Advent and Captives

The four Sundays preceding Christmas Day and the coming/arrival (the meaning of Advent) focus on Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Some light a fifth candle which symbolizes the concept of Light.

John writes in his Gospel re. Jesus: 1.4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 1.5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Paul writes, “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4.6)

The darkness of jail and prison cell to persecuted Christians as well as those innocent or simply too poor to pay a fine -as well as those guilty of any number of crimes- is not impossible for God to penetrate. Jesus told us “God is Spirit” therefore no walls, bars or judgments of people can keep Him out of our mind, heart, soul or life. His light can and does penetrate all barriers -IF and as we surrender to Him in faith.

For those in solitary confinement or on death row (two things I and many believe are immoral, inhumane and must be abolished in the United States) exist very real horrors -yet no human authority has the ability to shut God out and away from those held there.

The Spirit of God, Jesus Christ, God the Father cannot be literally locked out and away from the captives. Note the following pertaining to both to Jesus and these  matters: “18. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19. to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4) Jesus is quoting from Isaiah here and clearly states He has come to fulfill these things.

In Matthew 25 Jesus speaks of sheep and goats and a separation of them in the end. One amazing statement of His relates to how we treated “captives”: “I was in prison and you came to me.” (v.36b)

The United States has an appx. incarceration rate of 693 (Prisoners per 100,000 population), Finland 55, Sweden 55, Norway 70, Iceland 45, Denmark 61 (-Quora) Another of a slew of solid sources to face up to real-life captives in “civilized” nations: https://www.prisonpolicy.org/global/2018.htm

There are of course, several arguments as to why our nation locks so many behind bars, and believe me when I say I agree that many need to be locked up at least for a time re. actual offenses and public safety. At the same time there is so much wrong with many of the policies, politicians and people who consider our justice system truly just in capturing and incarcerating people you’d have to study the matter to understand the what and why I say these things.

In my experience as pastor and chaplain far too many professing Christians are massively ignorant on these issues and therefore are themselves captive to attitudes and darkness to the extent even the idea of them serving incarcerated people on some level is out of sight-out of mind if not fully repugnant, a matter of disgust and a simple “They’re getting what they deserve!” as if any of us deserves anything less than hell.

“As you DID IT to the least of these” are Jesus’ words.

We can argue all we like about how this all came to be or that per capita “We’re not that bad!” as compared to other nations and rulers… but the facts of daily life in our lock-ups is an education as to how we actually treat the “least of these” captives.

What does all this have to do with Hope, Peace, Joy, Love and Light regarding Advent 2019? Everything.

The Christ Child as God in the flesh arrived, Himself of course innocent, arrested, unjustly judged, imprisoned, treated brutally (to say the least…) and executed by the State -and religious leaders not only played the game with the Roman occupiers but demanded such for Him.

Most of the apostles were executed by the State via religious leaders who kept power in large part due to unholy alliances with Rome. Paul and others were imprisoned on their way.

Prior to all this John the Baptist was locked up and murdered in the same way -ultimately due to speaking truth to power.

What an amazing reality that Hope, Peace, Joy, Love and Light accompanied them through the pain and misery right through to finally seeing the Face of God and hearing “Well done you good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord!” The same will be true for many a prisoner while sadly a shock to hear otherwise from many a supposed “saint” who confused loyalty to the State as loving obedience to the LORD.

Jesus said “The one whom the Son sets free is free indeed!” (John 8.36) I have met countless incarcerated Christ-followers who manifest more of these five Advent characteristics than plenty of so-called “free” people in the churches.

The question then is “WHO are the captives”?

On this 3rd Sunday in Advent, these are things I ponder.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

2 Stringer Slide CBG

Yeah well it’s a disease. All these cigar boxes staring at me and so in very short order I found two of the most messed up, both with thick black paint on the lid.

I needed just a few more parts for a Christmas build that’s -not- this one, but a gift for a friend’s boss, an older gent who’s never played slide guitar. That one’s a quite pretty 3 stringer. Had to get a bit more gold hardware for that as the tuners I had on hand are gold plated metal, so prior to being able to hit the store up for that stuff I threw this one together in a couple hours.

This one was just crying for a quick build for myself so no worries on the look. But in my experience paint can often affect the sound resonating off the top and on a wooden box I prefer no paint at all, especially if I may not install a pickup, so the acoustic sound warms up a bit sans paint.

Hence to the table saw (carefully!) to shave just a bit off the top. Which took off a bit more than I wanted, so then with a dremel and little saw bit I took nearly a full half of the paper-thin side of this Arturo Fuente box and here we have something I’ve seen done but not yet tried myself- half open, half closed lid, latched shut. My mistake provided sound/look coolness -imho anyway. And oh, the open hole at the top of the neck is on purpose so if I want to put a cord through for a “strap”.

I decided to put a thick bass string on the bottom, a thinner but still wound string on the top and tune them in unison.

Simple chugger and she rocks a full tone, quite satisfied. I even like the look, semi-mutt which suits me well 🙂

Total Length- 23.25 inches   Body- 6.50 x 6.50 inches    Body thickness- 2.50 inches

Scale bridge to nut- 16 inches

She seems happy tuned to a Bb (B flat) so for now, that’s the vibe.

Well I think another song is brewing, ha!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Free Download GK 2019 Christmas Song

As posted earlier, here’s the tune. Kudos to Joe Filisko who helped inspire it 🙂

“NINE-SIX” by Glenn Kaiser – Please go to https://grrrrecords.com/   and scroll down there for actual download link!

NINEsixGrrrRecordsChristmas

NINE-SIX -by glenn kaiser

Child is born to us
A son’s been given
To bind up every wound
To help us in our livin’

CH.
Peace!
Come on peace!
We need peace!
In the love of the Lion and the Lamb

And the government
Gonna be on His shoulder
No beginning or end
Born to bring us over

And the government
Will be on His shoulder
No beginning or end
Died and rose to bring us over

Wonderful!
Counselor!
Mighty God!
Everlasting Father!
Wonderful!
Counselor!
Mighty God!
Prince of Peace!

—And MAJOR Thanks to ALL the Grrr Records staff, JPUSA Ev. Covenant and EC Church friends who support me in what I do.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Last Night, Cook Co. Jail

A friend named Pete and myself were kindly welcomed by officers and men. As usual we knew a few of the guys but most were in this division/dorm passing through (often extremely slowly) to court dates, possible release or prison sentences.

Prayers, songs (including a couple classic Christmas tunes) were sung, lots of clapping and outward responses.

They always get excited, ask questions and love it when I do blues-based songs on one of my cigarbox guitars, which was the only thing I brought, along with a harmonica for a “special” I did for ’em. Super response!

One of the bros asked if he could sing a song he wrote (acappella) and I said “Absolutely!”

It was a sweet song of praise and whoah… the pipes this bro has… God blessed us with one of the best singers I’ve heard for some time 🙂 He asked if he could sing one more at the end of the night and again, YES. So good!

I had been invited to also bring the message and because we’d just passed the 2nd Sunday in Advent I spoke on Luke chapter two -the birth of Jesus, and focused on Him and the shepherds.

Volumes have been written and preached on those sheep herders but in the end, they were (like the apostles Jesus hand-picked) “low-life” peeps, they smelled bad, spent long and lonely hours in fields facing wolves and all sorts of weather. The rough life and elements, long night vigils spent smack in the doorways of makeshift pens was anything but upper-class respectable.

So to whom does God choose to reveal the birth of the Messiah? Low-class nobodies who spend the bulk of their time with dumb animals.

In and through a poor and very young virgin girl He works one of the most astonishing miracles (and most heaven and hell shaking as well) then picks these outlier men who had never in their lives expected it to see an angel army and hear the voice of one of them proclaiming the Who, what and precisely where He was doing this eternity-changing act. The wealthy, powerful, rulers, politically positioned? Naaah. He revealed His plan of salvation to a young girl and these poor shepherds out “in the sticks”!

What did they do after being fully freaked out at all they saw and heard? Went and checked it all out -and found all was exactly as they had been told.

How many lessons are there to be learned from people we may ascribe little or no value to? How many of us have been given new, amazingly changed (for the extreme better!!!) lives due to paying attention when God showed up in our life regardless of how He did so?

Both young and older, mostly minority people of color behind bars very often in my experience -come to revelation of the reality of the Savior quicker, deeper and often with a much greater real-world response over their remaining lifetime in comparison to those who believe they and not these have great worth and value.

God continues to use the base, the simple, the “scum of the earth” to confound the wise. He brings the mountains low and the valleys up. The incarcerated are some of the most truly Christian, indeed ever for the smallest blessings, grateful people I’ve met.

NO ONE is without value in His eyes. No one.

If you think of yourself as worthless or with very little value on this earth I’m telling you your heavenly Father completely disagrees with you. Seek Him, follow Jesus and in time you will see more than the skies open up to what He desires to do in your life!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Advent Time Diddley Bow Build

Why? Basic art therapy I suppose… and because I have a ton of boxes. This little one along with a 98 cent Menards yardstick called my name. Got a load of old acoustic wound strings and such, and again, if you build thoughtfully using the right string and don’t torque it up too much even a solid yardstick errr… half a yardstick… can work for a neck on a one-string slide guitar and quite small Montecristo box.

So here ’tis!

Total Length: 18.25 inches  Depth: 3.25 in.  Width: 3.75 in.  Scale bridge to nut: 15.50 in.

Appx. a light gauge wound G tuned to a C -and I’m lovin’ this little thing!

Slide only, no pickup.

I already recorded a Christmas tune on my paint stirrer diddley titled Nine-Six -for Grrr Records and when it’s ready they will post it as a free download via GrrrRecords.Com

When I finished the Montecristo I immediately got inspired and wrote another Christmas tune (title is Snowflakes) which will be included in this year’s free download of Cigarbox Guitar Christmas 2019 -along with a slew of other holiday songs, over at CigarBoxNation.Com That will be available right before Christmas.

Hope you’re enjoying Advent 🙂

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

AMAZING Night Tonight!

Wow. Just Wow!

Uptown Church did a live Christmas Nativity scene complete with costumes, live music, hay, sweet candle-like lights, even treats! It was a cold Chicago night but they warmed up one Wilson Abbey entrance, the sidewalk and whole street. SO cool and a lot of folks stopped to enjoy, take pics and such.

The other WA doors opened to Everybody’s Coffee as part of Uptown Chicago’s annual Winter Walk night- and hosted a beautiful, smiling set from The Crossing (our amazing trad. Celtic band) followed by my solo set comprised of Christmas songs, some of my own holiday tunes, bit of blues and even a fresh blues-harp based song for the season called “Nine-Six” which Grrr will release shortly.

My sweet friends Wade and Mary Jane came and gifted me with 30 (Thirty!) cigar boxes to make guitars out of! Yep… WOW. SO kind of them. And two other friends came with ’em, just really cool folks.

Next, after chatting w. folks and thanking the EC staff for their excellent coffee and kindness, I put my gear away and buzzed across the street to Grrr Records artist Leper’s new cd release party. Packed house, great live interview (Ed chatting with skot from Leper) and off the charts food as well. [My Wendi’s chili was flat-out superb.] Kudos to the entire Grrr Records staff and friends who curated, decorated, cooked and supported this talented band I’m proud to be a label-mate with.

I’m just *so* grateful for family and friends that have made this day special.

Wishing God’s grace to YOU in this season!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Jesus Movement -Then and Now?

A Facebook friend recently sent me 3 successive clips. They were the history of Calvary Chapel and the Jesus Movement, a full tv show with William F. Buckley Jr. interviewing Malachi Martin dealing with the movement, and a Love Song tune of the era.

This can be and in many ways is a deep well. But in a nutshell response I replied with the following-

“Ahhh the “good old days”, when for some of us young ‘uns the spiritual times were simpler including the theology, doctrine and lack (Allelulia) of hard-wired methodology. On the other hand, race-riots, young service personnel being shipped home in body bags, Kent State and police brutality, Nixon, drug and sex addiction… wait… maybe all this is still in various ways happening today. Hopefully enough professing Christians will come to deeper connection to Father, Son, Spirit via His Word so that solid theology, depth of understanding to love Him and “the other” via doctrine (which is the core point of it) and fluid methodology rather than clinging wistfully to what either was or what we merely prefer painting us into static, spiritually immature corners. My prayer and personal desire -let it be HIS desire we fulfill!”

Mine was a simplistic reply of course. Here’s what I’d add:

IF and AS enough people (sizable minority) actually “pray without ceasing” through their day, are active in BEing “at peace with one another”, DOing “all you do in love”, and rather than lip-servicing “my faith is real” while clinging to weaponry and seeking the obliteration rather than cooperating with God the Holy Spirit to the possible salvation of “the widow, orphan, refugee, and those “not like us”, don’t hold your breath over “a new Jesus Movement”.

I’m one of the JM veterans and for what it is or isn’t worth, the first one imho happened due to 3, perhaps 4 major things.

1. Jesus moved. 2. Most of us (a majority of white students and street people) recognized and called out the atrocities (see above) and Emperors’ new clothes for what they were, 3. recognized beyond all material gain and “security” we’d enjoyed none of it met our deepest need for God and His love in Christ, and banded together to live out our faith come-what-may. (4.) Traditional churches on occasion were gracious and did not seek to co-opt the young Jesus Freaks but laid aside cultural and political “Berlin Walls” and whether they did or did not, houses sprung up in the U.S. and elsewhere that welcomed the hippies, surfers and “street Christians” who boldly, simply shared the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Most aged, got culturally conservative, got “a real job”, married, had kids and decided they were best fit for “normal”. Many via the several levels of pain, illness, dashed hopes and church politics or big-shot and often sin-mired leaders simply quit. Plenty continue to love God and populate churches (traditional and quite the opposite), a great number serve on the mission field of the larger world or in church leadership to this very day.

The reality is that there is a cost for following Jesus and many did not count it. Even quoting the very Word of Christ in the four Gospels (I mean the hard, demanding, “sounds like boundaries and even exclusion to me!”) then and now are what we are tempted to avoid.

Sometimes by this we avoid the Holy Spirit. Our thoughts about His thoughts become more important to us than His clear commands.

One reason I love blues music for all it’s simplicity is that it’s lyrically rather matter-of-fact about the injustices or perceived injustices of life… and the song continues to be sung. The cross is in the DNA.

If we avoid our crosses we avoid Him and those pesky, unlikable, unlovable “others”, and there you have my assessment of what was and why what some wish for may or may not take place.

Jesus is still moving! He’s never stopped. He will return too, ready or not.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn