Who Needs Moderation?

I mean really, it doesn’t get the headlines and it just isn’t sexy. You don’t say, write or do things in moderation to get people off their couches and activated right?

Longtime friend and mentor George Verwer wrote a book many years ago titled “Revolution of Love and Balance”.

As founder and director of Operation Mobilisation, himself continuing on in special projects and missions world-wide, he had/has pretty well “seen it all”.

In his writings, speaking and personal conversations he shares a deep concern for extremism (that is, it ain’t good!) while yet loving people, even appreciation and understanding of how they came to various extreme views and practices rightly concern/ed George.

But as I’ve often said, Americans are not known for balance! We are known as some of the world’s most extreme people.

Any time I’ve joked about “our amazing sense of moderation” while on tour in say, Europe, I always get plenty of smiles and laughs. Our reputation for excess is rather expected and in truth, easy to validate from history. Of course, we as a nation are not alone in this and again, most of the world is intelligent enough to know that as well.

We are largely considered some of the most kind, open, giving people while at the same time some of the most dogmatic, “THIS is the WAY to DO X, Y or Z… you NEANDERTHAL” self-righteous, judgmental, un-gracious peeps on the planet also. Human nature apart from the lordship (yes!) of Jesus lands us there all too often.

The first time my eyes fell across the Bible text “Let your moderation be known to all people” I remember thinking “Wow! How is THAT even possible?”

We live, get hurt, hurt others, get truly “burned” (rightly or wrongly decide we were/are), come up with ways to cope.

Sometimes we’re so angry or unforgiving, so judgmental that we decide the only way to fix the mess is “go back to square one”, “re-create the wheel”, toss all sense of proportion and balance to the wind and just start over in an extreme fashion. “THIS will save me!” is the mindset. “This self-medication will fix me.” I get that. I’ve DONE that.

Getting stuck is easier than getting free because “where ever you go, there you are.”

To be sure, there are times the carpet is so damaged by the busted plumbing that the only sensible (and workable) response is to send it to the rubbish and go find a new rug. Got that.

Then again, there is “throwing out the baby with the bath water”. There is creating something we LIKE better than is not intrinsically better for us, or for others. Or we demand everyone else join our circus and help feed our monkey so to speak. There is the view we are correct and have “the deeper truth and higher light” and it’s just too bad (or “let ’em cook in their mess, maybe that’s what they need”) others are so stupid in how they choose and live.

Again, in some cases with some individuals or groups of them such a view may be spot on, really and truly correct! Hmmm: sometimes you judge exactly as you’ve been judged. The new boss really IS the same as the old boss… only you’re the boss now and that feels more safe and secure. At least it’s more to your personal liking. Plenty of us like extremism. Often, age and experience (hangovers of all sorts in life…) bring the wisdom and stability that comes from taking time and thought before running to the extremes.

Just as among various cultures, subcultures (think about WHY subcultures exist within larger cultures) and ethnic groups, nations, regions within nations- there so many options, common but also different experiences and views along a wide, wide spectrum, so it is among Christ-followers.

Being gracious with our differences is often not our go-to motive nor attitude as we consider the individual or group. Sometimes we just negatively judge. Often, this seems based upon our own sense of taste, style, right-and-wrong, or even perhaps flawed (or correct but sans love and compassion) interpretation of scripture.

As I age I truly appreciate the phrase “your mileage may vary” or in social media, YMMV, meaning “For me, this was GREAT but you may have a very different experience and outlook on it”. That’s a reality most extremists aren’t willing to admit as truth.

Myself and many I serve with in Jesus People U.S.A. in Chicago have long loved and quoted Proverbs 11.1 “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord but a just weight is His delight”. You can end up in the “abomination” category on either side of the scale.

A.W. Tozer said many wise things, one of which was “It says and it also says” in dealing with The Bible itself, “the perfect law of liberty”, the “sure Word” of God.

We choose, decide to have faith in something and “go for it” and that’s the only way anyone can actually move along in life whether correct or incorrect or whatever percentage of both at the same time. In the end, we all make plenty of mistakes. EVERYONE is out of balance sometimes.

But again- extreme statements (“shock spirituality”?) gets the press. I believe being radical for its own sake is essentially useless. Throughout world and Christian history we see great and horrible things said and done in the name of “a better way”. “The Final Solution” actually seemed correct to some at one point in Germany. Did ALL Germans know about it or when they did, thought it excellent?!! Absolutely not.

How does one obey the command of Christ to “Love your enemies” when and if, they are fellow Christ-followers (who in your view, take a far “lesser” road)?

I suppose in part by careful, honest personal inventory and re-checking the Bible, prayer, and by deciding you will both listen to and sacrificially love [those]- the “them” who are part of “us” even if they aren’t part of your personal posse. And this, my friends, is the price many often neglect in their sense of knowing and living “a more perfect way”, the way of love.

The “better way” IS love. Forgiveness. Understanding. Grace. Compassion. Mercy. Not “Do it MY way because THIS is the WAY of God!” Yep, form is never substance.

It seems to me we are all victims of our chosen lifestyle and though God may well have called us and delivered us through it, to somehow think we have right to judge or worse, condemn all others on the basis of our own “exalted knowledge and revelation” is often the very thing we left “the others” to escape!

Humility calls us to take great care in our embracing an extreme position. Love calls us to be very careful with our own heart and attitude toward others when tempted to self-righteousness in negatively judging others for not taking the same view as we have.

The results of extremism are clear throughout history. May we learn and think long and hard before we choose it.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

-Glenn

Anger, Shame, Positive Resourcing

I expect all of the above to happen re. this blog for those (all who give a rip about humans in urban America… or should!!!) who read through the linked article. I will simply say that I am not 1/8th as upset over mentally ill, even full-on rebellious young travellers, chronic addicts or military veterans who end up homeless for a LOAD of reasons both deserving -and indeed, in some senses by some judgments undeserving- of our mercy and grace (yes… UNmerited favor, that is what God’s grace is… NONE of us EARN or DESERVE it)… as I am of the hard-hearted, ignorant attitudes that especially those who call ourselves Christians sometimes demonstrate toward these people. End of rant.

God help us help others.

Please read and consider. These are human beings and sometimes they actually behave with more compassion than many of us not in their situation. Face it. Get involved in your town. Pray. ACT, don’t just wag your tongue or decide with the oft-used cop-out that “they’ve EARNED the mess, they simply reap what they sow”. I tremble that I could reap what I have sown because my righteousness is also filthy rags according to The Book.

Loving our neighbor as ourselves. commandment of Jesus, no?!!

View profile at Medium.com

Her article “No Toilets For The Homeless” is the deal. Please read it all, there are solutions and links to them.

Thank you for loving “in deed and in truth”. -Glenn

January Cold

In our hemisphere “the dead of winter” is January. It can get very, very cold and the most bright and sunny days are also the coldest.

Chicago is famous for it’s wind- both politicians and actual blowing winds, mostly from the west or northwest and whew, it can just freeze one’s bones to walk around in such weather unless you are truly dressed for it.

This is part of why it is so hard to face those poor people who by choice (often mental illness or addiction issues, past problems with shelters, on it goes) or with no other option sleep outdoors. We do what we can to reach out to them. Every single one is somebody’s son or daughter, mother or father, brother or sister. Imagine one of your own in zero degree weather with a pile of blankets and IF lucky, a tent.

From a very different angle, some of my fondest (as well as stark) memories are a juxtaposition with feeling like ice inside my heart and the warmth of God’s love, His immediate presence, the kindness of some of His people towards me even when I had nearly nothing to give them.

I was never fully the “Beggar in the Alleyway” my wife Wendi sang about from an early Rez Band record, but I came very, very close. Spiritually, I was absolutely that beggar.

Seems a while back I blogged about sleeping under bushes on Milwaukee’s lakefront on a very cold night at some point prior to following Jesus. I would have been about 16 or 17 at the time. I hardly slept and was freezing all night. Crazy. Not fun.

Then I remember very clearly busing around the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with early Resurrection Band. I mean cold and snow times. From Duluth, Superior, Houghton, Baraga, and other up nort’ places where you were SO thankful for a heater that worked, warm blankets, a hot pasty (Finnish/Cornish savory baked dish) and most of all, friends to share those times with.

Lake Superior, Michigan, the bays and much of the countryside up there is lonely. You can see for a long way on clear days. If outdoors, except for possible ice cracking on lakes or creeks at night the quiet is extreme. Solitude over-against the warmth of not being alone, serving God with friends and The Friend, best of all.

So many concerts, speaking situations, visits to universities, colleges, coffeehouses, churches in those parts. So many amazing relationships built in those early days.

Chatting with a friend of mine this past weekend, he mentioned how kind and gracious so many in little traditional churches were to him. He was a hot mess and knew it, but all the horror talk about being talked down to and not accepted wasn’t his experience. It varies of course, but it was a minority of those sorts of people I met in the local churches throughout my early walk with the Lord. We certainly freaked many of ’em out with our hair, hippie clothes and cranking loud music, even with elements (mostly white folks up there) of blues/African-American styles. I suppose they could pick up plenty of us were heart-attack serious about Jesus and His Word, as well as open to hearing their views. THAT made the difference, at least in most cases. Still does.

As I write here in the inner city I am somehow reminded of those many journeys, the wood fires, saunas and amazing times of worship I have shared in the Upper Midwest. Plenty of young peeps who had zero to do with Christians much less any local church gathering came to the shows and services, and many -many- came to saving faith. A fair number of pharisees in those churches had their heads and hearts changed by God’s grace. Some we just forgave and moved on.

Time for another cup of coffee as I type.

Time for every purpose under heaven. A time to work and advocate for those in the cold, and to consider and grow beyond the coldness in our hearts by loving, serving, forgiving:

In the street, among “churchies” and no matter- because Jesus loves them all… even me and you 🙂

That’s what’s amazing about His grace!

As always, thanks for stopping by.

-Glenn

Finding Yourself?

Classic phrase, that. And of course there are plenty of comments on the issue one can find if you search online, etc..
IllinoisMap
For example, C.S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity”:

-in writing to followers of Jesus:

“Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no [one] who bothers about originality will ever be original whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom, Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

Another interesting quote in my view, from a rather trippy dude who imho, got the following nearly 100 percent correct:

“When you’re unhappy, you get to pay a lot of attention to yourself. And you get to take yourself oh so very seriously. Your truly happy people, which is to say, your people who truly like themselves, they don’t think about themselves very much. Your unhappy person resents it when you try to cheer him up, because that means he has to stop dwellin’ on himself and start payin’ attention to the universe. Unhappiness is the ultimate form of self-indulgence.” ― Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

My life has been a gift. All life in fact, is of course. But in particular, I have only rarely very felt truly lost, choked by deep misery I have seen so many experience. I mean, I can list several horrid experiences that have stayed with me after many years, but overall, I fully admit mine has been a rather gracious ride -so far.

I don’t sit around “waiting for the bottom to drop out”. On the occasion it seems to it’s not much of a surprise in this sinful, fallen world along with my own ability to sin or simply make mistakes.

I also really try to keep my focus UP and OUT (God, others) and so much of my life is not about me, what I do or how I feel as such.

On the practical side, to me, purpose and meaning, “finding myself” involves recognizing my sins, clear inadequacy, arrogance/insecurity, fails -and plenty of them over my lifetime!

But as I forgive, so I am forgiven. I don’t LIVE in the mire.

What I AM concerned about is making PROGRESS both spiritually and relationally. A lot of my time is spent in things I believe are (to God and often others) PRODUCTIVE. So it’s not (nor has typically been) about “finding myself” but rather “What, Lord God, do You want me to do? How might I best spend and steward my energies, time, life?”

One day it’s one or six different things, the next day may be truly different. I change “hats” all the time.

For some, of course, the “shifting of gears” (in our automatic transmission culture) can feel like grace or a royal pain depending on your perspective.

I REALLY enjoy finishing what I have started (re. any project) and so “interruptions” which happen all the time can threaten to bring me out of peace, love, kindness and into “argggh…” but of course I interrupt people constantly just as I am regularly interrupted.

But I find that the relationships I need, seek, foster with both God and others are so much more about attitude and servanthood (on my part) than “finding myself”.

My sense of peace, indeed happiness and real joy comes regardless of the task. Or geography. Or subculture. Or politics. Or weather.

As we make spiritual and relational progress (by dying to self as C.S. Lewis wisely and accurately put it) we find that otherwise allusive happiness people about kill themselves and others to somehow grasp.

It is in BEING GRASPED BY THE TRUE GOD and in faith, surrendering that we begin to gain “ears to hear” and I believe, the unfolding of our true purpose/s for our time on earth.

Of course, THIS here ain’t heaven! But in what you are reading you find what I believe is a recipe for peace and a fruitful (rather than constant regretful and self-focused) life.

“For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
-Col. 3.3

Yes.

Things to consider perhaps?

As always, thanks very much for stopping by. -Glenn

GK in Hoopeston, IL Jan. 16,17

So pleased knowing we’ll see many of our friends this coming weekend! And looks like Wendi will be with me 🙂 Sat. night a mix of worship, unplugged and blues… Sun. both services I’ve been asked to share my personal story. Looking forward even as I look back.
Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn
gkblogpic.jpg
Glenn Kaiser Solo
Hoopeston, IL
Saturday, January 16 CONCERT
Sunday, January 17 MESSAGE
@ First Church of God
1004 East Orange St.

Misc.- Healing, MO Trip, Homes For Heroes Chicago Update

A quick update and a few links to an important area of service. I truly dislike infomercial vibes but there are peeps in trouble and need… so links follow within.

Been sick the past few days. Uggh! But little by little the coughing and runny nose is subsiding. Grace. Things could ALWAYS be -far- worse. Say, homeless as well as sick. Yep.

Wendi and I truly enjoyed our trip to Poplar Bluff, MO. Older friends, made some new ones and I must say both sets were fun and meaningful to me, hopefully for those attending. The VA Hospital set was especially amazing for on a number of levels.

All this indeed syncs with Jed Brewer’s (“The Bridge”) email just coming to me. Heard the mix of the first single (title track) for the project being released (“Homes For Heroes”) to specifically benefit our Cornerstone Community Outreach shelter and programs to help and house the homeless. http://www.homesforheroeschicago.com/

Winter weather in inner-city Chicago, so many homeless veterans, elderly, single moms, intact families, there is much need and we SO appreciate Jed and crew making this project of fresh songs possible to help out. Jeremy’s excellent blog is a great intro. to what CCO is about, and if you like, have a read of his Dec. 8 post on HFH as well.
http://freeingprisoners.blogspot.com/

Jed wrote the title track and several others I can’t wait for you to hear. I’ll post info. soon as singles and of course, the entire project is ready. http://www.ccolife.org/

Meanwhile thanks for stopping by! -Glenn