Frontwards and Backwards… October 22, 2012


Live from October 1st filming

It appears to be the new definition of “cool.”

Especially among the younger generation, the profile of maintaining a certain level of agnosticism seems to be their choice in order to communicate an intellectual bent  social tolerance. Belief in God has been characterized as blackened teeth, having a southern accent and spending time down at the fishin’ hole, digging for frogs. So if you want to communicate that you’re current and living in the twenty-first century, you feel you need to distance yourself from the arcane concepts of religion and instead, embrace the supremacy of science and technology.

It is everywhere. Even those who insist they are still believers have abandoned the emotion, heart and depth of involvement in favor of practice, relics and dogma.

We just really need to get back to God. Now, I don’t mean this in the sense of a backwoods revival in a tent with screaming, hollering and rolling in the aisles. I mean, literally get back to the word: God.

Take a good look at the construction of the word. If you approach it from the front, it begins with G-O–go. If you decide to view it from the back end, it spells D-O–do.

Yes, even in the letters, we have go in the front and do in the back. Any message about a creative Father, who art in heaven, that does not lead with “go” and “do” is not only misrepresenting the essence of the supernal nature of the Almighty, but is lying to the hearers about the best way to curry His favor.

Religion goes nowhere and does nothing. It goes nowhere in the sense that so much emphasis is put on the afterlife and the insufficiency of the human experience that anyone who truly wants to be prosperous or find some fulfillment in their lifespan must walk away from the conclave of the waiters.

Religion does nothing mostly because it’s frightened of accidentally stepping out of the “will of God” and becoming carnal. The result is indecision or immobility. So any talented individual with a burning curiosity to discover the very best that earth has to offer is immediately repulsed by a “go-nowhere, do-nothing” campaign to spirituality.

I am sympathetic. I am often angered when I sit in churches and the messages of grace, mercy and unconditional love are used as flimsy excuses for remaining lazy and indifferent. I just don’t see any particular storyline in the gospels where Jesus encountered people and left them exactly the way he found them, whispering in their ear, “It’s all right. Just relax and trust God.”

It also doesn’t take you many chapters in the gospel to discover that Jesus was a “go” guy and a “do” dude. How we have succeeded in emulsifying the real meat of the truth of the gospel down to the pabulum of salvation and the insufficiency of man I will never know.

If I arrive at the Judgment Day and it turns out that God really desired a people who were shy, nervous, tentative, suspicious, overly-careful and always in the losing position, I just don’t believe that He will be dissatisfied with me because I selected to use my talents and aggressively multiply them. But if I arrive at the Judgment Day and God expected me to take what was given to me and put it into practice, improving my life situation, blessing the world around me, becoming as expansive as possible, and I, instead, have buried my abilities in the tomb of grace, mercy and unconditional love, I think I just might literally be in a helluva lot of trouble.

God: His name says it all–frontwards and backwards. Go and do.

But go and do what?

A young lady told me that she wanted to go to Africa to be a missionary. I replied, “Great. What are you doing here in your community?”

She paused. “Well, not much. You see, I’ve been going to college to train to be a missionary.”

I inserted, “Don’t you think the best way to become a missionary to Africa is by already being a successful missionary right here?”

We can’t always be in training. We can’t always be learning but never coming to the complete knowledge of the truth.

We need to go where we go. I know that may sound over-simplistic. But I don’t need to be telling God that I’m ready to go into all the world if I didn’t treat the maid at my motel with respect and generosity as I checked out of my room this morning in Indianapolis. I may have great ideas of where I want to go, but today I am on I-70, heading towards Lancaster, Ohio.

This IS my go. I plan on doing it so well that God will have confidence that the next “go” He sends my way will be equally as beneficial.

Go where you go.

I say to my good friends, Steve and Sharon: “You clean houses. Be the best house-cleaners in Davidson County.”

I say to my son, Jon, who is premiering his movie today: “Be the best host, director and artisan you can in Albany, New York.”

To Angy–beautify everyone you meet.

Maxine:  Bring cheer to all those shut-ins.

And I say to the delightful pastor I met yesterday in Brownsburg: “Brighten the corner where you are.”

I declare to all you beautiful people: “Go where you go and make the whole world glad you came.”

And then do what you do. I often have people tell me that they wish they had my talent. Perhaps they are a little confused when I laugh. Honestly, friends, I was not born talented. I just got tired of sitting around waiting for something to happen, and decided to use what I could do, and in the process learned enough that every once in a while it looks like I’m talented.

When my legs became weak about fourteen days ago, I realized that my life is not about my legs. My life is about my heart, soul and mind. Whatever I need to do to get my strength to a location where the other three parts of me can do their thing will be just fine. Do what you can do.

I speak to my dear friend, Jean, who writes me and encourages me with her comments from time to time: “Thank you for doing what you do. Mine is often a mission without much appreciation–stating plainly what might be possible. You encourage my soul.”

I would love to bolster the potential of this new generation by letting them know that just because the religious system has let them down does not mean that God has stopped being in the business of going and doing.

When you remove “go” and “do” from “God,” all you end up with is a big zero.

And too often, our churches, denominations and religious institutions have absolutely nothing to offer but the burden of more financial responsibility and additional insecurity.

So here’s to God. If you catch Him in the front, you’ve got GO. And even if you come in the back door, you end up with DO. I love Him because He has simplified this passage of time down to realistic, commonsense elements.

So here I go–maybe a little weaker than I was a couple of months ago. Perhaps for the time being, some of my physical strength has been “chaired.” But my desire to go and do has not diminished.

And because of that, I feel God in my life.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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