LOVE? Yes.

The following is what I’ve been meditating on for some days (years, really). THIS.

John 3.16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.

John 15 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; remain in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

John 17.13 But now I am coming to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves.

John 17.23b  You loved them, just as You loved Me.

1 John 4.18 There is no fear in love, but perfect [Greek = complete, mature] love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

Does God exist, does He love you/me/His people/Jesus’ disciples? Yes.

Is God just and will He bring justice to earth, making things right in His ways and time, through or at times not through His people? Yes. This is the scriptural record.

May we believe, receive and actually participate in His love and justice while we are on earth? Yes.

My own life, sense of the world and church/es within it only made sense when the grace of faith and light knocked on my door.

“The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.” -Psalm 119.30

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

A Little BreakTime

Yep, myself and Wendi to a few days off together.

Next week I plan to load a backlog of posts on a wide range of things. An interview with a talented friend in my gkarts blog and more there, more in my glennkaiseronworship blog and quite a few here at glennkaiser.com

Links to these -all WordPress sites- are here if you scroll down.

As always, thanks for stopping by 🙂 -Glenn

GRACE

“Grace defies reason and logic.” -Bono (of U2)

While I do believe there are -some-… some I say, reasonable, sensible caveats to this statement I by far largely agree with Bono here.

The most hardcore extreme Calvinist will admit that from such a theological view God Himself CHOOSES who to give grace to.

I am no great fan of Calvin and indeed am convinced God not only offers grace (unmerited, unearned, un-earnable favor, pardon, mercy, love) and actually loves all sinners He yet hates sin and is not only in opposition to it but opposition toward those who habitually, repeatedly sin (“miss the mark” as in, think, speak and act in other than HIS standard of practical righteousness, holiness, purity). I also fully believe He places grace in the life of ALL just as Jesus died for ALL though not all will be saved and not all recognize or choose to actually walk in and in the practical, accept nor share His grace!

There are reams of scripture one can easily find and quote about grace but at the moment I’m thinking of “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” -James 4.6 NAS

His love for we who so easily think, speak and act outside of loving Him, others, even ourselves… His patience, kindness and all Jesus suffered with –us– in mind is grace, is it not?

When we so often choose to not extend grace toward others, when we neglect, even rationalize rejecting others at the deepest level is that not an exercise of our own lacking in grace?

Thus, in light of this, indeed even as I use reason and logic I come to agree that Bono has great validity in his consideration of grace.

I also believe grace for me isn’t always what I or others think it is. We define what grace is and should be, even must be regarding any particular issue or element of our life -and sometimes God’s actual grace for us does not match our chosen definition!

I also think many professing Christians “reason” our way out of being loving, kind and compassionate toward people, we justify doing little or nothing in the face of genuine need.

If mercy never triumphs over judgment, grace is indeed a myth -and I am thoroughly convinced it is our own sense of “earn-or-suffer” attitude towards others that renders grace obscure in the Church, we who are most called to reflect it.

Thank God for grace, thank God for constant opportunities to share it!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Who Does He Think He IS?!

Uh… God, that is.

He says “I AM”.

We say “Nahhh, you don’t fit MY description or definition of God, so *nope*.”

Ever consider that God is complete, fully sufficient within Himself? He doesn’t need a single human being to validate His existence, nature or judgments. Not one. Not me, you, all of humankind put together nor any particular group of us throughout human history.

When I hear people give reason upon reason that He either doesn’t exist or if He does is the supreme narcissist I think this:

He calls us to do most everything for Him and others while not entirely shelving ourselves… and yet HE does most everything WITH US IN/ON HIS MIND.

Jesus did what He did entirely for God and the human race, not merely for Himself. When you are already and always perfect and totally sinless you don’t need to do things for yourself -in particular if you’re already part of the perfect Deity: Father, Son, Spirit.

He created all things which the Bible states plainly many times in many ways, but what we often miss is that He didn’t create merely for Himself but with us in mind.

Because of, in spite of, to overcome the eternal pains Jesus went to the cross. He had nothing to prove regarding Himself, He did it for us, with us in mind. Narcissist??!

It’s one thing to claim (often as true as true can be) we professing Christians have mucked it up, messed ourselves, one another and others over, that’s fact, history and reality. It’s a whole ‘nother to blame God for what His people do to one another and to themselves.

Nobody’s faith is perfected, all-knowing, deity-think. God within Himself doesn’t need nor exist in “faith” in the sense we do but for Jesus as the God-man on earth Who certainly spoke and acted entirely in faith towards the Father from Whom He proceeded incarnate. When you are all-knowing you don’t need faith in the same way those of us who aren’t even close to such do!!

We all share elements of His DNA, but we surely do not treat Him nor one another out of His love in the everyday. We are reminded via Paul in Romans 12.3 “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” What we each do with that faith is on us, not on God.

Again, Paul: “If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know…” (1 Corinthians 8.2)

I, you, we all have a LOT to learn about the true God and His true nature, and sadly that most obvious area of study is one even many Christians don’t consider all that much. If we did we’d likely act more in the love and grace Jesus both exemplified and commanded us to.

So the next time you’re tempted to judge God, pause for a moment and consider what you’ve just read.

We. Aren’t. Him. Thank God He is far greater, more loving and absolutely perfect in all His ways -unlike His children.

Thank God we can change and become more like Him if we’ll trust and obey Him. Oops… the “o” word! Yep. Study Jesus’ words and life and you’ll discover just how important that term, like terms and His contextual references to it pop out again and again.

Love and trust, obedience to God are no more optional than to respect Him is.

I think we all know who the real narcissists are on our planet. We all have mirrors.

Perhaps worth considering?

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Size of the Footprint?

I’ve often mentioned that mere numbers are NOT the issue but Western World thinking (and more and more Eastern as well) shouts how verrrrrrrrrry important it is that our numbers increase. I can hear someone thinking “God gives the increase, it says so right in His Word!” and of course considering scriptures that speak of our prospering. Yep, it’s all in there -but what’s in me, in us?

I recently mentioned in reply to a social media post about “reach”, the size of people’s popularity and of course in terms of social media hits and shares, the size of a band’s audience in the seats at shows, the amount of press whether good or ill (because the “good” bad guy is so prevalent these days) because ANY mention “delivers one’s brand“. Even lousy reviews bring out rabid fans to defend horrible movies, musicians, politicians who have decided to take no quarter regardless of the value of a person, group or their output.

Another pundit recently wrote about how shallow sheer numbers really are, the algorithm game being played in social media and a number of people have recently called out the vitriol/anger/rage/you-MUST-scream-FOUL at each thing you disagree/agree with.

Is it easier to scream through a keyboard, phone video clip post… or in love to actually serve others, DO something that demonstrates lovingkindness and positive change? Naaahhhh, let’s just talk about it and endlessly debate with words from wherever our backside finds comfort!! Sigh…

My own public footprint is massive but in the end who is it that will ‘judge righteous judgment” perfectly? We who follow Jesus know it is God Himself. Do we really believe that sheer math is what He is impressed with? REALLY?? After more than 50 years of output via recordings, live shows, speaking and interviews OF COURSE my footprint is large.

Well so is Bigfoot’s… and to be blunt, so what??!!!

There are elderly women and men who are never online, who are largely unknown even in small towns and rural areas all over the world who are making more of an impact of loving, caring, sharing, serving and blessing not only people around them but God Himself -and the reality of numbers aren’t what it’s about for them -or any of us.

I recently was graciously invited to do interviews with several different online entities that have wide and massive reach especially when combined in terms of numbers. Blessed to share, truly! And yet this I believe and am convinced of:

God will judge whether I loved Him and others, honored Jesus and was truly led of the Holy Spirit in my lifetime, how much of what I believed, said, did amounted to “gold, sliver, precious stones” or only “wood, hay, stubble” as per His Word. SIZE isn’t nor will it be the issue. The same is true of you dear reader!!

Popularity? It is less than meaningless in the end because nobody knows each of us like God and He knows all and knows it perfectly, fully, thoroughly including our true motives, character and love or simply self-seeking.

Sober, careful consideration of all this is something I’m convinced all of us need lest we believe the myth that we are someone other than we truly are before the Lord.

Things to consider as we get “impressed” or “depressed” by the extent of our own or other’s (be they heroes or villians to us) “footprint”.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

GK Guitar Rant

I rarely do this, try not to do it at all but that’s of course rather impossible. But here goes re. guitar choices…

In one of several online multiple interest platforms I receive various regular and in some cases daily email inbox stuff. Like anybody, some of it is of interest to me and some is not regardless of how they establish my algorithms. Yep, regardless.

So one of ’em that keeps popping up relates to the Gibson Les Paul guitar and why they are so superior to the Fender Stratocaster.

What their computer has not yet realized is over months of including this bit of click bait my way they’ll never get me to open it. Why not?

I don’t believe LPs (I have 3 of ’em) are better than Strats (I have one of them and there is little actual Fender anything on or in it). I’ve owned, recorded, toured with and used many actual Pauls and Strats and to be sure- long and wide list of various electric and acoustic guitars. Look, I’ve been at this for over 50 years and like most peeps have my personal tastes and for -many- reasons in each case. But here’s the deal:

A stick and string, even 2 nails, something for a single string and a board, wall or can to attach them to work for me. For -me- I said… not everyone.

Yet I’ve owned, used and greatly appreciated a vast assortment of guitars both electric and acoustic -in a massive range of woods, acoustic tones, pickups and via umpteen amplifiers, p.a. systems, recording studios, indoor and outdoor gigs galore. The truth is you can make one guitar work -with a load of caveats to this of course- but a few of them work even better or certainly with less fuss. I mean that last bit in the pure technical sense. SOME wiring, wood fit-to-finish, pickups and all the other variables are made with more precision and care… and yet don’t meet the particular need, style or taste of the particular musician.

And then there is a kind of concept that “more is never enough”.

All things considered I’d say it’s the APPLICATION of the particular guitar, not all the rest of the various elements that in the end call for this or that tone, approach, number of strings, finger-style or pick (plectrum) or slide use, on and on and on -you see?

As God is so infinitely larger and greater than any group of -or individual- churches… so it is with guitars.

Though I’m convinced there is One God, there are a vast and wide range of guitars or guitar-like instruments -and to say re. guitars than this or that one is “better” comes with a long list of details that surely complicate and indeed inform exactly which guitar works best for whomever and whatever application.

This is my polite and I hope informed way of saying “Keep talking, in some cases I’m not engaging in this for a long, long list of what I believe to be absolutely legit reasons”.

Now if it’s about Jesus or people I disagree with on any number of levels I’m going to listen.

But for many less than arbitrary reasons I -might- not respond.

“Different” may or may not equal “better”.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

-Glenn

Traditions Worship

Oh yes, many of us (including professing followers of Jesus) worship, bow to, focus on styles, methodologies and other elements of worship modes  whether old or new-

sometimes rather than worshiping God for Himself.

We all know this or at least suspect it is true for each of us…

How much is about pop culture (popular equals true and God’s will??) or ancient culture (ancient always equals true and ??) or whatever our personal fave cultural approach to Him, prayer, song, building, gathering together with others may be?

How many of us judge and look at people on the outside rather than get to know them in character, heart, personal relationship? We all of course fall into this all the time. So it is with worship and worship styles.

I’m convinced this is what starts churches, splits churches, ends churches and either handshakes with current or older established styles (name the style, there are many old, new and hybrids thereof). It’s a boutique get-what-you-like-and/or-want or with age-we-got-used-to-it attachment, sometimes more the glue that keeps us coming back or searching for something else as opposed to linking with God, people or both via far more important issues. Note, it can end up more literally a matter of detachment with regard to God and this or that group of His people.

What are the issues? I already mentioned them above if you think about it.

But… all this takes thought, time, effort, even grace to listen, keep coming back, forgive, ask forgiveness, you know, all the stuff that relationships are REALLY made of!

Thin commitments equal thin ice in both spiritual and practical senses. We long to belong, for safety, sometimes to just be left alone, no? It IS complicated… which is why it’s so much easier to just keep moving continually or conversely, to plant like cement and either way not think too deeply about the issues.

All this is in part why many just give up, give out, quit and “take their marbles and go home”. Except far too many never find a home with the people of God!

I suggest we really must learn, grow, do the hard work of being more flexible, pliable and seeking after God Who is not bound by traditions be they old, new or mix them together however you wish… or maybe that’s the problem -it is ourselves and not our God and others we’re most connected to, seeking after, committed to.

Things to consider along the road?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

DIY 2 String Fishing Line Guitar

Most of you may know I’m fond of creating guitar-like musical instruments out of cigar boxes and found-object stuff, whatever I find laying around or in a clean spot via dumpsters or el-cheapo yard sales and the like.

The imagination and creativity as well as challenge to me as a musician is what draws me. Sharing all this with others is a way of bridge-building, teaching, even sharing the Good News of Jesus as I am a pastor and chaplain as well as recording blues musician who’s been doing all this for many years.

So in the past several days I did a deep dive (again… have done this many times for decades) into guitar and guitar-like objects found in Africa. It’s of course a very large continent with a super wide range of cultures, subcultures, tribal and religious histories that offers so much with regard to origins of the guitar, indeed blues music!

The sick, horrid and damnable slave trade brought people with knowledge and skills to build primitive stringed instruments made from the most basic of materials to the U.S., Caribbean and South America among other places.

I spent recent days digging into Northern Ghana, FraFra people, their Kologo music and the kologo which is a 2 stringed instrument played with (usually) a diy plastic pic made from discarded soda bottle, strings of monofiliment fishing line and in Africa, animal skin or cowhide stretched and tacked over a gourd -or- wooden bowl-shaped body. The “tuners” are simply rawhide whetted with saliva and each string wrapped within it, the leather tightly tied. When dry, one may be amazed at how well after the strings are stretched, such can hold pitch! To tune one moves the rawhide up or down, sometimes using (in my case) a flat-headed pliers as well as fingers for pressure. After doing one string, the second is secured in the same way.

Some sort of bridge (piece of wood normally) is used. No slide is used, one fingers the strings and typically the higher-tuned one is played as the melody string, the lower one as a drone. Players tune them all sorts of ways but often the second string is tuned a 4th above the drone string.

Very simple, very effective and for me, really fun to learn and find a deeper blues source as you can find quite a few ethnomusicologists and other scholarship pointing to these gits as foundational to American blues via the Black folks of the South.

If you’re interested, here’s the 3rd quite westernized version I recently completed.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Faith, Hope -the Path to Love

Paul concludes his famous chapter unpacking what love is and is not in 1 Corinthians 13 with this in verse 13: “But now faith, hope and love abide (remain) these three. But the greatest of these is love.”

Few would debate every human’s need for love, many indeed debate what love is, means, looks like. Plenty of people are hopeless or it seems that our experience of hope comes in and goes out -and often may feel like out is more the norm… as opposed to largely -in-, to and for us.

While it is an important reality that often we may think there is no real or certain chronology for the human biblical authors, there are places where it does seem there may be an order to how they list various things. I personally think this is one of them.

Without faith what hope does anyone have? Without hope how is it anyone believes that love is even possible for us? We grasp air and fog and cloud as easy as we come to experience love or hope without faith.

There is one Source of all three and most of you who read my writing already know I have long been convinced that Source is no other than God in Christ by the Holy Spirit. Yes.

My own experience over most of my lifetime takes me back to my own lack of faith in anyone or anyone and further, any I had was largely destroyed by observation. Watching my parents, family and my friends relationships fall apart, listless, blown about by the winds and disasters of life on earth as well as deep, continual studies of human history left me little to “believe in”. Finally I recognized a serious stack of issues in my own life I had to recognize I myself could no longer trust nor hope in myself. Loving myself was frankly, out of the question by then. It only took me appx. 18 years.

On that basis hope was far beyond reach for me. My own life personally was a fairly ongoing train wreck -I mean relationships, bands I was in and then out of, addictions and all the rest -that is until I came to follow Jesus. The search for meaning was completely empty for me until that point in time.

Love came to town indeed!

“Greater love has no one than this, that they lay down their life for a friend.” -Jesus in John 15.13

This is exactly what Jesus did for us. The tough issue is whether we do it for Him -our ultimate Best Friend, and in time for others –even for those we don’t like

I am convinced faith, hope and love are accessed in just this way.

May God give you and I the grace to reach up and then out regardless the cost. This is what love is. I am convinced this is the path. Fifty years later The Way has not changed but Alleluia He is still changing me!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Who Wants to Study Corruption?!

So when Facebook went dark we were spared, right? 🙂 We are under enough emotional/spiritual/mental and perhaps familial, workplace and etc. distress! So who wants to read anything about THIS? I get that.

We all know our deepest need is LOVE. We recognize many legitimate calls and actions for justice, equity, the extension of grace and compassion in the face of reality and false news alike, gossip, slander, vengeance and desire to control, win, see demands met whether or not we or even God thinks they should be as we think they ought to be. So in light of all the darkness I ask- when is the last time you did a Bible study on this particular issue? Whew.

I dug into scripture on the topic of corruption recently, moreso last night. This morning -October 5, 2021, I opened to read through the Oswald Chambers devo for the day entitled “The Nature of Degeneration”. All I can say is Amen and let’s get ears to hear and eyes to see before our time runs out. https://utmost.org/

We must be clear right off: “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for humankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior…” -Titus 3.4-6 Also even in terms of repentance: “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” -Romans 2.4

The old KJV tells us the word “corrupt” shows up 33 times in 31 verses of the Bible, “corruption” 21 times in 21 verses.

By far the matter being discussed is decay and specifically related to dying and death. We all know we’re going to experience this.

What I was searching to really understand at a deeper level is where the term is contextually linked to this:

Galatians 6 esp. vs. 8- which in some places the NAS renders as “destruction”: 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will reap DESTRUCTION from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 9 Let’s not become discouraged in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not become weary. 10 So then, (Or as) while we have opportunity, let’s do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

2 Peter 1 esp. vs. 4- 1 (One early ms Simeon) Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same (Or value) kind as ours, (Or in) by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Or our Lord. Since His…excellence, through these (vv 3-4) our Lord, 3 for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us (Or to) by His own glory and (Or virtue) excellence. 4 Through (Lit which) these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the CORRUPTION that is in the world on account of lust.

2 Peter 2 esp. vs. 12- 12 But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, using abusive speech where they have no knowledge, will in (Lit their) DESTRUCTION in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, 13a suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong.

2 Peter 2 esp. vs. 19- 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of CORRUPTION; for by what anyone is overcome, by this he is enslaved.

The same Greek word rendered (in the KJV) “corruption” in all four texts means “corruption, destruction, perishing”.

Note Paul writing to the Galatian church and Peter to the church are writing about the issue of false beliefs, false prophets and in essence warning believers not only about judgment coming to those who do not follow Jesus in faith but the possibility of their own shipwreck (to use the old KJV term).

I should also add that as The Jesus Music movie has just been released and I’ve been involved in online chats and panels regarding it, I’ve been reminded of a long trail of tears over first-person involvement with professing Christian musicians (and other leaders) who fell. Thank GOD some repented, became personally accountable in the local church and have matured spiritually and in all other areas, but far too many did not. We see that same record all through both Testaments and centuries of Church history. Of course -we- don’t know who repented and who did not, in the end God alone knows and is by Himself the only righteous judge.

While our salvation is not about our own “good works” nor somehow “earning” God’s grace which is not possible (UNmerited favor is what grace is all about) the sense of personal responsibility to genuine relationship to Jesus, the whole Word of God (Bible) and right relationships to the church are so foundational and so very needed. Then there are my own temptations, sins and those of others I’ve done the best I knew (at the time) to help move out of and beyond these to God’s mercy, forgiveness and Christ-like change. As you might imagine, my efforts as likely your own are sometimes fruitful and other times not.

I noticed in my Twitter feed another comment this morning re. white folks trying to help in the area of racism, the term (and often quite accurate) “white savior”. There IS NO SAVIOR BUT JESUS and can never be another at the most core, that’s a fact. In Christian leadership early on it became glaringly obvious that I could only try to reflect Jesus and His Word best as I knew to do by example -as flawed as I have always been and remain to this moment.

At the same time to simply buy into every temptation to roll with whatever “felt” right, most any cultural shift, or hard-wire align myself with ignorant, self-serving attitudes, being unwilling to re-visit the whole Words of God in scripture because they no longer suited -me- and/or those I love and care about does neither others nor myself any lasting good. Our life on earth will end. “Then the judgment” which of course plenty would also love to ignore, wish away or produce a defense against.

It does seem in the practical, most if not all corruption happens over time, a bit like the frog in the frying pan. Most people don’t wake up one morning deciding “I think today I’ll choose and live out corruption!”.

If these warnings from scripture (and there are of course plenty of those throughout) seem intense, perhaps even irrelevant or simply not what we’d like, I fully get that!! I don’t always like ’em either! But I love Jesus and want to reflect His love and truth to people. For my Lord, others and myself I want to avoid corruption. Dear reader, how about you?

The issue is whether these things move us to embrace our individual crosses or merely “look into the perfect law of liberty” and walk away from it creating our own false “scripture” within our own head.

Matthew quotes Jesus (7.14) as saying ““For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”

That word “small” has the meaning (Strong’s) “narrow (from obstacles standing close about):—strait.” and further, “narrow” = “to crowd (literally or figuratively):—afflict, narrow, throng, suffer tribulation, trouble.”

God have mercy and may we trust Him and learn to walk in it.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn