Ho, Ho, Hope… December 13, 2011

In Melbourne, Florida

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Hope makes me nervous.

Maybe it’s because those who extol the virtue of hope outwardly appear to be confident but inwardly seem to be shaking like a leaf. Hope is a spirit, desperately searching for a body of work.

I love Christmas because it is a season of hope–but our jaded society dispels the notion as childish–and those who still insist on propagating the precept are often ill-prepared for disappointment and end up looking naive.

How can we have Ho-Ho-Hope? In other words, blending the beauty of the Christmas story with the realities of our world to bring about a functional plan of action to improve our circumstances instead of merely enduring them? I think it comes down to a very simple verse of scripture which has now become part of the American lexicon:

“You shall know the truth and the truth will make you free.”

Yes–it is a message of hope, but it has two parts. First of all, I have to be willing to know the truth–not ignore it, not embellish upon it, not pretend it is a passing fancy which will soon change because of the goodness of God, but to really KNOW the truth. That’s the first stage of unveiled hope.

We work with honor. Let me give you a quick definition of honor: “I have enough confidence that I am loved that I am not afraid to speak the truth about myself.”

That’s honor. Every attempt to cover up, gloss over, spread disinformation, lie or cheat is an admission that we really do not believe we are loved. I know God loves me. God loves me so much that even when I act like an ass, I can still have confidence that I will be able to sleep in the barn tonight.

Most of us fail because we insert hope where we should be speaking truth.

  • I hope I can do well.
  • I hope things work out.
  • I hope I’ll come up with an idea.
  • I hope I can quit smoking.
  • I hope I can lose weight.
  • I hope I can do better.

This kind of hope leaves us destitute when just average temptation comes along and kicks the props out from under our makeshift house of faith. “You shall KNOW the truth …”

We work with honor. When I turn to an audience and tell them that I’m not very good-looking, I am not throwing a fishing line out, hoping that someone will disagree and find me attractive. Instead, I am praising my heavenly Father for taking such a homely physical specimen and making him of such great value to the planet.

Likewise, I could never vote for a politician who lies–which is why I don’t vote. They all feel it is their job to put their best foot forward–and end up with that same foot stuck in their mouth. The beginning of all valuable hope is knowing the truth–and to do that, we work with honor–which leads to the next step. What will knowing the truth do? Make us free. And once we work with honor, we gain power and energy because–we honor what works.

Sometimes my ideas are crap. If I persist in them because they are MY ideas, I end up looking like crap. But if I’m willing to forsake my flawed concepts and honor what works, I can benefit from the journey of others and in no time at all, there is no one who remembers who had the idea in the first place, because we all end up enjoying the fruit.

America is flailing today because we do not honor what works. We have become obsessed with names, like “conservative” and “liberal,” instead of ideas which supersede the barriers created by mankind and minister to the heart of the matter. It’s impossible to be made free without learning to honor what works.

About half the time I agree with the Republicans and about half the time I agree with the Democrats.  And the other half, I disagree with both of them. (As you can see, math is not my strongest suit…)

Hope bears forth its joy when we work with honor and we honor what works. At that point, we have the capacity for knowing the truth, which will make us free. And as wonderful as freedom is, it is merely the doorway to the greater possibility of liberty. And liberty is when I can trust myself to be honest so that my freedom won’t hurt anyone else.

So Merry Christmas, and Ho-Ho-Hope. But keep in mind that hope which is merely a fleeting thought–wishful thinking–will always make you emotionally ill.

True hope is when we work with honor and we honor what works. It grants us the ability to know the truth that makes us free.

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Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

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