Church, Festivals, Music, “New Normals”

In a recent online thread various views on Cornerstone Festival and other fests, discussion of the “Christian Music” industry, worship bands, and issues that relate to the title of this blog all entered into the mix.

Anthropologists and others in various fields have long documented humans are creatures of habit -so much that change is often seen as an enemy. Certainly there are both good and bad changes to navigate in life.

Coming from addiction myself I truly understand (as most of my readers will) habits, ritual, even addictions to food, or sex, shopping, drugs or as simple as getting our daily coffee “fix”. Whether good or horrible, righteous and life-giving or tragically destroying, Bible-based right or sinful, rituals aren’t always so easy to quit.

Note that what I say now is merely -my own- perspective, but for what it is or ain’t worth, here it comes:

I don’t expect capitali$m will ever just fade away -not until Jesus returns and folds things up when the new heavens and earth take shape. At that point zippo, gone, poof! Until then folks have to eat, obtain clothing, need a place out of the weather (all that Jesus spoke about in Matthew chapter 25). Common sense, reality, truth.

C’stone Fest was many things and not everybody’s cup of tea but several elements of it stand out massively in my mind that were all part of what so endeared the annual experience and 28 year run to literally thousands who attended. I have heard and read their statements over and over again, so…

For many (not all…) the Presence of God… generator stages which meant pretty much anyone was given a platform for new, fresh, different music… wide and varied worship styles (and I mean WIDE and VARIED)… goths, punks, bikers, mellow and crazy church youth groups, un-following, pre-following or truly-following Jesus -people of every age, culture and subculture gathered. A very broad spectrum of speakers most of whom were willing to sit in the grass and discuss the issues with believers, non-believers, whomever each year -we were a Fest culture who welcomed all sorts of folks to Cornerstone annually. Name the stream of Christians/church and they were nearly all there.

Ok, very rarely a few were outside the front gate with bullhorns talking about rockers going to hell… but I digress… and note we brought them kindness and cold water.

For me the most telling comment about it all was when an interviewer asked an attendee what they though of Cornerstone Festival: “It’s the one place I don’t have to apologize for being myself.”

Oh there were most certainly calls for repentance, for commitment to truly follow Jesus Christ, to take Him and The Bible seriously and apply it’s words to our faith with action. Yet our focus, our attitude that of most who began to attend regularly was building bridges rather than walls. Our concern was inclusion over exclusion, extending the table rather than glaring and demanding only “those like US” come to dinner, invitation rather than castigation.

The staff of JPUSA (Chicago inner-city intentional Christian community and church) and volunteer staff consisting of people with all the variables I just listed above worked to make it such an event and place.

That vibe cannot be purchased with money nor enforced with authority -it happened and happens by sacrifice.

People must have an open heart to be genuinely open to folks they may have little in common with, whom they’ll surely find spiritual and practical issues to disagree and even separate over. But in those years for close to one full week each summer, that crazy, risky and amazing experience happened. It took a massive group of people to make it happen.

The 9/11 attack, desire to stick close to family and home, fear, major upset in fuel and travel prices all conspired to affect the bottom line for the Fest. My understanding is that we only -made- money about 3 of those festivals and we could not recover the financial losses in the last years as attendance shrunk and so forth. Many fests went down that next year, and for us as it was for them, sad to see it all go away. Why? There are plenty of other valid reasons but the core for me and many? Because it was about Jesus and the people.

It was never about the money, but the opportunity -really, opportuniTIES offered. They came for music, perhaps camping, sports and other fun activities, family and circus atmosphere but in the end huge numbers of folks within a year or two came back for the relationships. What a concept! Koinonia, a deeper level of fellowship where you don’t have to freak out because someone else is focused on making a buck, getting you to agree with them “or. else.” They could or could not dance in the rain, join in the mud-slides and enjoy both Jesus and people all around them.

Indeed, that atmosphere doesn’t sound much like “church as normal” nor any music style or worship “indu$try” does it? Yet it was church. We worshiped -sometimes at an all-night rave where a leader on stage dressed in a gorilla suit with cranking music, smoke, lights, and blasting p.a. said things like “PRAY!” and most of the place hit their knees and did so. Only God knows how sincere, how deep each person was, but that’s God’s judgment to make not ours.

Not all who are involved in today’s so-called Christian music scene, the worship areas (“vertical” lyrics, thanksgiving, praise) are in it for the money or fame. A workman is still worthy of their hire, gotta pay the bills, I get that, we still live in a sort of “land of Caesar”. Yet motivation and even good desire to create, observe and participate with excellent art and to reflect Jesus and our faith, a biblical perspective outside the “normal” Christian camp is all not only understandable but fraught with areas of compromise, openness but also judgment from other believers whether that judgment is correct or false re. the artists, managers, record, etc. company biz people and so on. As in any relationship, “it’s complicated” may be the best description. As always, it isn’t and never was clean and neat.

Seems to me the Spirit is or isn’t at center in what we do or don’t do. Our motive is love and service to God and people or it isn’t. Form alone cannot assure such happens, it’s a matter of the heart, calling, gifts and yep: sacrifice. It’s beyond a consumer mentality and ethos and this is what we professing Christians had better watch out for, first in we ourselves!

Church-going where the following was THE NORM is worth considering even now, today, in Covid-19 time and beyond if “beyond” ever happens:

“44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

To experience what the above Book of Acts chapter two states costs. It costs a lot. One week per year with a lot of fun may cost but it’s not a daily thing.

Yet we see they met “in the temple AND from house to house”, not merely one or the other. Consider the struggle for the young followers of Jesus who were then considered somewhat of a quirky threat by the occupying Romans and a flat-out cult by the Jews, the one where it’s own Jewish leader had been arrested and crucified because the corrupt religious leaders were jealous of Him and considered Him a full-on false prophet.

Profit vs. prophet seems a norm in the entire Word of God (The Bible). “Normal” means “safe” and “in -my/our- control” to many and it’s often no different whether one professes to love Jesus, claims agnosticism or a fully atheistic position. Love, authentic fellowship and a continuum of these brings people close and closer to Father, Son, Spirit as well as the people of God -to one another.

One English translation gives us approximately 45 “one-another” phrases in the New Testament alone.

So what about the future, post (or somewhat post??) Covid and such? What about the massive polarization and racial realities of the U.S.? If you’re reading this now you’re likely doing so online.

An old Jesus Movement line was “Sheep go where they’re fed.” It’s still true… and also true about goats. My friend John J. Thompson (a longtime Cornerstone Fest goer who ended up on staff and a gifted communicator, curator of Christian discipleship, musician and author uses the term “consumer” often when discussing trends among Christian people. That term is massively important and relevant for our consideration -and also repentance.

In every generation change happens, it comes and sometimes goes as the next change and series of them take place. “All change is perceived as loss” is largely true but if your focus is Jesus and people and you really care with agape love and are willing to sacrifice for Him and others… the waves of change are not the monster some seem to continually fight against.

My entire walk with Jesus and experience in broad relationships, world travel among a wide spectrum of Christ-followers and certainly living in an intentional Christian community (joined at 18 years of age) has brought me to believe this: in the end folks want a home, a people they can belong with and to. Then they want work to do that builds up and draws like-minded people together.

I’m wondering how natural introverts (and others) may choose to stick with a far less “face-to-face” rather than online connectivity as the Rona is at least somewhat dispelled and the crisis passes. The real sense of genuine care as well as solidarity re. the things of Jesus as well as racial and political issues are certainly core as to where the Christian brick and mortar gatherings will end up, at least in the short term but likely longer, that’s my guess.

Current crosses always look horrific in comparison to “the good old days” which were perhaps cool for us but horrid and brutal for others. Some fear balance and lean hard to the old or only embrace the new, not always based on content, but the Spirit of God works in and for everyone who seeks and follows Jesus in truth. He is not married to old or new! “And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” -Matthew 13.52

I find in The Comforter enough help to walk closely with a group of the people of God no matter how flawed I, they and all of us are. The issue is whether we individually and gathered will continue to walk or simply sit and shrivel. Which brings me to this conclusion from Psalm 92:

“12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 Planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. 14 In old age they will still bear fruit; healthy and green they will remain, 15 to proclaim, “The LORD is upright; He is my Rock, and in Him there is no unrighteousness.”

Regardless of how the earth shakes, viruses stalk and individuals and sometimes whole churches surf or drown, there is but One Constant and He is the Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Festival or no, however the future shakes out He is the only consistent ROCK I know.

May you depend on Him and move as the Spirit and His Word encourage you in growth and fruitfulness!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

“It’s” What WE Say It Is (or ain’t)??

Ok, straight-up, come now, let’s talk. An amazing book our pastoral team read years ago had one line in it that stood me right up: “The conversation IS the relationship.” Consider, if God didn’t speak to us and we never spoke to nor listened to Him what “relationship” would we have with Him?

I understand people are often very UNlike God. History and personal experience teaches how truly horrible we can be to one another. So let me get quickly to my point today…

If you do not personally experience death, does death exist? i mean, you’re not dead yet right? Maybe you’ve not been to your first funeral or memorial service. Freak-out stuff for many people. So… if I say death isn’t real and doesn’t really affect me or those I love it’s non-existant?

Ok, so death exists but I don’t want to talk about it. If we don’t discuss it and it doesn’t come to my house it’s not an issue, not a problem, we don’t have to face it or prepare for it. Uhuh. And how much reality would you like to pretend doesn’t exist?

See racism in America and often among professing Christians is JUST LIKE THAT.

If we don’t test for Coronavirus nobody’s got it. I mean “I don’t know anyone who has died from it yet so…” although I can’t say that because I do know, did know several people who have died from it or complications because of Covid-19, several of them Christians who are now gone from this earth.

A large MINORITY of white folks who profess to be Christians, who are church attenders have more faith in death than in racism as if they don’t wake up white every morning while plenty of other people wake up black, brown, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and so forth, people of color. God literally created us with various skin pigmentation and there it is. But hey, because I and those I love rarely discuss it, because we’ve decided it’s a non-issue where we live, or in a lot of our nation, regarding our laws, in terms of our personal sense of security as white folks -no problemo.

Some love to quote Paul- “Hey, in Christ there is neither male nor female…” and such. Did he mean males and females do not exist at all? Of course he didn’t! So the concept and for that matter interpretation of pet proof-texts just doesn’t wash with reality.

My friends, at some point this side-stepping denial of the reality and pain of racism is just plain ol’ ignorant. It’s immature. It denies the truth about the experience of all Americans and what people of color experience regularly as opposed to what white folks experience.

Well if you never met Jesus face-to-face, never came to saving faith in Him He doesn’t exist and Christians don’t either, right?!! Come on y’all, get some sense and study to show yourself approved by facing up to reality, not reality as I or your chosen, dominating race says it is but as God Himself says it is. If we don’t get eyes to see and ears to hear both God and our neighbor, indeed, “the least of these” in our land, we’re just as blind and deaf as the Pharisees and scribes who did all they could to get Jesus to shut up and die.

Well there’s this little thing called resurrection. There’s this other little thing called God’s judgment. And there is a God Who sent His Son for all that all might be saved. But there’s also a little verse that says we have to love the truth, not just discuss it, love our enemies, not just read about it, bear ONE ANOTHER’S burdens… and so fulfill the law of Christ.

You want law? There’s one to rock with!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

One Version of True Love

Some of you know most days I use a 12 Step devo, quite Bible-based, written and compiled by a pastor. This was this morning’s and how simple yet profound it is!

For most of my life Book of James LIVE IT, Practice what you preach has rung in my own ears.

The often disconnected talk about Jesus’ love in the light of Christian selfishness, lack of service, excuses about why we don’t have any practical responsibility to “love the unlovely” creates a sharp contrast. That contrast is a train-wreck, a stark and at times blatant, obvious hypocrisy in that while we say we believe in and verbalize a message of faith, hope and love, we demand that others DESERVE it or we take our marbles (or more accurately refuse to share them) and go elsewhere.

Eyes on Jesus and OTHERS BESIDES OURSELVES and we then “learn to love”. It’s a active thing. It’s not an excuse, defense or self-righteous because true love serves and gives. The focus is outward not inward. It’s about them not me, not us. No, I’m not talking about the other person or people… I’m talking about you and me bro. and sis.

Let us move beyond spiritual kindergarten. The world is in deep need of people who reflect God’s love, not merely information about Him from folks who refuse to “by love SERVE one another”.

God help me, help us all- to help our neighbor in Your love.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Understanding Inner-City Crime?

A dude in Facebook in one of my posts said nobody he knows, black or white “can understand it” related to gun violence in U.S. inner cities. I could have added a lot, lot more as to how folks ended up and end up in poverty-stricken gang-run areas including a load of laws, lack of enforcement, the WAY in which those in power interact with Black and other people of color in such areas, on and on, but here was my rather short-list in answer to his question.

“1. Sin 2. Because we can 3. Legal job opps that poor Black folks do not have anywhere near to what whites do 4. Drugs and prostitution, gangs pay and pay big-time in a racist, capitalistic society 5. White folks pay big for drugs and guns 6. Nahhh, those in power aren’t complicit. 7. I don’t like Kaiser’s and other’s answers like these, must be something else and it ain’t “us” that contributes to the horrors… so it must be THEM (name the people or political party or both) 8. These are the last days so turn a blind eye and either don’t watch/read/listen to any news or only that news source telling me what I already believe to be true 9. A whole lotta rubbish we’ve been taught to believe about the U.S. that was rubbish/propaganda in the first place 10. My own sin, repentance and humility ain’t EVER a factor so quit talking like it ever was or is… it’s THEIR sin, repentance and facing up to the truth (what we whites say it is), end of discussion.”

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Old and Foolish?

Ecclesiastes 4.13- “A poor yet wise youth is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction and counsel (friendly reproof, warning)” -AMP
“Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice.” -ESV

No matter your years, position, inheritance nor loyal friends there is that ancient, solid Bible advice, in fact necessity mentioned in the Book of Proverbs: “Buy truth, and do not sell itGet wisdom and instruction and understanding.” (Pro. 23.23)  And “How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen above silver.” (Pro. 16.16)

Gaining the world at the expense of your soul, climbing to the top of the ladder, choosing, even demanding respect from others, focusing on selfish gain is a recipe for self-destruction. Leaders in particular can begin to think more highly of themselves than they ought to. Proverbs 15.33 tells us “The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.”

Further- Proverbs 18.12 says “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, But humility goes before honor.”

Nobody- and I mean nobody gets a pass from this reality. It is not unusual for humans to judge other humans harshly and leaders often get fried with regard to decisions they make merely on the basis of people getting or not getting what they want.

At the same time the more power, authority and wealth a leader may accumulate doesn’t guarantee more wisdom, humility or deeper love for God and genuine care for the people they affect.

This is equally true whether you are in leadership or not, but fair warning, Jesus taught us through several parables about individuals who met a horrid end because their stewardship of power and authority was misused for their own selfish gain.

In another place He spells it out vividly:

45 “Who then is  the faithful and  wise servant,  whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew chapter 24)

May we truly learn to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Dear Loss

A friend’s father has passed. The family has faith and reason to believe he is truly with God, but the hurt is real. Several of my friends have lost their spouse. Blessed Canada Day to my friends up north as we Americans approach another July 4 weekend. And two weeks ago I wrote a song with Cornerstone Festival in mind.

Lost family members, friends, a place where a favorite house of your childhood is now a Dollar store, an old piece of woods where you once roamed is now a parking lot attached to an industrial park -on it goes.

There is a sweetness in memories where Jesus truly embraced you and in various times also encircled thousands of others regardless of heat, cold, dust, various discomforts. Community, even if not entirely of the same mind did not mean broken relationships and harsh discord but a time of learning, growth, opportunity to exercise love, patience and recognize the broadness in God’s love and grace toward a sea of His children you may have never encountered without such experiences.

Certainly there is pain in the depth of loss of “one’s people” and it comes to all who walk the earth in some way, sometime.

Yet there is the celebration of lessons learned, simple kindnesses and grace, sometimes in the very memory of long-gone days “when heaven touched earth”.

Heaven awaits it’s people and in God’s good time, the tears will be transformed into tears of joy.

It is in the bittersweet we experience being alive even when we cannot return to the days, places and people of grace we once knew. For brothers, sisters, disciples of the Lord Jesus- in the very best of times we have only been given a “through the glass darkly” glimpse of the festival to come! Allelulia!!!

If and as I have time to do it right, I’ll record the song that these lyrics below are connected to. A bit Americana-ish, acoustic guitar and call for a sweet violin and one vocal.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

SOMEWHERE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE -glenn kaiser

Somewhere in the countryside of western Illinois
You will never know
How I miss you so
People livin’ day to day in small town places same ol’ way
I love you so
But we had to go

An’ the inner city cries out in it’s pain
I confess my soul so misses country rain

In the coolness of the night
Fireflies alight thick as the Milky Way
Those were precious days
Thousands from all around cars an’ vans
An’ ol’ Greyhounds, some flyin’ in
I’m rememberin’

But the hard roads of my urban destiny
And the people here like people there in need

Fourth of July, reminds me of home
Twenty-eight summers
The heart of Cornerstone
Jesus is our bond, never broken
Yes it was…

A taste of heaven

Universal Temptation

In this past Sunday a.m.’s message at Uptown Church (online via Facebook) our guest speaker (Mike) rocked as we’ve been going through “Paradigm Shift”- Jesus speaking in Matthew chapter five.

I have often found Amplified version of The Bible a real help re. understanding elements of the Greek- here it is:

Mt. 5.27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who [so much as] looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye makes you stumble and leads you to sin, tear it out and throw it away [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 If your right hand makes you stumble and leads you to sin, cut it off and throw it away [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Men and boys in particular battle (or simply give in to) lust which of course is key in the mind, with our eyes, desires that are not given to the Lord, not prayed over, not a matter of faithfulness to God, His Word, His commands, His will. I deal with it as do all men and of course plenty of women are also tempted with it.

Note the clarity: [“that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation”].

As porn is such an idol, an addiction and a mega money-maker that can and does often include forced prostitution/human trafficking it cannot be viewed as “harmless”. Further, for married people it is a distraction from commitment to one another and can morph into a habitually selfish, private distancing element.

In very brief, continuing from-the-heart prayer, interaction with God the Holy Spirit, close accountability partner/s whom we voluntarily and regularly share and receive help from, Bible studies on lust (or whatever the issue may be), and sharing groups (12 Step and the like) can and do bring many including I myself through -as opposed to stuck in the cycle of temptation, sin, addiction/s.

Three more super-brief observations-

The introduction of a concept of “hell” in this passage as in many others attributed to Jesus is HIS choice. Whatever hell is, nobody wants it and God doesn’t want it for humans. As for universal salvation, that takes more faith than I have though I’d love it to be a reality- it’s up to God like all else is -unless we decide to take His place. Universal salvation? Nada. Universal temptation? Obviously a reality.

Lastly, I have often heard people minimizing sexual sin vs. other sins while Jesus and other New Testament speakers never do. Note here as in many other NT texts there is most certainly a connection with displeasing God and judgment re. sexual sins. I’m not debating and don’t particularly care where it falls on some sort of list of sin, sinful, exceedingly sinful. It’s easy to recognize sexual sin named along with judgment in the second Testament though we may want to disconnect the two -Jesus does not do so.

God help us “make straight paths for our feet” and be healed from choices that directly compete with God’s choices for us!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Fans and Friends

Straight up, I have both. Sometimes they’re the same people, sometimes not. Facebook has always made me laugh in this regard and it’s in part why it’s good to have (in my case) a GK Solo, GKB Band, and my own personal friends site in Facebook, Twitter, WordPress sites. I have the freedom to be myself and communicate as I wish to whomever. So:

FAN- an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator, an ardent admirer or enthusiast (as of a celebrity or a pursuit)

FRIEND- one attached to another by affection or esteem

I’ve kicked around dumping my personal FB site for some time, but in that so many people seem to resonate with something, maybe just my music, or the band I fronted for 28 years, or whatever, sometimes with what I think or say, at least for now I’ll hang in there.

Yet the difference between a true friend and a fan is obvious to artists who have been public artists for some years.

On several levels I realized in my teens the difference between friends and fans, and it largely helped me navigate my own sense of peace and sanity with the way a genuine friend interacts with me vs. how a fan does.

To be sure even your closest friends may sharply disagree and yet remain and grow in friendship regardless due to common bonds that draw you together -so you “keep coming back” out of respect and commonality. If it were only about pity or trying to -be- someone’s literal savior you might be talking family, not friendship, or trying to live out a (wasted effort, plus self-centered) “messiah complex”.

Family members are often committed to one another over need, even a conviction that “this is just what families DO” (not somehow automatically wrong by a long shot!) and then there are times when even that can be so dysfunctional, even enabling, or in extreme cases abusive that parting ways on some level if not as a matter of course may be the best road to take for the sake of all.

Note- that’s extreme, but we live in an extreme world with plenty of differences including spirituality, education, lifestyle choices, general or specific maturity and/or actual experience in these areas. All of these can bring us together or move us apart.

So fans, sweet as they can be, are sometimes more like groupies than true friends. This isn’t always their fault. How many beautiful women have been super-admired for their physical beauty alone -and how did/does that work out in terms of true friendship much less long-term relationship?

To this day there are elements of fandom toward various historical or present dictators that some people admire. This is how and partly why they achieve and remain in power regardless of the misery they foist upon “their” own people.

I happen to be completely unknown to some and at times, respected and followed by some. I never expected to be agreed with by everyone and regardless what I produce via music, so what comes my way is every shade of love, or like, or so-so all the way to disgust. This is the norm for my work just as it is for every musician or communicator. If you get out in traffic you must expect the possible costs as well as benefits.

One thing I’m sure of- as much as I appreciate fans, friends are far more important and by God’s grace I have so many in close association and co-service I’m super, SUPER blessed. So especially to my fellow artists but all others as well:

You can live without fans but not without friends.

This is obviously not meant to be a Bible study on friendship but that would serve you well regardless of whether you’re a friend, fan, acquaintance or simply a passerby at my site. It has been super helpful for me to return to Bible truths about this topic (as for all others) again and again.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Take Care Where You Sit

Defensiveness, self-pity, self-righteousness are often our response to avoid change. -Pastor Jeremy, Uptown Church Chicago

Psalm 1.1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! NASB

…Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of I.e. shallow thinkers who are quick to mock or disdain. scoffers (ridiculers). AMP

…or sit in the company of mockers. NIV

SCOFFERS,
Hebrew: to scorn, make mouths at, talk arrogantly, to boast, to scorn, to mock, deride

Verse 2? Here comes the “rather”, the sense of “instead”-

Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands; he meditates on His commands day and night. ESV

ESV Notes:
“Instead…” Here the Hebrew expression כִּי־אִם (ki-’im, “instead”) introduces a contrast between the sinful behavior depicted in v. 1 and the godly lifestyle described in v. 2. “he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands;” Heb. “his delight [is] in the law of the Lord.” In light of the following line, which focuses on studying the Lord’s law, one might translate, “he finds pleasure in studying the Lord’s commands.” However, even if one translates the line this way, it is important to recognize that (Glenn’s italics for emphasis here) mere study and intellectual awareness are not ultimately what bring divine favor. Study of the law is metonymic here for the correct attitudes and behavior that should result from an awareness of and commitment to God’s moral will; thus “obeying” has been used in the [ESV] translation rather than “studying.” “he meditates on” -The Hebrew imperfect verbal form draws attention to the characteristic behavior described here and lends support to the hyperbolic adverbial phrase “day and night.” The verb הָגָה (hagag) means “to recite quietly; to meditate” and refers metonymically to intense study and reflection. “his commands” Or “his law.” “day and night.”

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Why I Love God!

Thoughts for Father’s Day – and every day of my life which is by His grace, eternal…

First off, I could quote a ream of Bible verses and I’ll mention a few here, but this isn’t a Bible study. My purpose isn’t to write an apologetic piece defending either God’s existence or The Bible or Christian rites -and certainly not gracious or even at times horrid behavior of professing Christians through the ages.

I’m simply letting you in on just a little of how I think about God.

It comes down to His nature, what I personally believe, have experienced for close to 50 years of walking with, listening to, speaking with and in general, in relationship with God- Father, Son, Spirit. It IS all deeply informed by The Bible which I assert as true.

Coming from a fractured family, my own obsession with myself, music, drugs, sex and the flippin’ crazy nasty history of humankind in the world, the U.S. and places I’ve lived both rural and urban, to come to saving faith in Jesus Christ was for me, a shock. I mean a total shock.

From that moment (3 a.m. on Sunday, January 3, 1971) to mid-June 2020, this I believe:

God is more than male or female and has no equal on many levels but consider the Trinity and you have 3 and not merely 2 or 1. The “He” Hebrew gender pronoun was the best concept among Jewish writers, and God considered so utterly holy that His name was not to be uttered. Jesus did teach his disciples to pray “Our Father“… so there’s that.

Holy. A term and concept beyond human ability to grasp, in most core essence, the otherness of total – complete purity.

As mentioned prior here, –no equal-. None.

Many would simply define God as “God is love” and that’s a wonderful, true description -but Who God IS and how God reveals God to us is due to Love and so many other qualities of the very nature and character of God. This is part of why there are endless books, poems, songs, sites, rituals and conversations about His nature and character throughout human history.

In that He has no beginning nor ending, He is constant. No created human is equally or more consistent in terms of unchanging character. God’s thorough perfection needs no adjustment, no “fixing”, no repentance for wrong-doing. The “court of public opinion” consisting of flawed, self-seeking humans cannot rightly “convict” God in His nature of crimes He never committed nor commits.

As I’ve said publicly for years I don’t always like or agree with what He did or does, but in that I’m not God and with respect to what I’ve just written here I trust His judgment above mine and all others. I don’t have to understand or agree with all I read in The Bible for Him to act in whatever way He deems right. Neither I nor any one nor group of us are His equal, not in judgment or any other area.

We need forgiveness for sin, not Him. That’s a major reason Jesus came, lived, died and rose!

ALL the Lord does is with a view to humans that He indeed created, so the issue of selfishness regarding His glory and call for our worship/honor/love/obedience to Him as God is not only His right -there is no other as worthy of these.

We love Him because He first loved us. God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

The heart and posture of God toward us is truly amazing grace: For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He commands all people everywhere to repent, believe in and follow Him. There is a judgment coming, His perfect judgment- but His desire is that no one should perish. He has given each of us great latitude to decide if we’ll trust Him over ourselves, make choices that line up with His desires -or not.

No father can truly compare nor compete with our Father in heaven- and nobody is either capable nor have they proved their love for me as He has, this God, this Jesus -God the Son, this Holy Spirit has been consistent in His love, grace and compassion toward me in all the joys, sorrows and pains of life. Yes I love Him! And as He changed and continues to change my heart and attitudes I’m able to love people, not only wife and family, but all people. For all this and more, I LOVE Him!

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn