The Word Nobody Wants to Own

Me, you dear reader, your closest friends and mentors, your most disgusting enemies all richly deserve this term and any honest definition of it in any number of areas. Certainly with regard to making judgments on individuals, groups and entire tribes and nations right through history in my view and I suspect most thinking people -it fits.

It is often considered and at times surely used as a “slight”, a “stick in the eye”, a put-down and knee-jerk response to what you or I consider plain ‘ol stupid.

Ignorance.

We will freely admit nobody including ourselves, knows everything about everything. A little more depth in thought and we’ll likely admit very few of us can rightly accept the term “expert” even in areas we may know a great deal more than the “average” person (whatever “average” may mean).

Today and many days I find myself considering Paul’s statement “If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know…” (1 Corinthians 8.2) and he follows that up in verse 3 with “but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.”

The context of that chapter happens to be about idolatry and in essence, the Corinthians who professed faith in Jesus needed some help, instruction, guidance about the issue and connected with that with regard to judging and miss-judging one another on the issues involved.

His initial statement speaks directly to the matter of ignorance and a deep and obvious need for humility. That dear friends, “doesn’t come with the water”! It is UNcommon for believers or pre/unbelievers to own ignorance as a reality on topics of discussion and especially if the issue is a controversial, contentious matter.

I am convinced there are a lot of understandable reasons many believers remain ignorant of the broader Church on earth, most have scant knowledge of either Church or world history, often even national, regional or local history.

We often are so in lockdown (now there’s a term ‘eh?) by choice of “only one or two close friends” or perhaps just those of our “tribe” are allowed -in-. In other words, we are only loyal to those who do not challenge our ignorance and/or imbalance in an area, subject, topic.

God indeed knows who loves Him- and even if we are convinced we also know, we do not know as He does!

The lack of humility, taking/making/choosing to step into dark waters of a wide spectrum of thoughts, writings and yes, history of both the Church/churches and larger world is something in my opinion far too many Christians have simply not given time and effort to.

I get it: personal pain, suffering, mental and/or physical health, pandemic, burdens involving family, work, even time to get rest and recreation, financial concerns and more tax us to the hilt. Who has time to study all the historical stuff? “I never liked history anyway!” and “We know so much more than they did then…” or even “A LOT more than those people over there!” of another tribe than the one we’re part of and comfortable with.

Yup. Got it. So “done learning”? Got it all figured out? Lockdown until we are face-to-Face with God?

As has been often said, the Christians at Corinth were some of the most blessed and gifted and some of the most messed-up, conflicted and un-transformed people -all at the same time! That’s likely why Paul wrote his two longest letters to them dealing with issue after issue and a great deal of it boils down to two things: ignorance and the great and obvious need for application.

I’m not suggesting you need a seminary or at least a TedTalk 30min. course on X, Y and Z, I’m simply saying the lack of education and a wider view of the wider Church (not only the one you like) and world (ditto) is something we need and need a lot more of.

What you may learn in the process is how to be gracious toward people you strongly disagree with -and maybe even begin to recognize your own ignorance and imbalances in the process.

Loving God is directly connected with loving people. Take one more slow read of those two verses above.

We’ve all a lot to learn.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Blues Music: Deeper Studies

Sharing with my readers some of my further studies on Blues Music here.

Yes indeed. Lament, joy and protest in this musical mode is well documented. Maybe that’s why some folks don’t want to go there… Well, for music aficionados and especially in the blues genre, here are only four of -many- excellent places to dig in and learn, to consider a whole lot that you likely were never taught in a white school be it public, parochial or home-school.

Lord have mercy! And I’m seriously asking Him for that, not merely quoting a blues phrase often sung.

https://downatthecrossroads.wordpress.com/2020/10/20/the-blues-as-protest/

https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200197401/

https://folkways.si.edu/was-lead-belly-a-protest-singer/african-american-music-american-folk-blues/music/video/smithsonian

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

The Gift of Perception

I’ve been meditating on a foundational reality that it does seem many may fully disagree with, consciously ignore or merely have more faith in themselves and the environment/natural elements than in God.

And- “What have you been given that is not a gift?” (see 1 Corinthians 4.7)

Each breath, movement of fingers to type, moving food to mouth, the fact I have food to eat, clothes to wear, a roof over my head and that of my wife and family, friends- many life-long, gifts given me, skills, work to do, the heart and passion to -do- that work, service opportunities and the grace to survive, even learn from and endure the pains of life on this planet, the cup of good coffee I just put to my lips, eyes that still see, ears that still hear and the ability to perceive all this neither begins nor ends with me. God. Yes, GOD.

Giving thanks, praise, worship, allowing HIM to define and shape me, guide my decisions and actions, behavior changes we both wish to bring about in me -and even those I don’t wish for but that I’m convinced He and those who love me wish for my growth and better reflection of His love and grace… THESE THINGS DON’T “JUST HAPPEN”.

Again, there are those who disagree and believe they have good reason. I understand that and indeed, expect it.

When the ultimate thought is that we are each little deities, that the natural world is all there is or shall ever be and the conclusion that there is little or no spirit or spirituality because there is ultimately no God, no Jehovah Jireh (the God Who sees/provides) means all I have said and that which followers- mind you, followers of Jesus who are believers are all deceived and indeed self-deceived means… what?? Does it follow people who have no faith in God are not only more intelligent but actually more wise/correct, more perceptive, more kind and gracious (grace… where did that concept come from?) and more loving? How dishonest for agnostics and atheists to apply perfection to all who think and live such personal “faith”. If nobody’s perfect we can conclude none of us are.

All mysteries are just that. The issue is our satisfaction in explaining them -or not. Theories abound, no?

And yet I never find it mysterious that I or others who profess to be followers of Jesus “act like the devil” at times, and of course many are no more Christ-followers than a load of gravel so there’s that. Certainly such acts are equally true among those who consider Christ and the common Christian view, the Bible as the Word of God and truth to be mere and mythological narrative only.

Doubt is also as real for the “believer” as the “un(or pre-) believer”. I wonder how often those who believe they have excellent reason to dis-believe also doubt their own “secular theology”?

The tests, arguments, belief and unbelief are nothing new, have always been in the minds of humans and shall continue to come -until Jesus returns and “every eye” sees Him.

My own position of faith and relationship to the risen Christ, the Father, the Spirit have taken me a lifetime to express. I expect to continue expressing these forever.

Meanwhile I give thanks, praise and worship to the One who has and continues to “show up” in my life for these past 50 years.

Indeed, even perception is a gift!!

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

The NEWS

I’ve written several times about the beauty and the horror of the World Wide Web’s many options. Then there is the basic fact people of all ages with a search, a few clicks or even simply opening their browser can find options galore on nearly every subject- truth, lies, actual reality, fiction and percentages on both sides of the spectrum.

Of course the days of only a few radio and tv networks and channels are as gone as the dark ages. Ok, many pundits are saying all these changes may be or already have ushered in a 2000’s version of the dark ages all over again.

What I want to say is again, something I and plenty others have said all along: it’s discernment, even the will, ability to do hard and personally-costly research that far too many professing Christ followers seem to just live without.

No doubt there are those who read, listen or watch my various communications who think “THAT guy is so brainwashed, no objectivity in his thinking about several matters at very least! Idiot at worst. Self-deceived!” Or variations of such.

Nothing new under the sun.

Of course in some areas sometimes they may be quite correct!

What ALL -and I mean all of us must work hard at -and at times do not- is putting in the effort via prayer, a deep and often painful study of what God does and does not say in scripture about any topic, then adding world, national and local history, and again time spent actually studying the perspectives of others with whom we disagree.

We may well come away thinking much the same, slightly different or completely convinced anew after repeatedly doing so throughout our lifetime.

Those who stop studying stop learning. Is it simpler, easier, even more comfortable giving one a sense of security to just –park– and be done listening to the opinions of those with whom we disagree? It is. It’s also such that brings us to the “news” we accept as true.

How many people have their feet firmly planted in news-source cement shoes? “Unless X, Y or Z says it (mostly only one or two of those) and tell me what I already think and believe [or want to believe] I’m not going to give those other jerks the time of day!”

So much for the integrity of actually hearing.

Now I’m not saying any of us must daily listen to stacks of propaganda from any “news” source. We all know YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and plenty more sites are thick with foolishness, click-bait for folks who aren’t interested in being challenged, thinking outside their own tribal thought processes.

The question is- are WE THINKING, DISCERNING, WILLING TO KEEP LEARNING or is it all about me, my tribe and shutting our minds up because we already know everything there is to know about everything and everyone, especially our enemies?

See, it’s a command of Jesus to love, of Paul, James and of course Book of Proverbs and more in God’s Word to continue studying/learning/applying, to ask for wisdom, not merely knee-jerk “reality” as in “reality tv”! God have mercy, now THERE’S a butchering of a term related to something millions love to watch regularly. So much for either truth or depth.

Things to consider as we make our media choices.

Also worth considering if we find ourselves continually burning up with rage, in a quicksand of deep and hopeless misery and despair, and find ourselves either outright hating our enemies or close to it on the basis of what we’re reading/watching/listening to:

Faith, hope, love? Grace and mercy? Justice, fairness, balance? Wisdom? These things take both love and effort.

God help us do our part to grow in these! The Good News of the Gospel of Jesus must not be disconnected from such.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

 

BOOKINGS OR SERVING? = GK DETAILS

It has been said (and often by myself) “Blessed are the flexible for they shall be used.” 🙂

Even as I type I’ve an ongoing discussion with a longtime pastor friend of mine inviting me to bring music and a separate message to a men’s retreat they are planning at their church.

Because we’ve done ministry together before there and as we know one another well including what gifts and artistic offerings are likely available, I don’t have to ask a couple of the first questions I’ve been asking people for years.

If I don’t know them I typically ask:

Why me? How do you know about me and why do you think I may be a good fit for this (whatever “this” is in their context)?

Please tell me about your event/venue/coffeehouse/biker rally/festival/church/jail-prison facility/house or porch show setting, etc..

I ask the promoter/pastor/fest director/whomever for as much detail as possible before I fully commit to booking because I want to bring them what they believe they best need from me, not merely thrusting HEY- THIS IS ME Y’ALL, RELATE OR NOT is not wise, gracious, kind nor will that attitude best serve THEM and that’s a major reason I bring music, speak or otherwise show up, not merely to make a buck or expand my bookings or the like.

I search for them online in a number of ways to get a sense of who they are, what they may or may not relate to that I believe I can reasonably bring them with integrity on my part.

NOT doing such homework is in my view, both a mistake and often ends up producing fails for both parties as well as those who attend the event.

If I’m not convinced I’m the guy for their gig I sift through my brain re. the people I know who might actually do a better job for them and try to link both parties up.

To honor my Lord and bring my best to people means caring enough to consider these things and apply them.

That’s my aim!

His, yours, -Glenn

Unpacking, Sorting

I believe I mentioned in a post a tour REZ Band did that involved something like 5 flights of stairs in a beautiful but winding “God help me” air-puffing massive suitcase haul during one of our stays in Berlin. If I had to do that today I’d likely expire on the staircase!

A week ago I realized on a trip Wendi and I took out of state that I’d finally learned… telling her I’d only overpacked by one T shirt and one pair of underwear. She had mentioned it was the same for her -and even as had loaded to leave she’d remarked “Wow, you’re traveling light!” Yup.

It’s only taken me about 50 years to learn how… 🙂

Everyone reading this has overloaded themselves in some areas while other times should have packed more than they did -and you learn as you go, over time, what you really NEED, what you actually likely to USE and so forth.

Same has been true re. vacations.

It is typical that the longer we live and the more experience we have our judgments get a bit more thoughtful as opposed to overloading ourselves with baggage we don’t need -realizing some may hurt us, maybe even kill us if we keep hauling it around.

You can’t engage with as many people as I have as often as I have over the  many decades, concerts, jail and prisons, churches, streets, music scene and venues and totally avoid picking up stuff you don’t need, can’t rightly use. Some of it will end up using –you– if you don’t learn to discard it.

Some have dumped individual people, groups of people, professions, cities, towns, etc., some have dropped all sorts of “weights” while others keep packing the same heavy loads into their minds, hearts, life-choices.

Others toss what they should not have and wonder why their life never seems to move to the positive side of the street.

I keep going to Jesus in prayer, to HIS words, those in the rest of the New Testament and whole Bible, chat and pray with genuine, wise, kind brothers and sisters to help me unpack. Oh I also read up, study a fair bit of tough, nasty stuff as well as the hug-and-kiss variety. We need to consider all of it for the sake of learning, growth and balance.

I actively try to give the weighting-down stuff to the Lord in prayer and by pouring out my hurt, fear, complaints, worries and sorrow to the only One big enough to carry it all.

It’s a continual conversation that “takes a load off”.

I learned long ago I cannot FORCE change, not in myself nor in anyone else. I can try to inspire it -write lyrics and music about it, blog or otherwise speak about X, Y or Z, but I cannot carry the burdens alone: nor can you dear reader.

Further, though I may have been graced by not having the exact same pains of this or that person, neither can I literally live their life for them.

I cannot make their decisions for them.

Even in care giving ministry, with deep love and concern for someone who seems in a spiral and sometimes continual downward trend I realized long ago I cannot assume full responsibility either for their suffering or healing. This is where “everyone must bear their own load” (that’s also the Word of God folks). “Bear one another’s burdens” doesn’t mean I am able to think for them, live my life in their place, make their choices.

Jesus does not call the Holy Spirit “the Helper” for no reason!

Finally, for me to ease the burdens of my own life by self-medicating into some area of biblically-defined sin, selfishness and “THIS WILL MAKE ME HAPPYYYYYYYY!” nonsense only serves to bring me down joining the most broken, hurting people in the same. What does that accomplish for them -or- for myself? Nada.

God’s grace (as Paul said even re. his own thorn) IS sufficient IF we trust Him and pour out our lives to and for Him and others. We must learn to pack -and unpack for the journey.

It’s almost autumn in Illinois but I’ve been doing “spring cleaning” in my office/workspace. Many trips to the dumpster! I’m also blessed with discovering some really great and useful stuff I forgot I had! That’s the other side of tossing the stuff we don’t need.

Continuing prayer, Bible study, godly fellowship, accountability, mentors, and sure, simple fun pleasures that are not degrading, not merely stop-gap-and-dodge maneuvers whereby we put God and His truths and right relationships on the “back burners”… well, you get my drift.

By God’s grace and application of a bit of wisdom you don’t have to continue to carry the excess around.

I think it wise and yes, freeing to consider what you’re packing and ask Him to help you sort it out before you leave.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Hebrews 12.1-3 Brief Comments

GK Brief Thoughts on Hebrews 12.1-3

1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

First, history, experience and an honest assessment of our own hearts tell us growing weary and losing heart are at times quite the reality of professing Christian experience. We shouldn’t be surprised when others or ourselves land there- but we need not cement ourselves in such a state!

Next- how can anyone reading this in context believe Christians, indeed actual followers of Jesus… are somehow without the capacity or ability to sin -see verse one and again verse three?! The author by the Holy Spirit is clearly addressing believers, not unbelievers.

Yet- thank God, antidotes are mentioned right within this short snippet of text:

***Jesus Himself

***A cloud of witnesses -remembrance and reminders of godly people we have known or read about or who are walking the earth now as we are

***The call to endurance which would not be mentioned at all if it were impossible and out of our reach to grow by the Spirit in the fruit of patience and to endure, persevere

***That we FIX OUR EYES on Jesus who embraced His cross as we must embrace ours whatever they may be by HIS power, not by our own ability or strength

***A near “matter-of-fact” comment that hostility will come our way from those who do not live in faith with Jesus

***Thus meditating on a walk that in many ways parallels that of our Lord we have His strength and heart to “run the [our] race” to the finish-

By faith and loving obedience we live:

within His Kingdom

within His timing

IN relationship to Him.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Yesterday’s Jesus People- Today’s Conservatives?

“Why do you think so many Jesus Movement folk went fundamentalist rather than any other direction?”

I will save my (sorry but…) quite blunt opinion as to “why” at the end of this post.

This question came up in context of a discussion with a wide range of Christian leaders in the present. It was somewhat re. my comments in a forum largely about “birds of a feather”, “of their own kind” and other discussion related to missions paradigm teaching. Specifically the issue was the value or not- of homogeneous mission approaches. Think “single tribe” or exp.- skater, or cowboy or heavy metal or whatever segment of culture/society you like churches being planted as a great way to do ministry.

My comment mentioned an un-named Jesus Movement leader from another area of the U.S. whom many of us respected for a number of good reasons but whom I’d not met until over a two-day event our band played at.

As we chatted off and on away from the crowds I realized from his comments and habits he was a super patriarchal dude who expected his wife to “walk several steps behind him” on several levels. I also realized he was indeed fundamentalist in his views and methodology and quite absolutist about all such matters. After several long and amicable chats I could no longer hold my response to his attitude and a couple comments he made including quoting Genesis “each after it’s/their kind” as a ministry paradigm.

Such is one of several miss-used exclusive, exclusionary and indeed racist phrases quoted to somehow “validate” treating others “unlike us” in culture, theology, race or ethnicity as “lessors” than we are.

The ignorance, superiority complex and outright violation of what Jesus taught and gave as His own example to follow speaks of MULTI and not NARROW mission, local church and outreach to a world in deep need regardless of differences. “Love your neighbor” has no qualifications nor does “Love your enemies”, both commands of Jesus Christ to His disciples.

Whether a different theological understanding, race, ethnicity or merely cultural dress, music, approach to “doing church” I find it understandable why some may target a small people group but at the same time, the Good News is for all people and one day we will gather as EVERY tribe, nation, tongue in worship of God before His throne!

The idea we somehow -best- serve Jesus, the Church and the world around us only in narrow, exclusionary ways is nothing I can support in the long term nor do I think there is much support for it in the Gospels or New Testament letters to the churches.

To the specifics:

The Jesus Movement was not monolithic. Yes, the majority of those who came to saving faith in Jesus Christ were students, hippies, anti-war (Vietnam in particular) and druggies who were mostly white. Nearly all top Jesus People leadership was male, largely with none to little traditional church background. We were politically left, liberal or even dropping out of political involvement in disgust at seeing what we perceived as little positive movement re. injustices on earth.

There were of course exceptions.

Many traditional, culturally conservative churches wanted little or nothing to do with these Jesus freaks and in truth for plenty of the new converts the feeling and attitude was likewise, that of distrust and not love, grace and acceptance. Many of the young considered most churches corrupted by “the world”.

Further, my own experience via travels and interaction brought me to the view most Jesus People were rather simple in their core embracing of The Bible and focus on the most essential, basic elements of salvation in Christ, loving one another and basic John 3.16, Romans 10 evangelism and the Second Coming and/or rapture of the saints, and end-times prophecy. We thought He would return at any moment (He still may of course!) and so that was about all we focused on.

Time moved on, so did we. It must be noted many traditional churches began to warm to these young “street Christians” though some did not. Many Jesus People did NOT end up embracing a simplistic, narrow fundamentalist view of whatever (fill in the blank/s) and a number of apolitical converts became more socially active in terms of practical loving neighbors. How to live out Matthew 25 and what it meant to love our neighbor in the practical began to trouble us with regard a seeming lack of it among too many local churches.

After being freed from earlier addictions plenty began to move into “the American dream” concepts of haircuts, a well-paying job, regular and typical church attendance and frankly, American middle class status-quo ideas of what a disciple is. Or according to John 15, I suggest, is not!!

So yes, a good many moved from social activism into castle-and-moat building and highly individualistic, rather common white American values and habit patterns. They in many ways became their parents, many of whom may have truly known Jesus in a genuine, personal way but often removed and divorced from the poor, widows, orphans and marginalized people, often living much like their unsaved neighbors.

The idea of one’s name being written in the Lamb’s Book of Life being settled was enough.

Everyone else was suspect and any view opposing such status-quo thinking -and those seeming to hold them- were now considered a threat.

Thus conservatism rather than the radical, life-changing message of Jesus threaded through the four Gospels became and for many remains the rally cry of those who started out seeking to change the world while the world continues to disciple them.

That’s precisely what I think happened and is happening re. the former Jesus People.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

“Desperate Hope”

David Bunker is a friend of many years, talents and has a passionate, gifted ability to teach via his several gifts. He currently serves with Visible Music College. Upon reading this recent Facebook post I felt it important to re-post via my blog and social media sites.

I have many friends, colleagues and acquaintances that I’m certain would benefit from a careful read and reflection on what David shares here. I’d suggest several such reads and a return to pondering it from time to time for a sense of hope.

Funny, my own thoughts have often considered the rain barrel both in terms of literal and also spiritual ecological needs being met.

Thank you David. Amen. -Glenn Kaiser

DESPERATE HOPE by David Bunker

Desperate Hope
I have been saving rain
In a rusty old bucket for months
The time has come
For me to pour it on
The only flower in my field
As an act of desperate hope

[When asked to elaborate on this poem, David replied:]

“This poem is about listening to a part of us that here to fore has either been deadened, missing, or just quiet and dormant. This is about welcoming the dawning of something mysterious like rain or inner refreshment. One of the first conditions of the soul Christ will confront during these drought like times is our cynicism. Cynicism is really about hopelessness. When we loose hope, even the simplest acts of devotion are dry and void of sustenance. All those around us seem naive and much of our daily routine seems silly and without meaning. Why? That is the deep question in our soul? Why even try we ask. Nothing I do will make any difference. Nothing I can offer to this life will ultimately change my condition. It is this lack of hope that deadens our souls. We can so easily become hopeless. As fragile as hope can be, it is a fuel the soul needs to form a future. Without it we see life as a series of disconnected actions. We are a bit player in a theatrical novel in which our fate has been sealed. Nothing can change that. This is what cynicism does to hope. So I let my desperation actually push me to an act of seeming insanity. But it is not based on reason or logic but the human condition that will at times in our life be one act away from disaster or tremendous loss. So we offer the act of desperate hope.”

Glenn sez- as always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Misc. Update

End of August, almost into September- then my fave months -October, November.

Wendi and I had a great weekend in Iowa, saw old friends and met some new ones 🙂 We pulled a few REZ songs out by request and all went well indeed.

Tonight I’ve been invited to bring a Bible study to my chaplain friends at Cook County Jail (via phone conference call) and am also encouraged by their love, faith and servanthood a great deal. Praying to be able to access CCJ and Stateville (prison) here in Illinois as soon as the Covid situation allows face-to-face in those and other facilities again.

Working on several small and soon a larger project or two.

So I hope your summer is going well, autumn is just around the corner.

Prayers going up for Afghanistan and have been also for New Orleans and area re. hurricane Ida. Whew.

I am so deeply grateful for daily simple yet profound graceS in a world of great need.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn