the church”. The very term at core has to do with “us”, “we”, that is people and not only individuals who have been found, seek and follow the risen Savior Jesus Christ as our Lord. Organized as you may or may not wish isn’t the point though some of us in our foolishness, ignorance or “superior intellect”, perceived “revelation” and such may deem it so.

You may not even believe in Him or consider a relationship of love and trust in Jesus an impossible myth. There are many reasons why people end up in that mental/emotional place and therefore take such a position of  unbelief as truth.

One of them of course is the lack of genuine self-giving love nor even simple kindness in their experience with of those of us who constitute “church” or “Christianity”.

Kindness has taken me a lifetime to even begin to channel, and indeed I believe it to be God the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ my Lord and God the Father Who “works and wills in me” to do His good pleasure including growth in the very things I’m writing about.

My “good pleasure” isn’t always even close to good… and very nearly killed me back in the day. Self-righteousness and harsh “put ’em in their place”… “MUST WIN the argument” stances are not virtues, no way near evidence of God working in our lives, nor through us in “ministry” to others!

As we approach election season here in the U.S. and just witnessed yet another mass murdering of “the other”, this time congregants in a Pittsburg, PA Jewish Temple -these thoughts have come to mind.

We all crucified Jesus as it were. Our sins. Our lack of love. Our demand to “have OUR way”.

The beauty of autumn is that after it comes winter and eventually another spring. Jesus said “I AM the resurrection and the life” and I am convinced He indeed IS exactly these and so much more.

“Church” is simply any two or more assembled Christ-followers (called-out ones) who in humility and grace seek and follow Jesus and His teachings. Church is comprised of all who believe in heaven as well as currently on earth, the “church universal” as theologians put it.

It is how I, how we confessing Christians love (or do not love) our neighbor that comes to mind nearly every day of my life.

All the “sound doctrine” of the church exists that we might mature into deeper, more authentic, sacrificial lovers of God and truly love our neighbor as ourself.

The repeating question is “How are we doing church”? It should and must be continually asked!

By the grace and love of God, in our interactions both with those around us in and far beyond the church, may we one day hear the answer to this and like questions:

“Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord”!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

The Week- Many Gifts!

Last night’s visit to the men of Div. 4 at Cook County Jail was as usual, amazing, special and truly encouraging to me. It was one of the best give-and-take chats ever for the last 30 minutes of our time together. Myself and another bro. brought music and message and both remarked about the wonder of this gathering.

This coming Saturday I’m again getting the treat of performing at the Chicago Cigar Box Guitar Festival (see http://www.grrrrecords.com/shows for details please) -and perhaps at the top of next week I’ll finally get some time in the woods for a day!

Autumn is always my fave, magical time with the change of weather and of course beauty of the color changes.

Another sweet gift has been social media interplay with some friends, I do think more Americans are waking up to the issue of loving neighbor vs. control issues -always a good gift!

The first book isn’t even published yet and still I have been super encouraged in writing the first third of a second one. It covers the nine month period from my initial experience of saving faith in Jesus to a full-on surrender to Him in service at the end.

Oh, little by little recording more on the next record too! Heh, just sittin’ around doin’ nothin’ here… NOT!! 🙂

Enjoy autumn and as always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn