Yep, been thinking about doing some podcasts after a looong break. We shall see.Been thinking about the nasty and outlandish statments being made in the political spectrum. Whew! No wonder so many younger poeple don’t care to vote or even think about politics. The ugliness and propaganda is just so thick it’s not hard to understand why some would just pack it in and let the two party system in the U.S., simply eat one another up. Tragic.Been also thinking that balance (see Prov. 11.1) seems nearly out of the minds of many professing Christians. Extremes get more press, more people excited, energized and willing to kill and mame enemies… not exactly how Jesus commanded us to treat them.But “balance” has at times- and yes, can indeed be mere “compromise”. Then again, compromise in a world that is clearly not seeking nor serving God and others but rather, self… well, there is no real balance for selling out for personal gain is the issue at core.So there you go… misc. thoughts to ponder. Bob indeed had some pretty solid lyrics… like “You want it all and you want it your way”.Mercy! -Glenn
Many years ago I came to a conclusion that I’ve found helpful as well as painful with regard to offering advice.People have often asked my opinion about all sorts of things- their personal lives, marriage, ministry, on and on. I learned as many have that not every one who asks really wants input. Certainly there is a time to be silent or simply keep the reply basic and above all non-threatening (at least sounding!) to the individual. But sometimes there is no way around the tough answers.Early days of ministry I took people at face value. That is, I thought they really wanted an un-varnished, straight answer. Over time I realized that some did, some did not. Sometimes what they want is an honest, biblical (to the best of our ability of Bible knowledge and experience) reply while other times what they want is to feel good about the answer.Sometimes they already know the answer they want and unless you can affirm the same to them, you get into trouble.Town after town, church after church, ministry group to group I have been approached by both leadership and non-leadership from congregations of all sorts. Again and again I ask if they are praying, humbly attempting honest face-to-face discussions about the issues that at times separate them, or applying Matthew 18 principles or if they are rather looking for me to “side” with them this way or that.But the key issue is the Word of God connected with the truth of individual motives, goals and intent to love, unify under the lordship of Jesus and to serve others… or rather, demand (as one did before Jesus) “Lord, tell my sister to get in the kitchen and help with the serving”. Of course, Martha had a heart for the Lord too, but she was ticked at Mary and simply wanted Jesus to affirm what she wanted.One boil-it-down key for me is simply this: can I in good conscience before God help you get what you want or not? If I can, I will. If for what I believe to be scriptural, honest reasons I cannot, I cannot. Sometimes that makes me the great friend… sometimes it makes me the enemy.While all of us want to be liked and respected, I cannot sacrifice what I believe to be honest, biblical input simply to maintain the status quo. At the same time, there are people and times when silence and a great deal of prayer serves both them and myself better than direct answers- even though I may have a strong sense of what the most solid, true, needful answer might be for them.Not mere knowledge but wisdom, discernment and timing are all part of the process.God help us feed the sheep with love and grace and by all means to encourage one another when we can! God give us grace to take the heat when affirmation of a given desire is not what seems to be on His agenda.Sometimes love speaks. Sometimes love remains silent. God is faithful all the time- and notice that He Himself sometimes speaks to us and at other times refrains from speaking –whether we like it or not. The issue is what -He- knows is best.I don’t pretend to always know what’s best for anyone, including myself. What I do know is that God’s desires must be tended to first and last, not mine or any other’s.For God… IS God.
Fellow Music Artists,Over at glennkaiser.com are years of blogs/articles/interviews that speak to the spiritual side, sharing Bible verses and so forth, of music ministry. If you search, you’ll find a lot from me on all that. But the following is straight, practical excerpts from emails I’ve sent to various people.What follows here is my response to a Christian blues artist friend of mine. He asked me how to get things going for getting gigs.Another friend asked about that as well as for input on promotion, songwriting and lyrics as well as recording. You’ll find my response to him here as well.I made several additions and changes to my initial replies just to round out some of the input I think important.As you read through this, just adjust the music style and web search issues to your own music and ministry elements.My Bro.,The drill is pretty simple and you already know most of it I expect. The more you play, get your music, lyrics and basic promo info. online on various sites, the more you and individual churches, bike clubs, coffeehouses and festivals, etc. publicize the shows or services you do, the more cds you give away or sell at gigs, the more you link up with christianblues.net, all the Christian coffeehouses and churches and festivals doing concerts where your style may fit the more both promoters and concert-goers will respond to you and it’s likely more opportunities will present themselves.Setting up your own free sites on Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, Shoutlife, Reverb Nation, Pure Volume and etc., and the more you are able to offer quality bios, Mp3 downloads, live pics and downloadable press kit stuff, post your itinerary, blog your thoughts, the more people will catch not only your music but your heart. Some of those who relate will likely invite you to do gigs.To begin discovering venues, Google Christian church concerts, coffeehouses, festivals, bike clubs and rallies, web-based-blues music shows and anything else that may relate to your style and travel area. Perhaps begin within a 100 mile radius of where you live, then fan out from there via Google to like, 250 miles and so forth. A LOAD of info. is available online.You can also go to every Christian blues player or band you know of, check out their online shows section or even Google (as in, Glenn Kaiser show, or Glenn Kaiser Band concert or Larry Howard live, that sort of thing, grab the contact info. that’s often stored online for several years and you’ll have a lot of email addys, websites and phone numbers to call.Don’t forget stuff like the Christian Activities Calendar (online… I don’t know if they still do print or not).What Christian or secular artists or bands most relate to your sound and approach? Web search for mentions of shows in your touring area (don’t forget their own websites for itinerary info. and contacts) and you’ll have a bunch of venues that just may be open for you to open for others, or consider if they have open mic nights, or might book you for a weeknight realizing you’re not a headline act they know about. Lots of possibilities.Be open to block parties, playing in lots, and if you do acoustic music, even a park without places to plug in can work! Busking (Chicago and other cities have laws and offer a license to do music outdoors in the street and parks) may be an option. There are zillions of coffeehouses out there… and on and on it goes.Formulate your own email list from past gigs and perhaps send out an email to those who seemed to connect with you best, asking them if there are other possible places to minister via your blues music, and if so, to email or phone you the contact info..Pray and see what the Lord does re. folks contacting you in response to you contacting them via the above means.Finally, never forget that if God moves, cool, if He does not, also cool! In other words, if the opportunity happens great and if the door slams shut, equally great! You only want to do shows/services when and where the Lord leads.Don’t pound on doors, simply walk, pray, don’t fret if you don’t get a zillion opportunities- make the best and do your best for Him and the audience/congregation if and when you are able to share with them. Leave the rest up to God.And of course, don’t neglect your own daily devos and walk with the Lord, your family or local church family for the sake of “ministry” or you and others will pay for it in the worst way…–And here’s the gist of how I replied to the second bro. asking for input, after I had shared much of what I just re-printed above here:As they hear and relate to you some will surely contact you for possible gigs and so on. Who knows who might hear or talk you up to someone who might offer you a recording deal. But THAT is when you must pray and be very careful about the fine print, etc.. A solid, experienced music person is good to have alongside you, a seasoned lawyer who you can trust is even a good thing at such times.Offers don’t have to be accepted, they are merely offers. Sometimes musicians so badly want to get out and do it they just sign -and later wish they’d seen the truck that ran them over!The beautiful thing is there are so many ways to record (great computer programs, a person or two at church or other person with a home studio on their Mac, decent mics, someone who has recorded your type of music before and is willing to help you put songs down, tweak and so on.Just a bit more on songwriting: are your lyrics trite? Why would anyone really appreciate what you have to say the WAY you’re saying it? Why or how might they relate or not… to your lyrics?Lyric crafting is an art by itself (apart from the music) and being wise, thoughtful, careful and having others look over your lyrics before you are personally married (!) to them is really important. Not to mention spell checking ’em!What really draws YOU to lyrics others have written? I mean aside from the music of songs that have deeply moved you… are they true, do they have spiritual, as well as truly human integrity?What IS good lyricism? For me Bob Dylan, Bruce Cockburn come to mind. Imagery, passion, double meanings, colorful words. Even in use of simple words and terms, in great blues songs all of that shows up.Once you have a catalog of songs that you (and others) really believe the world needs to hear, IF you wish, there are ways to either sell or of course allow free downloads of your songs online on one or more of your websites.If I were you in this day and time I would be very, very slow to sign a deal with anyone. Follow Jesus, write strong, memorable songs that are true to Him and who you are… “authenticity 101”. Be faithful right where He has you now.IF and AS offers come for shows, pray and do as God seems to direct. Nothing more or less. Your own and various websites, and either burning your own cds for sale at shows (or gifts for free, whatever) and of course live shows are pretty much the best way to go as I see it. You do not need BIG, so as He seems to lead, just take it one step at a time.Being part of a truly solid church with godly folks whocan help pray and help you consider calendar scheduling, all that can keep you sane as well as fruitful.One more thing about songwriting- it can be very hard to get people to go over your lyrics and give honest input. And your ego will take a beating (been there, done that!) but IF the Lord works it out for you to link with a few solid lyricists who you and others respect, and they are able to offer your critiques on your lyrics… and ditto for the actual music and production (recording) stuff… all of that can really be helpful. It can also be overwhelming, but it’s all part of the learning process and part of discovering excellence.I never played as well as when I played soccer with REALLY excellent players. Scottie Pippen was never as good as when he played with Michael Jordan. Brett Favre could likely make even ME look good… same deal with sound techs, studio engineers, producers, other musicians in a band, songwriters, etc., etc..O.K., all for now!Man, I get so many asking about all this stuff… it may be time for me to just put it up on my blog site!Blessings, may the Lord guide you,-Glenn
The title of this blog is comprised of the beginning of a line from the Who’s hit song “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. The conclusion of that line was “…same as the old boss.”Years ago a brilliant cartoonist named Walt came up with a line in his Pogo newspaper comic strip- “We have seen the enemy and he is us.”I often quote Buckaroo Banzai (crazy, silly movie somewhat worth seeing:)- “Where ever you go, there you are.”Then I fondly recall Jean Vanier’s brilliant one-word reply when asked what the biggest problem he had with living in community: “Myself.”I recently find myself reading through and interacting with a couple blogs regarding the state of the church.I believe it fully true to say few commenting on the issues in both blogs have traveled and heard the issues I have from all sorts of local and denominational congregations over much of the world these past 38 years. And I hear it from those in leadership/supposed leadership positions and equally from those not in any sort of influential position, the everyday congregant.Both threads have garnered very honest, good and in my view, well-thought out points related to doing church differently, escaping the institutionalized- read that ungodly/dysfunctional- church and just not looking back.Forgive me if I pop the balloon, but none of this is new.I have called off and on, for a reformation among Christians for most of my life. I think the Holy Spirit continually calls for it in MY life!So- coming from what might be considered a huge small group or living in intentional Christian community which is much like a large gathering of small groups who worship, study, serve and play amongst ourselves and also interact serving those throughout our neighborhood and in fact, many places throughout our nation and world… I can say with complete sincerity there ain’t no structure nor leader, group of leaders nor gathering of those banishing the term (leader) who live sinless lives. NOBODY gets it right all the time.While I truly appreciate people looking for a genuine experience with God and/or authentic Christian community and/or who think the term Christian should be dumped and/or who struggle with hardcore right-wing politics or gay bashing or (fill-in-the-blanks), the idea that ANY structure or lack of one will solve what ails us is chasing windmills in their dreams…I’m not saying don’t try to do church or your Christian life, missions or personal or group discipleship a fresh way- not at all! I’m saying full-on knuckleheads and rather mature, godly Christ-followers exist in every and all places, structures, forms, intentionally organized or disorganized local fellowships! Is this rocket science? Not at all.From countless conversations at all levels of Christ-seeking gatherings I have heard the cries, and I truly mean from both leadership and non-leadership spheres.What I worry about a great deal is the sometimes tragic fall and extended misery of the person who seeks something (even “THE CHURCH of ALL CHURCHES!!!”, that is, landing in their own concept of doing it RIGHT) and still find the emperor (often themselves, at times, others alongside them) sits as naked as can be. I worry about the crash of those who never plant themselves and face their own personal baggage.It’s just so clear from my own experience and as I read through both Testaments that human nature is what God says it is.By the way, Bono and others have long ago distanced themselves from “typical” church involvement… this just isn’t anything new!Meanwhile I do believe too many work too hard in their focus on either institution X, Y or Z, just as some do small group or house church, emergent or emerging church X, Y or Z. Don’t we get it? As a dear friend recently wrote in one of the blogs I mentioned, it’s about character and fruit. Yes, it always HAS been!The problem is that we can spend forever debating how to somehow cooperate with the Holy Spirit/foster (or both) biblical, godly change in ourselves (first… please!!!) and others (make disciples, not merely converts), while someone must explain to me how one or two hours per week of ANY style are going to accomplish such a task?We give God, His Word, His mature people so little time. We expect this or that or a different form to do the trick. I just don’t buy it and have never seen it.What I HAVE seen over and over are individuals, families and large portions of all sorts of local gatherings of Christ followers (and I do mean followers…) with character, fruit and gifts that put myself and most of us to shame. There just isn’t a biblical template (read that, denomination, independent typical church, house church, whatever sort you care to name) or mold commanded in the scriptures. Why not? Apparently we care a great deal more about it than God does.Let me ask a few questions that may help sharpen our focus a bit:-IS the Lord adding people who are coming to saving faith in Jesus daily, weekly, monthly, ever- in your Christ-following gathering?-ARE you (any/all of you) directly involved in teaching people of all varieties to obey whatever Jesus has commanded you/us/all, that is, are disciples of Jesus Christ being made in your chosen Christ-focused group?-DO you sincerely find growth in yourself regarding: a greater desire for fellowship with Father, Son, Spirit, His Book, confession of sin, communion (Lord’s Supper), and deepening prayer and authentic worship?If not, you need to seek God for some personal changes and pray, graciously encourage and model change within your chosen assembly -regardless the style or form of church.If the answer to these three questions is more on the positive side, carry on and don’t fret too much over the shape of the transport- you/your local family of Christ-followers are doing a great deal right whether you realize it or not.
Summer is of course vacation (or as they say in Europe, holiday) time and for us it is a welcome break, often at Cornerstone Farm where we put on the Festival. Woods, lake, ponds, beautiful nature, fish, lots of deer and other wildlife, geese, ducks and in the summer, sun and heat. But all good. And did I mention blackberries?! Really a gift.But time itself is a gift one must not miss…Time spent with one’s wife or husband, children or grandchildren, time in these most important family relationships is a gift and a grace too many either do not have the opportunity to experience due to death, illness, estrangement or abuse… or simply do to a slavery or obsession of a job, poor stewardship of one’s resources or plain horrid economies in a nation and world where justice is often without mercy and the rich get richer while the average family lives from day to day.Time might be a couple of months (the normal summer break in much of Europe) or a couple weeks or even a few long weekends… but oh how important it is to use that time wisely.Many years ago we were reminded by godly people that when on vacation, we must not leave our relationship with God behind either!Packing a Bible, taking, yes- Making time to be with Jesus in prayer and study and to notice people’s needs around us, not only resting and playing… there are a number of things we must not neglect. Divine appointments happen when we’re having fun too!For myself and Wendi, it’s quiet time, devotions, yard sales, movies, a bit of fishing, visiting with family and friends. We bird watch, cooking meals together, doing woodfired suppers, smoking meat for several hours. I hunt a little and we look around for deer and other wildlife on the property and enjoy sunsets that are quite amazing.Visits to local fruit and veggie stands when the great, ripe stuff is ready, walking in areas thick with butterflies, taking pictures, gardening and seeing so many beautiful flowers, hostas and etc., it’s all good. We play computer games and just slooooow down.Time off is needed and many in this world have very little, so I encourage any reading this who can do so this summer- to take some and make good use of it.God Bless you with good rest! -Glenn