Long Haul Friends

You know who they are if you have ’em. Those folks who have been tight with you for years and years through thick and especially thin times.

One of those many good bros. for me is also an ol’ Wisconsin gent like myself. We love to chat and occasionally reminisce about life growing up in a small town on a lake, walking the train tracks with a buddy and things related to Milwaukee and other various and sundry things about the Badger State.

For some years we have served together in inner-city Chicago but indeed chat from time to time about old Wisc. days and traditions. Somehow, quite a few years ago we started up a little tradition of swapping 1 somewhat funny/somewhat serious gift related to all this each Christmas.

If you know me well you know I’m a  blues singer/player and also LOVE trains, old and new and travel on ’em when I can. And have a soft heart for The Milwaukee Road (long gone now…) which I rode now and then and which I do miss.

This year look what he gifted me with! SO cool!

TheMilwaukeeRoadCup

And hey… why not add a tune I wrote and recorded w. Ed and Roy down in Misourri?

Here’s a live version of Runaway Train from a show in Colorado- hope you’re having a sweet Christmas holiday!

Big Thanks to my bro Randy in Colo. for the GKB vid clip 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_17oSb8xUtw

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

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LOVE! 4th Sunday in Advent 2018

NativityScene

Merry Christmas to All!

WHEN THE WALLS FALL -glenn kaiser

There is life, for the lifeless
Though the world will take it’s toll
There is bread, for the hungry
That satisfies the soul

There is light, in the darkness
Calling all who roam
There’s a door, for the outcast
Where we’re welcomed home

When the walls fall
When our will to run and hide burns away
When the day breaks
We look down to face our fading feet of clay

There’s relief, for the hurting
Though the voices rise against it like thick smoke
There is love, for the loveless
Though so many trade it for a killing joke

There is a tomb
Standing empty of the corpse that once lay there
There is a choir
Countless angels and archangels fill the air

There is a Son
Who came to seek and save the captive locked in sin
There’s an embrace
You’ll never know until you choose to follow Him

[As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn]

Something From Nothing

I don’t think I’ve ever explained some of my thinking re. poor folks and the depth of why I gravitate toward do-it-yourself (d.i.y.) stuff like making simple guitars out of junk and the like. Here’s the deal.

The deal often prices whatever it is clear out of sight for folks without much cash or means to get some, or enough loot to purchase the object/s in question.

When illness causing poverty hit our family divorce ensued and while my brother and I by law went with my mother to “the big city” my father had to fend for himself.

I learned so much from those years, watching how he and my Mom had to “make do” with what they had.

From hunting, fishing, bartering and creative imagination along with relationships to good-hearted people all of us survived. It wasn’t always comfortable but we did it.

With help from the government welfare program of the day, berry-picking, wild asparagus harvesting and small gardening, etc., in the countryside there were a load of lessons to be gained.

Years later I studied the origin of archery, then modern-day bow hunting and along with my earlier historical research dug deeper in to how Native Americans (First Nations people in Canada), Aboriginal people of Australia, Maori folks in New Zealand and other tribes and subsistence people gathered, hunted, gardened food as well as made a massively wide variety of tools and items needed in do-it-yourself fashion.

Note, they did (and do) so not merely on basis of a personal challenge or fashion, not always to impress anyone but to meet actual needs and sometimes wants.

Many of these folks had been hammered by whites wanting the land, huntable animals, other natural resources and space to colonize. In time a lot of people moved into urban areas looking for work, survival somehow, somewhere. A whole lot of white people ended up doing the same.

To discuss how the urban poor do all this would take another blog, but they do. Some of them do it legally and some illegally. Suffice to say I both respect and understand the ethics among the rural and urban poor. Yet for many, such is a mountain so high they neither know where nor how to begin the climb.

But this blog isn’t about class nor politics -read on.

Let’s take an example from education -unless you somehow come up with grants or scholarships. There are many “hoops to jump through” some which close the door before one barely gets started. But how many people end up in massive debt due to student loans and on top of that, often cannot seem to land a living wage job based on the degree if and as they actually finish?

If you are young, and jobs are available, if you are a single parent even with only one child and secure a day job, these are two scenarios that are often still untenable with regard to making enough money to get the education you need for longer term, living wage employment in a field you are prepared for and eager to take on.

Here’s an example close to home for me:

I have often researched chaplain’s degrees and certificates available as I do a fair bit of jail and prison visits/services as a volunteer chaplain. Now understand, I’ve been doing such work for many years but without any “authorized certification” though the responses and fruit has been super encouraging and so confirmed by both the incarcerated as well as various authorities where I’ve served.

I truly know how to do deep research via the internet and constantly study in this and many other areas of concern and interest.

So far all the educational resources have come up quite short in two ways: too little of value due to my years of experience in one set of what’s out there, or so expensive (and time-consuming) that I couldn’t afford either expense or time to begin and finish the course!

Now, I’m not a professional chaplain, I don’t require a degree or certificate to open doors and do the work and my needs are met as a missionary working with the local church/community so for me it’s not a major issue. Not so for others! They must eat and come up with basic health care, in some cases child care, transportation and all the essentials of food, housing, etc., taking both credited courses as well as at least a part-time job, juggling all of this to somehow “get ahead”, succeed, get a “seal of approval” that mainstream whatever-it-is-profession often requires for acceptance in a given post.

This is but one example -and from a guy (me) who doesn’t even have to worry about my or my  family’s basic needs being met which most folks certainly do!

The cost$ of capitalism and accreditation often keep marginal folks marginal.

This is where the creative, the risk-takers, the “I’m giving it a shot, I can only fail… and other’s may scoff at me, my life and/or my job and interest, but so be it!” comes in. It indeed calls for faith, a mental and emotional toughness, a willingness to color outside societal lines, norms and often foolish, condemning judgments.

This is faith, hope and love stuff.

John the Baptist was the forerunner announcing the Messiah -what a weirdo! Really. Read up on that ringer in the Gospels. Some would judge “A wasted life!” -surely.

The true wealth is not in gaining acceptance of the majority or minority, nor is it in keeping up with the Joneses (who often are far more messed-up than the inner-city homeless have ever been. Life doesn’t amount to whom we can impress nor how society (Christian or otherwise) judges you as a person. The core issues are love, relationships and using those means God gives you to meet basic needs and serve Him by serving OTHERS.

After my parents’ divorce I watched my beaten-down Dad design a little place for himself. He located a small trailer frame, the proper weight-bearing tires, scavenged the wood and etc., installed the electrical bits and created a little, livable home for himself parked at the end of a channel off of Fox Lake, Wisconsin that lead out to the lake itself. He had his core needs met. He had a LOT of friends. He ended up with a very small wooden skiff, oars and cane-pole fishing gear. He knew how to raise nightcrawlers (great worms for bait fishing).

It was a 3 minute walk to the boat, a 20 minute row out to where the fish were biting, and a whole lot of fish fry every time I visited him after the divorce.

The meals were simple, punctuated with free or super cheap greens and veggies… but as I look back at his life I see a freedom from “the world’s” sucking, life-choking systems on the one side of things, as well as a huge group of friends and friendships that saw him through until he passed at 84 years of age.

He had saved up money to pay for his funeral, burial and left exactly zero debt.

Back to me in finishing this- small homebrew guitars, a simple lifestyle that allows me to give what I have, share what I’m able to share, love and enjoy friendships (many that will prove literally eternal) are what I think of as we approach another Christmas.

It is ABSOLUTELY the grace of God in my life, I’m certain of that!

One of my all-time favorite verses relating to my Savior, His apostles and I hope you and I: “…as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.” 2 Corinthians 6.10

That little Child in the manger continues to teach anyone willing to listen:

“HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; And sent away the rich empty-handed. -Luke 1.53

“Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” -Luke 12.15

Besides the grace of “ears to hear” from the Lord, James is likely a good finish to my thoughts here, and I am so grateful for his words!

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

The kingdom of God is not “the kingdom of wealth”. It is not the kingdom of capital. We are clearly and obviously not The King -but He DOES invite us into HIS kingdom!

May we move from ignorance to knowledge and knowledge to wisdom. May we be willing to “give ourselves to humble tasks/associate with the lowly”, and give thanks for the opportunity to love because “He first loved us!”

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Joy- 3rd Sunday in Advent 2018

Joy? Yes. Joy for several reasons but not only or always completely linked to “God answered my prayer/s, He did as I wished He’d do” for myself, a loved one, a job, a home, financial security, healthcare or release from jail or prison.

The young virgin mother of Jesus reportedly made two amazing statements (among others) that we would do well to ponder.

the-annunciation

God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary, a poor, young Jewish girl engaged to Joseph.

And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1.26-37) In the same discussion he again told her she was being favored by the Lord in verse 30.

As it was for her, in the real, everyday world God’s favor does not mean triumphalism, the concept one will alway win, everything will work out according to one’s desires.

Mary’s response after hearing Gabriel’s announcement that she would miraculously be impregnated by the Holy Spirit, carry and give birth to the Savior of Israel and the world?

Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1.38) Incredible!

She made a statement of devout faith but more,  a serious response of surrendered commitment to accepting what God willed and what He would allow -regardless. She trusted Him through the difficulties!

A bit more than 3 decades later the One born of her -Jesus, Son of God, promised Messiah was mocked, spat upon, viciously beaten, compelled to haul His own instrument of death up a hill before screaming crowds. He was then crucified right in front of her and a large portion of Jerusalem. The innocent, sinless One was murdered in a state execution in between two truly guilty thieves.

Another word spoken to her had come to pass: “…and a sword will pierce even your own soul”. (Luke 2.35)

The ebb and flow of life in a sinful, broken, not God-forsaken (but populated with humans-who-often-forsake-God) world is… what it is. It’s not merely a matter of faith, it’s a matter of intimate connection and obedience with God when trust in Him is challenged.

Joy? Yes. Easter came! It came later, eventually, after all.

The truly favored Mary experienced incredible joy but was not entirely delivered from excruciating pain.

On this 3rd Sunday in Advent I’m confronted with my wife’s horrible pain due to arthritis and a recent knee replacement. As I type this she (and I in different form) are experiencing a fair bit of misery as at night the pain often really kicks in hard!

Several of my friends are dealing with a husband or wife who is suffering terrible physical pain and mental/emotional stress due to cancer, others deal with similar miseries due to disease.

Quite a few friends have lost loved ones within the last weeks as we approach Christmas.

I believe in miracles. I fully believe and have experienced divine healing. I’ve seen God do it for others. Yes! I’ve also buried and attended funerals of faithful, godly people whom the Lord took to Himself during Thanksgiving and the Christmas season.

Holidays are not immune to grief for those who are either in the midst of suffering or reminded of tragic loss 1 year, 10 years or even 30 years after the event.

“Swords” and not only Christmas present wrap appear when they appear.

People wrapped in a mantle of hurt are no less favored by God! The struggle to trust in Jesus, His love and the fact that God is Love and source of all true, eternal love is the issue. The battles happen in our mind when physical and emotional pains ravage us or those we love. Those with chronic pain on Christmas wonder if Easter will ever arrive.

So consider Jesus, “anointed with joy beyond all others” and yet “a Man of sorrows, well acquainted with grief”. Same Person, favored and suffering -though the most sinless, perfect One Who ever walked the earth, the One Whom God the Father always heard and responded to when His prayers were offered!

In the midst of our struggles, considering rank injustices done in our world and it may seem God is neither listening nor near how do we find “the joy of the Lord” which scripture tells us is our strength?

Our true joy is He Himself! It is IN HIM, in a relationship of love and trust regardless of anything else. I am here reminded of the old marriage vows- “Forsaking all others… in sickness and in health… in joy and in sorrow…”. Christ-followers are referred to as “the bride of Christ”. Relationship! We commit to God as God regardless of suffering, because of suffering, -and it, like this life, here or hereafter shall pass!

When God is our God and not ourselves nor those we love, when we do not have control and wonder if He exists, or cares, or listens to our prayers though apparently at times answering with silence or even “No”… He remains faithful and true and His character is no less diminished.

The temptation to “Curse God and die”, (Job’s wife’s suggestion) backslide, walk away from belief and relationship to Jesus in times of deep loss, grief and despair, the options of bitterness, anger and resentment against God are in my mind, obvious, clear and even understandable. They are also tragic and life-destroying even to the extent of eternity in which we will see and give account to God.

In the end, we either trust, respect and love Him or we do not. We may think we have “good reason” to be the center of our universe, but we are not and never shall be!

Jesus and Mary offer us examples of love, grace and life in the face of but not excluded from suffering and death. The question is whether we are willing to believe and follow Him.who “for the joy set before Him endured the cross…” for we who are favored.

There is a joy only known to those who do likewise.

I wish you that joy!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Lo-Fi Christmas Blues and Traditional Tunes

Yeah well sometimes I can’t be stopped from havin’ a bit of fun.

My trusty acoustic-only (no pickup) 3 string license plate slide guitar was sittin’ in my lap, had the little bottle for a slide and credit-card pic in hand for the fresh blues song and the top of a plain metal spoon handle as a slide for the traditional number. My trusty old Samsung Galaxy 4 (yes, a big FOUR) was gaping at me! So these two songs will be added to this year’s annual Cigar Box Guitar Nation Christmas project album.

GlassSlideSpoonSlideCCpick

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR and an instrumental version of SILENT NIGHT are the tunes I recorded, so:

When all the submissions are in and the album’s complete you’ll find it as a free download via my friends at http://www.cigarboxnation.com Scroll down to the Christmas 2018 link: https://cigarboxnation.com/page/free-albums

GKlpGit

 

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR -glenn kaiser

Hey baby – it’s that time of year (2x)
Santa hats are out and the trees go up with a cheer

Snow and cold – but the hearts get warm (2x)
The reason for the season is the love that calms the storm

Little baby came – the whole world shook
The world’s still shakin’ when I take another look
Jesus came an’ went but He’s comin’ again
The wise still seek Him – He’s my very best Friend

Hey baby – it’s that time of year
The Gift of love is the gift that makes Christmas dear

Hope your holidays are filled with His love!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

 

Greasetrap Churches

Any local church worth gathering -if they are healthy -are going to attract hurting, messed-up, fragile and vulnerable as well as mean-spirited, ornery people. Why?

Where else for sinners to be accepted with all the grease they’ve both collected and manufactured in this broken, sinful world? Unless we don’t allow them in at all.

I’ve said it plenty and will never stop saying God is endless in His wisdom and if you don’t have a fair number of hurting and therefore at times hurtful people in your local flock He apparently doesn’t trust you enough to serve them -in which case you are likely more a social club who appreciates anything from the style of music, the form of speaking, a few friends who show up on Sunday or the lack of agitation to grow up spiritually, or other such matters of FAR LESS importance than cooperating with the Holy Spirit in building HIS kingdom. Note, His kingdom, not some church-stream or local fellowship’s kingdom!

Ok, so what about that foul “grease trap” metaphor?!

See, one of my jobs on 2nd floor in our Christian community is routinely cleaning out the grease trap. The truth is, I don’t mind it much, but it does take a good 45 minutes or more to do it thoroughly. Because there are seven floors above us there are at times drain issues just past our outlet pipe that also can affect back-ups. Of sludge. I have a “snake” and “shop vac” and etc..

We all bring and carry and at times create sludge, spiritual, emotional and behavioral.

This is one overview as to why marriages fail, worship teams break up, the pastor runs off committing adultery with the keyboard player and so on. But of course all of this stuff also happens in other relationships outside the church. Plenty of workplaces, just about any profession is not immune to grease backups and lack of people willing to stick it out and work at un-sticking and getting the gunk out of the system.

It’s easier to split, to break the relationship, to disengage, to build your own little castle on a proverbial “island” where you let nobody… or only one or two people in.

Play your cards very “close to your vest” and keep a “healthy” distance. It’s “better that way”.

It can be. Boundaries are important and even excellent… but sometimes what you’re doing is simply adding more grease to your own trap and there’s a point at which if it doesn’t get attended to and flushed out you are going to have an overflow. It does indeed stink when that happens. We ALL need someone to help us de-grease our own individual traps in which we’re sometimes trapped.

Hence, churches are very much a resource. People such as pastors, mentors, discipleship leaders, small/cell group leaders, 12 Step sponsors and solid counsellors, spiritual directors are the sort of people who really can help you unclog.

No perfect people, so no perfect church or flawless people serving as per the list I just mentioned here, but often it indeed takes such to get our plumbing put right and flowing.

The sad reality is denial. Some have been hurt so much they just will not risk being hurt again. It’s always your choice of course.

Walking across the street is a risk. So is living alone, aloof and walled off from people whom God Himself has raised up to help us get the gunk out.

Why does all this come to mind?

I’ve begun noticing a certain odor from the sink…

Ahhh the life of a pastor is such a thrill 🙂

PostScript- so tonight I cleaned it. Wow… hose pulled out of the shop vac and slop went into 3 puddles all around the kitchen. It was a character building time indeed. But it’s clean and the drains are working again!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

PEACE- 2nd Sunday in Advent 2018

For those who truly follow and seek to love and obey (yes, “obey”) Jesus, just like He came, peace comes. Yes it does, but in His time and as the Lord so chooses.

He said “In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer- I have overcome the world.” We want to get there now don’t we? We want any sense of trial and suffering ENDED… pronto! Me too, trust me.

But in the end comes The. End. A lot of folks aren’t ready for that just yet and in His mercy, God calls us to Himself.

Advent is among other things, a time to sense His call to you and me and it’s a call to HIS peace. It’s not some sort of deal we can make -but on His terms.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” -Jesus in John 14.27

Does this sound like a mean, corrosive God Who cannot wait to crush you like a bug?!! Not at all.

The Prince of Peace is not only “The Door” (see John 10.7 for details) but (in John 6.37) He will never turn anyone away who comes to Him.

May you seek, find and trust in Him this Christmas and beyond!

As always, thanks for stopping by:) -Glenn