“Desperate Hope”

David Bunker is a friend of many years, talents and has a passionate, gifted ability to teach via his several gifts. He currently serves with Visible Music College. Upon reading this recent Facebook post I felt it important to re-post via my blog and social media sites.

I have many friends, colleagues and acquaintances that I’m certain would benefit from a careful read and reflection on what David shares here. I’d suggest several such reads and a return to pondering it from time to time for a sense of hope.

Funny, my own thoughts have often considered the rain barrel both in terms of literal and also spiritual ecological needs being met.

Thank you David. Amen. -Glenn Kaiser

DESPERATE HOPE by David Bunker

Desperate Hope
I have been saving rain
In a rusty old bucket for months
The time has come
For me to pour it on
The only flower in my field
As an act of desperate hope

[When asked to elaborate on this poem, David replied:]

“This poem is about listening to a part of us that here to fore has either been deadened, missing, or just quiet and dormant. This is about welcoming the dawning of something mysterious like rain or inner refreshment. One of the first conditions of the soul Christ will confront during these drought like times is our cynicism. Cynicism is really about hopelessness. When we loose hope, even the simplest acts of devotion are dry and void of sustenance. All those around us seem naive and much of our daily routine seems silly and without meaning. Why? That is the deep question in our soul? Why even try we ask. Nothing I do will make any difference. Nothing I can offer to this life will ultimately change my condition. It is this lack of hope that deadens our souls. We can so easily become hopeless. As fragile as hope can be, it is a fuel the soul needs to form a future. Without it we see life as a series of disconnected actions. We are a bit player in a theatrical novel in which our fate has been sealed. Nothing can change that. This is what cynicism does to hope. So I let my desperation actually push me to an act of seeming insanity. But it is not based on reason or logic but the human condition that will at times in our life be one act away from disaster or tremendous loss. So we offer the act of desperate hope.”

Glenn sez- as always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Misc. Update

End of August, almost into September- then my fave months -October, November.

Wendi and I had a great weekend in Iowa, saw old friends and met some new ones 🙂 We pulled a few REZ songs out by request and all went well indeed.

Tonight I’ve been invited to bring a Bible study to my chaplain friends at Cook County Jail (via phone conference call) and am also encouraged by their love, faith and servanthood a great deal. Praying to be able to access CCJ and Stateville (prison) here in Illinois as soon as the Covid situation allows face-to-face in those and other facilities again.

Working on several small and soon a larger project or two.

So I hope your summer is going well, autumn is just around the corner.

Prayers going up for Afghanistan and have been also for New Orleans and area re. hurricane Ida. Whew.

I am so deeply grateful for daily simple yet profound graceS in a world of great need.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

96f and Perfect

Deck “Office” Time

A Hot Day in Chicago, Stream of Consciousness in the life…

[Written yesterday before whopper storms came through last night. Today the flowers are rocking from the soak.]

Sitting in the shade on a hot August day. A wide assortment of thoughts come to mind.

The obvious- hot yet comfortable due to a Lake Michigan breeze wafting through the 2nd floor deck, my iced coffee w. zero calorie/carb raspberry flavoring (love or hate it… I like!) and a sweet friend gifted our family/grandkids w. several not-so-sugar-free drink mixes and all the stuff to go with a little snow-cone machine for them! Sweet indeed 🙂

Here I am writing on my also-gifted old but (major-league battery powered) netbook, one of my fave Linux operating system distros on it.

Just read sadly about Charlie Watts, Rolling Stones drummer passing. More of that coming for all of us along and along.

Readying for a weekend of 50 year celebration at a Des Moines church in Iowa w. a longtime pastor friend. Wendi and I will go over a few ol’ REZ tunes for that, and I must rehearse a few I’ve not done much -for that Sat. night set.

Thinking about the massive per capita Covid infection outbreak in S. Dakota and the many years of Music For the Soul Stage at Sturgis Motorcycle rallies I played w. so many blues jamming friends, several now gone due to Covid, etc..

Smelling the charcoal down below as cooks prepare an amazing grilled chicken supper.

Drought in other parts, our garden is going crazy pretty due to rain here off and on while so many sad, tragic things are happening with wildfires in Cali. and even northern Minnesota… then floods and destruction, deaths in Tennessee.

Last night right across the street in Uptown Chicago 4 young gang kids shot one another up, more blood in the street. Sigh.

Afghanistan, Haiti, on it goes.

Our world is laced with many, many sad traumas as well as graced, protected and blessed with elements God is present with me/us in. Believe it or not.

From “The Call” – “I Still Believe”:

I’ve been in a cave for forty days
Only a spark to light my way
I wanna give out, I wanna give in
This is our crime
This is our sin

But I still believe, I still believe
Through the pain and through the grief
Through the lives, through the storms
Through the cries and through the wars

Oh, I still believe

I’m flat on my back out at sea
Hopin’ these waves don’t cover me
I’m turned and tossed upon the waves
When the darkness comes I feel the grave

But I still believe, I still believe
Through the cold and through the heat
Through the rain and through the tears
Through the crowds and through the cheers

Oh, I still believe

I’ll march this road, I’ll climb this hill
Upon my knees if I have to
I’ll take my place up on this stage
I’ll wait ’til the end of time for you like everybody else

I’m out on my own walkin’ the streets
I look at the faces that I meet
I feel like I, like I want to go home
What do I feel?
What do I know?

But I still believe, I still believe
Through the shame and through the grief
Through the heartache, through the tears
Through the waiting, through the years

For people like us in places like this
We need all the hope that we can get

I pray for so many people, dear friends in another state who just recently contracted Covid and are in hospital. A tour good friends recently, rightly cancelled but will happen in time, due to the virus upsurges in Navajo areas of New Mexico.

I still can see, hear, find, even enjoy God’s blessings in my life, so many come with an amazing wife and family, church friends, and sit out front w. a guitar, harmonica and battery powered amp playing music I love for people I love in a city I love -in the main because I know WHO Love IS and know I’m loved regardless.

So there’s a day in the life.

In a bit I’ll print off the setlist, gear and packing list, some lyrics, re-string a guitar, try out one of my portable pickups on several found-object guitars and decide which to take to the weekend gig.

Oh- my friend Bob created yet another hottttt mix of peppers and spices that I’ll sure ’nuff pop on my grilled chicken tonight!

Tomorrow laundry, more rehearsing.

In all things by prayer, with thanksgiving, making my requests to God, thanking Him for the peace that SURPASSES understanding.

One day at a time.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Kindness

Indeed! “A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.” – Joseph Joubert

And: apostle Paul writes “Love is patient, love is –kind-.” John writes in 1 John “God is love.” Part of God’s love for you and I is His kindness toward us -UNdeserved. I think He’s saying “Go and do likewise” re. those we don’t think deserve it.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Unfaithful God??

Re. this title- isn’t that some folk’s conclusion when they pray for things that don’t happen, that they want but do not get?

I’d say history -including your and my personal history- proves human beings are unfaithful a LOT. God on the other hand, never lies, always desires the best for us and sometimes between a direct answer of yes or no, there’s that third issue of wait.

Does ANY of those three bring a right charge of unfaithfulness regarding God’s Own character and nature? I don’t believe so.

One massive matter in such a false judgment is this- nobody knows you, knows anything about anything more or better than He does. Nobody. Ain’t no other God.

The Psalms are loaded with prayers that begin with human faith in God, a lot of phrases that give thanks, praise, extol His righteous qualities and judgments, and then ask for all sorts of stuff. It’s sometimes a bit of a “I’ve told You I love, agree with and recognize Your perfectness… now in my worship I’m asking you for ——” and of course I get it, especially when we are desperate.

The issue I raise here is the lack of knowledge, wisdom and understanding much less exact timing or what’s in the big picture and ultimate end of things -God’s Loving Perfect Will- versus our own. See, we’re not up to judging God in the same way He is judging us, what we need. We all know our love for Him and one another pales in comparison to His -or He is not the God of the Bible.

I can hear some of my readers thinking “Hey- what about all those verses that say” and of course there are plenty of other verses that qualify “if it’s His will” and a load of scripture clearly calling us out about why He deals harshly with people. So we judge He doesn’t really exist or at least doesn’t care or doesn’t love us because… because… we didn’t get what we wanted.

The core of a portion of Jesus’ teaching in Luke chapter 11 gives a sense of meaning to the whole portion that I think some of us skip through. He asked them “v.11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; v.12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?”

I am less convinced these texts are saying “You’ll get EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT” but also include the fact we sometimes judge our heavenly Father is less loving toward us than our earthly father. I don’t believe that’s even possible but of course some judge Him that way.

God loves us so much He gives us what HE KNOWS is best for our best. We don’t always see it that way nor like nor accept such, but seek to leverage faith into OUR will be done.

By this, God is judged cruel, unmerciful, in essence hypocritical calling us to repent when He doesn’t. He doesn’t have to, now or ever, though we judge Him as sinful as we ourselves are or worse.

And thus, a lot of people decide He doesn’t exist or if He does is evil.

A loving Father knows what’s best for His kids… and His kids often judge Him harshly for it.

Things to consider perhaps?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Liberty, Justice WITH Spiritual Growth for ALL

One crazy and interesting reality is that those Christians and local churches who have often preached and spoken against justice… wait for it… regularly from pulpit and pew are calling, even screaming for what THEY believe justice is from their perspective! Read that again.

A simple Bible study of that term throughout scripture is without dispute: God calls for justice plenty. The issue is in each case, getting a clear sense of what GOD HIMSELF says is just, righteous (in both OT Hebrew and NT Greek those words are interchangeable).

My earliest concern for local churches including the ones I regularly attended as a new Christian as well as those the outreach teams and bands I served with was two-fold.

Apathy (fueled by self-centered, rampant individualism) and Sunday after Sunday only preaching John 3.16, “the Roman road” and extremely simple evangelism rather than recognizing the massive majority in the seats already believed. That is, many figured (and still do) that if someone was REALLY committed they’d show up at a mid-week service, prayer meetings, attend conferences and certainly many called for folks to attend a small group regularly.

ALL of those are great tools for spiritual growth IF IF IF people actually show up, but many didn’t and do not.

Discipleship, spiritual formation and growth based on preaching little more than a salvation message on Sundays doesn’t create a deep discipleship manifesting actions for justice among those “least of these” in our town, county, state, nation, world.

Ok, so churches have often set up short-term mission trips in that younger people and at least some older ones in the church might be challenged to think “outside the box” and link, even learn from interaction with “the poor, the widow, orphan, elderly” and this is again a good thing. It does have affect in some. In others it’s a bit of a “drive-by” as people return home and get right back into self-focused lives seeking comfort for themselves rather than justice for those in need.

True justice is UNCOMFORTABLE FOR THOSE WORKING FOR IT! Let’s just cut to the chase and admit this separates believers from believers who live out the Book of James sense and actions of loving, sacrificial service for the outcasts, the truly poor, the addicted and such.

In my view and experience, such a mentality loves status quo small “c” christianity. It allows us to stay spiritually seated right where we are which is not about growth but power, control and kisses us with an attitude of “I’m not part of THOSE people’s solution! Hey, GO GIT YER OWN LIKE I GOT MINE.”

That’s a recipe that serves white privilege, knee-jerk anger and keyboard warrior angst, in fact for some a January 6 insurrection which isn’t a matter of justice, rather protection of your own kingdom, not the kingdom of God.

Am I saying the left, the Democrats, Progressives are all about the kingdom of God?! No more than the Republicans or Independents are!!

Come on, the kingdom of self which keeps us “in the driver’s seat” is a massive, sick and stultifying reality in the United States and for that matter, anywhere in the world regardless of political persuasion.

If you don’t have ears to hear this, at least prayerfully consider what I’ve written here.

Funny how justice so quickly gets rejected by those who want the word and biblical call to just go away.

I don’t think God the Holy Spirit is going to quit raising up prophets who speak love, truth, balance and spiritual growth including repentance to those who simply don’t want to change and grow.

He loves each of us too much to remain silent.

Things to consider perhaps?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

God Vs. Earthy Father Concepts

It’s no secret that many struggle or even skip trusting God as their Father due to their own horrible or nonexistant relationship with their earthy father.

And yet consider all the good and encouraging things Jesus says in the Gospels about “our Father Who is in heaven”, the God about Whom Paul stated “in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His descendants.’” -Matthew 6.9, Acts 28.37

By my Mom divorcing my Dad, from age 9 to 18 I only saw him face-to-face for two weeks every summer and most years, for a few hours at Christmas. He was a good father but absent as we lived an hour and a half apart. On rare occasion we talked via phone and appx. every third month by mail.

Was he all I wanted him to be, wished for him to be for me or even what he deeply desired regarding our relationship? Of course not, no and certainly not. But of course my Dad was imperfect like all humans, sinful, busy with his own life, work, friends, health, etc., etc..

God is so very different from all but Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

So many of us carry hollowness, pain and loss in terms of our physical father so to me it’s patently obvious why many of us judge God with deep suspicion, harsh critique and at times an actual desire on our own part for… wait for it… distance from Him.

At one point Peter “fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”-Luke 5.8

In light of all this any confusion and comparison between our blood father and heavenly Father is as deficient as it is understandable. It is also unfair and wrong.

The God Who IS and reveals Himself in His Word as He truly is in Jesus Christ is beyond bane, defensive comparison with our flesh-and-blood Dad. Oh there are some basic similarities (certainly consider imago dei!) but He is much, much more and very different in His perfect, unchanging, sinless, all-knowing, deeply loving heart toward you and I.

Faith in Him is not a matter of human myth nor our own limited judgment. If we try to live our faith in these we are creating a god of our own making (otherwise known as a false idol). We each have that option of course, and plenty take that road but it is as dead as we are without Him.

Wrestle with these truths and learn what it means to trust when mere humans have so often given us countless reasons to not trust in them.

One major basis of my own salvation in Jesus was when I realized I could not fully trust myself but needed to place my trust in HIM. Glenn is not and could never be Glenn’s Savior. I Thank GOD for Jesus!.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Unity- In the Bond of Peace

I read many devotionals on any average day. Why? I need to. I need to hear many perspectives from people of faith who have learned to actually walk with Jesus and (don’t miss it…) others… others unlike them.

Living in close quarters intentional Christian community for 50 years is impossible without learning lessons that promote deep and real change in me. Learning to walk with a wide, quite varied group of people in terms of age, culture, ethnicity, race, experience and spirituality among all the shifts and turns of both church and societal change has been a gracious sandpapering of my soul and I’m deeply grateful for it.

To become, then grow as and finally remain friends with such a wide spectrum of people has been one of the greatest challenges -and- privileges of my life.

So one of this morning’s devos held the following phrase: “Trying to cling to inner peace without extending humility and patience is impossible.” With Thanks to Andrea Barnett: https://tinyurl.com/4uhw5uze

After reading through twice and immediately considering this phrase Paul mentions in the Ephesians text – “Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” I have to ask myself what I ask my readers: how EAGER are we for this? I mean within any Christian fellowship, church, band, worship team, mission work?

We all know unity is God’s will for His people. Was the entirety of Israel always at peace with one another? Has any local or larger stream much less the whole Christian Church on earth EVER lived in full-on “unity in the bond of peace”? When we “walk in the Spirit”, “keep in step with the Spirit” as Paul writes in Galatians, yes. But it doesn’t take much historical research to discover the real-world answer that often we have not always lived this out!

Yet, still and regardless, this.

To “keep” or “maintain” something denotes already having it. Or at least having had it at some point.

For a full-on consideration of this have a slow read here: https://biblehub.com/ephesians/4-3.htm

God GAVE and continually GIVES EACH CHRIST-FOLLOWER *HIS* PEACE. “My peace I give you, not as the world gives…” whether or not we access it, share it with others (and I don’t mean mere ritual of “passing the peace” as some churches do, a fine thing -but wait, there’s more).

Humility and patience? Willingness to lose? Pay a personal price? Suffer false judgment, even rejection and at times from brothers and sisters in Christ who do not agree with one another on all points of theology, certainly doctrine and absolutely methodology? THAT peace must move beyond “Jesus calls for it, prays for it in John 17!” and each of us must “be diligent to maintain” it. The idea of access doesn’t mean we’ve accessed it, are walking in it, are paying the various prices to not only have it internally but share it with others -especially with those we are not in agreement with on any number of levels.

Serenity, deep soul-peace, relationally with our heavenly Father, Lord and Savior, the Spirit of peace is a given, offered, needful and growing thing -IF we so choose not only to repent and believe but share it with others.

Until then it is a moving target, a mere concept that eludes us. Humility, patience? Foundation being grace, adding the ingredient of forgiveness? Yes. And most certainly believing in and accepting God’s forgiveness and mercy for our sins, mistakes and foolish ways.

Thus authentic, living, breathing unity. Praise God and Spirit of Peace -the Helper longs to help us experience this!

As always, thanks for stopping by:) -Glenn

His Way?

Really? His way?

A friend wrote a solid social media post which included Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:34–39. Whew!

There are in this life, plenty and many more who will struggle and indeed stumble at “the Rock of offense”, and I mean exactly that so many of the amazing and uplifting things Jesus said are not their issue, rather His hard and “this… or THAT” (and we won’t like “that”).

He calls us to take Him as He is and grow in the grace and knowledge of Him, some of which is hard, tough and very unlike our own will, desires, ‘druthers. I find the hard yet TRUE words of Jesus the stuff I need the most work with! Or on. That is, in myself.

God’s grace is for us to be conformed to His character, ways, desires. We cannot rightly toss anything Jesus said and know Him as He is by choosing the “sweet” stuff and in context of our study of His Word, discard the strong words, warnings and calling to “those Pharisees over there… not me!” Solid biblical exegesis/interpretation doesn’t give us that out in every and all texts of the Gospels.

I’ve long been convinced this is one deep reason many do not grow as disciples, camping between sand and rock.

It is both understandable and wrong to slice Jesus and His teachings up into “YES!” and “Ughhhh, none for me thanks!” but people have done so for centuries, nothing new. Which is in part why many who profess faith in Him in reality live faith in the ice cream verses and reject the meat and spinach.

There are so many comments in the four Gospels attributed to Jesus that I wrestle with!

Note exactly what Jesus is saying in the verse above.

He is the rock on which we stand -not we ourselves.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

The New Song

“I wish he would have played…” – “I’m bummed they didn’t do…”! Yep. Understandable.

For a long list of reasons we fall in love with a song or a record full of ’em, etc.. We go out to see a band or solo artist and because we’ve loved a song or group of them we of course want to hear the artist/s play ’em live.

The quandry is that musicians sell their music online and live, and in a live setting the issue is how to create a set list for that particular show and setting.

Do I stick to the songs people know, love, were perhaps raised on, played at their wedding or wedding reception, during childbirth, what they heard and remember during that first date with their now-spouse… or not?!

What do I do after 47 years and some 35 records later people come out with a deep desire to hear “our song”?

And per the title of this blog- when to put one (or more??) new song/s into the set?

Trust me, I, the band and all my experience brought us to what we thought were sane and equitable conclusions, perhaps adding a couple, even three new, never released tunes into a set while keeping the oldies we knew from requests that peeps wanted to hear. Of course. And “Don’t obsess or overthink all this, just decide and go for it.” I get that too.

Then there’s the odd record like our Resurrection Band Lament project which was basically a full-on thematic story. We let promoters and fans know in advance that we would be doing a tour where that was the entire set on the given night. Ok.

Now I must admit, Glenn Kaiser Band is one thing, myself solo is a whole ‘nother. As you’d expect and what I also think is reasonable, bringing what I am most passionate about has it’s positives for both myself and the audience.

Then again, an electrified biker’s show at Sturgis, then a “blues/worship” set for a Christian biker’s church, then a more traditional set in a more trad. church on Sun. morning are all going to call for changes. In that I’ve recorded a somewhat eclectic load of songs over my lifetime in a number of styles and broad range of subjects you understand the complications of “doing what folks want to hear”.

All that is preface to the reality that all artists, management and record labels have their own favorite songs to bring to live sets at any given time and for many reasons. Some of the decisions are personal favorites, a particular crowd or “Our new record is available tonight at the merch table! Here’s a new one from LA-LA-LA- record!”

Between songs I’ve written for my sweet wife Wendi and recorded on REZ Band records, my solo albums and such, I’ve likely got a full length love song project if our label one day decides to put such out.

Meanwhile I’ve been so blessed to be doing a recent series of concerts in this pandemic era and the lion’s share of them are outdoors (which I have always loved best, personally!).

As I age I really love choosing 3 or 4 new and as-of-yet unreleased songs in what are often 60 or 90 minute sets.

At National Night Out last night in Chicago I played a song I’d written for Wendi for our 49th Anniversary (this past June 1st) called “She Smiled at Me”. I barely made it through when I played it for her as she broke down crying as did I. The intense grace of God in our shared lives has been remarkable and sooooo large!

So this was one of the new tunes I played last night, simply saying “My wife and I recently celebrated our 49th anniversary, this is a new song I wrote for her- She Smiled at Me”.

After the first verse I realized a lady was standing there with the biggest smile on her face… for the entire song. What a sweet moment for myself and it would seem, her.

She wasn’t around after the set so I never had chance to thank her for that and her applause, but I wonder if she was thinking about her husband, maybe late husband… or her son or daughter, or grandkid’s marriage, maybe a mix of those? Maybe she was just encouraged that a guy would write his wife a song closing in on 5 decades of loving marriage and sing it in public. I don’t know, but sometimes a new song is what fits an artist, an audience, maybe even both.

I create set lists based on many factors. Largely my thinking is “Who is this crowd, what do THEY perhaps need to hear via my lyrics, musical style, what can I bring with passion of old, new and even un-heard songs that might bring them something to take home?”

My Christian friends will often simply say “The Gospel” but that’s going to happen where ever I go regardless. I think we must go deeper as does The Bible itself.

A new song… now where did I read about that? 🙂

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn