Friday… Then Sunday

It has been said and written some thousands of times: Good Friday comes before Easter.

How often and sure, normal it is to want to skip right through to Easter. Believe me, this reality is more real to me as I age, but it was of course present when I was young as well.

“Getting it over with” is not a synonym for any of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Galatians chapter five! Nope.

Love, joy, peace, patience (!), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control? Nada. Simply blowing through and past difficulties in life means “not learning much at all”.

I often mention the word Jesus uses for “disciple” means “a listener, learner”, and unless we pay attention to God and others (yes, God indeed tells us things via other people as well as directly, via His Word the Bible, etc.) we often simply regress and default to a “getting it over with” life.

What sort of facial expression do you see when you read such words? A smile? An expression of peace? The face of a kind, compassionate servant? Maybe a frown or teeth-gritting anger?

Oh yes, I too have a mirror and have had to face “speed bumps” and even “off-road blowouts” in my journey. So have you- or you sure enough will, trust me on this!

So what do we do, who do we go to, how do we navigate getting nailed to the cross on Friday? How do we get to Easter morning and resurrection?

Jesus “set His face like a flint”, pushing on ahead to a Jerusalem He full well knew would applaud Him on what we call “palm Sunday”… and ultimately reject Him next weekend.

Hebrews 12

1. Therefore let us also, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses

GK- On earth -and- in heaven, Jesus present with we who believe and follow Him, God the Holy Spirit giving us the COMFORT and power to:

lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us

GK- Most of us carry more than we should (metaphor alert!) and at times make unwise choices that burden us, as well as just sin, choose those things that God calls “missing the mark”, wasting our time and ourselves on rubbish, then by these, get tangled up and pulled under.

and let us run with patience the race that is set before us

GK- And that is the only way to make it through the long walk over many miles, years and rough nights. God fully knows what is happening though we do not- and Jesus fully knew what was coming His way and STILL out of love, love and love, faced and took the pain.

looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher, Pioneer and Perfecter of faith

GK- There is NO better example of servant-love, faith, obedience than Jesus Christ, and Good Friday is only “good” due to Him and these truths.

who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross

GK- Ahhhh, so, could we please move past this?? Sure, I get it, but the answer is, much of the time, “No, not just yet. Trust and obey Me, look to ME and be radiant” rather than quick deliverance. Things grow in the valley, not on the mountaintop.

despising its shame

and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

GK- I can hear some reader’s minds shouting: “Hey, THEY LIED, HE or SHE WWWWWRRRRROOOONNNNNGGGGGEEEEDDDD AND HURT, HURT, HURT ME, WHERE WAS GOD THEN, HUH??!!!” Jesus did not say it as such, but for one moment on the cross instead cried out “God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?!” Hmmm… I wonder why He asked a question He surely knew the answer to: for love of us. He also said while crucified in the place of an actual, guilty murderer and dying between two thieves: “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.” Think on that, especially the first line…

Jesus is the despised one yet He Himself despised and rejected the shame with regard to what his enemies did to Him! What they thought of Him was not -in one sense-, the issue in terms of them causing His suffering, rather out of love for the Father and for THEM (you, me dear reader!) He accepted the undeserved suffering. He, unlike us, in no way deserved the rejection, the cross, the extreme pain. Bad Friday? No. Good. Easter is coming.

He now sits at the right hand of God in His glory, the glory few seemed to recognize on Good Friday, though a very few caught a glimpse. A Roman soldier exclaimed “Truly, this must be the Son of God!” Jesus “entrusted Himself to One who judges justly”. Do we? Or do we just despise the whole experience and perhaps even get bitter toward God and “our enemies”?

Our “rightful place” is coming, and though this is often far “off the charts” in the middle of our grief- it ALL has to do with His grace and love toward us.

For consider him who has endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, that you don’t grow weary, fainting in your souls.

GK- Plenty rough moments in life have nothing to do with others, rather with ourselves, circumstances, weather, our physical bodily ailments, disease, etc. while certainly a fair bit of pain comes via our relationships (at times wrecked, codependent, sinful, hurtful).

“Oh if My people would LISTEN to Me…” from the Psalms…

We all get weary, sometimes we faint, we just want Friday to END. I understand. Me too at times.

Remember this: EASTER IS COMING.

Thanks for stopping by, -Glenn

Addiction Treatment Thoughts

There are a zillion pundits brighter than I and of course, professionals who will agree, disagree or both- but here are my present thoughts from personal and longtime association with addiction and also addicts of many shades and substance.

If you or someone you love deals with addiction, PLEASE read this entire blog post or you may well find it depressing. My goal is to deal with reality, not provide false hope- and I live far more in recovery than not -I fully believe and have experienced that freedom CAN happen for anyone!

In no specific order:

“GET SAVED, YOU WILL BE FREE”

If this were THE deal, simple and done, there would be no professing Christians, no Spirit-filled Christians, no -any- genuine Christ-follower who ever had to deal with ongoing battles… not only with addiction but any sort of what the Bible calls sin, period.

No honest, longtime believer who has any personal integrity much less experience with others at a deeper level will agree that once a person walks in authentic saving faith that ALL IS WELL FOREVER. We all know this sadly, is just not the case.

My own experience is that my daily and true relationship with God- Father, Son, Holy Spirit, daily Bible study and several -other- things in my life on a regular basis indeed HAVE set me free from past and nagging addictions: drug, alcohol, sexual, material, power and etc., but to say “THIS IS IT- END OF STORY” is simply a very rare case.

And I am not even beginning to discuss issues of personal temptation, ongoing issues with this or that local or larger church, unresolved family or marital issues -within- Christian people… To say nobody ever fails after what may be a true core surrender to Jesus is simply untrue and we all know it.

What better place for broken sinners than a local congregation, a church? But think about it: you then have a place where broken sinners may act out just as they did prior when hanging out with the other set of broken sinners.

“GET TREATMENT”

No matter where you turn (and you should, I have and carry zero shame for doing so!) whether a 12 Step, Christ-centered 12 Step or other program, Teen Challenge, etc. various other sorts of rehab facilities (faith-based or not) -anyone with experience finds less than a one-hundred percent recovery rate REGARDLESS OF TREATMENT type. Again, as my salvation in Christ, I have benefited and been greatly helped by 12 Step work but know plenty of people who continue to abuse X, Y or Z even after repeated treatment. Yes, there are a number of reasons, but treatment in and of itself is not the one-size-fits-all solution either.

“GET REAL FRIEND/S, A SPONSOR, SOUL-FRIEND”

Yes, yes, yes, and more than one and if possible, who can help you in all three of these areas. Regular -actual- friends who deeply care for your welfare but also have the courage to speak truth and confront (even “intervention”) in love and out of genuine (notice words like “real”, “genuine” and “authentic” being used in this blog?) love and compassion… along with at least -some- knowledge and wisdom, even the sense and connections to link you with God and treatment folks who deal with these issues regularly are all a major help.

I HAVE gotten by with more than “a little help from my friends”, a lot of help from such people has in large part kept me sane, sober and free of addictions! The old blues song (which I cite in another post in my blog) “Bad Company” (Brought Me Here) is equally true and it is often the case even after one is clean and sober that falling back or acquiring new “bad companions” as the Book says “corrupts good morals” and you have a relapse. I have seen it quite a few times. I did it in my younger days.

See the last paragraph above re. church. Not every basketball player is Michael Jordan. A person with love, guts and sense is a major help, but by no means the whole solution.

“GET A JOB, HOBBY, GET HEALTHY, GET HELPFUL TASKS THAT KEEP YOU OCCUPIED”

It is certainly true that we all need clothing, shelter, food, water and basic elements of survival. How we get them is another matter. One -can- live in the street, the forest, an abandoned building, subsistence living (fish, hunt, forage, food from garbage cans, etc.) or prostitute one’s self, deal drugs, steal, etc., to get basic needs met. One can perhaps find a homeless shelter or crash at houses of friends, couch surf. There are a lot of ways one can “exist” and live off of their wits, via crime or “skim” off of others. But finding a job is hard, finding one you actually enjoy and can perform well with a boss and workmates you like… that can be nearly impossible. Getting hired and keeping a job is another issue.

There are a huge amount of “functional addicts” who hold a job though drug, booze or sexual addicts. If a steady job and the will to keep it were the sole answers… but they are not.

Now consider all I have written and add actual biological mental illness and maybe even another disease or even diseaseS. Might such a person wish to “self-medicate” to ease the pain, in order to grasp some sort of acceptable/semi-acceptable (to them) “quality of life”?

DOES physical exercise help with addiction recovery? Absolutely. I work out daily and can say from long experience physical exercise plus having a steady job (actual several of them that each take time in my typical week) keep me “gainfully employed” in very positive ways. These both help keep me sober in the practical sense.

The average person might consider my life, generally speaking, that of a missionary, and most aspects of my service entail “helpful” (certainly to some folks) tasks that indeed also help me keep my mind off of the worst tyrant I know… “Me, Me, Me”. Being a slave to one’s self is the worst addiction I know -and it feeds the other addictions I have been writing about here. It is the last addiction to go, this narcissism that destroys. It does not go quietly.

MY PERSONAL CONCLUSION

How different from the misery, the darkness versus light and love that heals, makes healthy, keeps one clean and sober and attenuates the ability to see, hear and actually help others out of their addictions while also keeping one’s own temptations to excess and negative “acting out” at bay.

The fact is that my own sobriety has unfolded due to inclusion of ALL of the above areas.

Facing and accepting the reality of the struggle, the very real pains and non-joy-ride life-changes that ALL of the above has brought my way IS part of the journey.

A Bible teacher once taught: “We do not realize how far we have fallen until we try to climb back up”.

I refuse to paint or spin an “easy path”, a “one-size-fits-all” solution to the depths one can fall and be enslaved by addiction. Practicing addiction (no matter which “monkey” you have allowed to ride and control you) is ultimately overcome by other practices, many of which I have listed here. Addiction can be and IS overcome by many.

I cannot claim faith in the Risen Christ alone solves the problem/s. I DO claim He, present in and with me, has given me the power to overcome and accept as well as apply the practical tools I mention here. Such tools are no mystery to plenty of others who have indeed found strength and even continued freedom from various addictions through them, yes, even without spiritual faith in the One True God and His Son Jesus.

This is my personal experience from many years and many conversations, even lengthy relationships with people who have never trusted Jesus in any sense.

At the same time it indeed seems to me that humans of all sorts often trade one addiction for another. Yes. And one arguing with me on this may well say “YOU did it with an addiction to spirituality” to which I can happily say “Yes.”

This God in Whom I believe and experience a daily relationship with not only brought me this far, but I fully expect will bring me freedom, home and relationship for eternity. None of the other helps I mention here can nor will.

Meanwhile, if you believe you don’Θ› deal with any addictions whatsoever, I would say you likely have faith in a mythology that is more faith and fiction than fact. I am well aware some reading this will claim the very same about me and still I fully believe what I just wrote to be true. Some of your habits are quite positive. Plenty of addictions are in themselves a false god which by your accompanying worship, ultimately steal, kill and destroy.

Christ IS life. He has truly changed mine in the best sense.

Feel free to write me anytime! And thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

His, yours, -Glenn

Chicago Spring Snow, Amps, Recording, Linux, Etc.

It is truly SPRING in Chicago! Well… a few flakes from the sky last night but hey… πŸ™‚

Chicago March 23 Snow

Chicago March 23 Snow

So I fully enjoyed the a.m. service at Wilson Abbey yesterday.

Along with my new amp πŸ™‚

Percolator Head

Percolator Head

My schedule loomed large to the extent I realized I just could not devote the needed time nor space to assemble my new Percolator Amp from Zeppelin Design Labs- but bless em, they GAVE me one and she cranked this morning as well as on a recording I did last week. YES. And BIG Thanks to Brach and Glen, you guys rock and help me do the same πŸ™‚

Percolator Head, Cab, Epi Shereton, GKs Strat

Percolator Head, Cab, Epi Shereton, GKs Strat

Yes, recording a song, sometimes 2, each week for a solo blues project, all cigarbox/found object guitars, bit of harmonica, etc.. Little by little.

Using all sorts of homebrew gits on this project.

Typing this on the latest version of Austrumi Linux, a free computer operating system done by some cool techie peeps in Latvia. Yep. Have used several versions over the years, but I think this is the best, amazing speed on old hardware such as the pc I am using at my desk. And in fact, the entire system fits and works from a usb stick, loads into ram and just cooks. Nice, kudos to my Latvian friends for a COOL Linux distro!

Etc.- well, I both myself (solo) and GKB are finalizing a number of shows here and in Europe for this year.

And as I mentioned in an earlier blog, I am super excited to finally, Lord wiling, get out to the Chicago streets, subway, etc., and busk with cigarbox gits, harps and bring some blues-n-truth to the street. A bit cold in Chicago right now but in a couple more weeks it will be time… yahoo!

Other things going on, all good… but later.

Now if my fave team (Chicago Fire) would begin putting the ball in the net and win some… !

Thanks for stopping by, -Glenn

Friends -and Wet Cement

Had a very vivid dream last night.

I normally dream quite a bit but only rarely remember much about my dreams. Waking this morning I remembered it all.

So I was hanging out with a pastor friend (this happens to be a real buddy of mine who lives in another state) and a number of his friends who were all together at his property on the edge of town.

We were getting ready to head off to a venue, changing clothes, etc., getting ready to head out for sound check and an evening show where I was about to play.

A couple of rides were waiting out front.

It was a warm day and we’d had a picnic as well as helped pitch in to a building project he and his wife were doing, adding on some sort of building with a cement foundation and had helped them pour concrete for it.

So I walked out back of the house having put my clothes in a bag to take to the venue. I was still in shorts and T-shirt, chatting with a few of the guys near where the concrete was poured.

A couple bare foot marks had been playfully left in the wet cement on the edge of the foundation, and as I stepped over those putting my foot down on what I thought was dry, nearly went straight down into a much deeper hole of very wet cement. It hadn’t looked all that deep actually. A couple of my buddies had their eyes on me and watched as I took that step.

Had they not both suddenly grabbed me the show would have been pretty quiet as I’d have been literally over my head in cement!

“I get by with a little help from my friends” πŸ™‚

Ever had a dream like that? Ever experienced life like that?

Sometimes we can be so ignorant, so impatient or stubborn or just not praying attention that we need a friend, or two or three of ’em- to grab us by the arms and keep us from “going under” by our own foolish mistakes.

I’ve been there and expect I’ll be there again.

Accountability can look very much like that. We think we have knowledge, even wisdom we don’t have. We make choices based on personal desires and unthinkingly step in a deep hole.

Luther said “Councils have erred and do err”. No doubt. I’m convinced individuals living a self-focused life are even more prone to error.

Whether I’m right or wrong on that one, perhaps it’d be smart to ask yourself who your friends are, if you really have any who “watch your back” and if you ever get solid, even godly, scriptural advice from them.

This world includes plenty of wet cement.

Just sayin’.

Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

At The River of Life

Thinking about my friend Don who recently passed. And thinking about my sweet Wendi, kids, sons-in-law, grandkids, massive and amazing family of faith. Will demo this in a couple of days.

Jesus is unchanging and forever. You can believe Him or not, but I know why I’m no longer the addict and miserable person I was in my younger days. Grace and surrender… He gives one and enables the other.

Thanks for stopping by! Love, -Glenn

AT THE RIVER OF LIFE

glenn kaiser -mar. 15, 2015

It seemed so sudden
But of course it was not
We knew all along,
Just you and I
Ain’t all we got
In the passage of time
What we shared was a gift
As the tides ebb and flow
And the molecules shift

-bridge:
I will love you
Forever
But only the Son will not change
Though I leave
It’s not forever
Night will surely be swallowed by day

-chorus:
At the river
Of Life
Where the sun
Never sets,
Darlin’ I
Wait for you
In time without end

v.2:
Through the joys
Through the sorrows
So many todays and tomorrows
Love, fussing, laughter
Family
Friends, all the music
Grace, we”ll never lose it
Giving thanks, for all we shared
You and me

But oh at the river
Of Life!
Where the table
Has been set
And the face
Of our Savior
We shall see
Yes at the river
Of Life
Where the sun
Never sets,
Jesus, you, and I
Eternally

Solo

At the River of Life
In the love beyond all loves
In our Father’s house
Forever
We shall be-
At the river
Of Life
Where the Son
Ever shines,
Together,
Forever
You and me

ACTIVISM- WHERE, WHY, HOW?

GKeyesOne joy of my life is that there are truly more and more stories via news outlets in general, online news sources, other social media sites as well as movies being made that highlight issues of importance to the human experience.

And they often cause us to sit up, pray attention (that’s not a typo) and hopefully think hard and deeply about what we need to DO as opposed to just “think for 3 seconds and click on something else” or hit the remote to change channels.

There are specifically three caveats to activism I want to focus on- in a moment.

Overall I am truly thankful that what I’ll call “hippie interaction” which I was part of in the 60’s and 70’s -is back in full-force. Perhaps (one can hope!) with more passion and genuine concern for a more just and gracious world.

But I’m also not holding my breath.

Years of living, study of human history (local, regional, national and world histories) and personal experience tell a story that serves us well.

Consider Selma and civil rights marches, walks/runs to support returning vets, the homeless, human trafficking, cancer or other life-threatening diseases as examples of what wonderful activism can accomplish. It can bring at least a measure, sometimes a GREAT measure of forward progress and a better, more positive way of life. Some activism (say, 9/11 or the Boston bombing, Klan marches) do quite the opposite.

Why are not more people willing to live a more positive life of activism?

WHY WE DO NOT:

While young with few bills, lots of energy, great passion and often no spouse, kids or in some cases hardcore day-job to worry about one can be a super-activist. As any, most or even more such elements change the personal cost of involvement begins brings a cross plenty just find too much to bear.

Publicizing strong views and acting to back them up not only creates friends but enemies. Name any issue you like (including of course, politics or religion, etc.) and you can easily understand strong emotions, “our way of life” and people can become very mean indeed. Many prefer the relative safety of being anonymous, quiet fence-sitters, or plain silent.

This is why I have learned to tread a bit more lightly on those who do not seem to be willing to pay the price of engagement in positive activism re. a load of issues most people care deeply (as we should) about. It can be time-consuming, overwhelming, depressing and/or simply a burn-out factor that many cannot reconcile dealing with, certainly not very often, much less on a regular basis.

Does than mean we sit on our hands and do nothing in the face of deep need? I cannot. Hopefully most reading this cannot!

SOME OF WHY SOMETIMES, WE SHOULD NOT:

In Romans 10, verse 2 Paul (writing about another issue) says something that very much relates to activists like myself at times… but it took some years for me to recognize: “For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.”

I have often had a passion to set racism, the justice system, the prison/jail system, this or that church or denomination, this or that fill-in-the-blank X, Y, Z RIGHT… but had little or no actual verifiable knowledge and even less wisdom of the facts to the extent I could “fix” much of anything with regard to the issue.

In the U.S. (and of course, elsewhere even with more than two parties) political opponents on both sides of the aisle speak truth but also spout propaganda. As an Independent I can tell you there are extremes and at times raw nonsense coming from both. The Tea Party, Libertarians and the rest certainly produce their share as well. Are ALL these people “whack jobs” or “ignorant dolts” with regard to this, that or another issue? I’d say no, that would paint them all with a very wide brush. But oh how they scream near election time! How they often lie like the devil to move both their supporters (“give ’em red meat!”) to volunteer and rush to the polls!

This is so the norm that it contributes to one of several reasons a lot of folks refuse to vote at all. They don’t trust the people, system, process nor that their voice matters. So they sit on the couch and do nothing thinking that’s the best response.

I fully disagree. But at the same time KNOWLEDGE, not propaganda nor conjecture nor “the one with the most money, p.r. campaign, the most adverts on tv, radio and the web WINS”… Sadly, in part due to the lack of activism, such a candidate often does win. Arggggh!

Actual, verifiable knowledge of the issue/s, serious study and not knee-jerk reaction, patience over time and the willingness to be plain wrong in your judgment is all part of the process of learning. Further, we need not only knowledge, but wisdom. That is, what is best to DO with knowledge. This seems often in very short supply. It all takes a fair bit of time and “makes my head hurt” so activism that truly brings health and healing is often left wanting.

Some activism seems to display a great deal more heat than light. Some merely destroys and does not bring healing or positive change.

Anonymous sniping (American Sniper in another form) coupled with selfishness along with an unwillingness to face up to one’s own personal mess (there’s not a person on the planet without it) has also perverted, bent and in some cases sent people far from a righteous, positive activism. The “snake in the grass”, online troll (whew, just read any large news outlet’s responses from readers on most any political story) will cause you to wonder if anyone has a brain or really deals at a level of depth enough to get facts vs. fiction, reality over rhetoric and in particular- care, much less love people they disagree with.

It’s sad and at times maddening when you sense the all-too-common “YEAAAAAH… -NAIL- THE SUCKER!” attitude.

Hey, I feel exactly the same at times until I recall the apostles asking Jesus about the people who weren’t “with” them: “Lord, shall we ask God to rain down fire on them?” Jesus responded “You don’t know what Spirit you are of!”

Is it reality, truth, love and kindness or a slow-burn agitation, raw fear or win-at-all costs that move us to such a twisted response to those we disagree with or situations we think we must actively engage in?

Finally, if you spend any time with my lyrics, blogs/tweets, spoken messages or span of my lifetime you’ll likely agree that I’m far more guilty of activism than a passive/who cares/”whatever” life.

“Study to show yourself approved, a workman toward God, rightly dividing the Word of truth”. “Get knowledge”. “Get wisdom”. “…by no private interpretation”. The Bible is FULL of solid, right truths that speak to loving, positive involvement for justice. See Micah 6.8 please!

I’m well aware that to some Christians, nearly ALL churches who even use the term or terms like “social justice” are considered washed-out liberals (theologically and otherwise) and must be considered useless at best, evil at worst.

Read Matthew chapter 25 and try to argue such a point regarding the active love of God and neighbor!

The local election season is here in Chicago, is heating up around the U.S. and of course we will hear more extreme views, sound bites and view “in THIS corner” political pundit “boxing matches” up until and even after the presidential election.

God HELP us think deeply, pray harder and love with Your love as we consider the issues.

Thanks for stopping by this old hippie/activists blog πŸ™‚ -Glenn