FREEDOM? That’s Your Aim?

Liberty? Right here, short and sweet truth:

Walk by the Spirit – Excerpts from Galatians Chap. 5
1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

GK- what God calls freedom is not synonymous with what humans often call freedom.

13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but THROUGH LOVE SERVE ONE ANOTHER. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You SHALL love your neighbor as yourself.”

GK- The context here is Christ setting those who know and follow Him free from a human works-based salvation, from seeking to earn righteousness with God by fully obeying all the law of God perfectly as though that would satisfy God’s requirements for us to gain eternal life.

Indeed, Jesus clearly stated He came to fulfill the law, not destroy it. He made equally clear statements that His followers were saved/delivered/set FREE by His grace, not their/our works (Paul’s key teaching in the Book of Galatians). To be clear- Jesus, Paul, John and Peter among others call for actively following Jesus, good works-actions which the Lord calls us all to -do- but this is a result of faith in the Savior, not self-saving works.

So to the point: FREEDOM as The Bible defines it is not a matter of the sword but relationship of love and yes, obedience to the Lord and Savior (in fact, the ONLY Savior) Jesus Christ. Jesus and others stated this plainly:

How we treat our neighbor equals how we treat God.

If you miss this reality, you miss the target regardless of what bullseye you think you’re nailing.

If you really want to claim freedom in Christ you don’t get to define freedom beyond what He says about it. Well, you can believe anything you like and define things as you so choose of course -but divorced from loving our neighbor as ourselves it’s not scriptural freedom.

Perhaps worth considering in a time of anger, division and strife?

As always, thanks for stopping by.

-Glenn Kaiser

Rain, Resilience

Love rain, always have. Enjoy the sunshine too. Been a fair bit of fog and a LOT of rain in Chicago the past 3 days. Sometimes a deluge, flooding and such, even got an emergency flood warning on my mobile.

Living right next to a pond, lake or river can surely affect your perspective on many gallons/liters of rain pouring down and I know some have lost homes and even lives due to it.

Most people simply get -or never get comfortable with it.

I’ve traveled thousands of miles in storms while in huge North Sea car ferries, all sorts of planes, on trains, in vans, cars and such. Been out in the woods (with proper rain gear on, mind you) and here came a great deal of liquid! Sometimes we find comfort, sometimes we don’t.

The day before yesterday I was doing a Zoom interview and noticed the wind had blown a massive downpour -sideways- right into huge glass windows near where I was sitting.

During a few hour break in the weather I took my near-daily walk in our garden and side yard, in part to see how the many blooming flowers were doing.

Growing up in rural country we often had at least a small garden. After my parent’s divorce my Dad mostly always had a rather large one. From my earliest youth with the surrounding farmland as well as by Dad’s veggies it was easy to learn how rain (or at least irrigation of some kind) is as essential as sunshine for growth.

 As I checked out the flowers in that break between weather fronts I snapped this pic:

Most of the flowers had been batted down under the power and weight of the rains and wind. A very, very few stood straight up. But that batch of beautiful yellow tulips told me a story. They stood firm, upright and blooming with health because they were protected under one of our trees. They were still soaked and certainly were part of “a well-watered garden” but standing strong, resilient.

Followers of Jesus and un-believers alike are often sheltered by God whether they’re aware of it or not. A verse I quote often comes to mind. Jesus told us “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5.45) Everyone gets rained upon at times… and also warmed by the sun. Everyone.

But the protection of shelter? What spiritual “soil” are you planted in? What sort of protective “roof” are you under? Are you planted with good, honest, loving -imperfect and at times frustrating- people or not? Is the Word of God (studying…) in you due to daily infusion by your own choice? Are you even at core willing to hear truth when you’d be more comfortable believing your own mythology of what’s truly life, your own choice of event/s as opposed to reality as God sees it?

Sometimes we avoid the very tree, the shelter that would keep us standing when the rest of the garden is blown down by the weather of the moment. Sometimes we are unwilling to face our own complicity in why this happens -and blame everyone and everything including the weather and maybe even God for our misery.

See, this ol’ “Glenn flower” has free will. He’s realized long ago that being comfortable isn’t always how he grows, nor stands strong in storms. Being sheltered under the Most High God and daily choosing the means and people to help him be sheltered are a protection too many try to live without. When you’re outside such you are very often there by choice.

Lovin’ those tulips! Thankful for rain and sun alike.

Perhaps something to consider along the journey?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Harmonicas, Lessons?

A friend recently commented on a video clip I just posted on my -personal- YouTube channel asking about harps and playing re. one of his kids. Here was my reply and may relate to you and/or yours 🙂 As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

My YouTube harp vid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1paS4cJyu6M

My reply to my bro.: “Hmmm, glad you liked it. The cheapest are not always in tuned to pitch, so if played along with another person on guitar or piano you’ll be in a bad spot. Decent cheap would be something like  https://www.amazon.com/Fender-Blues-Deluxe-Harmonica-Key/dp/B00KZHMZ1K/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=harmonica&qid=1589827852&sr=8-5   but still the pitch could be a bit sharp or flat. C is the typical cheap key by the way. The other one (same issues at times) would be  https://www.amazon.com/Hohner-1501BX-Blues-Band-Harmonica/dp/B007IE5QP0/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=harmonica+blues+band&qid=1589827950&sr=8-3   but from there if getting more serious and wanting ’em on pitch and playable out of the box  https://www.amazon.com/Suzuki-Bluesmaster-Harmonica-C/dp/B001I8A4TU/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=suzuki+bluesmaster&qid=1589828207&sr=8-1  or one of the models I play quite often: https://www.amazon.com/Hohner-Special-20-Harmonica-A/dp/B002B55TRG/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=hohner+special+20+key+of+A&qid=1589828293&sr=8-1  and if you get it in the key of A, you largely draw in and a guitar or piano plays in the key of E (referred to a crossharp playing, common in blues and country, etc.). If getting serious, YouTube search for Joe Filisko who is a dear friend  and incredibly gifted harmonica teacher./player -Glenn

SELF pity

Oswald Chambers: “No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it removes God from the throne of our lives, replacing Him with our own self-interests…we simply become spiritual sponges— always absorbing, never giving, and never being satisfied.”

ALL of us, myself included yield to feeling incredibly sorry for ourselves at times. In the current Covid-19 situation when we’re cut off from “normal’ and facing our own silence and distance from others we naturally suffer and some hurt more than others.

I recently posted in my Facebook and Twitter accounts several phone numbers/websites that deal with suicide prevention, accented in a video clip post the legitimate issues of mental illness -also various suffering that all people on the planet experience regardless of mental health. Of COURSE there are times we are going to pity ourselves. Further, like the biblical Job, sometimes we are not to blame nor in real control of circumstances and/or events that brought the misery and now suffer. Yes, this is all real and understandable yet no less painful!

At the same time we can all sin -and that’s an accurate term- for living in self-pity mode which is our choice. I did not say the events causing our emotions and hurt are always our choice, please note that!

Many years ago one of the most godly, unselfish, fruit-of-the-Spirit and wisest people I’ve ever known experienced a horrible divorce. A dishonest, adulterous husband/father brought it her way. After a fair bit of time in mourning and suffering (FULLY understandable and which I validated) we had a prayer time together.

I found myself doing my best to encourage her, NOT be a “Job’s friend” but also brought a difficult message to her. “There is a point in time where self-pity is something to move beyond as much as possible. Self-pity is still “self”. It can rob you of serving others, looking outward. Beating yourself up with what could have been or now is won’t change how you feel, but ‘let love make you serve one another’ may actually put your mind in a place of rest and peace.”

Some hours, maybe a day later as I cannot remember now, and second-guessing myself as to whether I had not been gracious and kind by saying that at the end of our chat I happened to overhear her minister to another individual using that very encounter and my words. She added “He was right. My eyes were so on myself I couldn’t see past to others. Facing this issue of “self” helped bring me out of my depression and pain.”

How often I’ve fallen into self-pity in my life! I mean, things “don’t go MY way” in tiny or sometimes large areas of my life and my response is so easily brash anger on one end or wimp whining on the other. My emotions kick in and I’m of course “righteous” and someone OTHER THAN I am to BLAME.

Sound familiar? It should because it’s all part of life in a world we do not and cannot always have control. How about “self-control”?

What we can do is call on the Lord for help, repent of allowing our feelings to dictate how our mind perceives what we like to call “facts” and “do all you do in love” as in “love one another, even as I have loved you, you must also love one another”. Now who was it that said that last bit? 🙂

Perhaps something to consider along the journey?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Christians Believe in REDEMPTION?!

So many professing Christians seem not to… if you listen to or read the surfacing attitudes toward people they don’t like, don’t trust or just want gone.

A recent Chicago Tribune article spoke of two groups working legally to fund felons out of sentences on the basis they only remained incarcerated due to the issue of not being able to afford the bail bond set upon them. According to the writ one fifth of those released ended up locked up again, in some cases for murder. Certainly that’s horrific.

Can you imagine how happy you’d be if 4/5ths of all politicians never lied to us, did not pose like actors playing a role for personal gain? What if 4/5ths of every educational grade you received (or those of your children and loved ones) were a solid passing mark?

According to The Bible- ALL MISS THE MARK of God’s righteousness. That’s the very definition of the term “sin”.

Like many reading this I’ve met and maintained relationships with all sorts of people. Some are convicted felons presently serving or did serve a -lot- of time in jail, then prison for their illegal and in some cases murderous actions. Only over time can one recognize the change that Jesus has made and is continuing to make in their lives. The average Jane and Joe often don’t get such a close-up view. The judgment is made “They’re reaping what they’ve sown!” The non-incarcerated citizen feels more safe, secure, perhaps smug in righteousness while under the benefits and protection of law, both civil and biblical. A great many people of color don’t have the same experience.

When a professing lover of God and neighbor regularly debates on these matters I then wish to ask if they have a real understanding of the power of God to REDEEM a person’s life -and not just their own or the lives of people they like or are not afraid of!

We quote The Bible but often don’t believe it nor follow the Lord’s commands. The very same can be said about plenty of judges, lawyers, police, politicians, etc., etc., no?

Redemption is massively why God sent His Son, His Son came down as both human and Deity, and after His death and resurrection sent God the Holy Spirit to continue to work not only His redemption into our lives in terms of our salvation but continuing growth in our loving, obedient discipleship in Christ: a changed, redeemed LIFE.

ALL of us want to see authentic fruit of a changed life. Me too! You want to see evidence in my life and I in yours. So do those who do not follow Jesus as we professing Christ-followers disdain them while we cling to our own blindness and hypocrisies. We are often our very worst advocates for Jesus, His Word The Bible and the very love and grace of God.

Redeemed people must bear the fruit of God’s redemption if anyone is to believe in the reality of it!!

As I write today -re. the Coronavirus more than 83 THOUSAND American citizens have died, 12 MILLION are confirmed sick with but we are approaching 238 HUNDRED THOUSAND recovered folks- so hey, no big deal right? That “little” percentage of Americans buried makes it o.k.? See how easy it is to flip things on the basis of our personal view versus God’s grace and redemption?

If human beings were merely numbers, “So what?!” -until it’s you, someone you really love and care about, the falsely accused, the poor, the mentally ill, your next-door neighbor who happens to be a truly good friend.

It is troubling, sometimes sick and even hypocritical how we embrace the power of God in Christ via His redeeming work on the cross to change our own life and have so little faith that those we don’t like, distrust or “just want gone” are not and/or cannot be redeemed.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

White America Wake Up, Grow Up, Ante Up

I’ve lived a long enough life to see first-hand how people of my race blow off personal responsibility while demanding people of color must accept theirs. Whites living a false gospel of whiteness continue to come up with every possible defense by table-turning, blame shifting arguments as to why distance from grace and compassion, harsh and indeed racist laws are not only acceptable but somehow biblical and just. For whom?

Another name has been added to the list of black victims. His name- Ahmaud Arbery.

Ahmaud Arbery

Murdered for jogging while black in a white neighborhood by two white men with weapons. There are countless names and photos that could be cited here, a massive list of American mothers who grieve due to such loss. Far too many. Plenty of professing Christians in my nation shrug and rationalize “Probably had it coming, reaping what they sowed, we don’t have all the facts, judge not” while blood cries out from the ground. When will we Wake Up from this nightmare of fatalities we whites help create by our own prejudice, willful distance and ignorance, self-righteousness, fear and violent attacks often in the name of “self-defense”? Loving our non-white neighbors as ourselves requires white America to Grow Up by facing not only our historical past but current need to repent of our own present sin (“It’s not my problem”) with regard to black and other non-white Americans.

Colonial history the world over tells a repeating tale of subjugation, domination, exploitation. Genocide has never been a stranger to the tactics of human conquest. Our past is not past. “All have sinned and fallen short” includes everyone of every skin color, yet it is the anteing up whites in this nation seem most unwilling to face in the present.

Rather than repent, facing the many layers of cost to our pride, systemically racist laws, the normalcy of injustices including mass incarceration, murderS and more regularly pressed upon minority people in our land we think, speak and misquote scripture to carve ourselves exits. Easier to argue, social media troll, lock up people of color, even lock and load. We make excuses because, well, “I’m not like other white people!” If there’s any truth in that at all, find a willing person of color and start asking questions about what it’s like to live as a minority person in the “United” States. Just listen. That can be a painful but fruitful way to begin.

Build loving, respectful and long-term relationships with several American people of color and if they sense consistent, genuine concern and you actually listen they may eventually open up and straight-up tell you about these issues that for them are part of black and other minority experience in our land. For centuries white folks have used a long list of ways and means that told them to shut up and take the beating.

My fellow white Americans: ___WE___ must Ante Up.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

His Name? Ahmaud Arbery

Bunch of robberies in a residential area. Guy running on a roadway -jogging or guilty of burglary? Any EVIDENCE of burglary? Men with cell phones think he may look like a description of the guilty burglar, follow him in a vehicle, stop, get out and confront him with weapons. One of them videos the jogger or burglar and the two other armed men stop and confront him. A fight between them ensues. The unarmed jogger or burglar is shot and killed by one or both armed men.

How many cell phones does it take to take video of someone, pull the vehicle in front and take video of him and another person with a mobile call the police to investigate? How many guns does it take to end a fight when you’re convinced someone is guilty -whether they are or not?

Why think when the suspect is black, you’re white and armed? People wonder why Black Lives Matter, why the Black Panthers existed, why white pastors like myself post things like this in Facebook and Twitter? Justice isn’t served until we’re confronted by injustice and refuse to be silent about it. Don’t bother responding as a troll, your comment will be deleted the moment I see it. Don’t talk to me about law and order until people on all sides of such incidents are served by it. There are many names we could mention. His name: Ahmaud Arbery. https://www.ajc.com/…/bring-charges…/fz7taEww0Nqfedg8JgXm2K/

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn