Reason? Uhhhh…

As a fan of the amazing British author G.K. Chesterton Gilbert_Chesterton and due to watching plenty BBC Father Brown murder mystery episodes with my wife (which we both love) I often find myself drawn to his wit and wisdom.

Today I came across a G.K. quote that moved my brain quite literally.

As usual, the issues of our times are never solely and completely about heart and attitude. Jesus tells us to love God with all our heart, MIND, soul and strength. Sometimes we Christians seem to check our minds at the door.

I admit I do not fully agree with G.K. on all points, and to a degree like Oswald Chambers, when he was “on” which was most of the time, he was truly ON.

When either of them tried to flip English words and meaning on their heads, sometimes it worked brilliantly and at other moments I think the tactic confused, even lost the sense of the given phrase. Both brilliant, like all of us they were people of their times and in an age when the power of writing and great turn of a phrase was in some ways even more pronounced than today, they regularly hit the bullseye.

On to the line I found today. It’s from Chesterton’s Father Brown series books.

He is speaking with Flambeau, a reformed criminal who in the book series and sometimes in the BBC television series helps Father Brown solve the particular mystery.

At one point Flambeau fakes becoming a priest, Father Brown finds him out and toward the end of the conversation tells him part of why he deduced the truth about him was “You attacked reason. It’s bad theology.”

Whether hardness of heart or lack of using one’s brain is the issue, I’d say both are equally important. You don’t get solid biblical interpretation coupled with application if you don’t pay attention to both your heart as well as honest thought processes.

How easy to simply trash the obvious truths of scripture by one’s own personal views of “MY RIGHTS” as opposed to HIS right to our life and His command to love our neighbor as ourself.

Jesus’ commands are at least as profound as they are simple to understand. But how we leap into wretched theology and cut large holes in His words and our obligations on the basis of lack of heart… and brain.

Let’s not check our brains at the door.

Let us indeed check our motives as we interact with our neighbor.

Bad theology’s easy. You simply put yourself ahead of God and your neighbor as you quote scripture to protect your kingdom. You add to the text rather than wrestle with it and perhaps lose.

Consider also that The Teacher (Rabbi) Jesus teaches via our mind, not merely our heart. The brain must be engaged.

“Come, let us reason together” is always applicable. The sad fact is, like conscience, it can be easily tossed in the heat of emotion or simply personal gain or control issues.

As always, thanks for stopping by! –Glenn

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In View of Parkland, FL and FAR Too Many ETCs.

In light of the horrible, insane tragedy of yet another school massacre (this time, Florida) I will re-post a segment from an earlier blog (https://gkaiser.wordpress.com/2017/11/14/texas-murders-and-american-firearms-law/):

<snip>”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!

[Please read that above line again…]

Change the law/s, enforce the law/s or we shall see a great many 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 worshippers in Texas […and kids in a Florida and a LOT of other schools!]?

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.”

I am fully convinced God desires to have mercy- through US.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

The Trajectory of Grace

In many sports there is a target one aims to hit via a ball, puck or the like. For example, in American football the quarterback often throws the ball considering the often rainbow-like trajectory as he seeks to drop it right where a receiving player on his team can catch it with the highest percentage of accuracy for completion.

I woke up the other night with no apparent difficulty or negative event in my life, and yet somehow the title of this post buzzed my mind. For context, plenty of people who formerly proclaimed saving faith in Jesus no longer follow Him.

Their once professed faith has been shipwrecked on this or that “reef” of pain, dashed hopes, dreams. Sometimes it’s a loved one who encountered a horrible disease and died in great agony. Sometimes it’s a spouse who ended the marriage and the hurt was deep and immense.

In many a crisis a person may conclude that if there was a loving, personal God who really cared, well it seemed He was absent and silent when most needed.

Un-answered prayers and even at times outright rejection from those of one’s spiritual family, even blatant hypocrisy and flat-out sin thus became “the last straw”.

Just one more element of what has been a “funnel-down”, an old view that’s come around again among professing believers is that there is no hell. The words of Christ in the four gospels to the effect of a separation from God and God’s people are discounted.

Overall arguments sourced in textual and other criticisms leveled at The Bible itself, how the canon of scripture came about or perhaps merely a “Paul” (and/or other New Testament writers) were -not- writing scripture, not moved by God the Holy Spirit, and may be ignored or discarded.

Though I believe I indeed not only understand and sympathize with many, perhaps even most of the responses to misery or intellectual “enlightenment”, at the end of the day my own mileage of a lifetime of walking with the risen Christ carries me. Still I am convinced neither I nor any other serious Christ follower or agnostic or outright atheist can sufficiently deny we each and all wish to control the trajectory of grace. If there is such a thing, we want control of it.

We want what we want, when and how we want it. We want release from struggle, pain, ambiguity, hopelessness and lifelessness. We want not only deliverance from loneliness but also to be filled with a deep, satisfying joy in events and circumstances validating our own view of what love, life and personal achievement is. And often, very, very often in the real world it just doesn’t happen.

“Life isn’t fair” -for real!

My takeaway is that both people of faith (and Christians in particular) as well as lapsed, backslidden or simply rebellious (against God) humans are not our own source of UNMERITED, UNEARNABLE FAVOR on the one hand… and either un-taught, willfully ignorant or are in outright denial about Jesus Own words regarding personal, daily cross-bearing as NORMAL.

Though we do often experience great beauty and deep joy, life isn’t always fun, easy, not the party and picnic some claim faith in Jesus will bring to our present life on earth. Our lives can be authentic, true, real while yet traversing what imperfect people living among fallen, imperfect people in a sinful world must face. To embrace the difficulties in relationship to the living, risen Jesus as opposed to “curse God and die”, or “I’ll create a god and/or myth of MY OWN LIKING” won’t heal, fix or change reality. It will not change the sometimes hard truths Jesus Himself refers to as truth in the gospels.

Good News in the midst of a serious personal cross?! Really??

Absolutely.

It is at this juncture many turn away from Him, His Word and His people.

When we try to source ourselves in grace by any other person or means we have missed the very grace of God. The fact is (and I won’t elaborate in this particular blog, maybe at another time…) GRACE OFTEN COMES BY WAY OF PERSONAL CROSSES AND PAIN.

Plenty of Protestants have next to no theology of suffering -which is equally true of most unbelievers. Think on that a while and you’ll begin to understand a bit more of what I’m getting at.

His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, His ways above our ways. In THIS world we often don’t come close to having all the answers, the full picture, the depth of WHY.

When in our agony and/or arrogance we decide spirituality and relationship to Jesus is a myth and a waste, we are effectively filling our lungs with cement and expecting to breathe.

You may think arguing that most or the whole of The Bible is fiction, but I will counter that fiction begins in the mind- and you too have one of those…

“I stand at the door and knock”. He won’t kick the door in. You may not hear Him. You may not WANT to hear Him. You also may well want to determine whether He’s real or is knocking at all. “Show up the way I want you to or get lost” sets us up for being lost ourselves.

Indeed. “Whosoever will… let them come”.

Not being God, we don’t get to determine the trajectory of grace. Sometimes it takes getting literally knocked off your horse and blinded -which doesn’t sound like grace at all, does it?

If we are not the ultimate source of grace, we don’t get to define it either! That must be left to the Author of grace.

Things to consider as we journey?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Gospel VS. Social Care??

Reading through a recent discussion of a gathering of Reformed Churches in the U.S. the following comment was made regarding a divide in thought processes among the attendees, not unlike what has been happening among Americans in general as well as many church bodies regardless of other theological matters.

Quote-
One of the frustrations expressed at Synod 2017 was that calls for the church to serve the poor and the oppressed and to advocate for justice are too often expressed without reference to the church’s gospel mission. As Craig Hoekema put it, referring to a specific recommendation under discussion, “It’s not because we don’t like justice; it’s not because we don’t think the church is called to do justice. It’s because in this recommendation, for example, there’s very little language that connects these activities to the unique mission of the church—which is to make disciples.”

Source: http://dojustice.crcna.org/

My immediate response to this is simply that it takes disciples to make disciples. That may seem super-simplistic but it is in my view, profoundly accurate, as spiritual as it is practical with regard to any matter for those who claim to follow Jesus.

We believers do tend to compartmentalize what God’s love and even “the Good News” IS… and fuss over methodology to the point of disfellowshipping one another, church splits and at times, outright rage and rancor. Mature disciples confess and repent of such petty sin, others practice it.

A true disciple of Jesus will not only verbally share the Good News of Jesus but indeed reach out ala His Words in Matthew 25 and love, serve and share with “the least of these” whomever and where ever they are. It’s BOTH=AND not either-or!!!

A disciple (listener/learner/follower) of Jesus is concerned not merely with spirituality but practical care. Jesus in the Gospels, certainly the Book of Acts and Book of James and plenty more biblical texts shout this!

I fear we often preach/share as we give a cup of water or food to the hungry, out of our own sense of comfort. Or we simply help meet a given practical need without any sort of verbal witness in mind- and if this is the norm, I wonder about our maturity indeed. But here in part, is why I think we do or don’t as we do or don’t-

That which comes easiest to us becomes the measure for the rest of the professed Christians we encounter. We judge based out of our strengths rather than seeking to grow, mature as disciples by stepping up our own spiritual/practical service/helping deficit areas.

I will finish with three quotes- the first from Calvin, Wesley and Jesus. It is clear the first two didn’t agree on core matters of theology… but hear just two of their comments re. the poor:

John Calvin:

“…the church must be the place where the poor find justice:’Except then we endeavor to relieve the necessities of our brethren and to offer them assistance, there will not be in us but one part of true conversion.’”

John Wesley:

“You should see and revere your Saviour in every poor man you ease, and be as ready to relieve him as you would to relieve Christ himself.”

Jesus:

““The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed…”

How can the poor HEAR good news if you and I and those who profess faith in Jesus aren’t with them, alongside them, involved with them to the extent of verbally sharing the Good News in their presence? If we don’t go near, associate with poor folks, how is it we are attending to a biblical discipleship of sharing it -with- them?!

And then Matthew 25- food, water, clothing, housing, medical care, direct care for incarcerated people. Both/And.

A discipleship that both talks and walks is a must-see, especially amongst increasingly jaded, sick-to-death-of-hypocrites generations who have seen little reason to trust “Christians” much less any sort of “church” who have not yet embraced lovING outside our comfort zone as relevant, therefore we render our faith irrelevant in their eyes.

This is not rocket science!

Love must be heard and seen.

As always,thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn

Tiny Huge Post: Two Things…

Tonight as I ponder humanity the thought strikes me there are at least two things I believe to be absolutely indisputable:

Human beings of all genders, sorts, spiritual or non-spiritual persuasions are often incredibly phony, self-interested liars, cheats, deceivers and indeed self-deceived whether they profess to be followers of Jesus Christ or not.

The second is that people who actually believe they are deity can be utterly proved wrong regarding that particular myth in a heartbeat.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

GK Again @ Idyllwild Arts!

Last year I was pleased to bring a cigarbox/found object slide guitar workshop to this amazing Art School on top of a mountain in California. They’ve invited me back!

https://www.idyllwildarts.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/2-CigarBoxGuitarMaking-WeekThree-006.jpg

The staff and students were extremely cool and I can tell you the guitars they built and took home were also.

Here is a tiny url I made which will take you to the spot on their website explaining what I’m doing at Idyllwild in June, and details for booking a week with myself and others at my workshop and music set. Looking very forward to it!

https://tinyurl.com/ycg7qxdd

As always, thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn

My Friend

It’s fairly cold today in Chicago. And a song I wrote and recorded some years ago comes to mind just now:

(from Three Below Zero –Winter Sun, Glenn Kaiser Band)

But if you wonder
if you’ll ever get warm again
When it’s three below zero,
you got to find yourself
the warmth of my Friend
So when it’s three below zero
you got to find yourself
the warmth of my Friend

Something some of us never recognized until we graduated high school… or in some cases, college/university: plenty of friends are not forever.

As time goes on you might move from this place to that, one job to another. Your desires change and no longer coincide with another’s. Perhaps you learn some lessons along the way and so your interests and/or the concerns of someone else you’ve been close to are just not what they once were. Separation happens.

On top of all this we live in a mega-mobile age. Moving about is the norm. Now, most cultures and subcultures are easy to explore via your phone or tablet with a click.

Cliques come and go, but actual friendship disintegration is rather easy to understand.

So are the roots of loneliness, lack of ongoing community and commitment.

There came a point in my journey when even my closest friends couldn’t help solve my messes -and there were plenty.

I was a child of divorce, of narcissism which I fully expanded upon (!), carrying around a nature (still all-too present) where I was my own regular, constant focus. This and all I mention above became elements of an award-winning recipe for self-loathing and downward spiral.

When I heard that “knock on my door”, when the risen Jesus Christ reached out to me things not only became clear: I found power to change in the best of ways.

I did not become, nor am I now fully healed, flawless, perfect, continually satisfied with myself, my life, every friendship and so on. But I am thoroughly convinced I’m forgiven, find daily grace for forgiveness, forgiving myself, loving my wife, family, friends and indeed, even those who decide I’m an enemy.

I not only have a best Friend but began to learn how to BE a friend.

Mirrors can be friends or enemies too. We often find ourselves noticing the imperfections, no? God has always been aware of them. And He has always been mindful of you and me whether you believe that or not.

Here are two scriptures that have continually spoken to me from the earliest days of my ongoing relationship with Jesus:

A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. -Proverbs 18.24

God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land. -Psalm 68.6

I have in Him a friend Who will never leave me, nor has He ever left me.

Families break up. Brothers split. Friends leave for “greener pastures”. People die. Not Father, Son, Spirit. Not. Ever.

I was solitary for sure! Nobody could live inside my head, heart or troubles. Nobody could self-destruct me… that was my responsibility.

But I don’t live in a spiritual desert and have not for the better part of my life. In those times I did rebel. In current moments when I do I know Who will listen, Who to immediately talk to, to ask forgiveness of, to trust in.

He has linked me with a number of close and mostly, life-long friends who help, but of course nobody can take God’s place and BE God for me -nor do they need to be!

I’m no fan of “prosperity preachers” nor do I care much about material gain but knowing HIM relationally has enriched my life beyond any bank account. The wealth I have in relationship to Him and His people put every other sense of wealth on earth in its place -underfoot.

Love fills the heart, not the wallet.

One last thing on this line of thought- friends serve. They don’t just talk or sing about serving. This is for me, the difficult part of friendship. “Going the extra mile” might come easy to you, but often not to me! I confess I have a lot to learn and a lot more dying to self to do, but I’m on the road and I know the direction.

Then again, to claim ignorance is no longer an option to loving service in authentic friendship.

Whoever said “Life is a journey not a destination” was correct! But oh the sense of peace and joy to be on the way with the One Who tells us “I am the way, the truth and the life”!

As always, thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn