Like a Child

How humbling for adults to hear Jesus’ words -and how essential: “”Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” -Matthew 18.3 (NAS)

Various English translations offer that word “converted” in various ways, but the Greek means twist, turn, turn around and move in the opposite direction.

I recently mentioned in a podcast how aging people often get hard, brittle, even harsh and unwilling to continue studying, learning new things. At base this means “unwilling to change”.

You don’t have to be very old to end up in that state of heart, mind and project such in your treatment of others but it’s a major problem for individuals, entire churches and folks wanting a cement-hard way of thinking as plenty of us do.

To be sure, Jesus both spoke and lived out GOOD NEWS, grace and compassion. He called out the coarse, legalistic and demonizing attitudes of those who “in the Name of God” represented anyone and anything -but- the true God.

We are, according to scripture, all God’s children. How sad we so easily fall into being self-righteous judges rather than humble, trusting and caring adults who serve Him and others. How each one of us needs to turn, repent, be converted into the little children Jesus is welcoming and holding up as prime examples of trust!

We adults know very little children know very little, at young age haven’t had much life experience, nothing close to superior knowledge. What they do know early on is if they’re loved, treated with kindness and patience or treated with contempt by older and far more morally responsible adults.

How we supposedly “more mature” people treat one another including other professing Christians, agnostics, and atheists tells a tale. What might that be? To my fellow believers I posit it is whether we are truly living as little children or proud, arrogant and mean, possibly even fake followers of Jesus Christ.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Memorial Day 2022

How I wish our nation could entirely do away with all weapons and the military as well as police! I don’t believe it’s possible in this violent and unjust world! Believe me, I’ve thought about this since I began to study war and ongoing inhumanity in early elementary school.

Today I simply wish to say the people who have served are as in any other area, thoughtful, wise, kind and disciplined -and sometimes they are the complete opposite. They have served being called to do gracious and horrible things by officers and political leaders to which these very same attitudes and behaviors are also lived out.

I’m deeply grateful there are those who have served by truly serving others and often at great personal cost even to the point of death.

I’m thankful and saddened by families who have lost loved ones and shared in deep sacrifice also.

I’ve never agreed with every deployment and never will -but sympathize with those who have served and do serve. God have mercy and have it through me and us!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Soulmate?

My dear Wendi -my amazing, wise, beautiful and loving wife of 50 years- is after Jesus the LOVE of my life. In just a few days we will give thanks for this anniversary milestone!

Plenty of couple’s mileage/s may of course vary, but in our case friendship, really deep and genuine best-friend friendship happened along our shared marriage path. It has grown incredibly sweet through these decades of joy, tears, arguments, struggles of all sorts with ourselves, one another, children, grandchildren and you get the picture.

Lasting isn’t the only gift, we have largely grown to pivot in learning each other’s likes, dislikes, preferences and have respected Jesus above all and right after Him, respecting one another.

Without a lot of detail here, we would both tell you in a heartbeat when we married at 19 we had little understanding of the practicalities and sacrifices much less the immense blessings God would bring and allow in our shared life together as two becoming one.

Moving from stark independence to mutual interdependence took time and here we are, certainly in the ballpark of soulmates and that especially in spiritual matters where it counts most in relationship to Jesus.

Having said all this I believe it important to also say we don’t think exactly alike, are not in constant lockstep re. how to do X, Y or Z, and sometimes would rather simply be together doing separate things (hobbies of various sorts) than always the very same thing in “free time”.

We give one another space which I think also helps to actually cement us together and enjoy being with one another.

I think it also important to state some folks search their lives away trying to find “the perfect one” and on one end of that spectrum of seeking an authentic soulmate allow me to be blunt: if you’re looking for a near-carbon-copy of yourself in another person you’re nearly certain to never find them. I’m not saying some don’t find such a person but rather that in my lifetime, travels, interaction with couples and over-all experience- such is exceedingly rare.

Marrying yourself so to speak, isn’t going to meet your deepest needs. If at core your true motive is to marry someone nearly as exact to the one you see in the mirror, self is unlikely to meet self in another.

Then there is that matter of extreme selfishness that regularly torpedoes relationships.

Imho these are things worth considering for a true blending of souls.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Who IS the Gardener?

“So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” -Isaiah 61.3

In one of my daily devo books Paul F. Keller quotes Matthew 13.8 as well as commenting “One day, and very unexpectedly, we became the right kind of soil for God to plant a garden of new life, new hope and new joy.”

We must face reality that we indeed have capacity to grieve and/or quench the Holy Spirit, to ignore, blow past, discard, even wall off the grace of God coming to plant and nurture beautiful and good things in our hearts, minds, lives.

Bearing good and eternal fruit in our lives is dependent upon our being “God’s field” to use a phrase from Paul the apostle.

It was and is God’s desire and plan as per Isaiah’s words to move in and among the people of Israel not only in salvation but that they’d become fruitful -and this is precisely what Jesus talks about regarding both Jews and gentiles alike in John 15. “The nations” will one day reflect the glory of God and not merely human “glory”. If God did not “plant” -such an eternal harvest isn’t possible.

Jesus said “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant will be uprooted.” (Matthew 15.13)

I have often mentioned grace does not always feel like grace (unmerited favor) and when Saul was knocked off his horse and the Lord directly called and challenged Him, even told him in a basic sense what was going to happen in and through his life you can bet he was totally shocked and surprised. This was an unexpected encounter which turned his life and much of the world upside down right to this very day. (plz see Acts chapter 9)

Very, very few of us have such blatant “God moments” to the extent Paul did, yet he not only got a new name and new life but a new trajectory of mission which cost him everything and also gained countless numbers of people’s salvation, discipleship and indeed- new life, new hope and new joy.

Thankfully all of us don’t need such drastic encounters to enter saving faith in Jesus, drop our own personal and fruitless, mythical “mission” and grow up and on into HIS.

In my own life He did show up in ways I could not discard or pretend were merely psychological or drug-induced, or “natural phenomena”. God stacked the deck and I’m DEEPLY Grateful forever!

May you pay attention for ways He stands “at the doors” and knocks.

Your life depends on it.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Feet on The Ground

Interesting little English phrase, no?

It’s akin to “salt of the earth” in it’s meaning. It has to do with common sense or at least (another phrase) “meat and potatoes”, stable, I think of it meaning keeping things simple, direct, honest, and in somewhat newer yet now old street terms “straight up”, true, solid, no games being played, what you see is what you get.

As a musician I learned long ago about getting shocked. I mean physically SHOCKED from electricity via guitars, amps, p.a. systems and microphones not grounded. Working with power tools and sometimes standing on cement or near/on wet surfaces, all of this affects whether one is going to get zapped.

Playing countless shows in countries where the power is 220 to 240 volts rather than our North American 120 can be lethal if your gear isn’t grounded.

I expect many will be shocked in a future of facing God having not been “Rooted and grounded in love” which in context of Ephesians 3.17 is all about the Person of Jesus Christ Himself.

In greater context of that chapter, in vs. 19 Paul writing to the church in Ephesus states His love “surpasses understanding”. It’s more than intellectual ability alone can grasp. Genuine love is like that. It entails mind but also emotions, the will, indeed spirit.

The biblical Greek re. the term “rooted” means precisely that, as a plant sustained with roots deep in soil while “grounded” is defined “founded” and in the sense of “foundation”. We know any house without a solid foundation isn’t one we best make our home in!

This is but a super-small piece of the wisdom of God, Paul and having one’s life based on Jesus and His love.

All other ground? “Sinking sand” as the old hymn lyric goes…

What is your “house”, your life founded on? Watch the ground to avoid the shock.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Firearms Non-Political??

I was compelled in a discussion the other day to write the following. Oh yes, logic has it’s place!!

“I will also ask how we can say gun crimes are somehow not connected to our individual and shared political views when federal, state and local laws directly affect firearms ownership and use? In my view talking about de-politicizing the related issues is like saying Jews and Jesus have nothing in common. I don’t think we’re willing to take personal responsibility that our politics and pols directly affect law, order, incarceration and indeed the police, citizens and quality of life -this is where the concept of cultural, racial or nationalist views mixed with lethal weaponry is in my view, obvious, news outlets or none. It starts with me. I’ll say it again, I’m a long-time gun owner, hunter so this is far more than thoughtless or hard left/hard right verbiage in my own life. Grew up rural, lived many decades in inner city Chicago and continue to visit and love small towns and rural America, this is my vantage point.” -Glenn Kaiser

The Worst Nemesis

Among much Augustine writes I find this one of his most solid truths and so important to remember- the grace of God draws, nurtures and keeps us in the Gospel, indeed “Gospel Truth” vs. our own inner-writing of myths, fables and vain focus.

Good News doesn’t begin with any of us. Thank God for Jesus and the Gospel writers who suffered greatly for His and ultimately our sake!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

For Those With Ears to Hear

Lots of meaning in those words. I mean -a lot-!

Growing up in rural hunting and fishing areas I learned to love and relate to putting food on the table. Fishing is rather quiet as is hunting with bow and arrow, but for years I shot everything from airguns to .22’s and later higher-power shotguns and rifles, pretty much anything that would harvest small up to larger game animals. Hang in there if all that disagrees with you, a point is coming quite soon here.

Between not using hearing protection such as earplugs and tight-fitting muffs and playing in bands from my 13th year to the present, recording some 37 full length records and scores of others, live concerts likely in the thousands by now and just everyday wear, tear, aging, you can imagine rightly that the high-end (treble) and even elements of mid and low-end audio frequencies in my ears “took a hike”.

I have taken precautions to save what hearing I have for a couple decades now but of course loss is what it is. At times I literally don’t have “ears to hear” what someone has said, or played or whatever.

Hearing aids, in-ear monitors and other practical adjustments (wax removal) and working with lower volume levels, etc., all help and this is why I can still have great recording times in studio, more good to great live shows and mostly everyday conversations with folks. SOMETIMES aids have to be adjusted.

All of this fully relates to spiritual plateaus, parking in spiritual wet cement as it were, and only listening/reading/studying others with whom we may disagree with nothing more than motive to win the argument against them, discredit or otherwise set the world straight as per OUR VERSION OF WHAT JESUS SAID, MEANT AND DID. But of course sometimes dear reader, our lack of humility, godly motive and not-so-open ears to hear keep us swirling round and round in self-congratulation rather than learning, growing and doing so in one of the most needed issues among Christians themselves these days: empathy.

EMPATHY: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empathy -especially point #1. This does not mean full-on agreement but rather a heart toward a person, people, and requires at least a modicum of imagination as well as solid information as to where a person seems to be at, how they got there and your genuine sense of care and respect for them regardless. Please read that last sentence again!

When Jesus is speaking and demonstrating His love-in-action, He often uses that phrase about hearing”. Without a deep commentary here I’ll simply say no, none of us (myself included) ALWAYS AT ALL TIMES have “ears to hear”, neither Him nor others with whom we disagree.

The ramifications of this are several, but lack of humility and willingness to bend, even bow to another in seeking to understand the Lord and the person/s in question out of love for them is the point.

How many of us are spiritually if not yet physically practicing deafness as though it’s never by our own self-centered choice?! I’d say we all do it. How common in everyday decisions and certainly in aging that we are tempted to stick with (“live with”) our own frequency losses as normative and correct rather than doing what we can to help correct them.

I further think hearing God is core to hearing anybody else in the best sense.

God have mercy, help we professing Christ-followers to not only discern what to do/not do, but to do so with “HEAR O ISRAEL”, and “HEAR what the Spirit says to the churches” rather than mere self-talk.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

The Insufficiency Of Philosophy and Logic

To be clear I have been digging through philosophy, theological and biblical Hebrew and Greek texts for quite some time. This post is –not– written to nor specifically about any of my friends who are wrestling (or not) with the following, rather as I’ve had convos with so very many who this will relate to on various levels I thought it might be good to share here.

No one knows or can know all there is to know but God.

It is at an intersection of arrogance and ignorance that those depending more on their own intellect than Him and His discard faith and relationship with the Lord, frustrated by words, concepts and indeed mysteries beyond their ability to find intellectual satisfaction with.

Believing in one’s ability to think more than His ability to has produced a sad many spiritual casualties through human history.

Hardcore Arminian or Calvinist, it’s extremely rare if one can find anywhere that a concept of individual salvation has everything (note that word please) to do with one’s ability to think and that of logic, full stop. For that matter, I find neither in the Bible nor via common sense an intellectual requirement, or put another way, a high i.q -in order to be saved, delivered, set free, truly have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. “Get knowledge” and “wisdom” and “understanding” is all over the Book of Proverbs, and yet none of these are my Risen Savior.

That said, it is interesting how many professing followers of Jesus are more concerned with right thinking (usually meaning the way they sum things up) as THE. TRUTH. and refer to it as solid doctrine without considering salvation is first of all God’s idea, God’s doing and due completely to Jesus’ grace for all we sinners in terms of His cross and in His “taking captive” and Himself victorious over the world, flesh and devil.

Of course we can think our way out of Jesus, general Bible concepts of “the world”, flesh/old nature and the devil and demons just as easily as anything. I can hear some thinking (!) “Yes but we have the mind of Christ” and I’ll agree and add there are plenty of verses and context that speak to our lack of it, indeed humans not demonstrating and living it out in Christian practice and can first point that out in my own life!

Put simply, your salvation and mine isn’t DEPENDENT on our ability to think/philosophize correctly. If that were true plenty of those with little thinking ability would never come to believe and walk with Him in relationship ending in eternal life.

Then we must consider the term “cognizant”. Defined as: knowledgeable of something especially through personal experience; also : mindful.

A question: does our personal, even shared logic always trump, match or does it sometimes rightly bow to experience? Can our repeated experience “with God” genuinely always be defined in the ways of “logic”? I think not. Get it? I logically do not think all can nor all events and experience in life can be logically explained and that is where the word (and bugaboo) mystery comes in. It takes real humility to admit we don’t have all the answers.

My Calvinist/Reformed friends have long been excellent in use of mind, logic, study. The lion’s share of the earliest colleges and universities in the United States were founded by them.

I admit I line up more with Arminias and Wesley. Regardless, I’m not convinced anybody’s salvation is dependent on right thinking as per my statement above. The theological branch I link with does not do away with God’s sovereignty and yet free will is itself a gift of God, not of works (unto salvation) but grace.

If you’re still reading -and whether or not you agree with me in all this- I find the metaphysical, the “exotic” approach including imagination itself historical and indeed Bible-sourced ground to faith and I now mean ongoing faith in Jesus, in the words of the Bible and for a nurturing walk with the Lord.

If you’re fully “up in your head” and your key if not total focus on God and His Word is all wrapped in your mental abilities I’d say you have missed, and may miss a great many experiential points of spirituality that the Word and Jesus Himself speaks of right through the Book.

In fact I’d say self and defense of self is often the motive and goal of thinking you “know better”. No one can know more than the One Who knows all about all.

How can one believe in a God, angels, devil, demons THEY HAVE NEVER SEEN without a serious bit of imagination as well as elements of His fingerprints in one’s life? The Holy Spirit, Third Person of the Trinity has by Name a sense of -air- or -wind- which (Jesus said) blows “NOT WHERE WE -KNOW-“.

Human intellect has it’s flaws, logic (and there are many versions of such) therefore does also. Certainly experiences may too, got that!

I now quote Tozer quoting the early Lutherans who said “Faith is a perturbing thing”. We are both comforted and uncomfortable with Paul’s humbling statement “If any one thinks they know they know not yet as they ought to know.” “Knowledge puffs up, love builds up.” Can we not admit that we do not love and worship God as well as love others unless we do so with more than our minds?

When Jesus uses terms such as “heart, soul and might/strength” He is appealing to more than our head-knowledge, is He not?

Then we have otherwise brilliant theologians (whom I shall not name) doing their best to think away Christ’s Own miracles, performed and listed in all four Gospels and referred to by Jesus Himself as such. Plenty of logical constructs begin to lay what I’d call “spiritual flat earth” theories.

Look, if you cannot wrap your mind around supernatural, miraculous events (just check the New Testament Gospels and Book of Acts alone…) then worshiping Him “in spirit” and not merely “in truth” which Jesus tells us is the “must”… the desire of the Father that we worship Him with… well at that point I’d say you may have the mind of Christ but not the heart or soul of Him yet.

It’s ok, we’re all in school until we see Him face-to-face -but let us not pretend that our own ability to come to mental peace with the difficult and sometimes astonishing, even maddening stuff of the Bible as a fully orbed intellectual necessity when the ground of relationship between ourselves and God is a matter of faith and spirituality not exclusively our understanding.

Which reminds me of the end of Proverbs 3.5,6 “lean not to your OWN understanding.”

The balance is so needed and indeed many have run to the extreme of thought or to the other end of the spectrum, that being pentecostal/charismatic extremism where the tendency in the margins is to focus so much on experiential/experimental spiritualism (and yes, that also happens among theological brain-trust folks in liberal camps). Growth in loving God and neighbor in compassionate sacrifice is too often left in the dust.

You can of course sink roots in most Christian culture and run to an extreme, any of us can choose such a road, it isn’t just happening “over THERE with THOSE people” and never us.

Here are a few quotes to ponder:

“A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it.” -Rabindranath Tagore

“It is always easy to be logical. It is almost impossible to be logical to the bitter end.” -Albert Camus

“What truly is logic? Who decides reason? […] It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reason can be found.” -John Nash

“LOGIC: The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. The basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion.”

We all use logic and it makes sense (get it?) to do so. But note the words “limitations”, “incapacities” and “premise”. Theories unless deeply, repeatedly confirmed may be missing what is indeed both truth and fact.

Too often such humility and admission is left in the dust as we build walls rather than bridges regarding God and others.

“Major Premise: Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man. Minor Premise: One man can dig a post-hole in sixty seconds; Therefore- Conclusion: Sixty men can dig a post-hole in one second. This may be called syllogism arithmetical, in which, by combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are twice blessed.” -Ambrose Bierce, The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary

“Though I do not believe in the order of things, still the sticky little leaves that come out in the spring are dear to me, the blue sky is dear to me, some people are dear to me, whom one loves sometimes, would you believe it, without even knowing why; some human deeds are dear to me, which one has perhaps long ceased believing in, but still honors with one’s heart, out of old habit.” from “Ivan Karamazov” -Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I would suggest a slow read through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, chapters one and two.

Wishing my readers what I wish for myself- unmerited grace from the Source of knowledge, wisdom, understanding and things beyond our ability to mentally grasp.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn