A Pandemic Devotion

Considerations of care for self and others, now and always.

I was invited to give a 10 minute message in our weekly church-community Zoom gathering. Here it is. I highlighted key points and emailed this very blog link to the entire fellowship so as to keep the live presentation brief. And as always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

A) Self-care isn’t self-medicating with what scripture clearly calls “sin” – nor is it hiding, fully cutting yourself off from neighbors even in pandemic-time.

But first “Love your neighbor AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF” said Jesus:

A VERY FEW IDEAS FOR PRACTICAL SELF-CARE and do not be afraid to try NEW to move beyond OLD (nature, depression, cloud-life which ain’t life-giving to you anyway)

-A cup of coffee or tea w. a good book (perhaps THE Good Book)
-A quiet time of prayer
-A brief garden walk
-A bit of art therapy with drawing, painting, music, photography
-A long, hot bath
-10-15 minutes sitting in the sunshine
-A long look at National Geographic, Mother Earth News or something fun/interesting to you online
-Physical exercise (I use all low-impact: stretch-bands, dumb bells, steps by laundry room near our elevator)
-An actual study of an issue of interest to you, documentary, nation or custom
-A craft of some sort, “making” something, maybe choosing a craft you never thought of trying before!

B) Stress, personal pain is often best answered with the therapy of serving others.

“I have little value, I constantly get it wrong.” Self-condemned? Share what you have with others – Jesus: “MORE Blessed to give than receive…” -Acts 20.35 Jesus: “For God so loved that He gave…”

2 Cor. 8.12 “If there first be a willing mind… it is ACCEPTED according to what a person has, not according to what they do not have.” Paul is writing about an offering collected to ease and meet needs of others.
CONTEXT:
12 For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality— 14 at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality; 15 as it is written, “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.”

1 Cor. 13.4a Love is patient, love is kind

Gal. 5: 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

“COMMUNITY IS… A REFLECTION OF GOD IN US”
Matt can’t remember a relationship in his life where he hasn’t failed, in one way or another, to live up to the ideal expectations of community. Despite that, Matt has some deep connections with people that he loves very much. And he isn’t alone. We hurt people we are in community with all the time. It is in our sinful nature to fail, to let down, and to hurt others—not always on purpose but as a result of sin in our lives. Yet we all keep entering into community again and again. The hurt doesn’t stop us, because we keep loving others and hoping for everything that community is and can be.

Why do we enter into community? Because God did, and we are created in his image. God loves us so much that he sent his Son, Jesus, who laid down his own life for us in order to re-enter community with us, his creation. And we love others so much that we enter into community again and again with love and with the hope of something greater. Community is a reflection of God’s love living in us. It’s what we were created to be.”
-Excerpt from May 6 (2020) month-long series on Community by Bret Lamsma: https://today.reframemedia.com/devotions/community-is-a-reflection-of-god-in-us#

So, ask your neighbor “How are you doing?” and really mean it. Wait, be patient and kind, focused, listening to what they say. Encouraging, serving one another, if they’re even slightly open ask them about prayer, the Word, hobbies (as per my list above and/or others) because they are under stress and struggle just like you, sometimes more.

What can you cook for them, make for them, at least offer them? Hey, popcorn (typical, sweet, hot, whatever) is cheap, simple and might be self AND other’s therapy for yer tastebuds 🙂 Offerings reflect love just as God offers us Good News, His Son, and has “richly given us all things to enjoy”.

Could you offer to phone, text, email, meet up via social media, Facebook Chat or Zoom? You can certainly pray for them regularly to help ease their burden. Community. Love. Shared Grace!!

A PERSONAL PRAYER
“Open the eyes of my heart Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I need to see You
Help me see Your reflection in my world
Help me to reflect You toward others.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

Isolation, Community, Growth

“No man (or woman, boy, girl) is an island” rings true as can be in pandemic time. We depend on online sources to interact with spouses, family, friends, this or that community group of interest, news and so on.

A wide range of people are experiencing how lonely, frustrated, angry as can be and/or how huge swaths of self-pity surface when we are largely by ourselves -and “not free” to do our usual routine/s. Fully understood.

When you and I are not “in control” in our chosen sense of “normal” there’s much to learn- and not all of it fun [wait for it…:] about ourselves.

Snatch an independent country person and stick ’em in the middle of a huge urban city experience for a day, week, month or longer and they’ll tell you! Exactly the same for the born-and-bred city dweller if yanked out into the woods to live by themselves. It’s a recipe for freaking out!

Ever experienced city dwellers, say gang kids experiencing full-on country camping w. coyotes howling in the dark of night? Ever experienced hardcore rural guys fresh-landed in a city ghetto for a day or two? Pretty enlightening stuff. Both are buttercups who apparently ain’t so good at “sucking it up”, tough dudes (?) who are like fish outta water. Welcome to 2/3’s world experience realities. There are folks who deal with such burdens of living and survival every day all over the planet.

Simple quiet/silent “retreats” have been useful to learn about God and one’s self for centuries. It is often truly a jarring, unsettling experience and “you are who you are” sort of deal that some just don’t wish to face. A generally “all set in my ways” individual will find a mountain to climb when having to interact with a lot of people day in, day out. See, both ends of the spectrum have much to learn and if we would, we could so better be a blessing rather than a curse to others.

Not by my own choice but that of family, then later the calling of Jesus I grew up rural for years, next working-class suburb w. a couple rich friends, then inner-city Milwaukee in an African-American slum area, later a Florida university town and finally inner-city Chicago. I get the contrasts and have often heard the miseries of “THAT sort of lifestyle!” from people across the spectrum.

We all need balance. We –need– and benefit from “tribulation that works patience”. I, you, dear reader GROW when planted in good soil (though you’ll often deny there’s anything good about it) which is why I regularly laugh and pray to surrender to the Lord when I find myself complaining about “First World problems” because that’s what sooo many of them are.

God is well aware of your lack, slack and stack. He knows how this pandemic (and in other cases, other matters) pile up on top of you, how you “Just want this to END!!!”. Cancer patients, falsely accused incarcerated people, single Moms with a load of kids, immigrants, homeless refugees and a zillion other folks want “it” to end too. Yes.

I suggest we need experiences outside of our comfort zone in and through which we might learn to seek God, accept His grace, learn empathy and compassion for others -and recognize none of us are nor ever were in control. Mind you, the Holy Spirit produces the FRUIT of self-control in the life of a true follower of Jesus Christ. That or we put our discipleship and maturity in “park” and go nuts. Of course healthy growth in any garden or orchard requires several things including pruning.

Perhaps worth considering along our journey?

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

Fresh Content in YouTube

So, my -personal- vid clip channel where my simple phone-done stuff is loaded up for those who wish to subscribe to see all of ’em.

As per my recent post, 7 (not 6) clips entitled “Musician’s Growth Tools” dealing w. 7 diff. elements of playing, recording and spirituality in each clip, from appx. 6 to 12 mins. per episode.

Muso Growth Tools

Best way to find ’em due to a zillion other Glenn Kaiser related YT sites is to do a YouTube search for gkaisersoze and at this time (April 30, 2020) you’ll find my -personal channel- by using the search filter “this week”. Cyberhugs -now go wash yer hands 🙂

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Come Home!

In our family during our recent Easter Sunday morning celebration both gathered and online, Wendi read verse 2 (linked below and in context, twice). I had not read nor heard these verses for some time and it reminded me of the power of God, the seriousness of sin which separates us from Him and the deep love and grace of Jesus through Whom He calls us home. In two excellent English translations, have a close look.

https://www.bible.com/bible/100/HOS.6.1-3.nasb

This is only one of many, many Messianic prophecies that Jesus Christ fulfilled not only for Israel but I am convinced with you and I in mind.

We are all in flux – and all created in God’s image and rebels at heart. Israel was and is, you and I are likewise.

The remedy for the virus mentioned in these texts is faith, repentance, trust in the love of God and indeed, loving and obedient surrender to a heavenly Father Who knows far beyond us what we need most.

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

God and Variety

Consider Father/Son/Spirit. Look at nature, many forms of animals, fish, forests. Mountains, valleys, plains. God is indeed a God of variety.

People often pigeon-hole themselves in a place and position of comfort and reject The Comforter for the sake of inner peace. Then a pandemic or other tremor shakes such and… then what?whichA kind friend sent out a devotional message to our fellowship this morning from Henri Nouwen. “Openness to God” begins “To pray means to open your hands before God. It means slowly relaxing the tension that squeezes your hands together and accepting your existence with an increasing readiness, not as a possession to defend, but as a gift to receive.”

He continues to discuss the hope that comes from God, and I’d add “which comes from God alone”.

To state it clearly, salvation, eternal life, grace are gifts that do not come at core from a variety of sources. According to Jesus Christ in the Gospels they come from the Father through the Son by the Spirit, full stop. Study those texts and you’ll find Jesus’s truth-claims are rather exclusive. According to Him and the rest of the New Testament writers (including Luke- Acts 4.12) “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among humankind by which we must be saved.”

Yet in the wide world- vast, ocean and continent-sized spaces -and lives- there are nearly inexhaustible varietieS that either delight or upset us – sometimes both!

What are you holding on to so tightly that you’re not open to God? Some love the sun, some the rain. Jesus says each shine and then fall on the righteous and unrighteous, the just and the unjust. If He is source of both?? Variety.

I fully admit praying in times of stress (lots of ’em) “Count it all JOY??!” and immediately asking forgiveness for my attitude of defiance, rejection and basic anger at what I was having to deal with in the moment. Pretty clear to me and you neither I nor you are God, no?!

Frustration when we planed a picnic and the weather changed, “Ruined EVERYTHING!” is not abnormal but rather common in the human experience. Of course everything was NOT ruined, the circumstances had changed and we didn’t like how they affected us and perhaps our family.

Hmmm, getting close to home now? How open are we to accept with God’s help (Helper)… and pray for His will to be done. Uhhh, well here you go:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; 
enjoying one moment at a time; 
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will; 
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next. Amen -Reinhold Niebuhr

Note I’ve just here cited the whole prayer, not just the oft-quoted first piece of it.

We may love or hate variety, but it’s everywhere and indeed even amongst professing Christians, in the churches, even in the loose fellowship of people who do and will disagree on any number of things including the weather. I LOVE the rain. I also enjoy warm sunshine.

These days it’s ever more popular to drop-kick apostle Paul in his New Testament letters and elsewhere. Here’s a statement of his on variety that has helped change my life for the -far- better:

“…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4.11b

That key word “content” in biblical Greek? “Sufficient for one’s self, strong enough or possessing enough to need no aid or support, independent of external circumstances, contented with one’s lot, with one’s means, though the slenderest.”

Make no mistake, this same Paul did not mean he was his own God, for he also wrote “our sufficiency is of God“! (2 Corinthians 3.5)

May God grant us the patience, wisdom and grace to roll with the variety God gives as well as allows. “In all things, by prayer…”

As always, thanks for stopping by! -Glenn

Fresh Content Coming :)

Ok, so it just seemed time to change up my blog/website look. But for musicians (and non) I woke up early today with the following in my head.

Perhaps 3 or 4 online places containing (free for you) a *series* from me in written, video and audio formats (no more than 10 minutes each in v. or a. form) beginning with 6 things super helpful for all musos yet also offer killer analogies for musicians to better grasp spiritual growth.

PORTABLE TUNERS!
Portable Tuners

GK’s “MUSICIAN’S GROWTH TOOLS”

–Guitar/Bass/Etc. Tuners

–Click Tracks

–Compression

–Recording Engineers

–Record Producers

–Gear Maintenance

–Recording to Learn

I’ll publicize launch-time w. site links when ready!

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

UNITY?? Institutions?

  • Let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t really want unity, we want our way or that of the group we are comfortably part of. Until we disagree and often, part!

The Bible speaks of unity a great deal but it likewise speaks of disagreements -some of those on what the given pundit contends is “solid ground”. Then again, how solid is your/our/my personal (then, shared with others in our group) faith in the particular person, group, or viewpoint? Whether spiritual, generally theological, doctrinal or methodological there are varied and sometimes extremely varied viewpoints.

In both world and church history the separations have been rather common and at times, bloody and horrific. Even after the terror and misery recede there are all sorts of justifications as to why people aligned or even stayed with what may have been a position, leaders or gathered people who produced far more harm and hurt than love and good on earth.

Another q. -Are we seeking and promoting genuine unity or merely tribalism? When loyalty butts up against integrity which do we choose?

Some of course call for unity overlooking mistakes or outright sin-laden attitudes and positions with their chosen segment of society -or in themselves… which brings me to the next term.

For most of my life I’ve been friends, often very close friends with folks who had been burned on any number of levels (true, imagined or both) by institution X, Y and/or Z where they had at one time planted themselves.

Repeatedly I’ve questioned whether or not it is “the institution” itself or what I’ll call that first and most instinctive and prone-to-sin-and-false-judgment “institution”: the kingdom of self. BOTH are or should be suspect over years of experience but oh how we seem to have great faith in our individual self assessment while disdaining faith in a gathered group- “the evil empire of the institution”.

No group of people exists without individuals gathering together in time and space. The Institution is after all, a group of human beings. People.

The first and often most avoided solution to institutional sin, systemic injustice and for that matter, our desire -if we actually do desire peace and unity- is  personal inventory, personal repentance, personal choice to love, respect and consider “the others” view and experience- but this does not mean any two or more gathered will agree on any particular matter!

What the Lord literally commands is that we love one another, forgive one another, serve one another, and of course repentance is not just a requirement of the other person or group, it’s on me as an individual as well.

In some cases the only things Christians agree on is the Person of Jesus and even in that there are varied ideas and accents.

Long ago I came to a core desire for realism, best (flawed, imperfect as I am!) as I can study, listen, discern it. Party affiliation on any level is and can reasonably be suspect- but first we must begin with… uhhh… ummm… the party of self.

Jesus Christ alone is First and Last, the Beginning and Ending, the Alpha and Omega. Would people sense that if looking deeply at your life, my life, the life of institution X, Y, Z? Maybe I ask too many questions?

The breaking of swords into plowshares starts with you and I dear reader.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn