Worship? Really?

worshipSeems I’m some kind of oddity among followers of Jesus in that I find God as well as a lack of Him both outside and inside of His people no matter where, with whom or even to an extent, -how- He is worshiped.

I’m completely serious!

I confess to believing in God as He is portrayed in the Bible, both Testaments, and as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I do indeed believe the Bible to be His Word to humankind.

Jesus taught we must worship the Father “in spirit and in truth”. At very least that calls for integrity in honoring Him (the core def. of worship is to honor, to kiss, to reverence Him in the sense one would in olden times of the king).

But to unpack this, it seems to me that I am the issue, not so much the people, worship leader, team, choir, stained glass, comfortable seats or the lack of (in?) these as to whether I have made what I believe to be real contact with God the Holy Spirit in a particular time and place. Certainly all these have effect on me… but not near as much as my own openness and seeking after Him regardless of the “outside” details. It boils down to my own heart and willingness to hear and interact with Him, no matter what others offer, the outward stimulation, style or other trappings present. HE is always present. Are we?

He is Spirit, seeks to create depths of intimate relationship with His children no matter what/where/when and to at least a large degree, how. He is everywhere all at once and there no place you can go on earth nor outside of it to escape His Spirit.

Yes, sin (what HE calls “sin” clearly in His Word) and lack of focus can and indeed does build elements of separation… but this doesn’t change anything I’ve written so far.

Next, His people are flawed, sin (don’t only “make mistakes” in this life) and are authentic seekers of Him or not, whichever the case may be in any given time and place. It is equally true that many of His people truly do love Him and their neighbors and are genuine worshipers even when you and I don’t recognize them as such.

Neither you, dear reader, nor I -are- God so in the end only He knows what’s going on (or not) in those around us in any worship gathering.

Yes, I know what the Book says about discernment, words of knowledge and wisdom and likewise prophetic gifts. So… anybody out there always manifest any of those gifts flawlessly in all times and situations?? I think not and so does (I suspect) God Himself.

In the end, it’s not worship music, prayer, style of message delivery or even whether it’s Sunday morning or Tuesday afternoon… it’s not whether you’re off by yourself or in a huge group of Christ followers or seekers… it’s all about God, worshiping Him “in spirit and in truth”.

Authentic worship isn’t really about the paint-job, the surface stuff. It’s about the thoughts and intents of our individual (and THEN, corporate) heart towards God. That is… “towards” God, not merely God towards us.

By all this I do not mean to say that none of these other matters that are elements of worship are unimportant… I’m saying the Holy Spirit and likely demons and angels are in every place regardless of these other issues. So what is primary?

WHO do you seek to link with? Is worship all about the details or intimacy with God? How much personal expectation and agenda do you BRING to a worship gathering or even to your “prayer closet” or personal space in the woods or garden or wherever you meet “in secret” with Him?

I find Him as He said we all can: as and when I seek after Him with all my heart. I typically don’t connect with Him when I allow my own vision to overtake HIS desire in the given moment. Please read that again…

I may or may not feel His presence, but I believe honoring God as a worshiper has more to do with faith and action than feelings. I welcome, enjoy and do not discount nor am I even slightly uncomfortable with the endorphin rush… I simply consider it non-essential to loving God and neighbor.

Lastly, if I understand what Jesus tells us are His primary commandments (which of course, boil to love, that is, “agape” meaning God’s own love) we cannot divorce loving Him supremely from loving our neighbor -who may be someone you don’t even like… from the worship of God.

I have written here before that there can be and at times is a wrong and tragic divorce between our involvement in Sunday service song, prayer and listening to God’s Word -and loving our neighbor as ourselves as we go out the door. This disconnect should tell us something about our “worship”, no?

In my view, these are foundational issues regarding worship we just don’t face up to enough.

Things to consider… and thanks for stopping by 🙂

-Glenn

Legal? Says Who?!

One can quote, mis-quote or interpret most any source as a basis for winning, getting the leverage, attempting to gain advantage, justice or at least towards getting ones own way. Sometimes even God would agree. Sometimes He would not.

It’s easy to confuse or worse, deliberately spin or play with “facts” in order to “win”.

People quote hearsay, gossip and slander, liberal or conservative press, solid or skewed histories, theology, science, the U.S. constitution and even the Bible to get control and win an argument or political, business or another kind of “payday”.

Certainly every human beings sense of morality and ethics, concern for good conscience are not -always- ignored or buried. But oh how winning can mean everything to a person.

I preached a message that I am sure bothered a number of peeps some years ago that mentioned how one somewhat understandable view was that Jesus lost, was a loser and that His followers have often been considered losers too.

Nobody loves defeat, loss, pain, or uncertainty about the future. It seems only winners get the good stuff.

Jesus and plenty of His disciples appear to have suffered and indeed lost a great deal. Human history seems much the same. I do believe He was raised alive forever out of that tomb, but this only after a brutal and truly undeserved death.

So consider conquering another country, race, people group, however such victory might be won.

How do we -in the light of God and His Word- always claim moral, ethical and even practical purity and superiority much less the “legality” of such? When is liberation in actuality domination? How many historical references accurately portray love, grace, compassion and respect toward a nation or people group that you, I or others “in our name” conquered?

My point is that all of us have and at times do violate the ten commandments for example, yet demand others live by them. Since when is genuine love a matter of force rather than something given voluntarily?

Indeed, what does love have to do with humans conquering other humans?

We sometimes want to win on the ground of law, and in terms of civil law two major issues come to my mind: the victors create or modify laws often to gain or keep power… and secondly, in a democratic election with winners and losers, losers can fall to temptations driven by self interest, fear and anger at their real, imagined or expected sense of loss now that they’ve lost power. Sometimes what is or is not “legal” is invoked.

Had the result been different some of the same motives and perhaps tactics may have been used by the other side.

Ethics, morals, love, compassion and justice- especially for widows, orphans, the poor, the minorities, the foreigner,  those most marginal are often going to take the hardest hit. Why?

Power, money, winning regardless is the deal. In Jesus’ time on earth it was no different. Before and after He walked the earth yields little difference. Those with the power, money and military win. Those without for the most part, lose. The winners write the laws, the losers just lose.

On top of all this, often those who speak the most (in a spiritual sense) about love and grace vs. legalism and law in the churches are the first to scream for law and order in terms of civil law. They, of course, mean THEIR choice of law, THEIR interpretation of the law, etc.. Make no mistake, the same thing happens if “the other side” wins.

The attitude is all too often: “If I lose don’t expect ‘love your enemies’ or ‘do unto others’ to affect my heart toward you jerks!!”

Did Europeans “legally” colonize? Has the U.S. “legally” done so in every case throughout our history? Has -any- nation or people who subjugated another always done so “legally”… and what truly moral, ethical, legal ground do we stand on when power, control, wealth and fear are core to such decisions?

Certainly there are exceptions. One can make a case for people one likes. One can speak of atrocities in pagan cultures God told Israel to conquer. Does that mean Israel has done no wrong then or since, can do no wrong?

“My country right or wrong” can be cited along with the other sources I’ve already quoted to proclaim “righteousness” about all sorts of immoral, unethical and deeply oppressive acts and laws. History is strewn with this.

When I bring the Bible into this sort of discussion, I mean exactly what I believe the writer meant: “NONE are righteous, not even one”.

It is sooooooo easy to claim moral superiority on the basis of law -until you face the tragic, troubling fact that plenty of times human motives are laced with selfish, immoral, “too-bad-you-lost-dude” attitudes mixed with a heritage of conquest that wasn’t “legal” in the first place.

My own pain often comes from siding with both “friends” as well as “enemies” on the basis of thought, prayer, study and a serious weighing of the bulk of historical facts. Sometimes this puts me in the hot seat with either or even both “sides” of an issue. So be it.

Such is life in a fallen, imperfect world of people like… um… like all of us.

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Oppression and Resistance!

resistanceThis blog post has been brewing up in my mind for quite a few years…

If you live very long you’ll eventually see, hear about and personally deal with these two issues.

First, basic definitions:

keep down by severe, unjust force or authority, weighed heavily on

act or instance of resisting, the capacity to resist, a force that tends to oppose or retard motion, an underground organized to struggle for national liberation in a country under military or totalitarian occupation

There is a time to resist, to rebel, to fight, to move away from if not pull the rug out from under people, societies and institutions you have rightly considered oppressive. There are times when there is sustainable reason and logic in doing so.

No woman being beaten by her partner should quietly allow it. No person of color being threatened or belittled should have to “accept it”.

There are also times one may be in a personal (or shared) fight with God Himself, and the people in question are judged as being worthy of resistance due to what some would call the idea of any “god” oppressive. There have always been plenty of individuals and for that matter, groups who in essence consider themselves to -be- god. This would include atheists, agnostics and believers by the way…

Here is where I both shudder as well as laugh at the “THIS FITS!!!” mentality of those who would call those who disagree with them evil, deluded and truly oppressive… when those on the other side are judging them in the exact same way. Often it’s about who gets their way and little else.

In other words, mere disagreement doesn’t equal right vs. wrong, holy vs. unholy, worthy vs. unworthy of resistance.

If the Bible never said “Thou shalt NOT” (my emphasis) it would go a long way to defuse the argument that religion IS OPPRESSIVE!!! Ha. I as a Christian can just as easily say what I consider others ability and right to sin oppressive to myself and those I love, that much of their manner of thoughts, words and behavior in particular are truly worthy of resistance.

So which of us is correct?

Awww… I’m such a modernist… forget logic, let’s just make our own rules. Better still, there are NO rules. But wait… you (the oppressor…. WANT rule… YOUR RULES! Errr… but you’re saying it’s cool for you to do that, but not me. Hmmm… yeah, let’s not worry about the apparent dichotomy in all this, let’s just EMOTE and WIN the BATTLE AT THE BARRICADES. Sigh…

Sorry comrade, I’m rebelling, See how easy this is? Actually… it’s a train-wreck. And it happens in marriage, families, all sorts of human communities and societies throughout history. It happens within and outside of faith communities.

I am convinced I have never had an enemy as bad as myself, my own ability to choose wrong, hurtful, yes- sinful (by basic Bible, Jesus’ apparent words which define sin) thought, word and deed.

There are those who consider anything they disagree with as worthy of resistance and as oppressive- never willing to face the face that if THEY held the power and ruled the world (or local school board, PTA, city council, State House, presidency, local church, etc., etc.) that others who disagree with them can and at times will claim they are the oppressed.

Communists (see Stalin’s Russia) were clearly as oppressive as Nazis in pre-war and actual WWII times. The German people were split on these and several other political and other grounds, but to say one was truly more righteous and oppressive than the other is in my view not so easily defended. Both parties in the end, considered others in society as repressive with regard to both parties’ claims to power and control. For them it became more about winning than truth, righteousness, moral convictions of what was truly best for Germany. They both got it wrong.

Resisting -both- in either Germany or Russia could and did get plenty of people arrested, tortured and murdered. Are there times to resist, to call out this or that regime as repressive? Certainly!

I have heard the old wag for YEARS about the horrors of the oppressive faith of Christian families, local churches, denominational groups, this or that mission society, etc.. Any truth to these? Of course! Sometimes. So in each and every case the person laying the claim is pure, you’d be happy to have them as a neighbor and blessed if they married your kid or grandkid, right??!

Must one be a Christian or Islamic or Jewish or whatever in order to be correctly labelled oppressive, worthy of resistance, self-seeking? Please!!

“None is righteous, not even one”.

We all find it sooooo easy to take sides and shoot one another. Cain and Abel, over and over in history in and OUTSIDE of any faith or church or this or that society of people.

So obvious but rarely part of the arguments I hear.

There are days I have wished “Oh if only this or that person could live in the same house as you for about 2 or 3 weeks. Your snap judgment on their judgments and positions would be educated beyond your current ability to get who they truly are.”

Indeed, nobody but God REALLY knows another person’s deepest motives. An individual’s apparent (to you or I) lack of love, compassion and justice may well be judged by us but if in the end there is no God and no text (other than another, like myself, flawed human’s personal opinion) worthy of helping me make choices on who to resist and when in fact it is me seeking to control and oppress… well all bets are off for any soul-peace much less the sort of love and non-judgmental society we all say we’re seeking.

Things to think about… or not 🙂
-Glenn

GK Solo Booking Focus for 2014

Glenn Kaiser Booking 2014

My sweet wife Wendi is doing better with pain management due to recent hip injections and adjustment of meds. so she can actually get decent sleep at night. Grace! Eventually one, then the other hip replacement must happen. No hospital set-up yet… this is a long road when you’re poor.

We’ve hit that time of year when folks begin asking for show dates re. blues, speaking, leading worship, etc. and the requests have begun to roll in as per usual.

I’m self-booked if it’s solo or myself with Joe Filisko. GKB booking inquiries go to Ed Bialach at Grrr Records. There are links to all this here in my blogsite and via http://www.grrrrecords.com

Due to my being Wendi’s main care-giver, I am asking for more house concerts, coffeehouse and other shows within a 2 1/2 hour Mapquest radius of 920 W. Wilson Ave. Chicago. This way I can happily do stuff and get back home with Wendi quickly.

Quick in-and-out fly dates are possible as well.

I hope to record and offer fresh music this year soon as all key people are available for sessions.

Lastly, I plan to do busking in Chicago subways and streets this year- been wanting to do street-singing forever!

If interested, please contact me directly via our Grrr Records site -and let’s make some noise!

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

-Glenn

Hobbies?

Being (no offense to my European friends) quite German in my thinking, most of my life I’ve been pretty exacting about what I wanted to do with any spare time… even about play.

Pre-Christian, I’d been so lawless and sinful in thoughts and actions that when I came to saving faith in Jesus I did what plenty of peeps do- especially with my background, social conditioning and dna- I got very tight about what I SHOULD do with leisure time. Not good of course, but as I say, from hard-core-lawless to “some things are spiritually uplifting and others take you down”.

So as I married a wonderful, balanced and sensible girl, she taught me to “stop and smell the roses”.

Hobbies are not in themselves sinful, at least for the most part! And we need to rest, God didn’t tell us to honor the Sabbath for nothing, rather for our own need of rest, reflection and focus on Him and I’d add, family. Work and nothing but work doesn’t only make one “a dull boy” but also in my view, stifles creativity.

Over the years I’ve found a number of very cool hobbies that help me dream, move me beyond the same-old, same-old everyday and have helped me “air out my head”, emotions and sense of expression.

Here is a basic list of my personal hobbies in no particular order. I spend very little or a lot of time playing in them. I find them welcome breaks, learning experiences and just plain fun ways to move beyond what might be mundane or overly stressful life.

Some may surprise you, maybe even as much as they surprised me as I tried and found them a personal pleasure 🙂

Dates- with my dear wife Wendi! Hey, just going to Aldi’s for a couple of things, sitting by the Lake and chatting while we munch, or a stroll through Home Depot or Menard’s is fun with my girl!

Soccer- the real football (used to play a lot, now pretty well just watch).

NFL and CFL football- (watching, not playing).

Flying kites- cheapo and fighter kites friends have given me.

Shooting, Hunting- from old muzzleloaders, modern black powder rifles, .31 derringer and years ago a .44 6 shooter, all these black powder/Pyrodex. Nice boom, lots of smoke. Others- .22’s, shotguns, air rifles, pistols, bb guns. Archery- 55 lb. longbows, recurves, Alpine Extreme fast, short modern bow with release aid. Eventually a crossbow when I finally get time to set it up. Hunting with all these that are legal for small and large game.

Fishing- not as much as I’d like… not a lot of time… but fly fishing as well as spincasting, cane pole and even bow fishing.

Linux Computing- by far my fave operating system though I indeed like Android (Linux tweaked is what that is by the way…).

Guitar-building- And by this I mean simple 1, 2, 3 string cigarbox or found-object builds. I purposely keep ’em simple and creative. Even the stuff I sell isn’t so much about money but the joy of creating these.

Junk-store, Garage ard Yard-sales- On a good day with 10 bucks Wendi and I have sure had fun and have gotten great deals for little.

Sitting quietly in Woods, Park or Garden- Indeed, this is a major tonic to me. Better still if there’s a creek or pond near.

Taking a walk- with my Wendi especially nice!

Studying History- I’ve always wanted to learn all I could about people groups, other nations, tribes, customs and culture so between other means such as travel, books and meeting people where I live (done all these a lot) with the internet and PBS, National G. mags and tv, etc., there is so much to learn.

So these are just a few of the ways I refresh and come away with new ideas for any number of projects.

I do a lot of giving thanks to God for and while doing each of these hobbies, in some cases pray a fair bit (about people, events and all sorts of things) while engaging in several of them.

So how about you? Do you take time to depressurize or is it all work and legal obligation? A guy who reallllly likes to get things done is asking 🙂 !

Something to think about.

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn