G-Poppers … November 18th, 2016

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It doesn’t have to be my “ism” to create a schism.

A schism is a split–usually between people.

G-Pop was rolling into his motel when a young man crossed his path. There was an immediate tension. Three years ago it may have been different, but the chasm among people has grown as the anger, malice and dissension have mounted in our country.

For you see, what the young man saw in G-Pop was a fat, 60-year-old white man with Nordic features. He, being a young fellow of color, felt disdain for such a creature, assuming that a Caucasian elderly gentleman must certainly carry the opinions promoted in the marketplace, which look down on him.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yet likewise, to some degree a woman in this country must assume that the men she meets are guilty of chauvinism because of the reinstitution of male superiority.

Also, somebody wearing an American flag on his or her lapel is no longer viewed as a patriotic person, but rather, a potential radical who might be a proponent of “America, love it or leave it.”

Unbridled prejudice has made us suspicious of one another.

It is the casualty of the 2016 election. The campaign was more than a “rocky transition” in our political system. We legitimized the “isms”–chauvinism, racism, ageism, sexism and nationalism, placing the American populace back into armed camps.

Before the campaign, we had the appearance of inching our way to the table of negotiation. Now we are back to rejecting one another.

So in that brief moment when G-Pop came across the young man, he realized it was important to tear down those walls and try to restore some sense of reconciliation.

It requires a combination of “greet” and “meet,” establishing a friendly invitation and following it up with a piece of self-deprecation.

“Hello, my friend,” initiated G-Pop.

The young man gave a quick nod.

“You would think at my age that I should have figured out how to do things, but would you believe I still stumble around, making tons of mistakes?”

This second statement caused the young fellow to pause and turn. So G-Pop offered a third.

“Aren’t you blessed that you’ve still got time to learn stuff and be smarter than me?”

He smiled and replied, “Oh, you’re plenty smart, I’m sure.”

G-Pop concluded, “Some days it’s just hard for me to prove it. Have a great day, my friend.”

The young man laughed.

There had been a greeting, followed by a meeting of the souls. Months and months of aggravated verbal assaults, televised through the media, had been addressed but not conquered.

The work of those who believe in faith, hope and charity has increased but not changed. In a world of tribulation, it is up to us to be of good cheer.

We have increased the schism in this country by allowing errant ideas to be given breath, and therefore a life of their own.

Getting offended or proclaiming it unfair will not change the situation. We will need to bridge the schism by exposing the nasty “isms.”

 

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Ask Jonathots … November 10th, 2016

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What role do you think the media played in the 2016 Presidential election?

Decide.

It’s the most important step each one of us takes in our lives. Decide what we think is important and steer our life in that direction.

Without this determination, we often find ourselves misled by the passing fancy of an overzealous press or an under-informed society.

Once you understand the function of the media, you can begin to comprehend how their input is valuable, and where it is detrimental to your own well-being. Here is the agenda of the media in the United States of America:

1. Dig up information–the fresher the better.

In the process of desiring to bring news-breaking stories, often truth and detail are compromised. So in order to be intelligent, you must realize that what you hear is not dependable unless it has survived 72 hours of scrutiny.

2. Fill time.

When the nightly news was only half an hour in length, there was no requirement to cover so many stories with so many angles, as with the introduction of the 24-hour news cycle.

It is similar to going to a party knowing you’re going to stay an hour, or going to a party knowing you will be forced into the confines of that environment for four hours. Under the one-hour limit, you don’t have to work so hard to fill the time, and therefore may actually be less likely to lie, exaggerate or gossip.

3. Make money.

Yes, the media is at the mercy of sponsors, and they often have an agenda. So the media finds itself subject to that agenda, and therefore they pad reports with stories which support the requirement.

So whenever you watch a news organization, you are getting their “take” on the news instead of an even representation.

As for me, I consider what the media is doing–having already determined three things for my own lifestyle

A. I will love my neighbor as myself.

B. I will take personal responsibility for my life.

C. I will be of good cheer.

I feel that the media during this Presidential election was instrumental in robbing us of a sense of brotherly love, personal responsibility and certainly a desire to have good cheer.

There were just times I had to turn it off  to maintain the integrity of my heart’s desire and mission.

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Mr. Kringle’s Tales …26 Stories ‘Til Christmas

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“Quite literally the best Christmas stories I have ever read.” — Arthur Holland, Shelby, North Carolina

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Good News and Better News … October 24th, 2016

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Yesterday when I arrived at the First United Methodist Church of Plainwell, Michigan, a gentleman asked me, “So, what do you think about the 2016 Presidential election?”

I replied, “It’s like going to the grocery store to get some steak and finding out they’ve only got baloney.”

Yes. The campaign is just “cold cuts.”

So it’s very important that when we come to church, we give those who have chosen to attend a “people experience”–full of emotion, joy, humor and inspiration–because they certainly are not going to get it on MSNBC, CNN or Fox News. Likewise, neither Donald nor Hillary are motivated to edify people.

My Plainwell experience began the day before when I arrived for setup, and was delighted to meet Pastor Kathy and Sue, who generously afforded us their efforts, hospitality and gentleness. They were absolutely inspiring human beings who just happened to be women.

Therefore, when Sunday rolled around, my heart was full, and I wanted to ensure that everyone I met was aware that even though the world is full of tribulation, this is our season to “be of good cheer.”

good-news-plainwell-cup-and-spoonHowever, serving up good cheer demands that you portion things off in the right units. Otherwise, the recipe doesn’t taste quite right.

For instance, I do think we need a tablespoon of Bible–as long as it’s mingled with a cup of mercy.

How about a tablespoon of prayer, with a cup of helping out?

You can have a handful of church if you throw in a bunch of kindness.

I would welcome a teaspoon of preaching mingled with a quart of living.

I think you can have a cup of worship if you stir in a gallon of joy.

I suppose I could stand a pinch of study, if it will motivate a dash of discovery.

And certainly feel free to throw in a tablespoon of faith–as long as you realize it functions best with a cup full of effort.

The Gospel works because it is suited to people.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us to find the gaps in the world, and instead of being angry about them, fill them:

  • Life is rather tasteless, so bring your salt.
  • Things get pretty dark, so make sure you light it up.
  • Most people demand–learn to ask.
  • Lots of folks blame. Jesus suggests that we seek.
  • And of course, it’s very common to stand on the outside and feel cheated, but Jesus insists that it’s more fulfilling to knock on the door.

We had a fabulous time yesterday in Plainwell.

We laughed, cried, snickered, snorted, watched, listened and embraced. It was a human event–which means it gave God glory, since He was the One who came up with the idea of humanity in the first place.

So the good news is, church is a great remedy for politics.

And the better news is, the more people-friendly church becomes, the more people will be drawn to it.

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Ask Jonathots… August 4th, 2016

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Realizing you probably won’t answer me, what are your opinions on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?

They both lie.

Now, there was a time when such an accusation would have been considered mean-spirited. But the media has done a thorough job of convincing us that lying is inevitable. Once we decide it is inevitable, lying gains a certain amount of acceptability.

And because it’s acceptable, no one is particularly shocked anymore that it has ceased to be a vice and instead is considered to just be part of human nature.

Of course, the hypocrisy of such a trend is that none of us want to personally be lied to, and if we are lied to, we become very indignant.

But the reason I began this answer with the statement “both candidates lie” is that once we have grown to accept lying as being protocol, it opens the door to deception. Deception is when lies are manufactured to improve the status of an individual or to attack the opponent. And of course, these do not need to be true, but even worse, they don’t even need to be on point–just malicious.

So Donald says he wants to make America great again. Huge. So great that we’ll get tired of being great. He has no idea how he’s going to achieve this or what obstacles might come forth to block progress.

Hillary claims that she “campaigns in poetry but will govern in prose.” In other words, we’re not exactly sure what we’re going to get, because what she’s telling us will needfully change due to the circumstances of the events.

So my opinion of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is that they’ve both decided to find shade under the media’s coverage of acceptable lying.

So what should you do?

Find something true. Yes, acquire a North Star to your deliberations.

As far as I’m concerned, there are four things that are good about human beings:

1. We learn.

2. We repent.

3. We are generous.

4. We’re happy.

Feel free to disagree, but from my standards, these are the endearing qualities of our species.

I guess in 2016, the best you can do is find which candidate more closely embodies these delightful traits.

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