Once upon a time there was a war.Some thought the war was worth fighting. Some did not. Some took the view that evil people were seeking to take over much and if possible, all the world, re-fashioning it into the sort of world they (mainly their leaders) wanted it to be.While some enlisted, many were forced to fight a horrible, bloody and ultimately lost war. A great many lives were also lost- or so negatively impacted the individuals, often their marriages and families never recovered.Addictions of every sort devastated returning veterans of this war.Meanwhile at home a generation of largely middle-class whites as well as an increasing number of minority races and sub-cultural students and people groups decided that materialism did not satisfy their deepest longing.Music and other art forms exploded very much like the rockets falling in that foreign war and a growing youth/student culture rebelled against nearly all authority figures in light of increasing divorce, political scandals, the injustices of war, poverty, racism and what the young considered outdated societal norms of morality and various boundaries.They cried, marched, sang, wrote, acted, danced, drew and painted. They exchanged sex with one another and generally experimented with every possible intoxicant they could try all in search of experiencing meaning, freedom and love… but did not begin to grasp which beach these waves would plant them on.There was certainly the mix of heartfelt pain at genuine injustice, governmental and corporate greed as well as selfish individualism… but often such individualism was overshadowed by deep concern for a lasting peace and actual justice for minorities and the poor.The movement ended with drug overdoses, assassinations of several of their heroes, a president resigning in shame, an even deeper breaking apart of relationships than prior to the revolution happening, and eventually corporate co-opting of some of the trappings of the movement.In time, many if not most of the survivors became exactly as many of their parents and other elders before them: settling for the relative but spiritually empty financial security of this or that job.The dream of a truly better world was finished.They’d started with a deep sense of personal need and legitimate desire to change the world. In the end, the world changed them.Somewhere near the beginning of all this, somewhat in the middle of it and a bit more toward the end came a spiritual awakening among (primarily) the young, a movement that even impacted many in various “establishment” citadels of the time.Large numbers of students and other younger people came to believe that there was a purpose deeper than all others. They came to faith and growing conviction that their purpose and true life had only one true source, that being a Person, Jesus Christ- God in the flesh.They came to believe He actually died and rose again, love incarnate coming down not only for them as individuals but for everyone in the entire world.As more and more of these “Jesus People” or “Jesus Freaks” or “Street Christians” began their spiritual journey, a sizable portion of them came to re-assess what they should do and how they might live life in the practical sense.Literally thousands of them became free of drug and other addictions. Many learned that both personal responsibility as well as “rendering to Caesar” were important to their new life. Due in part to this, they often left most of their recent subculture behind.In essence, they grew up, dressed and acted more conservatively and largely joined the work force taking “regular” jobs. Many excelled in their profession.But there were other wars.All too often, eventually, selfish individualism began to surface afresh.While some fell away from the faith or essentially sold out to materialism and came full-circle, becoming very much like their parents before them, many continued regular attendance at evangelical or other churches and in essence, lived “a good” but anything but radical life.They’d started with a deep sense of personal need and legitimate desire to change the world. In the end, perhaps the world changed them?Author’s Notes and Disclaimer- This article was written out of a number of inspirational moments. Years ago a lot of good Christian folks sat and and shared about “the good old days” and I could not but wonder why they did not willingly make the difficult choices to live a radical lifestyle now as they did then? During a tour a deeply loving Christian leader often spoke of radical discipleship and fruitful ministry which he indeed continues to live… but his cry was for so many who no longer do, for divorces, local and larger church splits over pettiness, lack of willingness to share food, clothing, housing and resources for the poor and so on. In part it was due to a blog by a close friend who challenged others re. a lack of love when it comes to sharing, the idea that grace is unearned while we seem to demand worthiness of the recipient before we share “what’s MINE”. And on it goes. I have never nor now preach living in an intentional Christian community as The Call for all Christ-followers, so I beg you not to think I infer that in this bit of writing! The issue is simply living with the same passion for Jesus, the First Love and abandon many of you had at first rather than allowing mainstream culture to shape you. One of many questions in the end is “who is discipling whom”? Is Jesus Lord or this or that middle-class self-interest based idea of God’s blessing wagging the dog? WHO do we truly serve? Were ALL and EVERY value of the hippies unbiblical and bogus? I think not, and I think our heavenly Father likely thinks the same. For too many, selling out is the norm- sadly, I do not mean selling out to Jesus, His Word and His calling… I think we must consider resurrecting the word “nominal” again. In short it means “being such in name only; so-called; named as a mere matter of form, being trifling in comparison with the actual value; minimal.”God help us!
GLENN’S EASTER FEST (Australia) DEVO NOTESI’d like us to consider two questions this morning:Why does the Gospel SEEM antagonistic to so many listeners?Why is the Gospel often delivered in such an antagonistic way?I believe both are important questions worth pondering.I want us to consider two basic answers to these questions.First, Jesus says in John 14.6 that HE is The Way, The Truth and The Life, and He says that nobody comes into right relationship to God the Father except by and through Him, that is, Jesus Himself.In John 10.30 Jesus says He and God the Father are One.He told His disciples, “If you’ve seen Me you have seen the Father”. This is in part why the Jews wanted to kill Him. His claim to BE God in the flesh antagonized them and antagonizes many people today.Perhaps they want to be their own God, they love their particular sins, they are afraid to surrender to Jesus as Lord, they simply don’t want to be bothered by His life-changing love and/or truth.-Or they believe in and follow other false, so-called gods. So the Good News is bad news in their viewA fair number of people have grown up entrenched in a non-Christian worldview or value-system so the claims of Jesus (as well as actual sin among Christians throughout history)stirs a sense of competition and frankly, sometimes even understandable suspicionWe must remember Jesus spoke of two crosses: the one Jesus died on for our sins to be forgiven, for the love of God to be demonstrated AND there are the personal crosses Jesus insists all who follow Him must pick up DAILY.He says all who follow Him MUST deny self, pick up OUR cross daily and actually FOLLOW Him.Those personal crosses of self-denial are not only offensive to pre-believers or unbelievers but to the church in general. We would rather not deal with that. The reality of personal crosses at times even offends those of us who love Jesus and trust Him for our salvation.Then comes my second overall point: needless antagonism due to some of us at some times, with regard to the way we deliver the news.We have to face the offensiveness of individual believers and sometimes local churches in terms of our delivery of what is at core, Gospel truth.Job 6.14 (WEB)To him who is ready to faint, kindness should be shown from his friend; even to him who forsakes the fear of the Almighty.Ps. 23.6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness (mercy) will FOLLOW me all the days of my life…WE are sometimes antagonistic in our delivery for a number of reasons:-Personal angerThis may or may not be connected to one’s view of God, or rough times in a local church or difficulties we’ve experienced living in this world… perhaps inner stuff, sin issuesUnresolved anger and unforgiveness toward people and their actual or supposed sin against us, in a word, bitternessWe believe Jesus and want to share the Good News but our own baggage gets mixed up in our message for “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”…-Fear of God’s displeasure of our potential failure at “making the sale”, lack of visible fruit or some measure of success for our efforts-Fear of not being personally accepted or respected by a particular group(Christian church or non-believers)-Fear of slipping into sin ones self… the evangelist trying to create distance between themselves and sinful practices-Immitating other harsh speakers thinking forceful delivery is The way to communicate-Determining to help the listeners stay away from false thinking, false teaching, false religion, false spirituality- we figure God is angry about this so we get to be angry too, and speak or write accordingly-Judging (rightly or wrongly) that an individual or group is generally apathetic, perhaps even arrogantly closing their ears to God, therefore taking a harder, Old Testament “prophetic” delivery as THE way to warn them of coming judgment of God, hell and such-Basic frustration at people not listening to us as we share God’s message-Prejudice, pure and simple: negative, harsh judgment of a person or people group of a different socio-economic, cultural, subcultural, ethnic or racial group other than that the communicator is comfortable with… perhaps even to the point of racismI know at least something about each of these issues because I have personally sinned and repented -and still do on occasion- with regard to at least some of them!-The evangelist’s own lack of faith that a person in whatever situation or subculture could ever repent, believe and truly become a genuine disciple of Jesus-An extreme sense of nationalism or patriotism to the extent one confuses the desires of self, tradition and country with the eternal Good News of JesusConsider the Book of Jonah, God’s relentless love for the people of Nineveh. Jonah finally delivered God’s salvation message but in the sad, tragic end Jonah himself was not willing to repent, change and focus on God’s gracious character and love for the people. He ended up slinking off and sulking, actually mad at God for His mercy towards the Ninevites, mad God used him to bring God’s message of mercy to a people Jonah clearly did not care for, neither at the beginning of God calling Him to preach to them nor at the end after he had finally done so and they’d repented!Consider “the Proverbs 31 woman” -and listen up men, we need to learn from her:Pro. 31.26 (NKJV)She opens her mouth with wisdom; and on her tongue is the law of kindness.Pro. 3.3 (WEB)Don’t let kindness and truth forsake you. Bind them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart.In summary, there is an actual antagonism about the Truth, the Good News of Jesus in that He indeed makes exclusive claims about Himself and Who the True God is.We must also pay close attention to the way we as Christians deliver that truth though we may well be sharing actual biblical Gospel.
We’ve experienced another moving Good Friday, thankful to the Lord for His eternal love for us, the power and hope of Easter Sunday swallowing death with Life!Just got home after many hours of flying to and from Australia, well over 1,000 miles of travel along the countryside and in towns and cities there as we do each year in North America and other countries overseas.Very early this morning we heard of the horrible plane crash killing the Polish president, his wife and many of their leaders… who were on the way towards some sense of reconciliation with the Russians who 70 years ago killed thousands of those who were then their top leaders.Last night we celebrated our eldest grandson’s birthday, a really fun time with many friends, pizza, cake, karaoke and dancing, just a fun time.This afternoon we linked up with old friends who came back to Chicago to a memorial service for their beloved daughter- she was a young wife and mother who went to be with Jesus very early in life.Also in attendance was another old Christian biker friend whose wife is finally recovering to do better after a tragic motorcycle accident (though no fault of theirs). For many months they’d dealt with suffering related to her brain/concussion injuries from that wreck. I will never forget his eyes as he spoke to me about the love of his life some months later, worried that she may never be the same or perhaps even get worse. Thank God, she is doing well!The recent West Virginia coal mine explosion and loss of life, Brazil’s floods and landslides, earthquakes in Haiti and elsewhere, there is so much happening in this life we can neither fully control nor fully explain- let’s face it.But how to “face it”!?In all this I could not help but think of the deep mercy given to so many over these weeks and days, to this very day. Some reached it in sadness and loss, others in full recovery and answered prayer.I of course thought and think (and pray) about my dear wife, children, sons-in-law and grandchildren which I love so very much, our family, extended family, Project 12 and JPUSA, all family in Christ and so many more.Looking out at Lake Michigan’s waves on this sunny, warm, windy Spring day I thumbed through a little volume of G.K. Chesterton quotes dear friends gave me a year or so ago.I’ve loved his work for a long time, but two quotes wrapped all this up for me quite well. I’ll finish this little blog with his words and the words of my Lord Jesus Who has and shall have the last word:”The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground”. -G.K. Chesterton”You have never laughed in all your life as I shall laugh in death”. -G.K. ChestertonJesus in John 16.33 (Weymouth trans.):”I have spoken all this to you in order that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have affliction. But keep up your courage: I have won the victory over the world.”
DAY NINENice trip up to Taree, poor Wendi had gotten motion sick on the ride to Newcastle yesterday to the extent she wasn’t able to make the show last night, and today the twists and turns were even more intense. The poor girl is laying in the hotel room bed as I type, sitting at the diner where we’ll eat lunch.I think we’ll all nap, then head to the final John-Steve-GKB event here tonight. Tomorrow we begin the long trek up to Toowoomba where the Easter Fest is held. John and Stu fly into Brisbane and are transported out there, we will continue the long drive north, about 10 hours or so as I understand it… and likely a bit more twist/turn/up/down stuff… praying for Wendi.Had a great dinner last night after the show at the guest house where we stayed, and it turns out the owner/managers are longtime Rez Band fans. Just very sweet people.Looking forward to tonight’s show as with the GKB and Rez schedule I don’t think I will be able to hear either John or Steve and band at E-fest.On the drive north along the coast, then inland a bit in between mountain ranges we saw a lot of very beautiful greens, trees, lush bush and at one point I saw a small red deer.For the first time we saw koala crossing signs. Cool animals, but haven’t seen one.We’re staying along with God’s Squad crew at a hotel on the local golf course, and they say in the mornings one can often see kangaroos out on the course much like we might see deer on them in the U.S..So, loooong drive tomorrow. Still had a bit of rain off and on today. But things are pretty in terms of flowering trees, shrubs and other flowers. Very beautiful as Australia typically is.It is no surprise most Brits and other Europeans and eventually others settled near the coasts which are green and lush. Aboriginal people were pushed more and more into the Outback, desert and hardscrabble areas.Some groups were off and on occupying Outback places or passing through, but as Native Americans they really had no concept of “land ownership” as the white Europeans.I have often thought they and other indigenous tribes had and have more of a sense of true community and sharing as well as stewardship of natural resources, flora and fauna than did or do most people of European extraction.Well, onto lunch, nap, sound check and tonight’s show.I hope Wendi is up for it, but if not she will be safe and can rest.So it turned out Wendi felt so much better after her nap she came to the show. A good number of area churches came together, had a bbq and met at the hall at the Baptist Centre which also has church, school and Christian college attached.Rhema FM helped sponsor and advertise the event along with Easter Fest and of course God’s Squad as well.There was a local bro. who did illusions, was quite the comedian and gave an excellent rap at the end of his set about seriously making decisions in that we never know what tomorrow may bring us… spoke of pancreatic cancer and etc.. Good mate and they both loved and really listened to him.Steve and band were in excellent form and now quite ready for Easter Fest sets they’ll be doing.This was the best or equaled the best night for John’s speaking… moving stories and right from the heart stuff. People heard him well.In that there was a large crowd including many older church folks, I mixed a bit more acoustic tunes in with our GKB set, and people were very receptive. The crowd was comparable to Melbourne in terms of numbers.Steve again asked me to pray for the crowd at the end of the night and ended with a hymn on guitar. Very good night.All of us have a bit of a short night of sleep ahead due to the long drive up tomorrow, but have pre-ordered breakfast and I’m already packed. One thing about local gear (amps, drums and such) being provided is that we don’t have to worry about all that, just luggage, a couple small instruments and a couple little effect boxes along with my lap steel and small travel guitar and Roy’s bass. Pretty light and quick to move when we move each day.John and Stu are flying as I type, praying for them to have some sleep and smooth air coming over.The state of Queensland is an hour behind New South Wales so we do gain an hour going up tomorrow, that’s nice.Friday includes a sound check and GKB set. Saturday will bring my devotional and another GKB sound check and set. Easter Sunday will be a REZ sound check, press conference and set.Monday a Brisbane-based Christian ministry group called Red Frogs will take us from the Fest area in Toowoomba to our accommodations with them in Brisbane, show us around a bit and we’ll rest and ready for the return flights Brisbane-Los Angeles, L.A.-Chicago.We all miss our families, but I must say the tour has gone very well and we’ve been very well received by new friends and old alike. A lot of grace and travel mercies from Jesus throughout!Peter (John’s agent and our tour manager for this trip), Steve’s sons (who do all the p.a., drums, amps and etc. set-up and tear-down each night as well as play part of the set with their dad) and our van & trailer driver on the latter part of this tour- Matt have all worked very hard and really been wonderful. Steve’s wife Kerry celebrated her birthday (their anniversary and her birthday both during the tour!) while on the road with us… amazing family and deeply committed to Jesus and mission in Australia.Well, time for me to hit the sack. Horizontal is good when one gets tired!DAY 10Well a good sleep, caught a bit more on the trip to Toowoomba. We are joking about the freeway… there is none! That is, that we have yet seen in nearly 3 hours of driving up, down, all around, high mountain range here, forests, very beautiful and wonderful frankly.Eventually there will come a highway that is somewhat like a freeway, then we can make better time. But now it’s clear why this part of the journey is so very long.We got out at a very high scenic overlook in one of the state forests of northern New South Wales and it was just gorgeous, took a lot of photos.Wendi seems good so far- a miracle re. her motion sickness. Our good driver Matt is ever cheerful.Several kangaroo warning signs, saw a very small one apparently hit by a truck or car along the state forest road.It’s all very green and thick woods in this shire, a lot of cattle ranches in the valleys in flat grassy areas or climbing hills. The mountains are of course just lush with trees and vegetation. Very, very beautiful.Here and there we stop for gas (petrol). We’ve a cooler with a few cold drinks and snacks in the van.So, stopping for lunch now and then onward.FINAL DAYS OF THE TOUR & EASTERFESTWell, I’m off the charts now… as I write it is actually Easter Sunday, which is tour DAY 13. So much going on I had little time to write and keep current.We arrived in Toowoomba Thursday night, checked into our hotel- another very comfortable one… this has been the nice hotel tour for sure -and had a late supper.Fri. morning we went to the hotel breakfast spot next door where most festival performers are for brekky (as they say here Down Under) and kept bumping into various old Aussie friends, promoters, musicians and U.S. and Canadian musos we’ve known, had at Cornerstone Festival and so forth. In fact that kept happening all weekend. Nice chats.Through the weekend I/we did several interviews for local or regional radio, GKB did the Fri. Big Top set (very well received) and again GKB played a short main stage set Saturday.I gave a devotional on Fri. (well-attended, glad of that) on why the Gospel is both in itself somewhat antagonistic and also why many Christians blow it (myself included at times) by delivering it in antagonistic ways -as well as some reasons I believe we mess up in our delivery.I will post my personal notes here as a blog, hopefully before flying back to Chicago.A great number of people said kind things about the message, I’m grateful for that.Main stage had a large crowd but a bit more “pop” in terms of music styles so we fried ’em a bit… but many warm responses, great seeing and later chatting with several old friends, some who had lived and served at JPUSA some years in the past… just great reacquainting and getting updated.Again, several Aussie fans who’d seen REZ and/or myself during former tours kept popping up with old T shirts, which we signed, and they regularly shared encouragement. Very sweet.Today, HE IS RISEN Day was wonderful, great weather, interviews and REZ set went off good -and all on time which can be rare at festivals!John, Stu, Wendi and Roy rocked hard and well, really had fun. Wendi was not only great vocally but looked amazingly beautiful (well, nothing new there:) and people responded with a great deal of encouragement throughout.We did a lengthy album/cd/Shirt/etc. signing and meet-greet after the set, had a wonderful dinner and just enjoyed the evening, sitting and chatting with Fest organizers and one another.John and Stu leave early and fly back to Chicago tomorrow. Wendi, Ed, Roy and myself travel to Brisbane for a little rest, meeting some folks there in various ministry, then home to Chi-town the next day.We’ve only had sparse time or opportunity for good Web connections but I hope to post this with photos from Brisbane tomorrow.Had great chats and thanked Steve Grace and family- absolute gems throughout the tour, his sons took such excellent care of us re. lending gear (and setting up, tearing down, doing tech. stuff for us during shows right through Easter Fest) just a gifted, amazing family.Peter Hilton (John Smith’s agent), God’s Squad and John were all the BEST and took brilliant care of us… this tour was a pleasure on just about every level one might consider.We are praying about John visiting us in the States for a bit… that is where he did his dissertation on the Jesus Movement and became Dr. John Smith 🙂 He’s a gifted speaker, a Wesley and church, contemporary culture historian as well as a biker, deeply loves the outcasts and has a heart of gold. He and his sweet wife Glenna are gifts as are the Grace family, and so we may well link for a bit doing various ministry. Praying for God’s guidance on that.The Easter Fest staff were just exceptional in caring for us, serving with professionalism, kindness and consideration all weekend.As usual, right through the tour Australians have been very, very kind to us. I believe my last tour here was about 10 years past, so it was great to be back.My one regret is not being able to again tour New Zealand this time out… very good ministry tours and good friends there, REZ and myself and Wendi have toured there several times in years past -but if and when the Lord should make that possible, we’ll do so again.Well, time to look through the photos and early to bed. Right after I read those beautiful chapters about an empty tomb!So, now I write from Brisbane, at the hotel. We did indeed read through the four Gospel accounts of the Resurrection yesterday before bed, also a bit more in Acts chapter one and John 21. Powerful, wonderful stuff!I finally get to post this and some tour pics, do a bit more web-based work, nap, then a dinner here tonight with ministry friends, flying home to Chicago tomorrow.It was a nice ride, beautiful day in Brisbane weather-wise, and we are able to rest a bit before our long journey home.Again, THANK YOU for all who have and do pray for us… many tours, dates here and there in the U.S., Canada, Scandinavia and central Europe are already planned for this year so we SO appreciate your prayer support! All shows will be posted at glennkaiser.com soon as they are solid.With deepest gratitude for Jesus and all in His church who love and serve Him as part of the family, -Glenn