Pain and Antidote

When Jesus said “In the world you shall have tribulation” I don’t personally think He limited that key word to only mean a great persecution. Rather, it would seem in our obviously fallen, flawed, fraught-with-pains-and-struggles planet all of us face crises. Some of them are our own making, some not, still others a combination of these.

Regardless, Paul writes we “are being changed from glory to glory” not misery to misery. I do not wish to minimize anyone’s sense of personal hurt, not even slightly. Yet it does seem our focus can be up and out rather than a constant “within”.

Easier said than done- of course! I speak from experience.

I’ve mentioned in my online posts that my wife has struggled with several painful physical afflictions her entire life. She wakes up singing, smiling far more than I do and is an incredibly loving, unselfish servant to our children, grandchildren, myself and others. What an example to me who thus far has suffered far less by comparison!

Faith in the Risen Jesus Christ does not always and in every matter completely eliminate suffering. He walks *with* us. We face struggles and in many cases deep and devastating pains in our mortal bodies on this earth-ball. Thankfully Jesus completes His statement of fact with “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” One of my longtime favorite comments of His: “Because I live you shall live also.”

Ok- so some will brush all this off as a simpleton’s logic, a glass half full and pie in the sky approach to life. Understood -so how harsh is it to leave you to your misery/miseries?

God has called His people to help with those suffering, not to cause more of it though right through the entire Bible, church and human history and -our own lives- including yours, we indeed cause suffering on so many levels.

How much easier is it to blame God and others for my sins? How much simpler to conclude “A loving God would never allow…” until I look at Jesus on the cross. The sometimes referred to “scandal” of the perfect God the Son crucified by sinners on a cross of wood -and Him a carpenter most of His life until beginning His three years of ministry service to help the whole of human beings? His perfect work of alleviation of human suffering is wall-to-wall in the four Gospel accounts of all He did for hurting people -even though undeserved. We cannot “deserve” forgiveness of sins nor eternal life and yet this is what Jesus promises us.

Meanwhile we think and talk of our own undeserved suffering with little thought to His.

Certainly it’s understandable our focus on our own suffering is front and center, especially due to chronic illness.

As I’ve said, my Wendi deals with this for only one of her issues is arthritis which doesn’t just quit as one ages regardless of diet, treatment and exercise.

“Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God” is a tall command and one I’ve often battled with, trust me! Note also this was written by Paul to a church, yep, the Paul who was regularly threatened, mocked, beaten to the point of death, imprisoned though innocent of all charges. Might he have known something of pain and yet following Jesus in faith, hope and love? Was his life about himself or serving God and others?

So is our inner attitude “Curse God and die” or is it “Father God help me, thank you for grace and help me extend your love and grace best as I’m able in this day!”?

It seems to me bitterness toward God and/or others is the most painful, self-inflicted misery of all.

As His Word says, “But He gives more grace.” May we choose to walk this out best as we’re able in the pains of life.

In my own case I’ve visited too many incarcerated people in too many places to believe 1. they’re all guilty or 2. they’re all innocent. What I know is they all suffer regardless. I can also proclaim there is a massive difference in attitude, outlook and quality of life between those who seek and follow Jesus behind bars -regardless of ailments- and those who do not.

Of course you don’t have to be behind bars to be in prison. Jesus is all about setting captives free.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

3 GK Solo Blues Live Shows Comin’

Unless a major Covid lockdown happens which is a possibility of course, this is what’s on my schedule. I will post immediately if any changes occur.

SATURDAY, JULY 31, 2021 7pm
Glenn Kaiser/Todd Anthony Joos &The Revelators
The Nite Light Arts Center
7009 Ogden Ave. Berwyn, Illinois
A rockin’, blues’n benefit show for Nitelight Arts. Hope to see you there 🙂

TUESDAY AUGUST 3, 2021 NATIONAL NIGHT OUT, GK and others @ Winnemac Park, 5100 N. Leavitt St. Chicago, IL 4-7pm -Glenn’s set time tba

SATURDAY AUGUST 14, 2021 GK at 8pm Rock on the Rock 2021 -Harry Moore Pavilion, 1240 Riverside Dr, Beloit, WI

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

The Church IS and ISN’T

My main concern in this writ is the struggle, pains, sense of let-down, loss and wandering many feel and navigate acutely with regard to any “kind” of what most call “church”. Note- this is NOT about gender whatsoever, but it is indeed focused on a biblical metaphor, that being marriage. Please read on.

“Church” is “assembly of people” and not a building or any particular organization or dis-organization of gathered people. The Bible doesn’t offer those last two distinctions as part of the definition of the term. Christ-following PEOPLE equal the church.

There is no question that an honest, thorough study of history reveals sins, flaws, mistakes and out-right atrocities done -by- various iterations of what we call “church”. I make no claim otherwise and to disregard these realities is in a word, ignorant, or stated more graciously, rather unlearned.

At ground level- If Jesus’ own literal commandments, death and core teachings are not about forgiveness toward us and forgiving one another I don’t know what Bible you’re reading or “Christian life” you’re living but it isn’t Gospel.

Countless people in one-on-one, small group, large conferences, social media, books and articles have forever discussed what’s wrong with “the church” as a larger body, denomination/s, “kind” or “way” of various local fellowships, and a massive amount of critique is accurate, needed and a major move toward solutions. Tough as such critiques are, so is the essentiality of repentance and reformation. This is as true about any sort of “church” entity as it is us as individuals.

Though what I say next does not/will not be the case for everyone who has ever been deeply hurt or incredibly angry at “the church”, my own experience is that some who seem to have “left” any regular gathering of others who seek to follow Jesus- and sometimes are disgusted often care deeply about those they seem to trash-talk about.

Why do I think this is this true (for some)? Their deepest pains are sourced in caring for, even loving and not finding what they expected to in a particular local fellowship and/or denomination and thus are heartbroken -therefore deeply hurt and/or angry.

Since Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel God has felt those very things Himself. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good.”

Jesus came in part to respond to the truth and reality of what the (biblical metaphor) “bride of Christ” has done, not done and is often doing: in various times and ways rebelling against Him, even profaning His Name by action and inaction, loving and not loving, serving the Lord and others. As per individuals so this is often true of any sort of gathering of believers. A long and deep discovery of our individual selves OR the organizations/gatherings of what we call “the church” will reveal all this equally.

How many of us came to faith and follow Jesus on the basis of our sins and deep need? Shall we not continue to follow Him in faith when we see the very same in our friends, brothers and sisters in local churches?

It is no mystery to me that we each seek to escape places of pain, sadness and hypocrisy. It was no surprise to me I found these struggles and stains among professing believers as individuals organized and disorganized, regularly meeting or not.

Perhaps you expected the church to -be- Jesus? We are not. That’s the most obvious yet overlooked reality in all this.

Consider a few biblical metaphors God Himself uses throughout His Word, both Old and New Testaments:

Marriage supper of the Lamb”, “bride of Christ”, even sadly and too often “adultery” with regard to Israel and Judah, the very “people of God”!

God is NOT the church. The church is NOT God. Never was, never will be. According to Jesus the Bridegroom and the Bride are not synonymous. This is why there is a marriage supper coming and it’s clearly not happening until it does in the end of time as we know it.

Finally, I’ve often accented this in my writings here, but in principle, has anyone avoided pain, sadness and a sense of God Himself “letting me down!”?? He is perfect, His ways are “past finding out” in our finite ignorance -regardless many have not only left X, Y or Z form of “church” but walked away from Him.

Here is a negative, then positive analogy: I was an addict, come from and came out of addiction to various drugs, etc.. I’m now clean and sober and have been for decades. If I had continuously hung around dope dealers and deals I very much doubt I’d be alive to type these words now!

JESUS delivered me. I sought out and found a local church (3, actually) that helped bring me through this transition. I NEEDED the iron-sharpening of local church and all these years later I still do.

Without a doubt we are NOT God and at times are not living out our calling to BE and act as “the church”.

I will refrain from quoting a pile of verses/history from the New Testament alone that blatantly demonstrates this, so it’s not only our pain, our sins but indeed Bible commentary itself that confirms “there is nothing new under the sun”.

I, you dear reader, all of us need a new heart, an educated understanding, humility and an attitude that builds bridges rather than walls.

We each and all need as the OT mentions, for God to take out of us the stony heart and renew within us a heart of flesh.

WE as well as THEY need reformation.

Holy Spirit have your way!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Chicago-Area Show July 31st

SATURDAY, JULY 31, 2021 AT 7 PM CDT Glenn Kaiser/Todd Anthony Joos &The Revelators @ The Nite Light Arts Center 7009 Ogden Ave. Berwyn, Illinois

A rockin’, blues’n, benefit show for Nitelight Arts. Hope to see you there 🙂

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Division/Unity in The Church(es)

I believe there is plenty which The Bible refers to clearly as right and wrong, godly and sinful, part of the Father’s plan and desire and things He opposes. Such lists in the New Testament alone are easy to find. That said, wait… there’s more.

How do disagreements among professing followers of Jesus happen? How to turn the flames down? How to continue to care for one another in Jesus’ love and stay together when separation is a much easier path?

For clarity- I don’t mean to say all professing Christ followers MUST agree on EVERY issue or even interpretation of The Bible. I surely do not mean how we “do” church must be thought of as only one way –ours-… or “the highway”!

Consider as an illustration- I love urban city streets and life and I also love rural small towns and deep woods. Yep, all three. Many folks lean pretty much to one or the other of these. See, we already disagree…

Ok, let’s consider the woods. Specifically ticks. Deer ticks in the U.S..

I learned all about those blood-sucking disease-carrying deer ticks and also learned about one form of spray for my body and another for clothes and boots only. After plenty of research and experiences with all sorts of ticks, I could have just decided to give up on being in the woods entirely. That’s exactly what some folks do with the church.

A very close friend of mine was bitten suffering some of the most horrible affects of lyme disease for many months until a wise urban doctor finally recognized what other docs did not. My bro began treatment and over a couple years got well -but the road to healing was neither fun nor easy.

I am not referring to people in the church as “ticks”- rather I’m thinking of the long list of what bugs us, the pain, struggles, sin, control issues and all that “bites” us. A fact we’d all rather ignore is we bring a lot of it in the door of any local fellowship the moment we arrive. We each and all share in a sin nature. How easy to only attribute that to someone other that ourselves!

Laced within this post are forms of “spray” that like it or not, I find not only scriptural but practical and gut-core work though you and I may indeed not wish to apply.

I’ve spent most of my life in and out of leadership in a fairly large inner-city Christian community. I grew up in rural and small-town Midwestern U.S. amongst quite conservative people, and eventually among urban liberal folks. Traveling the world I’ve heard views from longtime as well as very young leaders in one ear and a wide assortment of their congregations views in my other ear!

From Scripture, church history, world history, wide and varied positions of believers and unbelievers regarding the broad and multiple streams of the church on earth, here are some thoughts.

By NO means do I think to write some sort of “one size fits all” post on the massive, expansive thing we call “the church” on earth, but I do believe there are some core issues that may help us think through both division and unity, that’s my intent. Further, I’ll use common language the reader doesn’t have to go to a dictionary or Greek lexicon to decipher.

Genuine followers of Jesus are the church, period. This does not mean all who attend or even serve are following Jesus. Obvious, no?

WHAT a “genuine, authentic” Christ-follower believes, “looks like” has ever been debated. Certainly those who seem to consistently though imperfectly manifest His love and the fruit of the Spirit are typically considered true Christians. And yet… and yet…

I immediately hear my house church and fully independent Christian friends brains go to “Of COURSE… it’s all about THE.FLIPPING.INSTITUTIONS.WHICH.ARE.DEMONIC.”

I know some of the most godly, mature, loving, holy followers of Jesus and some of the most messed-up, mean-spirited, sin-addicted bullies and both regularly show up in most local fellowships regardless of “kind”.

If you do not share such experiences, all I can say is you don’t get out much and that’s part of the division-creating stuff we must face up with and admit to.

Our own personal comfort zone/s do NOT equal THE.WHOLE.CHURCH. Now consider multiple world-views of what we call “the church”.

Israel were/are the people of God but continually from Adam to the present, all through the Old Testament and mentioned plenty in the New we find a true Israel and a false one, those Jews following God in love, faith and obedience and those who don’t/didn’t.

Even today many Christians cannot seem to separate what the Bible calls “the Israel of God” from the political State of Israel. They are not automatically one and the same.

Even in this when Christians claim to be, or somehow consider their tribe or nation “Israel” or perhaps “Israel 2.0” we see disagreement, division and possible falseness. I’m also well aware many of my readers may not be able to immediately agree with what I’ve written in this very analogy! I get it. I’m not surprised when folks disagree. Sometimes they’ve good reason, other times not.

At a very foundational level we’ve Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox folks, and within each of them various schools of thought, orders, sub-tribes, splits and on it goes.

To think or believe the same is not equally true of fully independent local fellowships (of ANY “kind”) with regard to Bible interpretation, theological, doctrinal and surely methodological forms is part of our problem. At core, we all have THIS problem – and I’d say ignorance, lack of experience, lack of study and a regularly (and understandable) defensiveness to OUR way of thinking on you-name-the-issue has always been with us.

Partial knowledge, understanding, lack of total PERFECTION is our human plight as long as we live on the planet. ONE day we “shall know as we are known” but that day isn’t today!!

Next are we even open to a discussion that we know will be one of disagreement, debate, hurt feelings, possible severing of relationships? This is so very common in partnerships of all types, marriage, workplaces, rock bands and local as well as denominational (and you-name-it) fully independent churches.

Granted there are people and times when such isn’t going to solve the issue/s or bridge the gap/s, but these in my view should be rare, not the norm. For too many believers it IS the norm. We talk unity and deny even the possibility because our way is THE way. Maybe the best, not so good or horrible way. Therefore many eventually refuse to go into the woods at all.

Even a truly respectful discussion offers no absolute guarantee of all parties’ satisfied outcome. We must also face this.

By now some readers will ask why I’m not quoting the load of Scripture that speaks of loving one another, simple and direct statements, even commands of Jesus to be unified, have respect for one another and make room for one another, in essence God’s will for us to be “of one mind”, “in one accord”?

There is possible loss, change, cost involved. We can quote God’s Word all day long and still disagree on the relevancy of application, the timing, etc..

We have our reasons. Some of those are often fear. anger, protection of loved ones. Concern over causing people to stumble. Walls against enemies.

Again and again I’ve asked this question over many decades:

Who gets to violate who’s conscience? Me over yours or yours over mine?

I do believe a massive antidote may be found via Paul’s comments in Romans chapter 14. Too often we divide over the petty stuff.

I suggest we consider a few hard, honest questions we must each and all ask ourselves:

Don’t you want the freedom to connect or disconnect from a local church? Then why shouldn’t others have that very same freedom you demand for yourself?

Don’t you wish to exercise your right to believe or disbelieve a doctrine, this or that way of gathering as a fellowship? Why should others not have such freedom of choice and expression?

We cry out “Don’t judge!” while we judge the socks off of people for exercising the very freedoms we ourselves demand. In light of all this how could we not be in discord, disunity, division?

Another “reality shot”: “the Church” on earth has never fully been monolithic. It is broad, diverse and will continue to be regardless.

Even with gifts of the Holy Spirit including knowledge, wisdom, discernment and prophecy, who among us is one-hundred percent correct in reading other Christians’ minds? How are we so certain of their motive, goal and whether or not they worship God “in spirit and in truth”?

Our own lack of humility and quick trigger of judgment in these things causes more division than we care to admit, confess and repent of.

Regardless of our knowledge, wisdom and maturity we each carry our own slack agape, indeed carry our own personal “institution” around inside of us.

Until we face these factors the claim that others cause division and disunity -and not we ourselves- is simply going to feed the very “factions, seditions and heresies” we say we so deeply oppose.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Past and Present: SYNCRETISM

I was told I could not possibly be a true follower of Jesus as a man with long hair. Wearing those sort of clothes. Playing rock music, or worse, blues music! How could it be an aggressive sound from a guitar amplifier on a stage with a band playing loud music is a godly thing the Father would actually engender- even call people to do?!!

Whether it was serious followers of Jesus in Africa who continued playing drums during worship services or dancers in Bali who after following the Lord continued to dance, born-again Catholics who continue/d making the sign of the cross over their chests or you-name-it, people from various quarters large and small have forever argued over orthodoxy and mostly consider their own spiritual and methodological habits kosher too often damning those people over there. This is incredibly easy to find evidence of via volumes of old and contemporary solid historical studies constructed by professing Christians, not merely those outside the Christian faith.

A dear friend recently re-posted the link to an article I could not be more in agreement with. History, verifiable and important is of course sometimes revised (“revisionist history” is often the accusation). What is also true is that people have been lied to for decades, years and centuries on all continents therefore the “revising” often happened at the very beginning.

About 2 days prior to his re-posting I’d written the following in a private minister’s forum re. this issue. Why?

Any time a spiritual practice, cultural or sub-cultural norm, what we’re used to, like, are comfortable with -gets challenged we tend to get defensive. This is understandable. What I wish more would understand and admit to is this:

“The term “syncretism” keeps leaping up as I consider the hard views, frankly, moreso re. theo/political conserves fearful and angry at “the slippery slope”. For me, an older white male regardless -is what I believe to be blatant ignorance of historical syncretism white Europeans themselves *brought* into N. America and the rest of the world, indeed, laced -in- their missionary work all too often. Dominant white culture controlled the narrative and plenty of Gospel missionaries threaded their preaching, teaching and judgment of the pagan cultures with their -own- syncretism. In my view this is one of the sad and sadly continuing, issues of missions and you-name-the-church. -Glenn Kaiser”

So a couple days later I read this:

http://www.christiancentury.org/article/critical-essay/how-white-christians-turned-syncretism-insult

God looks at the heart, that is -the motive, the deepest desire and not merely the outward appearance. Again, plenty of Jesus’ Own words and dealings in the four Gospels as well as the rest of both Testaments give full foundation to this reality.

What troubles me most is how quickly we demand others accept our views as canon.

How ignorant, foolish and sadly common it is to brand another with syncretism in the most negative sense even as we carry our own golden calf up to the altar -to the dilution of the very Good News of Jesus!

Oh Maranatha!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Interdependence -For More Than a Day

On this July 4th 2021 I could not be more convinced our individual independence from both God and one another as neighbors are massive obstacles we must work at overcoming toward “forming a more perfect union.” Perfect neither any of us nor our union shall ever be -but that term in the Bible typically does not mean flawless, rather it means “mature, complete”.

We need Jesus and the best relations with one another we can manage (not always simple, easy nor even possible w. some folks, I know this also…).

I wrote this song some time ago, plan to record it and play it live often. God have mercy on -ALL- Americans as well as those from “every nation, tribe and tongue.”

Inspiration: Amos 5.24, Micah 6.8

LET JUSTICE ROLL DOWN -glenn kaiser

Let justice roll down (4x)
Like a mighty river
That will never stop

Let the people be strong (4x)
Let our voices ring out
In a righteous song

Let the kingdom come (4x)
When every knee will bow
Before the Risen Son

Let it roll, let it roll
Oh Lord, let it roll
Pour Your justice out
All the river
Every drop!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Two Kinds of Office

Several of my friends in social media upload pics of their “today’s office” places. Well here’s a couple from my past week.

There were two video sessions- one at Grrr Records for a rather long (my fault- showed 11 diff. single-string slide guitars and various possibilities via each) found-object guitar building video and finished by creating one from scratch on camera.

May be an image of 1 person and standing
May be an image of one or more people and indoor

The second vid work was done at Tone Zone Studio Chicago for Zeppelin Design Labs new Cortado III contact mic with Nine3Nine Creative filming. Very cool kit that, played through it via a Les Paul and amp, acoustic guitar, dobro and then stuck it on a harmonica and blew. COOL sounding and super-versatile piece of gear!

Last night I had spare time I hadn’t thought I’d get… so did a busking set here on Wilson Ave. Chicago w. my Tele, harmonica, mic with a neck contraption build using my ol’ Pignose amp for the git and singing/blowing harp via a rather cheap mic via my little Honeytone amp. Played, sang, blew harp, played blues, a couple new tunes I’ve written and played slide for a bit as well.

To carry all but the guitar and a folding chair I decided to keep the amps inside a medium size cardboard box and set it on a fire hydrant outside our place. Sounded very cool indeed.

I had to laugh, I never set a guitar case or coffee can or anything out for money, that’s not why I play. Tonight a bro. listened to a couple songs from across the street, then walked over and sat down until I finished the set. We had a great chat together, nice fella. Two other guys at different times stopped, listened, grinned at me and tossed a couple bucks in the box! I thanked each of them saying “Well that’s grandkids treat money!” and they smiled more.

Sweet weather, nice peeps and a good night of blues in the street. Been so busy I’ve not had the time recently. Fun!

Hope your summer is a good one. I’m thinkin’ about sweet corn…

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Sorta Geek Post

Two ideas I’ve enjoyed working with re. mobile/alternative note-taking and computing-

STYLUS APP FOR SMARTPHONE

Some of you LOVE smart phones- as do I. My newest Android phone did not come with a stylus, yet there happens to be at least one app that you can use w. either your finger -or- an outboard (didn’t come w. the phone) stylus if you prefer quick note-taking that way. I found one of those cheap dollar store styluses that is also a pen (you click for pen, otherwise use it as stylus on your phone or touch-sensitive device) which works great w. this app. Further, you can email the note/s as pics to your email addy, etc.. I have found the stylus I have works best when writing at an angle, but in any case, that app (no money comes to me, just wanted to share this) is called Pen and Paper, it’s an Android app in the Google Play store and is free. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tealapps.paper

PORTABLE BLUETOOTH KEYBOARD

When traveling, which I do a lot of most years, I typically bring a very small netbook with a version of the Linux operating system on it. No frills, only a few apps, wifi, text editor and such. It’s so old and cheap that even if it breaks or gets stolen I’ve lost nothing really. Along with my phone, charging cables, etc. I’m good to go, lightweight and connected or not when I wish. But wait, there’s more… or an alternative that at least works great for me.

I’ve 2 Kindle Fires, both are cool for my needs/uses, but sometimes I find them slow or a pain in that I much prefer a real/tactile keyboard, not a virtual one. And yes, I know and have on occasion used Google’s voice app, also in my phone, but sometimes I just want to type stuff, especially a long article or etc.. What to do?

My phone and both my Kindle Fire tablets have Bluetooth in them. So sometimes I simply bring my phone and/or a little Kindle and one more item: a Bluetooth battery/usb-rechargable keyboard.

Simply handshaking between my keyboard and phone or a Kindle I now have a full-sized portable keyboard to type away on, and still can fit any/all of this in a carry-on bag w. cables, chargers and such.

Everyone has their own preferences of course but there are times I just want an alternative or a fresh way to do my work and communications.

If super-super tight for space I can simply bring my phone, keyboard and charging cables and tilt the phone sideways to get a lot done w. very little stuff in the bag. But I rarely go without a second device just in case the other fails.

Lastly, backing up important stuff including pics is essential so I normally either use cloud-based file storage and/or just email the article/s, pics and such to myself immediately after I create them.

Your mobile travel needs/desires may be different than mine but I wanted to share this stuff in case you might benefit w. either or both ideas.

Mobile office r us!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn