The Unifying Power of Humility

Following up from yesterday’s post on Unity and the Kingdom of God- In Mark’s Gospel chapter three are statements of Jesus in a dispute with religious leaders that I have often pondered. Apparently He believes in the devil and also in more than one kingdom.

24 “If a kingdom is divided [split into factions and rebelling] against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” -AMP

One thing many hardcore sinners and in particular those coming out of serious addictions of all sorts seem to have in common- they typically come to realize their own choices and personal kingdom-building defenses had been breached.

For those who follow Jesus they -we, and in fact I myself- recognize the ability to get and stay clean and sober is not about personal intelligence, strength or the accumulation of stuff, rather it happens via humility and faith in God.

In essence, we became convinced we needed God, His help and a continuing, sustaining relationship with Him and with like-minded people -or our downward spiral would continue and finally likely destroy us. Self-medicating was poison, not freedom.

In extreme brief, we are unified due to the depth of shared humility, confession of weakness, sin and dependence on the power of God with regard to our addictions. Without Him and these our recovery wasn’t a possibility, period.

I do believe such humility and even a desperate “lights on!” realization that it is WE who must surrender to Jesus, not merely “those people over there!” Individual addiction to self and control are killing us and at times through us, those around us.

We are much like the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable. But unlike that son who “came to himself”, faced himself and his complicity we have not yet crawled out of the pigsty of our choosing and returned home. And this, by the way, is the charge we level at others while denying it about ourselves!

Oh, we may pray, read our Bible, attend a fellowship somewhere, but we have not really reached that spiritual maturity of a “contrite heart” which God does not despise. Spiritual growth, deep change is elusive until we do. (see Psalm 51.17)

There is so much pride, arrogance over our individual strengths, self-assurance we can “accomplish anything we wish to” by our own power that it is our own tragically small kingdom vs. the eternal kingdom of God that we are defending, piling stone upon stone up to wall ourselves in with -and it will eventually crumble -as every kingdom but God’s Own shall.

Unity is not merely about agreeing about what is right in God’s eyes but also what He Himself calls wrong. There is but one eternal kingdom and one eternal King. Jesus speaks of us trying to hang on to our -own- life and therefore losing it. He calls us to deny ourselves, pick up –our– cross daily and follow Him. It is in such a relationship we find life as well as unity! Humility before God is a deep and major factor with regard to honest fellowship among God’s people in God’s kingdom.

The grace of God calls us to believe the truth and so be saved- not only the “truth” we create and imagine. Humility and repentance creates Kingdom unity.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Unity -In Whose Kingdom?

In John’s Gospel chapter 17 we hear Jesus’ prayer for His disciples as well as future disciples clearly: unity! Unity with one another and each and all with Father, Son, Spirit. There is nearly zero debate from scholars and others about this.

20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 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.”

KJV renders the phrase in verse 23 “that they may be made perfect in one”, NASB- “that they may be perfected in unity”, AMP- “that they may be perfected and completed into one”

Here, the concept of “perfect” means to make perfect, complete, to carry through completely, to accomplish, finish, bring to an end, to complete (perfect), add what is yet wanting in order to render a thing full, to be found perfect, to bring to the end (goal) proposed, to accomplish, bring to a close or fulfillment by event of the prophecies of the scriptures

God clearly calls followers of Jesus to unity NOW and yet there is the sense this will not be completely fulfilled until Jesus returns and folds the world up “like a scroll”.

Paul writes in Ephesians 4: v. 3 “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” and again in verse 13 he uses the same Greek word (translated to English – “unity”): “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ”

The entire chapter is about unity of the Spirit including his list of various callings, what are often called “offices” the Spirit gives to servant-leaders as part of -how- unity happens. Note also the word “until”. That term does not absolutely speak contextually in such a way that we are assured such unity will happen while we are on earth before Jesus returns nor is it explicit that we we as a body of believers only reach it in our new glorified bodies when the kingdom of God will put an end to all earthly kingdoms.

“Unity”: oneness, i.e. (figuratively) unanimity:—unity.

So we see what unity looks like very quickly in the New Testament according to Jesus and Paul.

“Uniformity” from the term “uniform” = having always the same form, manner, or degree : not varying or variable, uniform procedures, consistent in conduct, or opinion, uniform interpretation of laws, of the same form with others : conforming to one rule or mode, presenting an unvaried appearance of surface, pattern, or color

Since when have all in the local, larger Church, denominational, Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox or fully independent traditional or house churches all shared uniformity? As I’ve often stated, for good and bad reasons (there are actually quite a few on both ends of the spectrum in my own opinion!) unity is one thing, uniformity is another and at times we truly do not want one, the other or both -if we’re brutally honest with ourselves.

Note that Jesus in his John 17 prayer highlights TRUTH, not only oneness of believers. When we take personal exits from truth, from our own consciences as to what God in His Book continually calls, even commands us to: love, mercy, justice, forgiveness, compassion, kindness and the like -is there any wonder why our own self-built kingdom/s conflict with the King, the principles of the Kingdom of God and yes, one another? No mystery really. Guess whose kingdom will end and Who’s will continue in eternity?

Were and –are– there differences of theology, doctrine, methodology among followers of Jesus? Yes. It would be ignorant to say there were/are not. And yet the -call- of God, the desire of our Lord Jesus and the work of the Spirit is to make us one with Him as well as with one another.

I suggest as the Word of God seems to say that during our lifetime on this earth it is a journey rather than absolute destination. One day YES, complete fulfillment of unity with no sin, no unforgiveness, self-righteousness, petty judging, control freak issues, distances due to our own imperfections and indeed lousy attitudes often based on the kingdom of self! The kingdom of God WILL prevail. But as Paul states in his first letter to the Corinthian Christians chapter 13… now is not then.

Still, unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace is what we must work toward.

How each of us approaches this in light of our many differences and varied desires, also regarding justice for ALL and not merely “my/our way” takes prayer, Bible study and application in our relationships. It requires repentance, forgiveness often. It certainly must be sourced from and in God’s love as well as practical help offered and shared with “the least of these” -not only outside the churches but within them.

God help us!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

The Bean Dish

So there I was, admiring my wife’s fine low-carb cooking. She does so many amazing meals like this, and one was several sorts of special low-carb beans she bakes with spices and love… and soooo good! She’s a Southern girl who absolutely as I often say, looks and cooks! I’m blessed, thank you Lord!

Now 95 percent of the time I’m the dish-doer including all cooking and supper ware from a large family. I admit it can be a tad overwhelming. So I have ways of prepping dishes, setting them up in order/groups and where the food particles are in the trash prior to washing, rinsing and into the drying rack.

I’m also the grease trap cleaner… so you understand my eyes catch what might be caught in the drain and trap if I don’t take such care!

Ok, so today at brunch I enjoyed the last of her beans and then looked at that casserole dish lined with stuck-on beanishness 🙂

Shall I let it soak in hot soapy water for a bit, then maybe do it last after I finish washing the rest of the dishes and silverware? The good scrub pad is the one for this. So, thoughts like that ran in my head as I looked at it.

I wonder what God thinks about His people, the church and churches? Well we do get quite a few accounts where His thinking is front-and-center in both Old and New Testaments. The need for radical scrubbing indeed.

Some of it seems like an embrace and some of it like condemning judgment. Being God, perfect and without worthy competition in those He of course has every right to be Who He is and do as HE sees fit.

How much love, grace, patience does our heavenly Father pour out on His rebellious, self-centered/serving kids day after day, time and again? A massive load of such compassion and kindness. Is there a limit to this in the nature and actions of God, in ancient history, now and hereafter? The Bible is clear that the answer to that is “Yes.”

Let me also be clear- I don’t always know, understand or like what He does… but I state with zero exageration that I beleive He is more trustworthy and faithful than human beings -including myself. This I have learned.

“It is of the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed…” (Lam. 3.22) comes to mind, and also- “Then the Lord said ‘My Spirit shall not strive with humankind forever…'” (Gen. 6.3)

Last thought here and it is indeed double entendre: that dish doesn’t get washed by itself.

P.S.- It turned out my amazing wife had gotten 90 percent of it clean by the time I got to it. 🙂

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

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