One Size Fits ALL?

Depending on your own opinion based on multiple reasons, "one size fits all" may or may not suit you. Put another way, the concept may or may not suit you at a particular moment in your life.

We all change. When we're 4 years old we want some things we won't want (or need) when we're 10. When we reach 20 we'll have likes, dislikes, needs and desires different to a 40-year-old.

Like weather and geography, moods change. In some places on earth weather can truly change within a few minutes, while geography changes slowly (like the course of a river).

When our Jesus People movement was young- back in the hippie days of the late sixties/early seventies, the fashion among many girls included the "granny dress". My wife Wendi and many of the girls wore them, and shared them with one another as they were "one size fits all". Cool patterns, long ankle-length dresses that reached the ankle with elastic waistbands that shrunk or expanded according to the wearer's shape.

Wendi laughingly says they referred to them as "one size fits most" because some girls were still too skinny or too large for these dresses to fit right.

Isn't that a picture of various parts of our lives at times?

This or that temperament doesn't seem to "work for us", doesn't seem to "fit".

So, what about music and the arts, decorating a room or the color of a house?

What about clothing styles?

Consider this or that style of church or worship service for a moment…

At any point in time something may seem a "perfect fit" while earlier (or later) it doesn't seem to fit us a all. Or at least we don't like the way it fits.

The problem is that any of us can decide that unless it "feels like it fits" we're gonna HAVE a fit!

Sometimes we choose the option of caring far too much about things that aren't all that important in the larger scheme of things -though they're important to us, at least at that moment in time.

In a REZ Band tour we did many years ago Wendi was pregnant and high-risk so the doctor didn't let her go. As she sang lead on many of our songs we had to re-vamp the set list so I could carry each night without her. It was a drag touring without her but we made it. That "size" didn't "fit" me but it was what we had to do at the time. Looking back I think we made the right decision. I missed her terribly and people missed her during the shows but some came to faith in Jesus night after night and it sure "fit" them that we had come to their town!

Over time your own perspective changes- as does mine.

None of this is true with God except for those things He defines as "sin" in the Bible. You can find HIS lists (and I don't mean those any local church or ministry decides to define) in both New and Old Testaments. I find those in the New Testament written in letters to Christians in local churches the most illuminating.

Sin never fits God and He is clear in saying it never fits us. Who gets to define "sin"? He does. He's God -we're not.

Sinning may feel like it fits us but never does as it's always at core, about selfish interests that don't have anything to do with His real, true love. It's the stuff that separates us from Him and His people. It tears down and never truly builds up.

Through life people, places and things change. You and I change. Changes and transitions are part of life and are not entirely something we can escape.

If we don't have the firm foundation of faith and obedience to God in Jesus Christ and in accord with His Word, things are absolutely not going to fit! This particular matter has little to do with what we may or may not want… but what HE wants.

There came a time when I realized my own sense of "style" did or did not fit this or that group of people, whether they were Christians or not. Loving God and seeking to share His love and see people through His eyes partly meant to be willing to change my style, to be flexible, to not be hard and rigid about my own tastes and personal comfort -for their sake, for the sake of Jesus and His good news.

What could I bring them from Him? Was there any way I could serve them in Jesus Name?

See, sometimes things don't fit because they aren't fitting to those around us.

Sometimes they don't seem to fit us.

The question is: what is fitting in God's view in that particular time and place and among that group of people?

This is the question that love asks over and over though out one's life.

It's true that one size rarely fits all. But it doesn't have to give you fits!

Things to consider. Thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

CORNERSTONE FESTIVAL

FINALE

After a very recent JPUSA community-wide gathering to announce the final Cstone Festival I began to recall other events in my own life and that of JPUSA that felt somewhat similar to me and many others, even others outside our immediate fellowship:

Moving from one community house/neighborhood to a fresh set of buildings on another street. This happened several times through the years.

The final full-blown Resurrection Band (aka REZ) tour after some 28 years.

The sale of our Missouri farm and huge lodge, designed and built by several JPUSAs with logs and hand tools in the middle of the woods. Many friends, courtships, multi-family vacations, retreats and special events happened there.

The conclusion of our Cornerstone Magazine, long respected as one of the finest Jesus Papers and lauded with awards for it’s deep-thinking journalism, art and witness to alternative people all over North America. The staff had written for years about the poverty and homeless folk in our area. Between the sheer costs of huge readership, publication and distribution as well as time allotments and their heart for the poor that same staff launched our current Cornerstone Community Outreach, one of Chicago’s largest homeless shelters. Talk about practicing what one preaches! Indeed.

So it is with sadness we say “Farewell” to another “old friend”, a ministry that has been so multi-layered, so threaded through our lives and the lives of literally thousands of others over a 29-year span, that being Cornerstone Festival.

Begun out of a vision to bring relevant and multi-cultural no-holds-barred music, seminars, the arts, sporting events and a flavor of Christian community to a massively wide variety of Christ-followers, seekers and others has been an exquisite blessing.

From it’s inception in 1984 at Lake County Fairgrounds north of Chicago to it’s own Cornerstone Farm near Bushnell, Illinois the Fest saw countless engagements, honeymoon parties, weddings and sadly, even a death occur. Only God knows how many people came to faith, answers to life-dominating questions, deliverance from sin, challenges and tools for spiritual growth, call to ministry and missions and so much more.

Perhaps authentic friendships and in various ways, a deeper valuing of genuine Christian community is the most lasting effect of our little outreach among the cornfields of Western Illinois?

From countless stages, art and media tents, seminars, sporting events, the beach, the ponds, frenzied raves, bonfires, and continuing discussions long into the nights to the gathering of alternative and yes, even mix of more mid-stream adult and youth groups from all over North America and many foreign countries this singular event has shaped a great many people. We’ve dealt with issues of racism, gender equality, ethnicity, church sectarianism and cultural prejudices -often the monsters we perhaps unknowingly feed- even among people of faith.

Every sort of theology, doctrine, methodology and cultural experience has likely been covered in seminars and chats around camps throughout the property.

Worship sets, multiple music styles and nearly any sort of performance art you’d care to consider has been experienced at the Fest.

Through it all Jesus was, is and shall always be “the chief Cornerstone”.

Our shared worship of Him, playing together, music and other arts, childrens programs, the teachers, prayers and deeply joyous times spent with new-found and over time, annual gathering of friends at the Fest can and must be celebrated!

Baptisms, confessions, reconciliations, choices in a truly God-ward direction, all of these are wrapped up in deep and in many cases, eternal friendships with Father, Son, Spirit and our neighbors have been experienced in Fulton County. We’ve  laughed, cried and learned so much from one another at this annual gathering.

Sadness? Of course. How could there not be? “All change is perceived as loss” and indeed as ensuing Fourth of July weekends come around we’ll remember and likely feel a certain pang of something dear that has gone from us.

Love is like that.

Authentic koinonia (“fellowship”) IS like that.

At JPUSA, here in Chicago’s inner city we are in the midst of a huge re-modeling project. Our “Wilson Abbey” building will house so many ministries- and in many ways the music, drama, art, seminars, recording work and eventual web offerings of podcasts and vidcasts will offer a new array of what we hope will be grace-filled, effective communication and experiences for more people both local and world-wide.

Cornerstone Festival has been staffed by wonderful, hard-working creative people who will now channel their gifts and talents into fresh areas of ministry.

Cornerstone Farm may or may not be a place of extended ministry to any number of people in any number of ways. We have and shall continue to pray, dream and seek God’s will and call as to our stewardship of our resources.

Economics have played into all of these decisions- but there is something about truly seeking God’s desires- best as we are able to discern them, and to move forward with our hands on the plow He confirms.

As always, it’s about Jesus and friendships with people in need of loving friends who can empathize and share at least some of life’s journey together.

What an amazing, wonderful, memory-filled journey of love Cornerstone Festival has been for me and so many reading this!

I thank God for the countless hours of prayer, work, creative offerings and genuine grace I and so many have experienced through Henry, John and the extended staff as well as years of volunteer staff on site!

Certainly part of our legacy are the many festivals around the world that have learned and taken elements from Cstone, making them part of their festivals- just as we did from our tours as Resurrection Band, applying what seemed best and most fitting for Cornerstone.

Let me finish with a comment an older hippie (Ha, like myself) once made tearfully as he and his family were packing up after one of the first Cstone Fests up at the Fairgrounds in Grayslake, IL.

Crying, he said “Glenn… why did you do this to us?! WHY? How could we be so blessed this week, learn as much as we have and experienced community this intensely only to have to go back home and suffer depression over our daily lives and sometimes rather distant church-people existence? Why do we have to leave? Why does it have to end?! Look what you’ve done to us!!”

His words and sincerity startled me. I told him I understood, to pray for and not be so hard on his local church, and to be patient with them, to respectfully share what he and his family had learned through the week and to be an example of love and acceptance rather than division and petty judgment. Then I began to cry and as we hugged one another I told him what I’ll repeat now:

The best of Cornerstone has been Jesus and people. The deep friendships of Christ-followers produced by the Holy Spirit are eternal. Absolutely eternal. This is just a taste, and truly not the end, for the koinonia we have shared here will only intensify before God’s throne.

When we gather there, for us- eternity begins!

With Love,
Glenn Kaiser
JPUSA
Cornerstone Festival
July, 2012

Feelings or Not -We’re Not Alone

Sort of like "ready or not, here He comes" 'eh? 🙂

I'll be honest- I often feel a sense of what I believe to be the Holy Spirit sort of "washing over me".

It could of course be endorphins, the pizza I ate or that warm rush of love I feel for my wife Wendi… and I suppose at times it's any or several of those at once. And yet…

Though what I've written is true (for me) I can also say that it's often immediately after a prayer, a thought towards God, a sense that He is with me, not just near or around but WITH me.

Jesus indeed said "The kingdom of God is within you" and of course being filled with the Holy Spirit means being filled with God Himself.

In the Book of Acts Paul quotes a local saying in his witness to the unbelievers in the region: "For even your own poets have written… IN HIM (my emphasis) we live and move and have our being".

If we are -in Christ- and He in us we may expect to feel, to sense His presence at times.

As a musician and sometimes worship leader I must confess that my sense of God's immediate presence is not all that frequent while I'm actually leading worship in singing and playing music. Interesting 'eh?! I mean it does happen at times but not super often. But I don't live for that sense of His presence either… I live for HIM.

Relationships come and go. Romance comes and goes. The "warm fuzzies" are there and then disappear and re-appear at various times and stages. In my own life and that of many others I've listened to it's very much the same.

When we seek FEELINGS over FACTS we may well end up with neither. Think about that for a moment please.

I'm not saying I have no emotions nor that I bury them.

Jesus literally commanded us to love God with ALL our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbor as our self.

I think some doubt the very existence of God and the Risen Christ and the immediate Holy Spirit based on their own lack of feeling.

I further think some rarely show genuine care or sacrifice for their needful neighbor based on feelings- or lack of them.

Being a musician, being a creative, passionate person who can be very quickly Intense (caps. intended!) I learned long ago not to simply ride my emotions. To this day when I sin it is more often via my feelings than careful, thoughtful prayer and examination of God's Word.

We MUST feel, but we cannot always be moved or figure we are not being moved by the Spirit merely based on what our individual sense of the presence of God may be.

Jesus is Lord and Savior, our feelings are neither nor can they be!

Somewhere along my journey with Jesus I realized He is truly- TRULY "a VERY PRESENT HELP in trouble" -whether I feel His immediate, manifest presence or not.

Lastly, the presence of the Holy Spirit in the literal sense isn't controlled- nor can it be- by our actions. When God chooses to touch us in such ways, He does so.

We can grieve and quench Him… we cannot stop Him nor Shut Him down or force His absence.

God is OMNIPRESENT.

There is plenty of scripture that speaks to all this… but it was something I thought might be helpful to mention today.

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

GK Weekend Message & Music from California

My new friend Richard is also serving as pastor at M24 Church in Niles, CA.

This past weekend I thoroughly enjoyed his heart and that of the other pastors
and band/worship team (blues and r&b… rockin'!) and their congregation.

Bro. Richard Rangel posted some of the songs I played as well as my message in 3
parts on YouTube. Just search for Glenn Kaiser Sermons and you'll find 'em if
interested.

The message is at core via the late Major Ian Thomas, a wonderful English speaker
who inspired me deeply with this powerful word many years ago.

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

The Homeless & Mental Illness

My recent Cardboard Box cd is focused on homeless people and their plight. About 2/3rds of the money for each cd sale or download of the project goes to Cornerstone Community Outreach, our inner-city Chicago shelter.

Jeremy- a good friend and CCO staffer has once again written a brilliant article worth reading on one part of the issue as to how people live in such situations. Reality is good for us… and Jesus is involved!

The link to the article is here: http://freeingprisoners.blogspot.com/2012/05/mental-ill-and-homeless.html

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

San Jose Area: Niles, California Show & Service Notes

This past weekend I had an amazing time with several cookin' blues bands- Good News Blues, Crimson Blues and the M24 Bluez Band were just a trip to watch and hear! Further, Crimson Blues backed me up on a full set of my own tunes and loaned me some sweet gear so I didn't need to fly all of mine. I also put a few acoustic numbers in the middle… all at the annual Niles antique car show. The pics give you a taste of main street and the stage setup was in front of their old, historic train station.

I thought the weather was gonna cook me, but instead it was the music and very kind people to work with!

Sunday I got to hear the M24's again along with several of their church members of the worship team… it was blues-worship time… amazing stuff, a treat for me!

I was able to bring a bit of music and a message on Sunday- again as in Kansas, great music but even more, sweet, kind people and a pleasure to work with.

Thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn

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