Vacation

First it’s important to consider many folks never get one, don’t have the money or means to vacate their place of residence. Some cannot manage even a weekend retreat, so for those in such a situation, what then?

For the most poor,the homeless and/or those with medical conditions there are usually workarounds. At times assistance is needed from friends or at least caregivers. But I find the following relevant.

Our mind is the first place of rest -or not. It is the first place from which we can launch difference of experience, creativity, discovery, exploration and indeed “someplace ELSE”.

Books. The internet with cheap (or free) computing via computer and friendly wifi or a library. When the weather is cooperative sitting outside in the sunshine for a time. A trip to the nearest park, lake, river or beach (which mostly takes transportation of some kind). With a license and very simple gear one can fish. If healthy enough taking a walk or getting a cheap bike to ride to these places… there are usually ways to vacate if only for part of a day if not longer.

Camping, longer hikes in nature (or urban large parks/forest preserves), flying a cheap kite in a field, art-making of all sorts, scrap-booking, puzzles and such from free or cheap re-sale shops, listening to the radio, learning to play an instrument, maybe even making a simple musical creation, learning to cook- there are countless books and websites one can learn all of this. Well- you get the picture now!

I confess I did most of these in my youth in rural, then small town Wisconsin. We were poor and until in my early teens I never took nor heard of a proper “vacation”. After my parent’s divorce I spent two weeks every summer with my Dad who lived alone “in the sticks” where I’d grown up, but by then it was more about time spent with him, doing chores and figuring out what to do with myself when he was doing something I couldn’t help with or when he napped each day. Shooting my little BB rifle, laying in the grass in the sun, listening to the radio or when I had one, bike riding within about 2 blocks of his house on a two-lane blacktop (where a car or tractor passed about once every 3 hours) was about all there was to do. We went fishing a lot. And oh the mosquitoes!

It seems to me the worst “bugs” are in our minds, and in my own experience the “mind of Christ” which began as I came to believe and Whom I began to follow so changed my focus and perspectives, this has been the most freeing relationship with the most perfect, unchanging Person and that made all the difference in my own experience.

I am writing this on the last day of an amazing week-long vacation where I did many of the very things I’ve mentioned. Reading God’s Word, praying and simply sitting in the sun in a peaceful and more quiet space has been a tonic to me! Spiritual rest from The Comforter.

Certainly “your mileage may vary” but vacation or none there is a mental and likely physical space or three where you can find practical rest. My short list of ways and means above may be helpful. I wish you the will to reach for grace and freshness. The world will always be a place where peace and rest are challenged so it’s important to learn and grow beyond it though still living in it.

One day a new world will come- and the Prince of Peace as it’s King of Kings where all and all within it will experience eternal grace up close and personal. Meanwhile I ask you to consider what I’ve written -and seek both Jesus as well as available space and activity to “vacate”.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Depression Cures

So in one sense… when one finally gets tired of getting beat up, one seeks a true cure and freedom from the pain. Depression, in that sense, moves one to search to discover a legitimate cure.

Clinical, brain/body-chemical depression isn’t in itself spiritual and that’s another matter that must be properly diagnosed by trained, certified medical professionals. I’m not qualified in that way! What I can say from experience is when those with such issues take the right meds and along with applying other therapies as prescribed the difference is amazingly positive.

There is also a general component of family/school/work/societal conditioning as to where regardless of details we all must admit navigating depressing circumstances, events and sometimes people and our own feelings due to them. Such is a flat-out reality for everyone. Denial doesn’t promote healthy change and is no solution to what ails a regularly depressed person. Also the other side of this is one can imagine oneself depressed right into becoming so…

But let’s flip this for a moment.

What really and truly nurtures you? I mean long-term, most of the time, what encourages you about being, living, doing, even to the extent of being productive toward serving others?

The answer/s often differ from person to person.

You may find it helpful to consider what nurture is and is not, and here’s a link to a long list of synonyms and antonyms to consider: https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/nurture

Much nurture can be done alone but it’s essential that we risk (and that’s an important term here) relationships with others who are not in seeming depression themselves who yet are willing to help nurture us.

Risking rejection, yet another level of pain, hurt and “I have not been helped” by the person, people. protocol/s and such can and do often bring people emotionally into downward spirals, I will not deny it. Doing nothing or “the same old thing” in our own miserable, personal world of depression is certainly not going to nurture any of us either.

Faith- exposing oneself and one’s inner struggle is not a cake-walk, it’s not always easy and for some a pain they in some cases choose to live with. It is in this mind that many also act out causing great harm to others and sadly, themselves.

There are directions we can each take as per several things I’ve already mentioned here, but I suggest we consider and act upon that which nurtures, feeds, uplifts, encourages and yes, promotes the sometimes frightening change that God Himself brings us in Christ by the Holy Spirit. He does it in many ways, but nurture and healing never comes purely alone, by one’s self.

Things to consider in pandemic and -before- personal crisis mode kicks in!

Jesus said in John 10:10 “A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

I have experienced this and continue to in relationship with Him and His people -He has no flaws though His people (and I one of them) of course do!

Yet I’ve found no greater love in my long lifetime. The nurture that comes from the Good Shepherd is real, not only now but eternally.

Things to consider when that old liar-thief comes creeping.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

A New Jesus Movement?! REALLY?

A good-hearted bro. put pics of the late 60s-early 70s Jesus Movement up in social media which mentioned elements in 2020 are quite similar and that we need a new Jesus Movement including evangelism and discipleship.

My reply:

“I could not agree more: Now as then issues of injustice, poverty, racism, white and business interests -before-“the least of these” along with “Of COURSE I’m a Christian because I’m an American!” foolishness along with dope, booze and the futility of life without authentic relationship with Jesus and treating our neighbor with His love and compassion meant sharing the Good News of Jesus and discipleship rather than mere “fire insurance” and eternal (and temporal) rewards. Then and now, ‘Whosoever will let them come.'”

What far too many wish for are “the good old days”, a romantic time of innocence with newfound faith, the “first love” we had with Jesus before some of these very issues I mention above were faced. Many if not most of us realized the futility and utter despair of self-worship, of addictions including that of status, status quo society including that of any church group, whiteness, the face of racism (which “didn’t affect me/us or our family because we were/are white”!) and the poverty, police and bigoted brutality and violence, the military-indu$trial complex President (General) Eisenhower spoke so clearly about.

We lived through JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations, Fred Hampton and Kent State student murders and the body bags of a Vietnam “police action”.

Most of us hippies didn’t only come to saving faith in Jesus, we eventually got clean and sober, cut our hair, “got a real job” married, had kids, and especially if white continued the process of “me, mine, us” in control and a modicum of life that did and too often does reflect the establishment, status-quo of society which in part along with our “personal sin-choices” had trashed our lives initially bringing us to Him in the first place! Please read those words again, -please do!

In simple terms, we became satisfied enough that “the least of these” Jesus mentions re. God’s separating sheep from goats at the end of this life took a back seat to “personal success” schemes rather than serving those in deepest need around us. Full circle. Prodigal church.

Yes, we NEED a new Jesus Movement, but like Israel’s roller-coaster on/off/on/off relationship with Yahweh we are often (if not consistently) into backsliding -even after tasting that the Lord is good.

Jesus, Paul, Peter’s earliest sermons (among many more in both Testaments) call us -you and me dear reader- to repent.

The issue is indeed “first love” and “do the works you did at first”, not mere “ticket-to-heaven” to continual bubble-bursting of a mythic dream where personal sacrifices, cross-bearing and loving one’s neighbor REGARDLESS OF ANYTHING INCLUDING PERSONAL POSITION, to “count the cost” and lay one’s life down for Jesus and others.

My old Jesus Movement peers:

Real life in maturing discipleship with our Lord Jesus Christ (detailed by Jesus in John chapter 15) is not the simplistic emotional high and joy-ride of our youth.

Love that dies and rises again rather than robs, kills and destroys is what brought us to follow Jesus Christ. If “the weapons of our warfare are [truly] not carnal” why are so many professing Christians picking them up, even talking about civil war as per killing one’s neighbor?! It is a full-on lie to consider such “defending the faith”. Straight-up, lie.

Yes, we need a new Jesus Movement because like Adam and Eve we are prone to listen to snakes as long as they agree with us getting “our way”.

Jesus IS Who He said: “THE Way, the Truth and the Life!”

Things to consider if we’re talking about the God of Love, the only Lord and Savior as revealed in His Word.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

VIGIL SONG -glenn kaiser

At last Sunday’s Vigil. Had to. Spontaneous writing. With Love and sadness.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

VIGIL SONG -glenn kaiser
And the sun don’t shine
Never
An’ the rain don’t fall
Never
An’ nobody’s shot an’ killed
Never
An’ the world ain’t spinnin’ round
Never

We all bleed the same blood
Same color
But that ain’t the way we’re treated
My brothers
My sisters, and mothers
Too many names
Too many graves
Too many names
Too many graves

You wanna tell me
We’re all equal
But the way you get treated
Somebody write the sequel
Ain’t no lying
With Black folks dying
You want me to play games
I ain’t your man
You want me to play games
Well that’s your shame

Jesus’ Love -and The Incarcerated

Most folks wouldn’t connect the following words of Jesus to themselves. Some would -but never think about these truths in context with Jesus’ separation of those He calls “sheep” and “goats” (Mt. 25) judgment at the end of this life. And waaaaayyyy out there, an extreme few would connect these core Bible truths to the exhortation via the writer of Hebrews (which I quote in conclusion).

My own comments are within these passages but in essence, as several longtime and solid Christian chaplains have told me (and which I’ve experienced myself) there are those behind bars who are walking more faithfully, lovingly and tightly as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ than many in the churches, regardless of church, or kind/style/flavor of local church.

There are churches which include pastors, teachers, evangelists and etc. among the incarcerated mass of people in the U.S. and abroad that live in a depth of relationship to Father, Son, Spirit that few professing believers in “freedom” experience. Believe it or not I’m -not- trying to shame any of us for our ignorance as I only know these things because of my personal calling to interact with many in various jails and prisons.

So in light of all this, these four brief but incredibly profound portions of Bible text for your consideration.

And as always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

JESUS’ LOVE and THE INCARCERATED -glenn kaiser

A. Most everyone in the Western world knows John 3.16! That verse changed my life from drug, sex and self-addiction to relationship with Jesus and eternal life. Allelulia!!! It’s about God’s love for each of us. v. 16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” -Don’t miss the core fact that God’s Love GIVES us, offers us His Best -Jesus! But many believers don’t consider or quote the next verse which is absolutely near the top of my favorite things Jesus says. He is of course talking about the Father sending HIM… talking about Himself and the heart of God, Father and Son, for you and me. God will indeed righteously judge all of us at the end of our days, but His heart is redemption, reconciliation, forgiveness, mercy, to wrap us in His love in relationship with Him. SAVING in biblical Greek deals with setting free, delivering, not slamming, harsh judgment but merciful kindness which is God’s deepest character. John 3.17: “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”

B. John 14:19 (NASB)
“After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.” Amazing… Jesus promises those who love and follow Him that we shall live with Him forever. May God give us “eyes to see”, hearts to believe and lives choosing to follow Him -this life will end for us, all of us. That moment will come. Those who know Him will see Him face to face, not in terror but in love.

C. John 17.23 What can I say- WOWWWWW. There is this issue of our witness to others, our calling to reflect Jesus, His character and nature, the love of the Lord through us to a watching, deeply needy world. And then the amazing statement which, remember, is a prayer of Jesus no less… He doesn’t say things that are not true, He does not pray what He doesn’t mean! Consider: “…and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”! Jesus is matter-of-factly saying God the Father loves us AS HE LOVES HIS PERFECT, SINLESS, HOLY SON”.

“I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”

In Amplified Version: “and [that You] have loved them, just as You have loved Me.”
MSG: “and loved them In the same way you’ve loved me.”
NLT: “and that you love them as much as you love me.”

D. Hebrews 13.3 “Remember those who are in prison as if you were their fellow prisoner, and those who are ill-treated, since you also are liable to bodily sufferings”
-AMP “Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured”
-NRSV “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body”
-NASB “Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies” -NLT

Finally, Jesus in Matthew 25.39 “When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

Outdoor Shows

I admit this is one of the few things I truly miss in lockdown pandemic time. But I am able to get out front w. small amps and guitars, harp and such to jam blues regularly. Not same as what I’ll talk about here but still outside and fun for me as a musician and neighborhood dude.

In the 60’s hippie scene (was and still am largely) I attended loads of outdoor shows as a fan of a zillion bands local, regional, and at larger rock festivals national and international acts who made the scene magic for me and many others.

Yep, we were often trashed on a variety of dope and/or booze, often it was as much about a massive load of yahoo’s partying as anything. It was the spiritually lost version of church -and often far more exciting or a lift than what could (can…) be found in various Christian circles, but all this certainly depends on a range of preferences be it spiritual, musical, geographical or otherwise.

My personal faves were simple block-long street parties with one stage, people blowing bubbles, dancing in the street and sidewalks, folks on their front porches, some on rooftops, incense wafting through the air, sunshine, a light breeze and some of the fine, mostly local talent from larger to small bands, duos, solo artists bringing all sorts of fresh music, styles and so forth.

As a singer, guitarist and band member I loved playing such shows most of all. I happened to perform in several larger settings both indoors and outside but it was always these block party settings that “cooked my chili” for a number of reasons.

Low-key, simple appreciation, good food, decent sound, small stages, not a “rock god/worship” deal but “Hey, HI, glad ya’ll are here, let’s boogie!” sort of laid-back feel. Authenticity rather than branding. I saw so many bands and played in several that just made those experiences SO cool.

GKB (blues/rock trio I’m part of) played several of these in the U.S. and in European tours as well, but one I always dearly love was a simple block-sized gig outside a now-gone Salvation Army post about four blocks from where we live here in inner-city Chicago.

As I recall it was a fairly short set, low plywood stage on a Saturday afternoon, really basic get together with various music, art and neighborhood peeps, but it was one of the first for us in Chicago and I just loved it and love the memory of it.

In our early years in Chicago a sweet Black Sis on the south side invited our Rez Band to play down on Union Street in a block party. Lots of folks, food, games and face painting for the kids, a safe and sweet afternoon -and I admit as a white hard rock band (the response was kind and appreciative) I thought about my early days in soul, r&b and blues bands (Rez played a few like that on the day) I felt quite at home as a musician. Mrs. Brown was so sweet, and when our drummer had to split I ended up playing drums for the last set of the day.

There have been solo gigs I’ve enjoyed greatly just a ten minute walk from our place where a large night market hosts thousands of people in a two-block long street fair with food and other goods vendors lining the street, bands, drummers, dancers, spoken word poets and such, super cool with many Asian as well as white, Black and Latinx mix of folks, very fun indeed -but also on hold this year due to the virus.

Outdoor festivals, State or County park gigs? I’ve played and attended ’em for years, but something about those simple block parties floats my boat. Well, other things going on today but tomorrow night I’ll be out front and when folks stop and listen for a few minutes, I break now and then and we chat. It’s a bridge and link that the gift of music makes possible because it brings all sorts of us together -and I love that!

As always, thanks for stopping by:) -Glenn

Law-Love?

My professing Christian friends will likely line up on various theological, doctrinal and political positions, memes from pundits and MDiv approaches to this, but here’s a basic bit of consideration from me on but one verse, part of it’s important context, and I quote it using Amplified version: “Love does no wrong to a neighbor [it never hurts anyone]. Therefore [unselfish] love is the fulfillment of the Law.” -Paul, Romans 13.10

While different people will argue from various theological perspectives all day, month, year and perhaps lifetime on earth long… the context includes a (sometimes out-of-context as some teach on it in my personal opinion, miss-appropriation) treatise of “Obey the government” as if Paul is saying “NO MATTER WHO THEY ARE OR WHAT THEY COMMAND”. He then begins to split the issue away from verse 10, in fact from verses 8 through 10 and all that came before it re. governmental subjection. Ready? Here it comes:

Can a solid exegetical argument be made that the moment Paul moves from talking about believers obeying the government he fully or near-fully is only discussing Christians loving other Christians? Nada. The package deal begs two deep questions for my more intensely right-leaning friends:

How do we respond to this biblical instruction if and when a church leader commits adultery, or murders, steals, or covets? Ahhh but this section of Paul’s letter deals with government leaders and you and I. I’m not taking about quick surface judging, unproved allegations nor a moral slip, I mean proven habit patterns, ongoing consistent sin in these areas.

Is Paul calling us to never apply verses 8-10 to governmental leaders? In other words, we love law when it suits us therefore “Obey the govn’t cuz I agree with ’em on this and this and this…” which isn’t obeying, it’s simply agreeing, there’s nothing hard about that in such a scenario.

What gets more interesting is Paul’s comment on taxation which is one of the most damning issues and talking points mainly from the political right including GOP and Libertarians… so… holler and complain about obeying the authorities God has placed until they tax and spend on things we don’t like, think do not line up with our best understanding of Scripture and the principles of loving God and neighbor as ourselves? So much for obeying the governing authorities ‘eh?

Part of the argument I often hear is loving the poor by witholding MY tax dollars from a government I don’t agree with or support. Hmmm… there are some dilemmas in this are there not?!

Just thinking about these things today as I reflect on a most excellent and far-reaching comment on law, love, our neighbors and the government.

Perhaps worth considering.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

The HARD Words of Jesus

Sooner or later those who claim to follow Jesus have to wrestle at very least with what the four Gospel writers reportedly said HE said. It ain’t even close to all pretty.

One of a number of things I’ve been invited to do and have been is sharing a teaching from time to time in this Covid lockdown as we chaplains are not able to go into the jails and prisons at present. Our Cook Co. Jail team gather in conference calls to pray, look at The Bible and chat together each week.

So this past week I brought a 30 min. teaching on Psalm One. Then we did a 30 min. whatever you want to say, ask or disagree with go for it time. I always encourage this when I share in such a format because it encourages true, honest fellowship.

Toward the end of the time a bro., made a statement as a compliment to me and the gist of it was to thank me for not holding back on the hard words of Scripture when I speak. He added that when he’s been with me in CCJ I consistently do the same with the detainees.

My reply was pretty simple: “Part of my personal philosophy of life is to get the tough job done first, after that things get a bit easier. When I read God’s hard, sometimes even harsh sounding stuff in both Testaments (and there’s plenty) I have to often say I don’t like it, wouldn’t have done it that way, don’t understand or am upset by it – but I’m not God and don’t get to judge Him as He is the only Perfect Judge and will indeed judge us all rightly in the end.”

The point is that at times I disagree with Him and so do you if you’re truly honest and searching the Word regularly -at least in the terms I’ve just written. If and when we do that I’d suggest repenting quickly because if we only cherry-pick the biblical “ice cream” and ignore, toss, deny the reality of the rest of Scripture what we’re doing is not exegesis but eisegesis, we are not being honest in biblical interpretation nor perhaps our true thoughts, maybe even our own motives.

It can be like the guy who asked the other person “What do you believe?” and the reply was “I dunno -what do you want to believe?” and it’s all about me, my mind, my comprehension and ultimately I’m god, judge, the assessor of what’s true, right and good for God to do, be like, command (yes, that’s the term Jesus often uses) me or anyone else about. It’s all about me. But it ain’t and won’t be in the end.

If one strips all in the Bible but “the stuff in red” which the Gospel writers attribute to Jesus I can easily point out reams of really, truly hard, even by human judgment harsh stuff. Then again what you think about God isn’t the final say of Who God is -nor can you create Him and end up with the God in Christ as He represents Himself in the Gospels.

I’m like most people, I want to eliminate the personal cross bearing issues in Jesus’ words, commands. Don’t we all look for exits when it gets too hot?

So… yep, I honestly don’t look for those Bible texts as I read, do devotional time with the Lord, prepare messages and so forth, those things just happen to literally leap out of the Word at me in the process. I don’t LIKE all of that in-your-face-negative stuff, but it’s there and won’t go away because we don’t like it nor because it makes Christ followers or those are not at present, repelled by such texts. It simply says what Jesus Christ Himself (in terms of the four Gospels) said.

You don’t get it both ways- believe in Jesus but erase His hard words because they often mean we must change, must accept God and indeed His judgment like it or not… or we (as I say constantly) become our own false deity. False. Deity.

Wrestle with Scripture. Be formed by it. Or pretend He didn’t say or mean what He said and meant. There are plenty of exits but only one Door of the sheep -His name is Jesus Christ.

The last thing we need is to cherry pick His words to us. As for us and –our-words which we are tempted to hold as so very important, sometimes versus HIS? This:

“But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for in the day of judgment.” Matthew 12.36

I blow it with my words all the time, repent a great deal for it! He doesn’t have to even when we want to dismiss, eliminate, throw them out due to the wrestling pain factor of His Words -which will be remembered forever unlike mine and yours.

Things to consider perhaps…

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn