2020 Meet Summer 1967

I was a white paperboy delivering the news in a little West Allis, Wisconsin trailer park when the front pages day after day were filled with the poor and in those days 99 percent black crowds running, police and firemen, eventually 700 National Guardsmen on site as downtown Milwaukee along with many other American inner cities burned. The photos of flames shooting out of (largely) slumlord run “rathole” low-rent apartments was then branded in my mind. The key issues? Police brutality and housing.

I heard and read countless calls for law and order- only the law and laws on the books did little to nothing for poor blacks living in such white run and owned buildings often with leaking roofs, lousy boilers so in freezing winter and that hot summer, between general apparent indifference, money-focused white folk and broken justice for poor blacks, a great deal of the nation exploded in riots.

If you were “living” in those slums there wasn’t much mystery as to why people finally had enough and decided to trash, loot and burn. I heard again and again, always from whites in the working class suburb of West Allis where we lived -how they just could not understand why “those people could do such horrible things to their own homes!”

Put bluntly, even as a 14 year old kid it struck me how terribly ignorant and privileged white people (and I’m clearly white!!!!) were and God help us all, too many still are today, 53 years later.

The repeating narrative of a fair number of white folks? “They live
like savages, see, LAW AND ORDER!!” when they have so often been
either ignored, out of sight out of mind or killed/lynched/you-name-it by white folk for the length of our nation’s history.

How convenient to simply send in more cops, troops, elect tough-guy phony saviors who will demand the authorities arrest more people, lock and load. Gotta be tough on crime (unless it’s white voter’s blue collar crime). Others form or join a militia, play the neo-nazi white power game who in their sin, ignorance and their own hypocritical rejection of law and order proclaim this is all happening because “THEY asked for it!!”

Well when the Black Panthers launched and began to openly walk around with guns, when I unofficially joined (to be honest rather thin though sympathetic) the White Panthers it was in direct result of the continual blindness, often outright vitriol of the whites I heard say things such as this literal quote on my paper route “Just let ’em come out HERE!” as he took his afternoon paper with one hand and lifted a double barrel shotgun up in the
other.

As God is my witness I have no idea what my expression looked like, but I turned and before I hit the bottom step outside his double wide trailer my brain said “And if they do I’m going to be in the front row when we get to your place. YOU are the reason they finally lose it and burn the place down. Don’t you GET IT??!”

A few years later after coming to Jesus in faith one of the personal
assurances I had a genuine relationship with Him came was when I realized I no longer dreamed of ways to destroy such hard-hearted, thick-headed, fearful and arrogant armed whites.

In light of yet another death of an unarmed black victim, as black
folk riot, beyond lamenting George Floyd’s murder I believe 3 other
things must be said:

*The black AND white community sorely need a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to organize peaceful but direct protests in all appropriate places regarding true and not merely “white justice”

*From the White House to State Capitols to Cities change of who is in charge based how they speak, act (with or without genuine respect for ALL Americans) -and all citizens must demand they change and enforce laws in such way law enforcement actually SERVES and PROTECTS black, brown and other people of color

*Lastly, excessive force nearly always comes back in our face as a nation and until we realize it some of this is reaping the fruit of injustices that white, privileged people have sown since before the founding of our nation

Repentance starts with me, with the Church, not “them“.

I close with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. regarding the 1967 riots:

“When we ask Negroes to abide by the law, let us also declare that the white man does not abide by law in the ghettos. Day in and day out he violates welfare laws to deprive the poor of their meager allotments; he flagrantly violates building codes and regulations; his police make a mockery of law; he violates laws on equal employment and education and the provisions for civic services. The slums are the handiwork of a vicious system of the white society; Negroes live in them but do not make them any more than a prisoner makes a prison. Let us say it boldly that if the total slum violations of law by the white man over the years were calculated and were compared with the lawbreaking of a few days of riots, the hardened criminal would be the white man.”

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Who Lights These Fires?

I believe it can be solidly argued from history that the British Tea Tax (“Taxation without representation!!!”) was, next to a number of other issues, primal cause for the American Revolution -which most Americans think of as our “of COURSE we demand Liberty” movement!

I believe it can be solidly argued from history that the Russian czars created the Russian Revolution by control of money and political power to the extent so many peasants suffered greatly, indeed to the point of starvation and death.

I believe it can be solidly argued from history that white slavers and colonizers establised a money/power establishment which ushered our United States into some of the most horrid, bloody and murderous places on earth causal to the American Civil War and engendered both fear and rage not only in black and Native American populations but indeed in much of white society.

To this day the foundation of status-quo business-as-usual white financial power/political bases CREATE, engender fear and rage.

I never did, do not now and never will agree with Soviet-style communism as it simply produced a new set of dictatorial czars. In many ways they simply changed the dictatorial title from Czar to Chairman or Premier.

Policies of exploitation of the poor, minority population -that is to say, our national heritage -except and unless money and more shoring up of the political power base could be extracted from them… is that which repeatedly creates radical leftist “Libtards” and people of color rioting when injustices to the point of murder continue.

“Law and order” when used as political clout for white -gain$- and the continuation of dominant white power is the smoking gun that propels leftist radicalism to this day.

Crosses still burn, crowds still riot, murder and daily exploitation still occurs and unless you are personally threatened (as are people of color on a daily basis) you “don’t get it”? WE WHITE PEOPLE STARTED AND STOKE THE FIRES.

“A riot is the language of the unheard.” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It is FAR past time to listen to our black and ALL people of color neighbors.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

How Many

Trust me when I say this is no joke. It’s a question only my white friends can answer.

How many George Floyds will die before the light bulb in white folks’ brains switches on -ESPECIALLY those who call themselves followers of Jesus??

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Where is Mercy?

I’ve likely mentioned in my writings that for years I prayed for the spiritual gift of mercy. Why? The more we study human and church history, the more we travel the world and particularly among the poor, disenfranchised, marginalized, minority people -and the longer we live and actually pay attention to others’ sufferings it’s obvious why we must learn about and grow in merciful thoughts and actions toward them.

What I believe to be a very accurate, succinct account of the actual biblical spiritual gift of mercy can be found here: https://spiritualgiftstest.com/spiritual-gift-mercy/

What became quite clear to me decades ago is how often I’ve blown it in this area of my personal life, indeed in ministry (service) to others. I’ve asked forgiveness of God and people plenty as to my own slack re. this virtue, attitude and gift.

What I notice all too often among professing Christians as well as the larger world is that mercy is often judged (along with gentleness, meekness, patience and other fruits of the Holy Spirit!) as stupid, weak, flawed, useless.

My natural DNA and another spiritual gift seems to be in the prophetic -and you don’t typically think of John the Baptist as a wimp, a coward or flake do you? Most people have no idea how quickly I can by mere reflex, squash. I say this sadly, not as some sort of verbal strut, not as a badge of honor.

Would it be arrogance, ignorance, fear or simply primal reflex that might best honor my relationship to Jesus and direct my treatment of others? Does anyone actually believe God is impressed with the destructive power of humans?!

In a time of anger, desire for control, extreme fear and political haggling I find the gift of mercy is so obviously, deeply needed and seems to be in such short supply that I must highlight it. That lack reveals a gap, a massive hole in human hearts which must keep life-blood flowing to the rest of the body, both spiritual and human. Without mercy we aren’t much more than animals dressed up.

Two of the most wise, experienced, God-and-people loving folks I’ve ever known were not only kin to me but pastors and mentors. I can absolutely affirm they were like myself, flawed, sinners in need of daily grace as are all of us. Thinking about the many years we spent together in ministry one lasting lesson leaps out when I consider the depth of their love, kindness, patience and other gifts the Lord truly caused to flow through them both: mercy. They were two of the most merciful people I’ve ever known.

Will anyone say that about you or me when we’re gone?

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. -James 2.13

Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. -Jesus in Luke 6.36

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. -Jesus in Matthew 5.7

Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” -Jesus in Matthew 9.13

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. -Hebrews 4.16

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. -1 John 1.9

Thank God for that last verse ‘eh?! We get to repent, grow, learn, be more like Jesus. Note the word “if“.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Memorial Day 2020

Whether or not you agree/ed with any particular deployment of U.S. military forces, all are someone’s son, daughter, husband, wife, Dad, Mom, brother, sister or grandchild. Many have paid the ultimate price for us whether or not we as individuals would agree with the circumstances that caused that sacrifice. For active service members and veterans and their families I say Thank You!

In my years of studying wars and the many levels of engagement as to the “why”, “how” and results of such, to be very honest the American Civil War shocked me very little but for one fact: “by far” (states one respected historical site of many stating the same) the greatest cause of death in that conflict was disease. Not battle –disease.

This year I am most concerned with military personnel and veterans as well as families and friends who have lost loved service persons as a result or complication of Coronavirus. Many in VA care or who were not able to get it are now buried. Others are very ill. It is a national horror and disgrace that those in authority who absolutely have enough money and power at their disposal have not made a far more positive difference in the lives of men and women in uniform who served or presently serve us all!

Government expenditures in this regard are thus far a drop in the bucket of great need.

I recently wrote a blog piece which ended with the phrase “Ante Up”. This was part of what was in my mind as I wrote those words. It is past time the current administration does so.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

FREEDOM? That’s Your Aim?

Liberty? Right here, short and sweet truth:

Walk by the Spirit – Excerpts from Galatians Chap. 5
1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

GK- what God calls freedom is not synonymous with what humans often call freedom.

13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but THROUGH LOVE SERVE ONE ANOTHER. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You SHALL love your neighbor as yourself.”

GK- The context here is Christ setting those who know and follow Him free from a human works-based salvation, from seeking to earn righteousness with God by fully obeying all the law of God perfectly as though that would satisfy God’s requirements for us to gain eternal life.

Indeed, Jesus clearly stated He came to fulfill the law, not destroy it. He made equally clear statements that His followers were saved/delivered/set FREE by His grace, not their/our works (Paul’s key teaching in the Book of Galatians). To be clear- Jesus, Paul, John and Peter among others call for actively following Jesus, good works-actions which the Lord calls us all to -do- but this is a result of faith in the Savior, not self-saving works.

So to the point: FREEDOM as The Bible defines it is not a matter of the sword but relationship of love and yes, obedience to the Lord and Savior (in fact, the ONLY Savior) Jesus Christ. Jesus and others stated this plainly:

How we treat our neighbor equals how we treat God.

If you miss this reality, you miss the target regardless of what bullseye you think you’re nailing.

If you really want to claim freedom in Christ you don’t get to define freedom beyond what He says about it. Well, you can believe anything you like and define things as you so choose of course -but divorced from loving our neighbor as ourselves it’s not scriptural freedom.

Perhaps worth considering in a time of anger, division and strife?

As always, thanks for stopping by.

-Glenn Kaiser

Rain, Resilience

Love rain, always have. Enjoy the sunshine too. Been a fair bit of fog and a LOT of rain in Chicago the past 3 days. Sometimes a deluge, flooding and such, even got an emergency flood warning on my mobile.

Living right next to a pond, lake or river can surely affect your perspective on many gallons/liters of rain pouring down and I know some have lost homes and even lives due to it.

Most people simply get -or never get comfortable with it.

I’ve traveled thousands of miles in storms while in huge North Sea car ferries, all sorts of planes, on trains, in vans, cars and such. Been out in the woods (with proper rain gear on, mind you) and here came a great deal of liquid! Sometimes we find comfort, sometimes we don’t.

The day before yesterday I was doing a Zoom interview and noticed the wind had blown a massive downpour -sideways- right into huge glass windows near where I was sitting.

During a few hour break in the weather I took my near-daily walk in our garden and side yard, in part to see how the many blooming flowers were doing.

Growing up in rural country we often had at least a small garden. After my parent’s divorce my Dad mostly always had a rather large one. From my earliest youth with the surrounding farmland as well as by Dad’s veggies it was easy to learn how rain (or at least irrigation of some kind) is as essential as sunshine for growth.

 As I checked out the flowers in that break between weather fronts I snapped this pic:

Most of the flowers had been batted down under the power and weight of the rains and wind. A very, very few stood straight up. But that batch of beautiful yellow tulips told me a story. They stood firm, upright and blooming with health because they were protected under one of our trees. They were still soaked and certainly were part of “a well-watered garden” but standing strong, resilient.

Followers of Jesus and un-believers alike are often sheltered by God whether they’re aware of it or not. A verse I quote often comes to mind. Jesus told us “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5.45) Everyone gets rained upon at times… and also warmed by the sun. Everyone.

But the protection of shelter? What spiritual “soil” are you planted in? What sort of protective “roof” are you under? Are you planted with good, honest, loving -imperfect and at times frustrating- people or not? Is the Word of God (studying…) in you due to daily infusion by your own choice? Are you even at core willing to hear truth when you’d be more comfortable believing your own mythology of what’s truly life, your own choice of event/s as opposed to reality as God sees it?

Sometimes we avoid the very tree, the shelter that would keep us standing when the rest of the garden is blown down by the weather of the moment. Sometimes we are unwilling to face our own complicity in why this happens -and blame everyone and everything including the weather and maybe even God for our misery.

See, this ol’ “Glenn flower” has free will. He’s realized long ago that being comfortable isn’t always how he grows, nor stands strong in storms. Being sheltered under the Most High God and daily choosing the means and people to help him be sheltered are a protection too many try to live without. When you’re outside such you are very often there by choice.

Lovin’ those tulips! Thankful for rain and sun alike.

Perhaps something to consider along the journey?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Harmonicas, Lessons?

A friend recently commented on a video clip I just posted on my -personal- YouTube channel asking about harps and playing re. one of his kids. Here was my reply and may relate to you and/or yours 🙂 As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

My YouTube harp vid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1paS4cJyu6M

My reply to my bro.: “Hmmm, glad you liked it. The cheapest are not always in tuned to pitch, so if played along with another person on guitar or piano you’ll be in a bad spot. Decent cheap would be something like  https://www.amazon.com/Fender-Blues-Deluxe-Harmonica-Key/dp/B00KZHMZ1K/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=harmonica&qid=1589827852&sr=8-5   but still the pitch could be a bit sharp or flat. C is the typical cheap key by the way. The other one (same issues at times) would be  https://www.amazon.com/Hohner-1501BX-Blues-Band-Harmonica/dp/B007IE5QP0/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=harmonica+blues+band&qid=1589827950&sr=8-3   but from there if getting more serious and wanting ’em on pitch and playable out of the box  https://www.amazon.com/Suzuki-Bluesmaster-Harmonica-C/dp/B001I8A4TU/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=suzuki+bluesmaster&qid=1589828207&sr=8-1  or one of the models I play quite often: https://www.amazon.com/Hohner-Special-20-Harmonica-A/dp/B002B55TRG/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=hohner+special+20+key+of+A&qid=1589828293&sr=8-1  and if you get it in the key of A, you largely draw in and a guitar or piano plays in the key of E (referred to a crossharp playing, common in blues and country, etc.). If getting serious, YouTube search for Joe Filisko who is a dear friend  and incredibly gifted harmonica teacher./player -Glenn

SELF pity

Oswald Chambers: “No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it removes God from the throne of our lives, replacing Him with our own self-interests…we simply become spiritual sponges— always absorbing, never giving, and never being satisfied.”

ALL of us, myself included yield to feeling incredibly sorry for ourselves at times. In the current Covid-19 situation when we’re cut off from “normal’ and facing our own silence and distance from others we naturally suffer and some hurt more than others.

I recently posted in my Facebook and Twitter accounts several phone numbers/websites that deal with suicide prevention, accented in a video clip post the legitimate issues of mental illness -also various suffering that all people on the planet experience regardless of mental health. Of COURSE there are times we are going to pity ourselves. Further, like the biblical Job, sometimes we are not to blame nor in real control of circumstances and/or events that brought the misery and now suffer. Yes, this is all real and understandable yet no less painful!

At the same time we can all sin -and that’s an accurate term- for living in self-pity mode which is our choice. I did not say the events causing our emotions and hurt are always our choice, please note that!

Many years ago one of the most godly, unselfish, fruit-of-the-Spirit and wisest people I’ve ever known experienced a horrible divorce. A dishonest, adulterous husband/father brought it her way. After a fair bit of time in mourning and suffering (FULLY understandable and which I validated) we had a prayer time together.

I found myself doing my best to encourage her, NOT be a “Job’s friend” but also brought a difficult message to her. “There is a point in time where self-pity is something to move beyond as much as possible. Self-pity is still “self”. It can rob you of serving others, looking outward. Beating yourself up with what could have been or now is won’t change how you feel, but ‘let love make you serve one another’ may actually put your mind in a place of rest and peace.”

Some hours, maybe a day later as I cannot remember now, and second-guessing myself as to whether I had not been gracious and kind by saying that at the end of our chat I happened to overhear her minister to another individual using that very encounter and my words. She added “He was right. My eyes were so on myself I couldn’t see past to others. Facing this issue of “self” helped bring me out of my depression and pain.”

How often I’ve fallen into self-pity in my life! I mean, things “don’t go MY way” in tiny or sometimes large areas of my life and my response is so easily brash anger on one end or wimp whining on the other. My emotions kick in and I’m of course “righteous” and someone OTHER THAN I am to BLAME.

Sound familiar? It should because it’s all part of life in a world we do not and cannot always have control. How about “self-control”?

What we can do is call on the Lord for help, repent of allowing our feelings to dictate how our mind perceives what we like to call “facts” and “do all you do in love” as in “love one another, even as I have loved you, you must also love one another”. Now who was it that said that last bit? 🙂

Perhaps something to consider along the journey?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn