First, Blessed Good Friday & Happiest Easter to all our dear families and friends at home in Chicago at Jesus People U.S.A., Project 12 and all others reading this.Advance warning- what I add here may bore you to tears but for our families & those interested at home at JPUSA and Project 12, etc. here goes…Also, it’s an aggravation but I may not speelllchcckkkeekk all names and words, but will try to as I go along…DAY ONEDay one was great… long but quite good re. sleep, final packing, flights from Chicago to LA, LA to Melbourne.Quantas is an excellent airline in my view, but the kangaroo on the tail is accurate in a few ways, one being turbulence, but not thefreaky violent stuff this time so that was good.A great dinner and pre-tour chat with our Aussie friends John Smith (speaking) and Steve Grace (singer-songwriter. We’ve all known one another and on occasion ministered together but on this tour we’ll tag-team along a route from Melbourne, Victoria along to capital cityCanberra, a number of cities through New South Wales and finally to Easter Fest about an hour outside of Brisbane up in Queensland.DAY TWOThis morning I sit in the Melbourne studios of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation where John, Steve and I will be interviewedfor a show to air Sunday night. Then Wendi and I will take a walk, nap, head over to load in and sound check and the first show.Looking forward to seeing God move as He always does!I say it a lot, but I seriously thank all of you who pray for us and for Jesus to work through us on these tours. It is quite clear to meHe answers regularly!Just finished ABC interview, a blast, great interviewer, John & Steve were brilliant. Good coffee too :)Nice crowd, really good chats after, old friends, people coming out who had seen Rez Band 20 years ago in Melbourne, even at Greenbelt inEngland. Some deep discussions and a lot of love. Bedtime at midnight -early for us!DAY THREEUp about 8, all slept fairly well, jet lag leaving a bit :)Wendi & walked to the store, beautiful sunny morning, got stuff for lunch and I needed a pair of sunglasses… always forget something on these trips.Did about 180 miles or ?? to Albury, New South Wales along with our good mates from John’s God’s Squad Christian Bike Club who are workingthe entire tour with us all.Nice newer hotel in Melbourne, nice older one here. Reallygood-sounding venue tonight, just finished sound check. We’ll make a few set list tweaks, eat supper in a bit, and rock on. Well, blues/rockreally…Better web connection at this hotel so I hope to upload this tonight and add a few pics as well.Steve Grace and John Smith are Oz treasures (“Oz” being how many Aussies refer to Australia), pure and true.Steve writes and covers excellent songs, does a cover of Heart of Gold and frankly, he has one. John “gets it” re. Jesus, culture and both world & church history as few do. Excellent communicator who is duly respected and heard. A real pleasure to share a ministry stage with them.Great sets, sharing and good response in Albury.DAY FOURA bit longer drive today across western New South Wales to Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. Pretty countryside, hills, ridges, climbing paddocks with sheep or cattle and/or horses.So here we are in Oz’s version of Washington, D. C.- but it’s a great deal more modern and has an overgrown country town (Aussie) feel in ways.All are feeling a touch more tired today, a little warmer outside as well.God’s Squad rode partly ahead & one bro. with us. Very nice guest apartments.Regular show tonight, tomorrow morning GKB leads worship & I speak. Now a quick nap prior to soundcheck.Here in Canberra it’s the first cool, overcast day. Had light rain last night, just the slightest mist now, very sweet, cool air. Nice! We’ve had bright, mostly warm to hot weather the whole tour.Tried to get my photos in order this a.m., found out they have web access but only via their own computers so I’m still looking for wifiat a place we’re staying along the route. No time to find a web cafe to post from.The cockatoos are yelling at each other as usual 🙂 I got a pic of one that just landed in a treetop outside our hotel- but she spooked when I got up to get a closer shot. God sure makes amazing creatures! Theseare so very beautiful.Nice though short nap, then transported to Parkway Church, really kind pastor and staff, and a good crowd tonight.Poor John Smith got turned around even with his gps as the key road had several names depending on where you joined it! But he got in early anyhow as the radio had given a 30 min. later show start… no worries as they say here :)Steve Grace (and sons, all whom play in his band on various songs) had a marvelous set- John was right on the mark in his sharing and the crowd are extremely attentive as he speaks each night, tonight was no different.GKB did more of a blues-based set, the God’s Squad mates commented how much so, so we’re leaning more bluesy than rock in our sets as we go along on the tour.I laid a few, very brief stronger words in song intros. tonight, received strong applause as well as kind comments afterward so hopefully was on target.Local Christian radio asked for liners (little spots mentioning who you are and the station and/or show they play your music on) and then decided to also do an interview. They seemed very happy afterward, a good sign.Our hotel is again very nice, apartment-style and comfortable… heh… it’s a 5 story walk-up but I need the work anyhow 🙂 Late to bed, early to church, but God is so good!DAY FIVEGot up a bit early to shave and ready myself, pray, go over the message, prepare a usb stick with lyrics and my key verses for the message. We did a quick sound check, prayed and had a very receptive congregation indeed.Pastor John asked we not simply lead worship but do some rockin’ blues, so we did. I then did an (At The Cross) and preached a message (pre-Good Friday) on two crosses, focusing on Jesus love for us via His cross, and our love for Him in embracing our own crosses as we follow Him.Again, good response, a good number prayed and great chats after.The Grace’s celebrated their 29th anniversary today, so sweet! They, their sons, God’s Squad crew and GKB all enjoyed an excellent Aussie-style bbq lunch at the church, then to the hotel and NEEDED nap!!We slept late, walked to the local grocery and bought dinner for tonight and breakfast for tomorrow. I will only say Tasmanian smoked salmon was on sale… whew… if you don’t like that you don’t like food I think ;)Found a bottle of South African peri-peri (hot) sauce- very nice indeed on tomorrow a.m.’s eggs.On the way back from the store we saw a huge a sulfur-crested cockatoo (exotic birds are so common here, but imagine seeing something like that in Washington, D.C.!) up in a tree. Every so often around Canberra we’ve seen and heard flocks of those and other birds flying around scolding one another. And a whole lot of magpies. A couple of those nearly flew into us as one chased the other in front of our hotel.So tonight we all ate well, rested up a bit and enjoyed a great bit of rest. Tomorrow we head out about 10:30 and on to the next show. Our Internet connections have been less than stellar but I will try to post this then… I hope!!DAY SIXOn to Wollongong today. Pretty city, Steve Grace’s hometown. Rez toured there years ago and coming from Sydney means coming from a very high ridge above town down into the city, very beautiful.Sitting with coffee this morning, slept long and well, Ed’s out for a run, Wendi readying breakfast, Roy rousing for the day.Wow, driving through Canberra we of course blew by a McDonald’s with free wireless… ha! Oh well…Got some good pics of the cockatoos outside our window prior to loading up. Prayed for God’s Squad re. wet roads and a couple hour motorcycle ride today. I must admit it’s good for the old guy (me) and GKB in the nice rental van… for years there was no air conditioning and in hot and/or humid tours it is sooo good to be able to nap a bit and not be worn-out prior to shows, speaking and such. The team here, Peter Hilton (Dr. John Smith’s booking manager) the Squad and Steve Grace and family have done a brilliant job, the tour has gone very well and they’ve taken exceptional care of us.Each venue, the local support staff as well as audience has been quite good, we praise God for all their (and your) prayers… no doubt part of the reason we’ve seen His blessing thus far!So, here I type on the netbook at a restaurant in Wollongong where we play tonight at the Regent Theatre. I’ve been here at least twice over the years, very nice ocean-side town, and the ride down the side of the range is quite steep in spots, very pretty seeing the city from up high through holes in the trees and vegetation from the hillside, the ocean and ships at anchor just off the coast.We’re not far from Sydney now, but the interesting thing is that as we moved from the ACT back into New South Wales state, one sees perhaps 2/3rds of more flocks of sheep rather than cattle in the fields. A lot of up and down, hills and of course, this is why they named the state as they did.Every so often highway road signs appeared warning of wombat or kangaroos crossing the road for two, six or perhaps 12 kilometers ahead. Didn’t see either one but at one point I happened to look into a field and not 60 yards off the highway a huge (and I mean BIG) emu… possibly ostrich but whew, massive bird stood there as if “Dude, I OWN this place.” Cool and not the norm in the U.S.!So, to the hotel, soundcheck and show.Nice hotel, great staff, we can just see a bit of the ocean, but not enough time to visit it… nice little nap.The theater is a city-center church, kind pastor and crew, excellent coffee and the set went well. John and Steve were great as usual, GKB had a bit of fun and dedicated Queen of My Heart to (as I always do) Wendi but on this night also to Steve and Kerrie who’d just had their 29th anniversary. We also had Steve come up and blow harp on If I Leave This World Tomorrow… fun.Several longtime Aussie and other friends came out, nice though all too brief chats. Rain kept up, a bit of a smaller crowd but very, very appreciative and several who had seen Rez in either Wollongong or Sydney many years prior. Kind compliments from a lot of folks. Got to bed a tad late but nice to sleep!DAY SEVENWhew, slept right through the night- something I rarely do. Great shower and breakfast served in our room today (a nice surprise), then Wendi and I finished packing, stretched out a few more minutes waiting for the crew to come collect us for today’s drive (about 4 hours up to Newcastle.Both Newcastle and Taree should be good, been to both before, got a lot of email prior to leaving the States from people coming to these shows, a lot of kind words.One of the bikes had a slight bit of trouble today so as they work on it the van and trailer with GKB is leaving early.As I write we’re hitting the pre-Sydney traffic. A couple hours to go yet… but this is so common in Sydney.Our first tour “down under” two kind families housed us in a suburb near Sydney as we played many shows in and all around Australia’s largest city.Many days I would take the train into the city-centre to what was then the only Christian record label in Oz, did a lot of interviews by phone or in person, radio, tv and press. Felt like a commuter… heh! So today it’s by road vehicle we slog through the traffic. Still raining lightly, but no real worries, and God’s Squad is well suited up for such weather. I get the sense they deal with this all the time at this time of year, though warm, it’s coming into Autumn here in the southern hemisphere just as it’s coming into Spring back in the U.S., and in both cases rain is a norm.Had internet connections at the hotel yesterday and still no time to finish the blog and pics and to post them up… mercy! Well, the Lord knows.All around the world, home at JPUSA in Chicago and here as well, believers are preparing for Good Friday and Easter. What a wonderful and powerful time to remember.I’ve been reading through the Last Supper right up to Jesus’ burial in each of the four Gospels. I decided to wait until Easter morning to read the four accounts of the resurrection. Power and I do mean powerful!Wendi, Ed and Roy have been so blessed this trip with good, dependable transport, just excellent accommodations, sweet staff helping carry bags, Steve and sons doing the load-in, setup, tear-down and load out each night, sound system, lights, drums, amps and gear… just amazing and loving people. This tour has been a pleasure.Each night and the church service, interviews and the rest have gone very, very well. Each of us and also John and Steve have all had excellent chats with so many people each night of the tour. People praying along with us, etc..Steve began asking me to come out and lead us in prayer at the end of the sets, and he finishes leading the crowd in one or two worship songs. Very good indeed.Nearly time for coffee, I suppose when we get into the hotel this afternoon.Yesterday Wendi heard lorikeets in the trees, and I saw one of them- beautiful colours… but no time to even take a pic then, perhaps later up the coast. On one tour we spent a fair bit of time right on the ocean and they just jammed the trees and bush near our hotel. Such exotic wildlife in Oz… very cool!O.K.- arrived in Newcastle, wonderful guest house, Wendi’s napping, Roy chatting with family via Skype, Ed doing a bunch of tour work via phone and computer, all doing the coffee-thing :)I finally have a solid web connection and time to post this. Fair warning, I may not get it all speelllchkkkckced properly… and it will take a bit for me to add pics but I will do that also.So tonight Newcastle, then one more show and a looong drive up to the Easter Fest city, Toowoomba, Queensland (the garden city they say) where GKB do 2 sets, I do a devo from main stage, REZ plays an Easter Sunday set.O.k., I will try to add a few pics and post this, add more either prior to leaving Australia or after we get home to Chicago depending on time and web connections. Thanks again for all the prayer support- and kind people out at all the shows here in Oz so far- it has been very special for us!DAY EIGHTOur wonderful guest house manager-owners are good Christian people who have just laid out a serious breakfast for us. Last night’s show was great and deep. I met a couple sweet Aboriginal ladies who love Jesus and I just broke down and cried. Seems they connected with many of our blues songs and my comments about racism and such.God’s Squad all got to Newcastle safely and Dr. John and Steve both rocked in terms of speaking as well as music… another wonderful night.I have so many pics I have decided to upload them here in another place and will let you know where soon as I’m able.
I admit outright that John and Michelle Thompson have been longtime friends- yet I can say honestly that their new Wayside release “Spiritual Songs” is a standalone winner.Sweet hymns from days past, more recent tunes, here an expected and othertimes quite fresh arrangements & production all hit the mark.This hip mix of nearly all worship-oriented songs is served up in The Wayside’s distinctive Americana-rock-meets-country goodness.The songs, performances, acoustic and electric instruments (including dobro- which I do love so) coupled with “we did this in a big living-room with sincerity” vibe is plain fetching not to mention edifying.KUDOS to em, another great project from genuine disciples who aren’t afraid nor ashamed of the One True Love.http://thewayside.bandcamp.com/-Glenn KaiserChicago, March 2010
I’ve been studying for an upcoming sermon and came across some very good, balanced blogs and other articles online that caused me to think about authority… again :)Extremes in the charismatic/pentecostal movement, emergent and institutional church in general were all covered and responded to in my online searching.At the end of my little web journey the memory of a bumper sticker most of us have seen flashed in my mind: “Question Authority”. What came to me was the thought whoever came up with that got it mostly right. They should have said “Question ALL Authority”. That includes me questioning my own.As I see it the lion’s share of dysfunction and outright bloody battles among all people, people groups and you-name-the-Christian-group-cuz-all-of-us-share-this-one-folks… gets to the issue of authority. Who has it, who wants it, who should get it and why?The problem is we all question “his… hers… them… theirs” but not “mine”.In the end we each want our way. To be fair and gracious there are times most any of us really ARE seeking the mind, will and plan of God in the issue, and sometimes honestly fight for justice. Some hills are worth dying on, but not very many.The older I get the more I realize this isn’t automatically just about a flaky, spiritually liberal Christianity or always about fear, being “liked”, job security or being safe. Sure, at times it’s about any or all of these, but there are those battles younger Christians will just about die (and kill others) for… and there is often no parallel of either Jesus nor any of His followers in the New Testament screaming, splitting or dying over the same things we are.Who gets their way? How, why, and what does it really matter in the end? Will it matter in five years? Ten years? What sort of witness to those around us is it? What example to new believers are we setting? In these matters have been guilty often. I expect all reading this have been.IS there ever “a time to be silent”, to pray, to just let it go and “lose”? And exactly what is one losing in the particular case?As I age I am increasingly asking myself if a given issue is worth speaking, writing or singing about? Why or why not? Should I approach this person or this group, or just pray long and hard for them? What IS the Spirit actually leading me to do or not do in a given situation? What DID Jesus say or do about such a topic?We see this patient, loving God in the flesh Whom we find (on occasion in the Gospel account) wringing His hands over the blunders of His people, The Church, local and at large, regardless of form, style or “feel”.Then the thought comes to me in the midst of my own lamenting and repenting of sin, the sins of others, the sins of this or that local church, “stream” of churches, denomination or Church at large: I’m happy to conclude that throughout the history of the embarrassing, foolish, sometimes truly disgusting story of what has been or still is truly WRONG with us, God will survive the church.To be sure, He always has and always will in each and every generation and incarnation of the church. He not only survives but flourishes- people come to saving faith and biblical discipleship regardless of our worst blunders.Praise GOD for His power, His truth, HIS authority regardless of the mess we often make with ours.What we must remember with genuine humility is that the church is not ME, but US… each and every one who trusts and follows Jesus Christ. When one suffers, all suffer. There are both meat and bones in each of us and every form of church- and if you aren’t ready to face this fact just stick around long enough and you will!God’s faithfulness, not merely our own -is key. God help us bow to His authority, to do the best we can each day with our best ability to understand and apply His Word (Bible) in our thinking, communicating, prayers and service. May God help us honor Him in our relationships to walk with deepening love and humility throughout the various local and larger church communities- whether they seem (at the time) to us a swamp -or- green pasture!God is constant. The church (that’s YOU and ME, not merely THEM) must change.