It Was Simpler Then…

Thinking about the cold and light snowcover in our garden as I walked it this a.m.. Thinking about deep injustices and as a white male how much easier “the old days” were, like before I reached about 9 years of living.

Before that I didn’t realize how poor we were, how distant my parents had become from one another, how fractured my family was becoming nor how illness, tension and suffering separates families -and people from people, sometimes even life-long friends.

At that stage my parents divorced, I began studying Civil War and other war histories throughout the world. My own search for meaning and reason stirred. My closest friends were messed up big-time but I didn’t recognize that then.

Eventually I realized I was at least as flawed and a walking train wreck as many of them were. Shocking but a good shock because it brought me “to the end of myself”. Jesus talked about a guy who got there a different way, but in principle I was no different.

As I aged and began to cast off destructive self-medications I also learned that facing and overcoming them with positive therapies (relationship to the risen Christ, prayer, daily study of The Bible, regular accountability including confession of my sins and other concerns) brought needed changes, healing and grace inside me. Allelulia!

I also gained great benefit through things like music-making, basic do-it-yourself guitar and other building projects, time in the woods and in nature generally. Slowly -and I mean slllloooowwwwllllly- the nature of service toward others when it -did not- “suit” me was clearly part of my calling. I’m still working on that last one, but a wonderful, godly mature wife, kids, grandkids and large live-in church will either bring one good growth or a hardness and withdrawal that chokes off one’s own sense of what serving love is, as well as how needed it is in and outside of fractured churches.

Now to be clear, as you’ll see from this bit of prose that came to me during my snowy garden walk this a.m., there is both gain and loss in all relationships including those of family, friends, even re. interactions with strangers.

To put heart and convictions into action costs and there are areas in which you can’t avoid it. I do my best in terms of personal responsibility, but there it is, it’s not only on me. “Love has it’s expense” happens to be a phrase in a lyric I wrote some time ago.

To take a stand in most anything will draw some people and alienate others. Jesus said His own life and teachings did so and He said this clearly enough on several occasions -even to the point of family and friend divides.

Things like ignorance, separation from people, a chosen “me first and always” focus is in my view, a waste of one’s life, time and gifts. Self defense and protection so extreme we refuse to consider the other person’s perspective is in my view, often merely a dodge from Jesus’s calling to love your neighbor as yourself -even though you may vehemently disagree with them.

I write all this to give background for the following. If it sounds like I’m depressed or dismayed today or for that matter, generally, I honestly am not. Counting the cost is a matter of reality, fact, not fiction.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

IT WAS SIMPLER THEN -glenn kaiser

It was simpler then – the wood and weather
The joys of peace – in quiet acre
Before I noticed – my neighbor’s pain
The deep injustice – and my own stain

It was simpler then – family forever
Friends at play – fun our tether
When my perspective – was grounding truth
Before the histories – leveled all I knew

Oh the greening – and lifting fog
Oh the speck – indeed my log
Then the calling – with it, friends falling
I was simpler then – now to love, Amen.

Our Image of God

Is often so likely tainted by our own relationship to our human father -wonderful, lousy or never-knew-him… and in any case with regard to mystery…

It’s likely our image of Him is too [fill in the blank] so what do we have to go on?

There have long been written tomes on Who God is, what God is like, how God appears to act in our lives, in nature and so forth. One can get all sorts of concepts from studies of the lives of believers and certainly there is an inexhaustible supply found online and in libraries.

In the modern era one can consider J.B. Phillips’ “Your God is Too Small” and amazing writers such as C.S. Lewis, Soren Kierkegaard, Oswald Chambers, Henri Nouwen, Brennan Manning and so many more who provide clues and ideas.

Indeed, The Bible! There one can discover the Person- Jesus whom the majority of His followers believe to be God in the flesh. He and a number of biblical writers discuss God the Holy Spirit Who breathed the Scriptures and reminds, reveals the Word of God, the mind and heart, desires and commands of God to anyone willing to seek, to listen, “for those who have ears, let them hear.”

Throughout Scripture we may find deep revelation with regard to the Person of God the Father.

Surely on this planet at present all at best are seeing “through a glass darkly” and later, then it will be face to face as apostle Paul wrote.

This always calls for humility and oh how we often forget such as we seek Him…

The rejection of God is often due to those who seem to act as if they do not know Him and so poorly reflect Him in their attitudes and behaviors. Wisdom and experience teaches none of us is perfectly loving, kind, gracious or some sort of non-flawed version of Jesus.

And yet “Seek the Lord while He may be found.” Jesus said “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father.”

It is this seeking and thus finding that is core to spiritual life. Some judge such as human ignorance, even delusion.

I suggest the delusion is our own in that it is so often predicated on whether we have a concept of a loving, brutal or non-existent human father. Further, our judgment of whether life has been an experience of grace or largely disappointment often deeply affects whether we act on faith or not.

Finally, if we believe God and our faith in Who He is fully and merely an option, that our own sense of being and personhood is likewise totally optional, what of it? Surely we may compare the God of Scripture (Father, Son, Spirit) to human gender alone (two  though God is three-in-One!) and as such confusion and likely distance rather than connection may result. We are not ourselves deity, but some will die trying to prove otherwise. Such is one of the sad realities of the inhumane race.

Perhaps such concerns are worth considering?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Beneath The Snow

(A birthday gift to my friends) -Glenn

Stark winter slaps
With freezing wind
And icy heart
It’s reign begins

Beneath the white
Below the snow
The cold of ice
Yet thaw must come

Beneath it’s claim
Defiant frost
All dormant life
Will spring at last

The sun of Spring
Due season change
Dark shrouded dead
Shall green again

Through winter’s boast
And tundra’s cast
The light of change
Shall blooming, Laugh!




White Fright

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2020 I believe what I write in this post fully true as well as appropriate. Fact is I would have said the exact same over 30 years ago.

For quite some time my personal email signature includes an MLK quote.

What I’m convinced we need to face is the following.

As they were persecuted Native Americans were either driven or decided to move further away from their persecutors. Ditto for enslaved, then black freemen/women from South to North and many clear to Canada to escape ill treatment. Haven’t people on earth done likewise regardless?

The largest migration in U.S. history was due to Southern blacks moving -when they were able, North to Chicago, New York City, Detroit and elsewhere in order to find better work and to escape the inequity and brutality of Jim Crow laws (note, “laws”).

Though most found work and a measure of solace, they also discovered racism and classism in the North.

In noticing a trend in Michigan the other day I thought about a continuum across our nation and it’s causes as well as blindness, even willful avoidance of truth.

People often move like they vote: our of fear and anger. But what does history honestly tell us about the causes underneath all this?

In the streets, homes, urban and indeed rural areas of the United States there are huge numbers of white folks. I’m a white man. Though it is changing whites are the majority still.

The homeless population is certainly not merely a minority crowd by any means. So how is it typical that those whites not in poverty are often so angry, fearful, judgmental and self righteous when the facts of history clearly establish it was white lawmakers and their government policies who established slavery, Native American genocide and reservations throughout the land they conquered?

Today on the backs of our white ancestors we whites in fear and rage seek to escape the very impoverished urban and indeed rural experience our majority white ancestors created. Please read that last sentence over  slowly.

Anger, fear, continuing racism and ignorance are fruits of white domination and exceptionalism. Yes, not only American exceptionalism, white exceptionalism. To this day we have opportunities people of color rarely have and we often elect politicians to help us while any sense of not “standing our ground” means we are creating or maintaining the next impoverished ghetto due to those people who are not like us.

“White flight” from cities to suburbs? We fear reaping what others now suffer from the seeds our ancestors sowed and if un-repented of, which we ourselves plant. It is that fear and anger that propels many a white vote.

One of today’s worst continuing diseases in this foul recipe is the gentrification process where pols placed by the financing of the rich work to upgrade/fix/beautify cities with ever-larger development corporate investment snatching up prime land -and when all-too-often allowed re. the residential issues, low-income housing regularly, literally goes out the window. Equality and equity go with the widows, widowers and generally poor and often minority people who had once called the area home. This is our common, repetitive heritage Americans!

The sad truth is others reap what we sow, not merely ourselves.

Consider, then understand why MLK had to do what he did, say what he said and eventually was murdered for it.

Was he sinless? No more than the white race, governments and laws- including incarceration for people of color that have continued to decimate minority and yes, white poor folk in both urban and rural settings to this very day.

God have mercy on us and cause us to have mercy on those we dislike, are fearful of or even outright hate. The way of Jesus is not the way of the vast majority of our national history.

Critics scream “Revisionist history!” I say what needs to be revised is us.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Our Sufficiency…

This a.m. I was inspired to post this due to a dear leader who very humbly, honestly wrote of her own frailty and how dearly she needed the Lord to do anything, especially and even when offering some of her best (to other’s judgment) work.

The other thing that moved me to write was a couple truly gracious, humbling encouragements from folks I respect who said the sort of positive stuff you could hardly pay anyone to say about you- and they did so in public. Whew.

I’ve mentioned this before, but in truth, those things I receive the most praise for from others have regularly been the most demanding but also gifted-from-God (in my view) while yet points of insecure, “Lord- bail me on this, I’m flying by the seat-of-my-pants-here!” work I have done or now do! Truth.

I struggle with pride, arrogance and when I’m aware of this I also repent. I also have to come to Him with my sometimes mis-placed lack of faith that I can accomplish anything of value. At the same time, this morning something came up I do feel confident about because I’ve spent a great deal of time, thought, study and effort WITH TONS OF HELP FROM WISE AND EXPERIENCED FRIENDS in so doing. Updating my wife’s computer. Yep.

The moment I recognized the need I emailed a close computing guru and he offered to help. Meanwhile I know what I can and need to do prior to his direct input, so there was that measure of confidence in myself present.

Now- singing, songwriting, recording, live performance, speaking, you name it and I’m often praying my heart and brains out before, during and after because I’m still in some cases quite the insecure little kid trying to do good with the ingredients I’ve been given.

When I say “Glory to God!” I’m not even slightly joking or just tossing out a phrase that often gets used glibly.

Where or when am I most confident? When after a great deal of thought, prayer, consultation and looking full in the face of the costs I’m deeply convinced I’m doing what the Lord has called me to do -and whatever the price, so be it. In such cases I’m in and whether hugs, “friendly fire” or “Go to hell” results I’m ok with it.

An old lyric of mine says it:

“Whatever one could ask of faith, Obedience will give, Together all express the love, In hearts where Jesus lives”

Jesus and people must be my focus, not merely some flawed dude named Kaiser.

Grace, daily grace, passion based on knowledge and God-help-us, wisdom and the willingness to live one’s convictions is key to a life well lived.

The rest is likely more about self than Jesus, the kingdom of God or people’s needs being met.

Here I stand. And I typically get there by crawling via prayer, study, accountability.

Bottom line?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn


-in repentance!

For the other person. For the other group. For the other church, etc., etc..

Most of us would rather be invited than commanded -not only in terms of people but re. God Himself. We so conveniently pass over, ignore or outright reject at least in part, the biblical God Who IS LOVE because we want gentle embrace, kind hugs and rarely if ever, commands. Me too, I get it.

Among self-focused, mean-spirited, harsh, sometimes brutal people and in an often incredibly painful world this is understandable! The more self righteous you are the less you’re likely to look to God and what He considers… about anything -including repentance. Ok, there are more reasons of course:

Plenty of people love preaching repentance to the savage/heathen/sinners, while the Lord (whew… see Revelations chapter 3!) calls all including professing Christians in “the church” to repent right along with those outside of saving faith in Him.

Alas, throughout Scripture He both invites and commands. He has every right and Himself defines and determines what “right” is.

The Bible term “repent” is not about a feeling nor at core that there is sorrow or anything -done- just yet, at first. The word simply means “change your mind”, “re-think”. Scripture is clear that actions will and must attend genuine repentance but in a progression of first thinking as God thinks about X, Y or Z.

Has any human who ever lived not wanted a change of mind to happen in others?

Ahhh but then the context, and I now mean in The Bible -is always at core, thinking what God Himself thinks and our best bet for that is what He’s already said.

If Scripture -and I mean ALL of it- isn’t our foundation, and if we will not wrestle with that how much does personal desire, agenda, passion qualify as “the Word of God”?

Because there is argument over who needs to repent and what the issue is, there will always be disagreement on what God Himself qualifies as sin or right thought, attitude and subsequent behavior/action. No surprise among flawed (myself included) humans!

So I leave you with 3 simple texts that bring not only healing and chance for sound relationship to God in Christ by the Spirit, but also the painful and personal cross-bearing side.

They include one of the earliest sermons of Jesus, from Peter and Paul as well.

Few would say there is no need for repentance in the world or church. It is simply ridiculous to believe or live otherwise.

Jesus in Matthew 3.2 and Mark 1.15 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Peter in Acts 17.30 “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent…”

Paul in Romans 2.4 “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

In conclusion, how can anyone love as Jesus loves both the Father and human beings (our neighbors, indeed enemies) if we will not allow Him to change our minds?

The Bible says a great deal more about repentance but to be sure, it’s not optional but essential. It’s not a one off (one time) matter, but an ongoing part of growing, learning, becoming all God meant for us to become.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Community- Monastic? Fantastic?

In discussing the topic in this post with a Christian friend who is writer/historian/priest/musician I found myself commenting on Duane W.H. Arnold’s interview with John Michael Talbot:

“Very cool, thanks Duane! Funny, I seem to experience both monastic experiences, fluctuating between inner-city (inter-jail/prison, etc.,) ministry based in our JPUSA community life, yet also am able to take solitary breaks nearly every day in our garden or silent, empty spaces here (short time frames of course) and when I wish, 45 min. drive away to a country spot w. nobody and a very small building (woods and a field) and compost toilet on it. No electricity or running water, etc.. where I and on occasion others go, build a fire, sit or walk, pray, meditate, seek Him. All good. Balance for me really. -Glenn”

Community Essential

His article/interview:

Perhaps it’s about personality? Introvert or extrovert? Perhaps ones childhood both wonderfully positive re. family or horrible, abusive relationships there or in later adulthood? Perhaps it’s encouraging, welcoming or full-on rejection, hurtful indifference or super painful experiences earlier in school or university, the workplace, or with a church, a denomination, a house fellowship or what was once a close-knit band of friends?

What about a sense of the reality of God Himself, a personal, deep conviction of His calling on our life to live alongside these people, those folks, here or there, and doing this or that service for the Lord and others?

All, some or none of these directly affect the linked just as they do the “dones”, “nones” and whomever else lives on planet earth.

Note my response above- “balance“.

Far as I and those wise, closest-to-me folks say, I don’t likely suffer from mental illness issues but some of course do. I’ve been deeply hurt on a number of occasions by Christian or at least professing Christian people during my lifespan but that’s not unusual either.

Looking back, my family was largely a train wreck but not constantly. As I aged and then came to saving faith it became pretty clear for me to understand how they each and together ended up in various addictions, adultery, divorce and pain. No doubt all this did and does affect my life.

I’ve experienced a fair bit of what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1 and plenty time pondering how it relates to my and most of our experiences (esp. vs. 1-12). In the end he decided the pain at very least was to teach him and his companions God’s faithfulness and gave them both authority and ability to share that relationship and wisdom with others. Note- “others”. Personal -and- others…

Monastic Christianity? Of course history offers a great deal on the subject, both in terms of solitary lives and shared, more gathered groups, both who served and today serve. One size doesn’t fit all just as not only one call of God fits all Christ followers.

Garden in Winter 2020

I’ve experienced these things on several levels while living all but the first 18 years of my life in close-knit Christian community where I still gladly, indeed happily live and serve to this day!

So allow me to also pop any romantic bubble of utopia the reader may have! 🙂

At very, very least one must sooner and later visit two issues again and again while living and serving in close proximity/community with others regardless of anything else. In fact these can ONLY happen by living out the Scriptures in real-time, sincerity and some level of community engagement with others.

Foot washing grace (forgiving one another) AND “Father, bless me that I will have to Bless others” (sharing).

Without these gathered community for the individual, family or small group is in my view, impossible and in reality nonexistent.

Can a desert father or mother forgive and serve others via thought, prayer and distance? Yes. But the balance is in my view the most sensible, approachable and of course difficult path.

My sense of some sort of perfect individual, contemplative OR corporate serving life in the body of Christ has long been packed away. Fantastic? Sometimes, yes!

Monastic (either as individual or corporate life focus) as per this or that order or specific intentional community? For some, either. For most of us? Both.

Meanwhile, “there is a time for every purpose under heaven”- and living out the kingdom of God in private/secret and public seems quite the passion and example of our Lord Jesus. Alone and together, serving. Washing feet, expecting and facing the dirt, forgiving, receiving forgiveness, sharing with a good heart all seems the reflection of Jesus the world needs.

For new or otherwise monastics, for what they are worth, these are my thoughts.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn