Giving, Hoarding, Valuing

My wife recently read through something and sent this comment to myself and some of our friends:

Some of their results were surprising. Some 60 percent of the people they surveyed who live below the poverty line gave something, versus 32 percent of those above that line. A humbling finding by the authors was thus the radical giving of those who have very little in terms of money, time, or other resources to the immediate needs of those around them.

From the book: “We heard in the interviews where people who were really financially struggling, when they were not at work, they were babysitting for their friends so they could go to work,” Price says. “That’s precious work time that’s being given to others.

And while women as a whole tend to give more, married women give the most.”

From: “American Generosity: Who Gives and Why” by Patricia Herzog and Heather price

I recently re-tweeted a comment about where public funds go (re. ferris wheels, ice rinks and such) vs. caring for the least of these, the poor in our streets. I agreed. Most of the responses were quite positive and felt the same. One was about taxes and the involuntary “forced” giving demanded from government and the bro said he had a problem with that and also re. hard work to produce and build being incentive and reward for labor, all of which certainly holds elements of merit in my view. He had other positive statements re. the church and others voluntarily helping the poor as well. My response was:

“I’m the one with the problem: from prior to my own trusting in the Risen Jesus I find things in most every culture that seem better in line with (after my salvation and having studied) Jesus’ own example, as well as self-centered and destructive me-me-me attitudes and lifestyle choices.

My problem is that having found many indigenous societies with a view to stewardship of what God has given as opposed to ownership, control and domination… I would love a world where land and the wealth, flora and fauna were seen as gifts from God to be stewarded and indeed shared as opposed to effectively, weapons of dominion and indeed “I got mine, go get your own”. The good Samaritan.

I’m well aware of both Testaments proof texts, manifest destiny and colonization concepts none of which in my view, hold as closely to Jesus’ example nor for that matter, words in Matthew 25.

Control of land and the wealth of property therein has long been the political wealth-”might-makes-right” tool of despots right through human history. Frankly, I would have said all this 30 years ago if asked about it. Again, the problem is mine- we live in a world that doesn’t operate in humility, grateful thanks for the gifts of God and too often hearts that create borders for power and wealth hoarders. The world we live in now isn’t going there, and that’s indeed the reality of it.”

Castle

Having said this, working for justice, praying, demonstrating, marching, writing congresspersons and personally choosing a lifestyle (as Ron Sider so well said) at “the need level, not the greed level”, creative ideas to help meet real needs are viable and needed solutions. AND WHEN WE AS INDIVIDUALS AND CHURCHES DON’T MEET THE TRUE NEEDS THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD. That’s my position, has been from day 1 and isn’t changing because folks are mad or full of fear.

So how does my wife’s quoted book info. link to my Facebook response re. land and such?

I am never surprised that those with little are often the most likely to share what they have with those in need. Why? They understand the depth of need, loss, illness, pain and struggle of every day life, sometimes right to the very survival level having themselves faced or even at present, facing it. Empathy is natural to them. The same applies to Mom’s with kids. They -get- the issues, the needs, and the practical acting in love to help meet other Mom’s with children.

Empathy, kindness? Consider rural areas where complete strangers wave as they pass, where someone who seems to have car trouble is asked by a passing motorist “Hey, are you o.k., can I help you? Got a mobile phone?” They do it in part by culture… but in part knowing it could be them or someone they love with engine trouble or who slid in a ditch after a snow storm… next time it could be them, perhaps WAS them last season. I get it.

I wonder when more of our “That’s MINE!!!” people will figure out sharing is quite a link to the very heart of Jesus Christ? He gave for those completely UNworthy -I include myself as the often shocked recipient of His gift and gifts! HIS value was not in land, possessions, nor power (all this and more He has without limit!). He VALUES PEOPLE.

Things to think about as we go about our Christmas giving?

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

December Shows Update

Yet another sweet night with Willow Creek friends- I get to bring a sort of blues/worship set to Cook Co. Jail and interact with some amazing people… you’d be amazed at what God can do when folks are finally genuine about following Jesus! Well, some of you would be. This past weekend was full and really sweet too-

20171125_174247Wow, again such an excellent time with gracious friends and met some new ones in the Champaign, IL area at The Front Porch venue (cold… so a house show). People and pets were all so kind, Sam Arias opened with a great set, the coffee and fellowship around Christmas songs and chatter rich.

Here are a few pics from the day/evening, and thanks to Jim, Jen and family for your amazing hospitality! 20171125_17091720171125_17412520171125_222735

Merry Christmas everyone and as always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

*** GK DECEMBER SHOWS ***

FRIDAY DECEMBER 1

This coming Friday my amazing friends, Celtic Musos “The Crossing” will play all instrumental Christmas (and you guessed it, Celtic instrumental!) tunes at Wilson Abbey as part of Chicago’s Wilson Ave. Winter Walk. The music begins at 5pm and I will do an instrumental Christmas set largely on cigarbox/found object guitars appx. 6-7pm.

Home

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/4th-annual-winter-walk-on-wilson-tickets-39940507132

SATURDAY DECEMBER 2 GK, Aracely

WatershedChristmas2017

-And on the following day, SUNDAY DECEMBER 3:

WAcraftSale

I will have a few personally made cigarbox guitars (3 string slide, 1 string diddley bows all with pickups in ’em) for sale at this craft event -only-. Sorry, can’t take any more orders this season, no time to create more at this point!!

MONDAY DECEMBER 11- GK @ COOK CO. JAIL, CHICAGO

SATURDAY DECEMBER 9:

NitelightChristmas2017

With Special Guests PUSH Worship Band opening

At The Nite Light Cafe and Arts Center
7009 Ogden – Berwyn, IL

708.788.7009

SUNDAY DECEMBER 17- 3rd Sunday in Advent

Worship at Wilson Abbey 10:30 a.m. (they asked me  to join the team… and bring an electric guitar and amp…:)! 935 W. Wilson Ave. Chicago, IL 60640      773.273.6865

https://www.facebook.com/wilsonabbeychicago

Thanksgiving 2017

I GIVE THANKS!

For rain, wind and sun
Addictions undone
Wood and water deep
Wakefulness and sleep
Purity my wife
Dear friends throughout my life
Work and hands to ply
Faith to live and die
Grace where freedom lies
Blood and family ties
For passion, lessons long
Pains that made me strong
Forgiveness for each wrong
Your endless loving song

May you recognize the One worthy of deep, sincere Thanks! May the grace of Jesus and daily, loving relationship with Him be yours- and as always, thanks too, for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn

Accept or Die?

ACCEPTANCE

Dunno about you but when I was a kid I got tired -real fast- of my parents, teachers and “adults” telling me how my/our wanting “acceptance” would often put us into harm’s way. You know, “You just want to be accepted to the extent you’ll mess up your life [negative results… always] by hanging around THOSE people!” Ever heard anything like that?

So with regularity my best friends were “those” people. Yep.

And in fact I did indeed learn to cuss, have sex, do petty theft, break-and-enter, use people and split when I no longer got “my way” with them, became an addict to drink and drugs and essentially wrecked my life and “shared the wealth” with others.

But all of this is nearly besides the point. Really? Yeah, and here is why:

I have often found myself really appreciating, respecting, even loving people who if in the same band, day job, bike club or church would fight and maybe even kill one another- at core because they are convinced the “other/s” need to accept them, their views and further, help others “see it my way” as well as help finance that “way”.

The term “acceptance” is often a core one… and then comes another: “affirmation”. WHO honestly doesn’t care about being affirmed, agreed with, yes “accepted” and even advocated for in whatever their position on X, Y or Z is?

AFFIRMATION

LGBTQ, NRA, GOP, DNC, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, atheists and mythologists, death metal fans, blues junkies, bluegrass lovers, it just keeps on going regardless of your beliefs, situation and/or vision. We want acceptance and not only that, endorsement of ourselves as well as our stance/s on whatever it may be.

True or not?

I’ve friends across so many divides -and a few enemies as well due to (ready??) often maintaining respectful relationships with people on -both- ends of the particular spectrum! The tendency for some every so often (and I really do get it) is to look at me like I’m crazy “for having anything to do with THOSE PEOPLE” when in fact I often recognize value in them both, disagree with elements of both views and in general don’t kiss up to extremism in either of them.

Over my years and miles around the planet I’ve been invited into or stumbled onto disputes between parties within ministries and local churches as well as denominations where after really trying to hear and read and dig through the issues found me thinking that a third word is in play: competition.

COMPETITION

If I as a person am demanding acceptance, affirmation, perhaps even advocates for my cause (whatever that may be) and then even amongst those who mostly agree with me begin to compete with them for people, finances and positive help/publicity and etc., and if for any reason (time, money, energy, they have other “front burner” vision and pursuits, “other fish to fry”) judge them, get my feelings hurt or maybe even begin to trash-talk about them whenever I think I can get someone to listen and agree with the horrid injustice… well you can bet this is part of what is going on in our world at the moment.

This has been going on as long as humans have been on earth. It is simply the fact most of us now have cheap or free world-wide megaphones via the web, social media and a press who makes a living and other media (no matter the political persuasion, balance or lack thereof) who focus on analytics, demographics and ratings to further their cau$e. Now hear me: I am NOT for “big brother” controlling the internet, not even! I am also not even close to the view all media nor every blog, tweet or re-post is merely propaganda, holds nothing but uneducated bias or snake-in-the-grass trolling. I also think all politicians are quite capable of playing this game with nothing but -their- gain as motive. I get all that. I’d MUCH rather see and hear free web and free press any day regardless of the fallout because I think the fallout is historically greater without them.

The question for each of us, myself included is- what are our true motives? When personal acceptance, affirmation, financial and other support is the currency in your life or mine, tell me again how pure, righteous and non-judgmental our own motives are?

In terms of ethics: are you requiring me to exchange my own personal integrity to “take sides” with you… or might I now be judged your “enemy who must be destroyed” if I don’t agree with your stance on whatever it may be?

Is tacit agreement the price of honest, respectful, loving relationship between people? If I hold you to that very rubric, does that mean in my mind YOU are now an enemy I need to discredit and eliminate because “winning” is more important than (wait for it Christians…) “grace”? UNmerited favor. UNearned mercy.

Paul writes a letter to Christians and includes a “matter-of-fact”- “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other”. -Galatians 5.15

Hmmm. Paul is writing this in a letter to a Christian church.

If this is the case so long ago (see Cain vs. Abel and, etc.) I would suggest we -all- learn to be (and I am indeed talking to myself here) “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry because the anger of humans does not achieve the righteousness of God.” -James 1.19,20

Then again, maybe I wrote all this just to be accepted?!

Truth be told, I believe I am accepted by God due to the gift of faith in Jesus Christ, and that acceptance of ***Him and His truth claims*** are what’s truly essential.

These are two of a very few non-negotiables in my own life- and yet accepting people while not always their beliefs or positions on various issues is also a deep conviction and practice of mine. Competition? Frankly, I could care less who “wins”when winning is the real issue. I’m already dead and my life is hidden with Christ in God. This is a spiritual reality to me that may simply sound like empty words to some, but there it is. I never said it was simple or easy, but this is how I roll now and right into eternity. In His grace. In His service.

To those who think I just jumped off the roof there- keep shootin’… I belong to the resurrected Savior 🙂

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

GK Christmas Show- Near Champaign, Illinois

FrontPorchChristmas

GK and Wendi, -and Sam Arias in a warm setting appx. 20 mins. from Champaign Saturday, November 25 @ 6:30pm

The Front Porch

1798 County Road 700 N

Sidney, IL

Glenn will perform a holiday set at The Front Porch in Sidney, IL (1798 County Road 700 N). Sam Arias will also perform. “Christmas goodies (bring some to share), a cozy farmhouse, friends… what could be better? Live music from Glenn Kaiser and Sam Arias could make it better. No cover, last show until spring, come join us and bring friends – we love meeting new people.” Web: https://www.facebook.com/TheFrontPorchLiveMusicPhiloIl

 

Turn It Over?

20171116_103513Really. To the One who MAKES leaves.

Well ok, the phrase “turn over a new leaf” comes from the 16th century when the term “leaves” was used to describe book pages. To turn one over meant of course, a new page, perhaps a fresh chapter and hence the old phrase meant/means “a fresh start, a new beginning”.

Jesus did that for me when I couldn’t do it. In relationship to Him He continues to do so.

I mean in my initial coming to him in faith I REALLY could not quit my various impulses, habits, addictions even, things I truly wanted freedom from. Problem is, wherever you go there you are… and I kept following myself around.

Jesus said “Come, follow me.” Best decision I ever made. Not “follow this or that political party, this or that honcho in this or that church, congregation, this or that rock star, actor, groupie clique” or whomever. Not “keep chasing your own tail, that’ll help!”

Not saying I don’t have human examples, leaders, mentors, soul-friends… I indeed found and kept and keep ’em today. Like Paul said, “Follow me AS I follow Christ.” Yes, my “sponsors” are a huge and needed  part of my recovery process.

The issue, the ongoing matter in my life and yours is that like the guy in C. S. Lewis’s “The Great Divorce” he was ultimately chained to… wait for it… himself.

Each of us is a separate person, a created entity who is -not- God, not fully mature, not literally living in the actual physical presence of God while we breathe on earth.

Like that advert where the elderly lady hits the button and tells the monitor person “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” we must face the reality of bad choices, not acting (or perhaps responding) in love toward others, indeed disobeying God regarding His Word. As much as many Christians want to rightly remind us “we ARE seated in heavenly places” and “reckon yourselves dead to sin but alive in Jesus Christ our Lord” there is that sometimes distressing term “Lord” in the statement! If you think either you or anyone on this planet lives this out perfectly you’re either certifiable, ignorantly gullible or flat-out swallowing false doctrinal error.

We are not yet literally seated, beyond temptation, literally without any trace of sin nature left within us. Therefore, turning over a new leaf, a fresh repentance, a renewal and a “walk the talk” relationship with both God and others is part and parcel of an honest, maturing spirituality that far too many believers aren’t interested in.

Note, the very same professing Christians will say “It’s all under the blood” meaning we cannot -make ourselves- righteous before the One and only perfect, holy God -and they are correct according to all I see in scripture. The issue is that at least in one sense, a Christ-follower lives in two worlds until entering the literal kingdom where Father, Son and Spirit literally are. “Think this way about yourself” does not mean “whatever you like have at it”.

Meanwhile, seems to me autumn comes around to remind us that all things end, death is part of life, and it can be a beautiful thing. As seasons change, so can we -by faith in the Risen Savior!

Any leaves you need to turn over to Him? All He does in us is eternal.

God give you grace to give thanks for the fresh leaves He puts in our path!

As always, thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn

Texas Murders and American Firearms Law?

I do not always post on every hot-button issue and those I do blog, tweet or Facebook post on I normally wait, sometimes for days prior to posting. Why wait? Simple emotional responses to issues that affect perhaps millions of people (and sometimes more?) should not be taken lightly. Knee-jerk responses are not often helpful and the arguments are often thin. Further, when millions and at times billions of dollars as well as political power/positions/influence as well as that of major corporations are in our sights (get that…?) such targets have found internet and other media trolls and pundits helpful (not) to further self-interests. Think on that because I may well offend zealots on both sides of the gun debate.

I’ve already posted a blog ( gkaiser.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/guns-safety-reality/ ) regarding some of this, but IF (major word, that!!) the following is true I am praying and waiting to see exactly what if anyone is willing to do, what price people are willing to PAY rather than RECEIVE for such disasters to at least be cut back from our land. Many “if’s” and my personal views follow:

In my view the debates on these matters tend to be more emotional than sane, more along political party vs. party or urban vs. rural lines than human-being, reality or practicality-based.

Guns are everywhere, there are lots of them and they really are not going away. BUT…

I have been and remain an independent voter all my voting years- am currently 64 and have voted republican, democrat, independent and abstained right through my voting years. BUT…

Law/s? That’s another major can of worms when considering this topic as it is re. plenty of other issues in our nation.

So as  gun-owner, hunter, someone who actually loves to shoot (on rare occasion these days due to my family and ministry commitments) and as one who supports our troops and veterans but does not 100 percent agree with each and every military deployment… I ask you to consider. Note, there are a great many “if’s” in the case of the recent and tragic Texas church massacre.

 

IF the shooter was violent towards his wife prior to killing and wounding so many at the Baptist church

IF by military law he had committed what comprised a felony by military (U.S. Air Force) law

IF he actually served time for his offenses while in and/or not in active service

IF current (November, 2017) Texas law allows such individuals to purchase firearms, ammunition and lawfully transport and use them-

If as in several cases these are as has been reported true elements of this particular case, I say (and would say it in a heartbeat if I were a citizen of Texas) it’s time the U.S. military and at very least the Texas Department of Public Safety (known as the Texas Rangers Division) fully and completely connect on information pertinent to such an individual and their access to firearms within the state- BY LAW.

Further, ANY and ALL states within the U.S. in my view, ought to not only be privy to but provided with such information on such individuals whether they are veterans or not.

Consider the obvious: military personnel have sadly and unfortunately been trained to kill, it is part of our defense and frankly I get it and understand the need for such training. When a veteran hits mental, marital, medical and/or employment issues he or she is in need of FEDERAL as well as State care and laws that help offset her or his situation. That is my position.

Of course such horrific deeds are not only carried out by active or former military or non-military people because anyone with enough rage and or despair and the will and a bit of intelligence can figure ways to harm a lot of people quickly.

I am deeply concerned that neither political position, corporate positioning and the money made via firearms and related industries are doing anything about public safety unless and until politicians and the public in harm’s way actually work to change and enforce such changes or active protocols REGARDLESS of cost.

Job security of pols, corporate manufacturers and retail stores vs. body count folks!

Change the law/s, enforce the law/s or we shall see a great more such tragedies.

For many of you who fight for both gun rights and the right to life: my wife and I adopted a child who would have been aborted. I now ask you what about the right to life for those worhippers in Texas? I believe we are now discussing the right to kill, to end someone’s life. Be very careful with the handling of Jesus’ words as you begin to debate such matters.

I say these things as longtime and continuing gun owner, shooter and hunter: neither politicians nor the firearms industry nor a public that simply “goes along with busine$$ as usual” is anywhere close to a solution to such massacres.

Things to consider as we reel with such tragic events?

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Homeless: Sheep Vs. Goats

With permission, I snuck in and sat in the back (next to my wife!) of a kind friend’s seminar on homelessness today. “Snuck in” because it was Deeply Rooted, a women’s fellowship, worship and teaching gathering.

I had no idea Beth was going to discuss The Bonus Army [see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonus_Army ] or key issues of African-Americans immediately after the American Civil War as elements of history to help us understand homelessness.

Indeed, today, Veteran’s Day in the U.S., far too many vets are in deep trouble!

Jesus in Matthew chapter 25 lists 6 things we need to be concerned with if we profess to love God and neighbor; indeed if our attitudes and choices reflect being one of His or not:

Food

Water

Clothing

Stranger

Illness

Jailed / Prisoner

Though neither a veteran nor a person of color I have experienced all of these at various stages of my life with one exception. By God’s grace I’ve never lacked shelter. It is the one practical need that affects the others. It is the one connecting piece as to how one ends up in trouble regarding the other issues He lists.

Is it not obvious that if one is HOMELESS the rest become a challenge, sometimes even chronic problems in one’s life?

The thousands of emancipated former slaves and years later during the Great Depression, people of color as well as whites alike faced this most basic need, that of shelter.

“I was a stranger AND YOU TOOK ME IN”… when one has no place to live, no home. In both senses of the term “outsiders”.

As I have stated many times here in blog posts and other public discourse, if you don’t have access to clean water, decent food and clothing you may well get sick. If you don’t have access to healthcare and on top of it are “a stranger” (immigrant?) without “an inn” (“no room at the inn”) and in particular end up too sick to either find or maintain a job you may well do something illegal in order to eat. Perhaps even to get *inside* a jail or prison for “three hots and a cot”. You might do so in order to get at least something -close- to the drugs you cannot afford or obtain for medication of ailments.

This is the reality of the United States at present, and has been for many years.

An open heart is willing to help provide options and “safety nets”. The biblical term is “grace”- UN-EARNED favor. Mercy.

Fear, rage and “you’re on your own buddy” easily drops the line “There’s no room at the inn”. Cool if you own the place and hold the key. Then it’s all about merit, earning, or deciding “they” have no real worth or value…

Then again some folks don’t have a door to shut.

It was quite the history lesson today.

Things to consider as we make choices, vote and go our way. Or His.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Veterans Day 2017

This like all Vets Days will not be an easy one for many of those men and women who have served our nation. Not all have been in direct engagement in a war they were deployed to fight and possibly die in, but often with a sense of love for nation and committment to duty, they went.

Far too many lost dear and close friends serving right by their side. The memories linger. Too many have made mental, emotional and physical sacrifices others of us do not consider nor appreciate.

Before all else they were and are human beings. I’ve lost track of vets who’ve said, “Once the firefight started it was about the others in our unit, not politics, nation or anything else.” That’s not difficult to grasp.

Of course in fractured times (no disconnect re. wars or “military incursions”) and certainly after a couple recent incidents of veterans killing a number of innocent civilians stateside, this won’t be an easy day for many.

One aspect of the service that is obvious as can be: for some, getting out of the hood, trying to discover and find what they might be good at doing in terms of a career, trying to figure a way out of poverty or simply money for education and considering one’s future, the military has often been one of, sometimes the only solution.

Plenty people I’ve come to know and respect tell me these were the very issues that caused them to enlist.

I think loving everyone means loving our veterans. This means in part, letting the pols know -all- needed care upon serving must be met- jobs, housing, medical, counselling and such.

I don’t care who sits in Washington in any part of the political spectrum, these are human beings who anybody claiming patriotism must support with more than “thoughts and prayers”!

Having said all this, atrocities have been committed in times of war or other military deployments and we cannot pretend it isn’t so.

May God help us learn to give grace and practical support to those who have served and are serving -regardless.

As always, thank you for stopping by! -Glenn

Eye on the Sparrow or Goodnight Irene?

Yep. I am convinced His eye truly is, regardless of anyone or anything.

Sparrows

David… not Goliath. Israel, not the big-shot kingdoms of the day. Samaritans, rather than those quasi-religious Jews in Jesus’ story-telling. Why? Why is it God throughout His Word seems to continually favor “the little guy”, the poor and outcast, people on the margins?

I grew up in sparsely populated farm country, “in the sticks” as we say, then in and just outside of several very small towns.

The other day I took the scenic route through a part of Northern Illinois I’d never been through and discovered Irene. Irene, Illinois that is! Unincorporated. I counted exactly 12 houses and one of those was a bit removed from the others at an intersection as I drove through on the one and only road.

My mind went where it often does: “Wow, I wonder about the history of this tiny little spot in the road?” Of course there’s a train track running right along side it that I believe connects Rockford and Chicago.

I wondered at the families living there now, if this is a simple quiet place where most work and attend school in nearby Belvidere or the Rockford area? Most likely.

There has always been some kind of allure to me in lonely places, small and often “off the beaten path”, perhaps forgotten little enclaves where people are born but typically die someplace else. For example the “Big cities” of Burnett, Fox Lake and Randolph up in Wisconsin. Pumpkin Center outside of Beaver Dam… you won’t find that on most maps. Bushnell, and really tiny Breeds in Illinois. Checkrow which is a place but is basically just that, a church and parsonage, a couple farms. I love them. Miss them too.

Then I think of that line in the Book of Hebrews- “Here we have no continuing city but we seek one to come”. I have connections with -that- city far deeper than anywhere I’ve ever lived or traveled on earth. All in good time 🙂

Meanwhile, I think about places like Irene, Illinois and smile.

Do you at times feel forgotten, even by God Himself? If we notice people, perhaps off-the-grid or “coloring outside the lines” people and the places they dwell, do you really think God has forgotten any of them -or any of us?

As usual the sparrows were in our side yard garden today. We made a place for them including birdhouses in our garden.

The psalmist writes “Where can I flee from Your presence?”

This vid clip is 30 years old from a set at Cornerstone Festival done w. amazingly talented friends for Compassion International who work to help “the least of these”.

It’s a good thing to notice, even appreciate sparrows -especially in a world with plenty of hawks.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn