Watershed Cafe Christmas Show

The past 2 years our family has been invited to do a concert at this excellent venue in Frankfort, Illinois. We do 99% Christmas songs in newer and some in more traditional fashion, read hrough the story of Jesus’ birth from the Bible, share poems…

The past 2 years our family has been invited to do a concert at this excellent venue in Frankfort, Illinois. We do 99% Christmas songs in newer and some in more traditional fashion, read hrough the story of Jesus’ birth from the Bible, share poems and a bit about the orgins of Christian Christmas traditions.Ami, Brach and Joby (“The Unfortunate”) do a set, and two of Wendi and my daughters (Ami and Rebecca) join as well as two of my grandsons, singing along with Wendi and I.Curt, brilliant family poet, reads through the Christmas story as well as a couple of his own wonderful holiday poems. All in all, it’s a special evening focused on our Lord’s birth.The staff and audience are always amazing and sweet, the coffee is great… and we have a lot of fun.Last night God put the first snow of the season on the ground and the beauty of it all was quite nice.How blessed I am by my Lord,, my family and the family of God… whew!I posted a few pics as well as a demo of a Christmas song I wrote here: http://gkaiser.posterous.com/“Grace upon grace” indeed. -Glenn

FELLOWSHIP …102 & 3

Many years ago over a couple of winters I read through the Russian activist/author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s lengthy and important volume “The Gulag Archipelago” which chronicled his and many other’s horrific in-country exile in some of the worst S…

Many years ago over a couple of winters I read through the Russian activist/author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s lengthy and important volume “The Gulag Archipelago” which chronicled his and many other’s horrific in-country exile in some of the worst Siberian concentration camps of Soviet Russia.I’m a slow reader and especially so when I care about the material, major points are being made and of course, when the book(s) are thick.In “Gulag” he commented on the deep and sincere spirituality, connections with God and one another inmates experienced while condemned (in many cases) to die in the midst of sub-freezing weather, slow starvation, torture and the ever-present spectre of death in the camps.He wrote specifically of the various Christian groups who had been enemies, who had preached against one another by name, who had been in competition with one another… until they were thrown together like rats in the worst of conditions staring the worst sort of misery in the face.The warmth came in waves, over time, through nursing the sick, sharing the meager food they could scrounge, in prayer and Bible-focused gatherings. God was present and the many differences and old, often thin, trifling disagreements meant nothing in such a time and place.Solzhenitsyn eventually wrote how horrible it was when after a number of them survived and were released that within a very short time the old nastiness, vitriol and strife between otherwise Christian pastors and leaders returned just as before. The warmth of deep love, compassion and friendship they’d experienced in the camps dried up as they returned to normal life outside the Gulag.Each and all of us are capable of love. Any true follower of Jesus is in fact commanded to love in a number of verses of Scripture.How quickly God’s agape love evaporates- not in Himself but among you and I… when circumstances change. In fact often when they change for the better!It seems to me getting what we want is often not the best place for spiritual growth, not even for brothers and sisters growing together in unity. So often it’s the wartime, “foxhole” experience that brings people closer to things that matter and in the process, our focus is so sharpened that the dogmas, the personal pettiness and desire to control is jettisoned… as it should have been prior to the shared pain.But as Proverbs tells us “A brother is born for adversity” -when we find a genuine friend in Christ who themselves are truly Following Jesus and His Word in the midst of the trial, fellowship like that sustains us. It carries us through the darkest of times.Isolation in the camps only happened when guards threw someone into an isolation cell. Otherwise, they were forced into overcrowded, bug-infested huts where disease ran rampant, the occasional rat or field mouse was a life-saving meal and a painful Siberian wind blew through the holes day and night.As Solzhenitsyn wrote of spring, warmth and sunshine and the health and life it brought, I could only wonder at the contrast and imagine what these poor souls felt.When those who survived the cruel years and who happened to be set “free” (or at least comparatively so being back in everyday Soviet society) they found work, places to stay and other things difficult to find. They were not so sure family or old friends had truly been- or would now choose to be- friends. In some cases family members or “friends” had either been coerced or out of fear, reported things that had put them in the prison camps in the first place. The KGB was alive and well though so many of these men and women were half-dead when they were released.But it seems to me what was worse, was the temptation and embracing of the old, thick walls of suspicion and harsh judgment of Christian to Christian many succumbed to.Isolation might mean personal quiet time with God. It can mean a “prayer closet” experience with Father, Son and Spirit. Such is wonderful refreshing and life-giving.Isolation can also mean we separate ourselves from godly friends who love us and encourage us to love Jesus, His Word and one another more… sometimes more than we want to.If we don’t have such friends, do we have any true friends at all?What does it take to bring people to a place of realization, of understanding of what true fellowship, genuine, forgiving, loving koinonia in Christ truly IS? What might it cost you or I?The communion of saints in the camps reveals something that causes me to wonder.Thank God we don’t all have to experience the horrors of a Gulag or a Chilean mine disaster to experience and appreciate it.

Saints.

Tonight I had dinner in a large room full of people who began this long journey of discipleship with us at JPUSA in the 1970’s. Singles, spouses, children and family members shared stories, looked at a long stream of black and white pictures and s…

Tonight I had dinner in a large room full of people who began this long journey of discipleship with us at JPUSA in the 1970’s. Singles, spouses, children and family members shared stories, looked at a long stream of black and white pictures and swapped jokes and trivia related to our shared community life and mission.We laughed, enjoyed fellowship, sang a number of old but not forgotten songs that rarely are sung these days.At the end of the night those who wished to do so prayed.As I thought about whether I should lift a prayer up aloud or not, I found myself simply thanking God for His incredible grace in the experience of serving for so many years with these incredible friends. Yes, saints.Well, I actually prayed thanking God that I was blessed in not only being able to read about saints, but to actually live with so many!Biblically speaking, all Christ-followers are truly saints through faith in Jesus, nothing more or less.Christians celebrate the “known” names, those many famous ones either in terms of them being mentioned in the Bible or throughout church history.Many churches display plaques, photos or paintings in order to help congregations remember and on occasion visitors inquire about who this or that person was. Whoever they were, they were part of the local church family, the life, mission and loving service of the Lord among those people in that place. They are remembered. People need reminders, though of course God never forgets His children and their service in Christ.Yet there is a very real blessing in being part of a local congregation with the same core of committed people serving- as imperfectly as we do and have.It is a unique and encouraging witness in a world that increasingly seems fragmented, disconnected, distanced from one another except for online social networks or the rare face-to-face meeting where anything of depth is actually shared.Perhaps like myself, those reading this have visited local churches around the world and from time to time have realized some of the people have actually served the Lord together for many decades. There is a closeness as a result of all the shared struggles, exchange of forgiveness and living out their faith as a group as opposed to being closed individuals living apart though in the same local church.Perhaps you are blessed in sharing a part of such an intimate fellowship. If you do, you know the cost and in truth, how amazing such a long-term shared walk is in our times.Celebrate!Or perhaps seek God honestly about what you are willing to do about that depth of shared call and mission with others where God has placed you.Saints. I’m so blessed by so many- right in my own house!-Glenn

Third German Tour Blog

Seeing Wendi and I fly home Thursday, I expect this will be my last update on our current tour in Germany. As per my Twitter/Facebook posts, the Creative Arts Europe Arts Session was just plain amazing! Jim and Anne Mills and staff did an exceptio…

Seeing Wendi and I fly home Thursday, I expect this will be my last update on our current tour in Germany.As per my Twitter/Facebook posts, the Creative Arts Europe Arts Session was just plain amazing! Jim and Anne Mills and staff did an exceptional job and the worship, workshops and final evening share time was blessed with truly beautiful displays of art, photography, dance, film, music, comedy and more. And then came the cool music/singalong/dance celebration at the end… just a riot of fun.I can’t say enough about the kind interaction, the fellowship and encouragement of so many Christians coming together for those days  of teaching and the potential of what both is and can be as a result.Wendi and I then went on to link with our longtime friends Carsten and Judith Turner, and Wieland Eberlie who have all been involved in Rez and/or GKB and myself solo tours for a number of years. We had another packed and kind experience at Cellarium in Knittlingen and then on to Calvary Chapel (Bible College) in Siegen where we linked up with more great friends (again) and a quite large crowd, especially for a Monday night!In each place people shared past and present grace where God was working in their lives. In each place a number of old friends came to say hello and encourage us.Today we went on to Wetzlar and ERF radio where Wendi and I took turns sharing a bit of our lives, about REZ, family and JPUSA experiences and ministry. Ingrid (our fine interview person and show host) had a great list of questions and we trust the edited show will encourage people throughout Germany, maybe even beyond.Tonight we met the kind producer and sweet host of tomorrow’s tv filming (again at ERF Wetzlar) talking over details for the taping. Funny that we still call it that as most everything is digital (no tape) these days.But I will do 3 acoustic blues songs, jam a bit with them on another and share brief bits of my life and about the JPUSA community.We go to Frankfurt on Thursday for the flight to Chicago.The next day I have a morning scheduling meeting and then Wendi and I are off to Cornerstone Farm and this year’s opening sessions of Project 12, our Bible/Discipleship school within the JPUSA community.The weather is starting to turn a little cool, here in Germany there are small signs of autumn in some of the trees… and our favorite time of year begins :)As usual Carsten and Judith have taken incredible care of us and we will be happy to come back for the GKB tour here during the last half of October and into November- Carsten is the tour promoter so we know it will be a great one.So- thank you for visiting my blog and double thanks for those of you who pray for us in all our journeys!Gratefully,-Glenn

Meet The New Boss

The title of this blog is comprised of the beginning of a line from the Who’s hit song “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. The conclusion of that line was “…same as the old boss.” Years ago a brilliant cartoonist named Walt came up with a line in his Pogo…

The title of this blog is comprised of the beginning of a line from the Who’s hit song “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. The conclusion of that line was “…same as the old boss.”Years ago a brilliant cartoonist named Walt came up with a line in his Pogo newspaper comic strip- “We have seen the enemy and he is us.”I often quote Buckaroo Banzai (crazy, silly movie somewhat worth seeing:)- “Where ever you go, there you are.”Then I fondly recall Jean Vanier’s brilliant one-word reply when asked what the biggest problem he had with living in community: “Myself.”I recently find myself reading through and interacting with a couple blogs regarding the state of the church.I believe it fully true to say few commenting on the issues in both blogs have traveled and heard the issues I have from all sorts of local and denominational congregations over much of the world these past 38 years. And I hear it from those in leadership/supposed leadership positions and equally from those not in any sort of influential position, the everyday congregant.Both threads have garnered very honest, good and in my view, well-thought out points related to doing church differently, escaping the institutionalized- read that ungodly/dysfunctional- church and just not looking back.Forgive me if I pop the balloon, but none of this is new.I have called off and on, for a reformation among Christians for most of my life. I think the Holy Spirit continually calls for it in MY life!So- coming from what might be considered a huge small group or living in intentional Christian community which is much like a large gathering of small groups who worship, study, serve and play amongst ourselves and also interact serving those throughout our neighborhood and in fact, many places throughout our nation and world… I can say with complete sincerity there ain’t no structure nor leader, group of leaders nor gathering of those banishing the term (leader) who live sinless lives. NOBODY gets it right all the time.While I truly appreciate people looking for a genuine experience with God and/or authentic Christian community and/or who think the term Christian should be dumped and/or who struggle with hardcore right-wing politics or gay bashing or (fill-in-the-blanks), the idea that ANY structure or lack of one will solve what ails us is chasing windmills in their dreams…I’m not saying don’t try to do church or your Christian life, missions or personal or group discipleship a fresh way- not at all! I’m saying full-on knuckleheads and rather mature, godly Christ-followers exist in every and all places, structures, forms, intentionally organized or disorganized local fellowships! Is this rocket science? Not at all.From countless conversations at all levels of Christ-seeking gatherings I have heard the cries, and I truly mean from both leadership and non-leadership spheres.What I worry about a great deal is the sometimes tragic fall and extended misery of the person who seeks something (even “THE CHURCH of ALL CHURCHES!!!”, that is, landing in their own concept of doing it RIGHT) and still find the emperor (often themselves, at times, others alongside them) sits as naked as can be. I worry about the crash of those who never plant themselves and face their own personal baggage.It’s just so clear from my own experience and as I read through both Testaments that human nature is what God says it is.By the way, Bono and others have long ago distanced themselves from “typical” church involvement… this just isn’t anything new!Meanwhile I do believe too many work too hard in their focus on either institution X, Y or Z, just as some do small group or house church, emergent or emerging church X, Y or Z. Don’t we get it? As a dear friend recently wrote in one of the blogs I mentioned, it’s about character and fruit. Yes, it always HAS been!The problem is that we can spend forever debating how to somehow cooperate with the Holy Spirit/foster (or both) biblical, godly change in ourselves (first… please!!!) and others (make disciples, not merely converts), while someone must explain to me how one or two hours per week of ANY style are going to accomplish such a task?We give God, His Word, His mature people so little time. We expect this or that or a different form to do the trick. I just don’t buy it and have never seen it.What I HAVE seen over and over are individuals, families and large portions of all sorts of local gatherings of Christ followers (and I do mean followers…) with character, fruit and gifts that put myself and most of us to shame. There just isn’t a biblical template (read that, denomination, independent typical church, house church, whatever sort you care to name) or mold commanded in the scriptures. Why not? Apparently we care a great deal more about it than God does.Let me ask a few questions that may help sharpen our focus a bit:-IS the Lord adding people who are coming to saving faith in Jesus daily, weekly, monthly, ever- in your Christ-following gathering?-ARE you (any/all of you) directly involved in teaching people of all varieties to obey whatever Jesus has commanded you/us/all, that is, are disciples of Jesus Christ being made in your chosen Christ-focused group?-DO you sincerely find growth in yourself regarding: a greater desire for fellowship with Father, Son, Spirit, His Book, confession of sin, communion (Lord’s Supper), and deepening prayer and authentic worship?If not, you need to seek God for some personal changes and pray, graciously encourage and model change within your chosen assembly -regardless the style or form of church.If the answer to these three questions is more on the positive side, carry on and don’t fret too much over the shape of the transport- you/your local family of Christ-followers are doing a great deal right whether you realize it or not.

God Survives His Church

I???ve been studying for an upcoming sermon and came across some very good, balanced blogs and other articles online that caused me to think about authority… again 🙂 Extremes in the charismatic/pentecostal movement, emergent and institutional chu…

I’ve been studying for an upcoming sermon and came across some very good, balanced blogs and other articles online that caused me to think about authority… again :)Extremes in the charismatic/pentecostal movement, emergent and institutional church in general were all covered and responded to in my online searching.At the end of my little web journey the memory of a bumper sticker most of us have seen flashed in my mind: “Question Authority”. What came to me was the thought whoever came up with that got it mostly right. They should have said “Question ALL Authority”. That includes me questioning my own.As I see it the lion’s share of dysfunction and outright bloody battles among all people, people groups and you-name-the-Christian-group-cuz-all-of-us-share-this-one-folks… gets to the issue of authority. Who has it, who wants it, who should get it and why?The problem is we all question “his… hers… them… theirs” but not “mine”.In the end we each want our way. To be fair and gracious there are times most any of us really ARE seeking the mind, will and plan of God in the issue, and sometimes honestly fight for justice. Some hills are worth dying on, but not very many.The older I get the more I realize this isn’t automatically just about a flaky, spiritually liberal Christianity or always about fear, being “liked”, job security or being safe. Sure, at times it’s about any or all of these, but there are those battles younger Christians will just about die (and kill others) for… and there is often no parallel of either Jesus nor any of His followers in the New Testament screaming, splitting or dying over the same things we are.Who gets their way? How, why, and what does it really matter in the end? Will it matter in five years? Ten years? What sort of witness to those around us is it? What example to new believers are we setting? In these matters have been guilty often. I expect all reading this have been.IS there ever “a time to be silent”, to pray, to just let it go and “lose”? And exactly what is one losing in the particular case?As I age I am increasingly asking myself if a given issue is worth speaking, writing or singing about? Why or why not? Should I approach this person or this group, or just pray long and hard for them? What IS the Spirit actually leading me to do or not do in a given situation? What DID Jesus say or do about such a topic?We see this patient, loving God in the flesh Whom we find (on occasion in the Gospel account) wringing His hands over the blunders of His people, The Church, local and at large, regardless of form, style or “feel”.Then the thought comes to me in the midst of my own lamenting and repenting of sin, the sins of others, the sins of this or that local church, “stream” of churches, denomination or Church at large: I’m happy to conclude that throughout the history of the embarrassing, foolish, sometimes truly disgusting story of what has been or still is truly WRONG with us, God will survive the church.To be sure, He always has and always will in each and every generation and incarnation of the church. He not only survives but flourishes- people come to saving faith and biblical discipleship regardless of our worst blunders.Praise GOD for His power, His truth, HIS authority regardless of the mess we often make with ours.What we must remember with genuine humility is that the church is not ME, but US… each and every one who trusts and follows Jesus Christ. When one suffers, all suffer. There are both meat and bones in each of us and every form of church- and if you aren’t ready to face this fact just stick around long enough and you will!God’s faithfulness, not merely our own -is key. God help us bow to His authority, to do the best we can each day with our best ability to understand and apply His Word (Bible) in our thinking, communicating, prayers and service. May God help us honor Him in our relationships to walk with deepening love and humility throughout the various local and larger church communities- whether they seem (at the time) to us a swamp -or- green pasture!God is constant. The church (that’s YOU and ME, not merely THEM) must change.

Ears To Hear?

A few days ago a close friend and I were in discussion about a number of things. At one point this person made the observation: “It’s truly sad younger ones seem so disinterested, even a bit hostile against hearing anything from older people these…

A few days ago a close friend and I were in discussion about a number of things. At one point this person made the observation: “It’s truly sad younger ones seem so disinterested, even a bit hostile against hearing anything from older people these days. If they would recognize the wisdom that comes from experience they’d end up a lot happier and less in pain”.The same thing has been said for endless generations by the “elders” of tribes, churches, national and international leaders of all sorts. It’s certainly been said by most everyone who has ever parented or become a grandparent. And it’s a pain in the neck to hear it said if you’re not part of that older group of people…It’s also true. And for we OOOOOLLLLLLDDDDDD people, it can often be a real hurt to at times find ourselves left with little input but for prayer, as observers to miseries brought on younger ones by their own lack of experience.Of course Jesus (perfect, unlike any of us!) repeatedly said “For those of you with ears, hear”.Don’t get me wrong, plenty of older people are disconnected from hearing other’s sage experience and advice also. You don’t have to be young to be stubborn or old to be hard of hearing!Interesting that a disciple in biblical Greek is “a listener, a learner” Another saying that pops up from time to time is “live and learn” and I suppose that pain itself is often a great teacher.I’m thinking of a recent event where some dear young friends of mine put themselves through a number of travel woes due to not checking for the presence (or lack) of spare tire, etc., and who after being bailed out of a flat-tire situation out by some elder folk, had occasion to push their car quite a distance uphill to the nearest gas station… because nobody thought to check the gas gauge before they left the tire place.My response to the person telling me about this was “I remember the many times my own lack of experience, or humility, or sometimes outright stubborn rebellion against parents and/or leaders of several sorts (church or otherwise) ended up with my own pain. When nothing else teaches, repeated pain often brings us to a humility and an opening of one’s ears to the point we begin to actually think.My Dad was not a preacher, but I think he’d have made a pretty good one with some training. He was not a “wordy” person, not a non-stop talker (which has often been one of my own bad habits…) and of course wasn’t always wise or correct in his thinking or advice but he was more often right than wrong and sure knew a great deal more than I did, having lived a good bit longer than I!My Dad rarely gave much more than a couple sentences about how I might find a good chance at success if I did it like this or that… but he regularly would notice me messing the job up and simply stop, look, and say “Glenn- THINK”. Just that one word, and what an important thing.Scripture calls us to “not be foolish but try to understand what the will of the Lord is”. Certainly it’s true that the foolishness of youth can indeed simply age into the foolish dogmatics of the aged! We want what we want, we’re not listening, considering, there is little (from the Book of Psalms) “selah”, which is usually interpreted from the Hebrew as “pause, stop and think about it”.When we are/were young, we were often ready to move, jump, play with little thought about consequences.Only last night I heard a horrific story on the local news. A boy was playing around in front of his sister who was trying to pull her car out on an icy Chicago area road. As she tried to move forward he was laughing and jumped in front of her car. Each time she tried to carefully advance he did it again. Somewhere around the fourth or fifth time he slipped and though she braked, the car struck and killed him. What a brutal, horrible thing to live (or die) with on one’s mind!Late last night I read about the large number of homeless addicts who live in the storm drain tunnels under the city and suburbs of Las Vegas. One guy who was interviewed talked of wanting out after many years. He talked of being “addicted to methadone and marijuana” and the fact he’d been wasting his life and really wanted to get out. He spoke very directly about him being his own worst enemy and that he had nobody to blame, that he’d repeatedly made the same poor choices and had “done this to myself” and “have to change and get out of here”.He has come to realize this but it has taken quite a number of years. Time. Time indeed.Nobody but God knows how much time any of us have. Nobody but God knows what sort of “hard knocks” may be needed for us to learn.Thank God the Book of Proverbs (as well a human history and my own personal experience) shows we don’t -always- have to touch fire in order to get knowledge, wisdom and understanding. We really CAN get some from others’ mistakes and shared experiences.In my own case, the basics took 18 years, the last six of those in addictions, then I came to faith in Jesus. Believe me, I’m sure not beyond stubborn pride and rebellion even to this day… but I know what sowing such attitudes has always brought me- and it ain’t pretty!Yet, when I was young it seems (to me at least) that there was a bit more cultural respect for older people. I have often considered how blessed I was and am from the beginning of my faith walk with the Lord to be in the presence of older, godly, experienced Christians. Flawed and imperfect they were and are (as I am now and always will be on this planet) but I can say with zero hesitation they were all a great deal more experienced than I was. They had lived life, made excellent and horrible choices and lived to tell the tale.I learned to listen and by God’s grace, to apply at least a good number of the truths learned from classes “my elders” taught and teach. Most of the time I still take notes in a pda when I’m sitting in a Christian meeting where there is teaching. I try really listen regardless of the age or experience of the speaker but I must confess I trust the long and large view of those more experienced.I continue to nurture and appreciate relationships with pastors on our own leadership team at JPUSA and also in the Ev. Cov. Church of which we are a part, but there are many, many others in leadership (and otherwise) who are simply older, more mature and/or have made progress in their faith and life obviously beyond my own- and I’ve benefitted from their input.I could offer a long list of  many of these as personal friends, mentors, disciplers of -me-! Without such input I’m not only certain I’d still be pushing vehicles uphill hoping for a gas station… I’d very possibly be living in the dark of storm drains… or would be long gone from this earth due to my own stupidity and lack of intentional listening.The God of grace has seen fit to extend mercy to us- and often that mercy will not feel or seem like it. I have found Him to speak early and often through godly folks who have lived longer and who care enough to communicate experiences and truths I’ve sorely lacked. Thank GOD for His provision through the older, godly saints! If you’re not hanging out with such people, make the needed changes or you’ll surely miss much of what God wants for your spiritual health!Jesus profound words come to me now: “You will not see me until you say ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”. Amen.