Taken from [Cornerstone Archives, Issue #43]. | The night was cold. I flung the screen door, letting it slam behind me. The house echoed emptily and I sensed something was not right. I glanced at my mother's bedroom door only to see that it was ajar and the room was empty. The only sign of life was Sam, our large, black retriever, but he was acting strange and cowered as I came near him. A chair lay on its side on the floor. "Mom's gone, it's late. What's going on ... ?"
Music was always a thing for me. I started singing as far back as I can remember. I lived in Fox Lake, a small Wisconsin town, and I would sing as I walked up the hill to our house. All the words would rhyme. I sang when I was afraid, I sang when I hurt. And I sang when I was alone.
"It's 11:30 at night and mom's always in bed at, 9:30. Maybe she's at Uncle Jim's house. He's sick a lot and almost died from several heart attacks."
I drew the curtains and looked down the street to see Uncle Jim's house; mom's car was in the driveway and the yard light was on ...
"I hate you! I hate you!"
I screamed at my mother for what seemed to be an eternity. No one could stop the screaming, the hatred, the resentment. My mother stared at me in despair, then helplessly left the room in tears. In exhaustion, I ran to my room, my only refuge. I hated her for divorcing my dad and breaking up our family.
A flick of the wrist and the TV was on. With another twist, it was tuned in to "The Twilight Zone." The show was about a man who sold his soul to the devil . . .
My band, "Five Steps Beyond," was heavily influenced by soul music. The greasers and gangs of my new hometown, Milwaukee, were into us.
One night the drummer and I walked into his basement. "Listen, I got this album today and I want you to hear it, just to see what you think.." I sat down on the couch, and he dropped the needle onto the disc. The first side finished.
I was stunned. "Turn it over." He played it again. I told him to play it a third time. I was speechless. It was Jimi Hendrix's album, "Are You Experienced," and suddenly I felt as though I was.
"Where have I been all my life?"
From that night on, I was a full‑fledged freak. My life centered around dope, sex, and music. That's all I cared about. That's all I wrote about. Everything else meant zero. Who cared if the world blew up as long as dope, a girlfriend, and a successful rock band were mine when it happened?
"Weird how my uncle had heart problems. It sure seemed like my mom had been gone a long time ... he may have had another heart attack. ‑‑' Lately when I dropped acid a horrible fear would come over me that I was going to die. It would be a heart attack for me, too. That was for sure. That had to be the way it all would end,
I I began singing in more and more bands, trying to cop the style of Hendrix, Robert Plant, Rod Stewart. No band lasted for long; nothing satisfied my desires. My life was a circuit of freak bars, where we pounded out our philosophy to the beat of rock and roll . . .
Acid was candy. Eat some more. A graduation to complete bizarreness had occurred in my life; everything was disjointed. It was so hard to remember anything. I never questioned the drugs on hand. If it was there I did it up.
I used to go over to my cousin's house once in a while ... we'd go down in their basement. There would be these big plush carpets and color TV's. We'd go down and smoke this Afghanistan black hash ... we'd smoke a couple of grams. His mom never knew that we would be toking up, even though the basement would be just filled with smoke. She would come down and say, "Boys, I'd really appreciate it if you'd mow the lawn this afternoon." They had this big riding lawn mower that would be vibrating like crazy and we'd do figure 8's all over the lawn. It was just insane.
I remember going to a ‑rock festival wearing white wicker shoes and blue socks, a tall black top hat and a raincoat. I wanted to be a part of the scene. A freak walked up, strung out on amphetamines. His nose was running all over his chest, and he was shaking even though he had on a long sleeved shirt in the middle of summer. I bought a pipe from him and some incense. That's where it was in '69.
Rod Serling's voice droned to an end, and advertisements flashed across the screen. After that, Family Devotions with Father Koubeck came on. A scene flashed back in my mind of the times we used to drop acid and turn on the FM radio to Firesign Theatre, and then turn the priest's voice off. He would look like he was mouthing obscenities. This time I let him talk, and for some reason I understood what he was saying . . . He was quoting scripture on how to get saved.
The sun would warm me as I lay upon the door leading to the storm cellar. I had been young and oblivious to the growing friction between my parents, living in a world of sweetness and goodness, the world of a child. Two little old ladies would come every Sunday and take me to Sunday school. I would wait on the storm cellar door, watching the clouds drift and staring at the grass blades and the miniature world between them.
I never thought to disbelieve in God. He was all around me, and so real that I saw Him in everything. My dog was pacing, freaking out. I looked at the test pattern. It was 2:30 in the morning. I turned on every light in the house, turned on the radio, and Put a record on the stereo. I hoped all the sound would force the confusion from my head . . I looked out the window again.
There was a hearse in front of my uncle's house.
"They'll have to have a double funeral" I thought. My mind seemed to be breaking.
The AM radio station I had turned on was supposed to be "nice" Music, dentist office material. But here's jazz pouring out of it, on Sunday morning yet. The disc jockey was talking about Jesus between songs!
"Jesus died for your sins and you must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven."
I called the station, but when the DJ answered, I couldn't speak. Finally, I stammered "P‑p‑p‑pray for me!" and hung up.
The phone rang, and I picked it up. It was my mom. "Your uncle's dead. I'll be home later." He was my godfather. It seemed like everything was happening at once ...
My sister was taking care of me since my parents were gone for the day. I started to tease her and wouldn't obey. Suddenly, she grabbed me and dragged me down to the coal cellar, where it was pitch black except for one small window. I began screaming, "Let me out! Let me out! I'm sorry, let me out, there's rats down here!" She locked the door. I became more and more afraid and in desperation clawed at the small window. It Wouldn't open. I smashed my hand through it, cutting a gash In my finger and knuckles. Crawling through the hole, my sister spotted me and pushed me back in with a broom handle.
Late that night, when I was worn out with screaming and crying, she let me out.
It was, by now, four in the morning. The back door slammed. "The devil's at the door to come and get me;' I thought. I went to the door. It was only the Milwaukee Journal. I pulled it open and began looking for the comics. After turning everything oil, TV, stereo, and radio, I sat down.
The dog looked at me. "Sam, this is a weird night."
One day in my living room I just blew up. The sun was shining in, everything was at peace, but I was tormented. I screamed at God. I told Him just what I thought of Him.
"If You exist, You never cared for me!" Looking out the window, the bitterness overwhelmed me. Who cared about Glenn on this nice, sunny day?
Within five minutes it was pouring rain. I thought God was crying.
The paper blasted out its headlines at me. It all tied into the Bible!
Wars and rumors of wars ‑ "Worst escalation of the Viet Nam War" ‑ Men's hearts failing them with fear ‑ "Heart association says more heart attacks than anytime in history" ‑ the raging of the sea ‑ "Thailand lost 40,000 people in tidal wave."
I couldn't get past the front page. It was all there. I broke down and cried as my eyes wandered to the heading, "Milwaukee journal, Sunday morning, January 3, 1971."
Everything came together. I remembered the little old ladies and Sunday school, the scripture I had memorized at the end of the summer. "For 'God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
For God so loved. . . He loved me so much. He gave His Son to die for me.
I fell on my hands and knees and cried to the Lord. "I need You! Come into my life!"
Conviction, even after salvation, was slow in coming. I was living with a girl, Susie, and playing worldly rock and roll as well as doing dope.
I could witness and lead somebody to the Lord in the afternoon and be out hawking underground newspapers to get money for some hash in the evening, but no Christians I knew talked to me about my actions. All the Christians would say, "Oh, you're saved? Praise the Lord!" They'd give me a big hug. Then I'd go home and smoke some more dope.
One night I was forty‑five miles from home in the middle of nowhere. I was hitchhiking, but no one could see me because of the dark. There was this cornfield and I remembered that Jesus had walked In a field picking ears of grain and eating them. I was, hungry, so hungry ...
"What are you trying to do to me, Lord?"
"Don't call Me Lord! If you do you're a liar. I'm not your Lord; you don't love Me because you won't do what I say. I'll give you a few minutes to decide between Me and the devil. If you live for yourself, you're living for the devil. There's no middle ground. Now I'm going to let you know what It feels like without Me."
The clouds covered the moon, and no cars could be seen, not even in the distance. Only minutes had passed, and yet it seemed like an eternity. The cloud that covered the moon covered my heart, too, and I felt the darkness fill my total being.
God spoke again. "What are you going to do?"
The wrong choice would be no choice at all.
"I'll choose You, Lord," Peace returned once again to my aching heart.
In response to a heartfelt prayer, the Lord brought some Christians along who gave me a ride home.
It was my group Brimstone's big concert. I knew, for me, that it was also the last. The lakefront reeked heavily of marijuana as 2,000 freaks gathered for a heavy day of rock and roll. Brimstone was the big band playing. I told Mike, the head of the band, that I was going to sing all the lyrics about Jesus.
"Great!" he said. "I don't care!" He was smashed. So that day I poured out my heart, and sang all about Jesus to those people.
After it was over, I confronted Mike. "I've been playing a lot of games with Jesus. I asked Him into my life a few months ago and I just want to sing for Him now. I'm going to quit the band."
"What!" he stormed, "Right after our big concert? We've been working all our lives for a break like this and you're just going to throw everything away?"
"I know you don't understand, but maybe someday you will. I love you Mike. I'll see you." He drove away . . . It was two years before he spoke to me again.
Glenn Kaiser was led of God to join the Milwaukee Jesus People, who gave birth to Chicago's Jesus People USA. For seven years he has grown and matured as a Christian. The Lord has healed his mind and his heart, and made him into a man of God.
After laying down his musical ability, God allowed him to start Resurrection Band.
|Wendy and Glenn, Early 70s|
Glenn emphasizes one subject more than any other, both in his music and ministering: Discipleship.
"If Jesus isn't your Lord, He isn't your Savior either. How can someone love God and not serve Him with a whole heart? How can we say we believe and yet not give all we are, all that we have? With Christ, it's all or nothing. The Lord had to show me the hard way that Christianity is either a total commitment or no commitment. There are no in-betweens . . ." *