The G Word … March 19th, 2019

THE

Image result for gif of letter g

WORD


The G word is God

It is definitely a word that needs great clarification before it’s spoken in a room occupied with human beings. After all, I don’t know whether you’re talking about the one who blesses, or damns.

I don’t know what intention you have in referencing the Almighty. The name of God has been used to foster genderism, racism and nationalism, not to mention rape, war and murder.

It’s just too easy.

The Great Fix: when in doubt, mention God.

Your political campaign circling the toilet? Make some reference to your faith and how you feel God has called you to pursue government position.

Get caught abusing young boys and girls? Explain that your work for God left you desolate of the fortitude to withstand your own temptations.

Is this a God that blows up buildings, or a God who laments the loss of the unicorn?

Is this G-O-D you’re tossing in my direction a blanket of comfort or a hand grenade to blow up my dreams?

We can no longer allow people to utter the word “God” in parlor conversation, and then turn around on a whim and assign all sorts of duties, actions and even atrocities to Him.

I would much rather hear you explain what your faith is going to do than have you hand me a book of text verifying how old and sacred your belief truly is.

“God” is a word we need to stop using—unless we’re prepared to back it up with a life that honors His creation instead of decimating it.

Because even the One who was proclaimed to be the Savior of the World said to beware those who come crying, “Lord, Lord”–but know nothing about the Heavenly Heart.


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G-Poppers … February 23rd, 2018

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G-Pop looked on with a bit of sadness as social media lit up with posts about evangelist Billy Graham.

Many of them were cruel. Matter of fact, an inordinate number were laced with vindictive language and resentment against the deceased Reverend.

He lived for ninety-nine years, so trying to abridge his life into one space of time is completely impossible. So the last generation only has insights on the occasional press release which came from his home in North Carolina and the actions of his son, Franklin Graham.

G-Pop feels the same way about Billy Graham as he does about Michael Jackson. G-Pop is not sure either one of them would appreciate the comparison, but every person’s life, including Michael and Billy, comes down to two questions.

What did he or she do?

What did he or she miss?

Can it be as simple as the good doings outweighing the bad, which means someone ends up righteous?

Yes. Any other standard would be prejudicial.

What did Billy Graham do? He preached the Gospel to the whole world. Granted, it was a particular gospel–focused mainly on repenting of sin, accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior and being baptized. Therefore he missed the greater glories of the Gospel of Jesus:

  • Abundant life
  • Mercy to others in order to obtain mercy
  • Refusing to judge fellow humans
  • Wise to stay away from politics.

Michael Jackson arguably wrote the most unique blend of R & B and pop music ever penned. The tunes were filled with humanity, generosity, giving, joy and tolerance. We also have to note that he missed the opportunity to learn to love himself or accept who he was, and in the process may have accidentally damaged the lives of some young people because he was abused as a child.

Billy Graham stayed married to the same woman and was never involved in a sexual scandal throughout his entire ministry.

Yet he missed the opportunity to link arms with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and failed to encourage the South to join the North, East and West to accept civil rights in this country.

He missed the moment when the gay community sought equality as citizens, and instead evaluated them by his moral code and traditions, dating back thousands of years.

Michael Jackson was generous, childlike and desperately tried to address world hunger while simultaneously destroying himself through drug abuse.

It would be terrible if Dr. Billy Graham were to be known as “Billy Graham Cracker.”

Just as horrible would be “Michael Jackson, child molester.”

G-Pop thinks both of these men established that they had hearts to do more good than bad. The weakness of each one showed up at poor times in their personal histories, but with confidence, G-Pop will continue to respect their journeys.

So every time G-Pop hears the old hymn, “Just as I am without one plea,” he will think of the love, efforts and mission of Billy Graham of North Carolina.

And when G-Pop hears Beat It, Billy Jean and Man in the Mirror, his eyes will tear up over the memory of one of the greatest talents that ever inhabited the Earth.

If G-Pop expects this same quarter when he dies–to be evaluated by what he’s done, minus what he missed, hoping for a positive total–then he must first extend that grace to others.

We must first extend that grace to others.

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 44) Guilty By Association … March 5th, 2017

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Reverend Meningsbee

It is a matter of common acceptance, if not perfectly proven, that a small town block is shorter than a city one. This may never have been confirmed, but certainly is taken for granted.

About a block-and-a-half from Meningsbee’s home was a brand-new coffeehouse called “The Garson-Fill.”

Even though Richard was not averse to making his own pot of brew, there was just someting fun about walking the short distance every morning to sit in a chair, lean back, drink his limit and order half a muffin.

Another attraction at The Garson-Fill was a lovely waitress named Carla. She was that mysterious age women often reach–where you can’t tell if they’re thirty-five or forty-five. She was beautiful in a rugged sort of way–the kind of well-traveled face that’s like a good map–easy to read.

She was also easy to talk to. After two or three visits, the preacher worked up the courage to do so. He found out that she had gotten married in her late teens, quickly had two children but had been divorced for seventeen years. Her offspring were both grown and on their own, and she had taken the job at The Garson-Fill because she had met the owner at a positive-thinking seminar. Carla seemed to like her work.

It was on visit five–or certainly by six–that Meningsbee realized he was attracted to her.

The idea of being drawn to another woman other than Doris was terrifying. It wasn’t so much that he felt unfaithful, but rather, paralyzed in awkwardness. He hadn’t flirted, dated or even considered mating with anyone else for decades.

But now here was Carla.

She seemed to like him, too–sometimes. It was rather odd. Some mornings he would come in and she would be bubbling and anxious to see him because she had a story to tell or a blessing to share. But when he had ventured to invite her to the church, she quickly changed the subject and started talking about her new duties of baking pastries.

He liked her. He knew deep in his heart that it would never go any further unless he let her know his sentiments, and set up something that didn’t involve playing the roles of customer and waitress.

It took about a month. One Wednesday morning, he cleaned up a little shinier, brushed his teeth a little harder, sprayed his cologne a little longer and headed off to have his usual morning repast–but this time, to finish with a tip and an invitation to dinner.

He was so excited. He was optimistic. He just knew she was going to say yes. There was a twinkle in her eye that let him know that in her private moments, she had considered the two of them together.

For the beauty of a woman is not in her ability to hide, but rather, in her great gift to reveal.

However, once he was at the cafe, some cowardice seeped in. So he took a long, long time chewing on his muffin, trying to work up the courage to ask Miss Carla for an evening of her company.

Finally, the little diner cleared out. She was busying herself cleaning off her last table when he called her to his side.

“Carla,” he said, “I know you know that I am a widower and that I’m the pastor of the church. I’ve really enjoyed our times together here…”

She suddenly interrupted him. “Oh, dear God, you’re not going to ask me out on a date, are you?”

Meningsbee’s left eye began to twitch uncontrollably. How should he respond?

Carla sat down in a chair near to him, patted his hand and said, “Listen. You’re fine and all. No, no. You’re probably better than fine. You just don’t understand.”

Meningsbee managed some speech. “What do you mean, I don’t understand? I don’t understand what?”

She quickly looked around the room to make sure nobody was listening. Assured that they were alone, she whispered, “I like you. I mean, I like you. But I can’t like you.”

Meningsbee must have looked very confused, because she inserted, “Oh, I don’t know how to explain it.”

She stood to her feet to walk away, and Meningsbee reached out and grabbed her apron, holding her in place. She pulled away as if struck by lightning.

A flash of fury came into her eyes. “Goddamnit, don’t you ever touch me!”

Meningsbee stood to comfort her and she pushed him back down. She pointed her finger in his face. “You have no right to touch someone! Do you understand that?”

He did, so he nodded.

She was obviously fighting back tears, and he realized he had unearthed some nasty piece of evil that bewitched her.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“Don’t be sorry,” she replied. “I mean, don’t touch people unless they ask you to, but…Oh hell. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“I just thought we could spend some time together,” said Meningsbee. “If that doesn’t work out, that’s fine.”

She sat back down and said, “But it might work out. And you see, it can’t. There’s a problem that exists between us that can’t be changed.”

“What is that?” said Meningsbee, making sure he maintained his distance.

“You’re a preacher, right?”

He nodded.

“You believe in God.”

He nodded again.

“Jesus?”

“Yeah,” Meningsbee said. “I guess it’s kind of a package deal.”

“You’re a Christian.”

“I am. Proudly.”

“Proudly.”

“Proudly,” she repeated louder. “You see, Reverend, that’s my problem. I’ll never be with a Christian. Because for four years, my husband proudly beat me every day … in Jesus’ name.”

 

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Ask Jonathots… September 17th, 2015

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Let’s cut to the truth. Why aren’t women considered equals in the workplace? My company has one female division chair out of twelve divisions. Upper management is less than 10% female. What is the future for equality for women?

Fortunately, the future for women can be improved by their involvement. For the power in life is finding your weakness, acknowledging it, ceasing to be defensive about it and therefore, turning it into your strength.

Up to the age of eleven, girls and boys are practically the same. At that point, Mother Nature, the Creator or Evolution–depending on your beliefs–strikes women with the whammy of estrogen.

Because it’s a chemical and therefore a drug, it places females under the influence of its power. It leaves them a little bit weaker physically, and therefore, in the world of the jungle, dependent.

So what should we do?

We should teach our young girls that merely being commissioned with carrying the procreation responsibilities of our species does not render them ineffective for also toting leadership possibilities. Instead, we now tell our young ladies that they don’t amount to much of anything if they’re not loved by a boy.

Likewise, we should tell our young men that even though they may possess greater muscle mass through testosterone, that the management and proliferation of our human race is almost solely contingent on the female. After a man commits his semen donation to the cause, women carry the ball.

Any man who has ever watched the birth of his child can attest to this. There are few times that a man feels any more helpless than when he’s observing his mate bring a child into the world.

Until we cease to fund and support a cultural war between the sexes, the female of our species will suffer inequality, injustice and unfortunately, often abuse.

So where should we begin? May I suggest four steps which would aid us in developing mutual respect?

1. Stop insisting that the way “Grandma did it and believed it” needs to be passed along to the next generation or we will all fall into a godless hell.

2. At the crucial time of puberty, find sports, activities and projects that young people can do together instead of separating them off due to muscling.

3. Stop portraying emotional response as a negative and realize that the entire human race is steered by the heart.

4. Find reasons for commonality–physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

Women are doomed to carry the cross of burden and the angst of disrespect until we realize that this characterization is based solely upon the introduction of estrogen into their bodies.

Once we understand this and honor one another for our contributions instead of limiting each other, we will not only start generating more equality but will also reignite the passion that men and women have for each other.

 

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Confessing … July 11th, 2015

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X.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

Her name was Sherry.

She lived ten miles from my home town. She liked me.

I knew this–the way an eighteen-year-old boy is aware that a girl is attracted to him because she’s awkward and nervous, while still persisting in hanging around.

I met her from Bible League. Bible League is a little hard to explain, but just envision Jeopardy! on scriptural steroids. I competed against her church and we struck up a conversation a time or two, and she made it clear that she was very interested in me by listening to my stories long after they possessed any intrigue.

I got my girlfriend pregnant my senior year in high school. Being good Ohio boys and girls, we decided to get married. She went off to Europe on a summer vacation and never wrote me.

This was not the plan. Of course, I was convinced she was carousing with every young French boy who knew where the back stairs were to the Eiffel Tower. I was upset.

I was moping around the house one day when my brother suggested I invite another girl on a date just to get my mind off of it. It seemed unfaithful, but when he offered his car and twenty dollars for the excursion, all my defenses broke down.

So I thought of Sherry. I was not in the mood to ask a girl out and get a no, and I was fully aware that she would say yes. She did. Matter of fact, it was an enthusiastic affirmative.

I got directions to her house–a long driveway leading back to a beat-up mobile home surrounded by trash and enough dogs for a junk yard.

We got in the car, went on the date, and she tried so hard to be perfect. Matter of fact, we ended up parking somewhere and necking for a while.

But it was romance by default and affection by revenge. I knew I was never going to be interested in Sherry.

She seemed oblivious to my indifference and shared her life story with me. She was poor, mistreated and even abused by her alcoholic father.

Damn. I should have cared.

I didn’t. I was smarting from my own little crisis.

About halfway through the date she made it clear that she wanted to see me again, and also sent out a signal that she was prepared to go further romantically on this date if I was interested.

I wasn’t interested, and fortunately, didn’t take advantage of her.

As I dropped her off, I kissed her goodnight, knowing that I would never see her again.

One week later I received a letter from her in the mail, sharing how much she had enjoyed our time and hoping that her vulnerability and living situation had not been a turnoff to me.

I didn’t respond.

Sherry deserved so much more than my selfish leaping into a fling. She was wounded and I accidentally dribbled some salt water into it.

I wasn’t vicious. I wasn’t unloving. But I was one of the worst possible additions to her life. In her mind’s eye I was a nice boy who took her out on a date and never called again, proving to her that she was just white trash.

I don’t know what became of Sherry, but I learned very clearly that night, that a temporary need or a piercing yearning does not give us permission to use another person to comfort our woes.

confessing trailer home

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Jesus Chicks … August 5, 2012

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The dude was surrounded by women.

I don’t say that to try to be relevant or cool. It’s just a fact. When Jesus of Nazareth lived on earth and did his public work, a strong portion of the constituency of his following consisted of women.

It was unusual. Women were generally relegated to the position of servanthood, bound by their ovaries and breasts to motherhood. Jesus invited them into the Kingdom of God, with equality. But that in itself would not have caused women to want to be around him. He succeeded in blending the perfect batch of compassion and confrontation, to manifest the magical, chemical concoction of legitimate concern.

Too many men treat women with only compassion, which reeks of being condescending and pandering, and eventually is a major turnoff to the ladies. On the other hand, a lot of men try to be confrontational and domineering and may temporarily gain the attention of members of the opposite sex who have poor self-esteem, but ultimately, this rudeness and chauvinism is unmasked.

Jesus found women who were trapped in difficulty and he looked for perseverance that caused them to believe ina possibility instead of whining or falling into deep pits of self-pity.

There was one lady who was caught in adultery. What a bad day for her. She was thrown down in the midst of a group of men, threatened with a death sentence, and only rescued from the misadventure by the clever juxtopositioning by Jesus, who turned the tables and caused the accusers to reflect on their own weaknesses. But rather than giving her a big hug after the crowd had left and the danger dissipated, Jesus looks her right in the eye and says,”I don’t condemn you either–but go and sin no more.”

There’s that balance: compassion and confrontation.

Another woman had an issue of blood for twelve years. She was broke because she had spent all of her money on a bunch of doctors with cures that didn’t work. But once again, she didn’t feel sorry for herself. She decided on her own that simply touching the hem of Jesus’ garment would make her whole. And because she did, her faith produced a miracle, and Jesus whirled around and celebrated with her.

Another woman at a well in Samaria was divorced from five men and living with a new guy. I don’t think I am speaking out of turn to say that this lady had certainly experienced abuse, but she was still in the hunt for answers and was willing to believe that another man sitting by the well might just have the ability to help her escape her trap.

These women were everywhere. They brought to Jesus desperation accompanied by a refusal to give in, and Jesus responded with a compassion and a confrontation, determined to not allow them to view themselves as the weaker sex.

When Martha of Bethany told Jesus to command her sister to help serve food, Jesus confronted her and said that Mary, the non-domesticated sister, had chosen the better part by listening to the teaching instead of serving up grits and gravy.

Most people don’t realize that three women, Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna gave of their substance to financially underwrite the ministry of Jesus. In my study, recollection and comprehension, there has never been another spiritual leader who drew women to him, treated them as equals and blended compassion and confrontation to create a climate of transformation in the lives of these dear feminine heroes.

They were Jesus chicks. They were battered, beaten, demon possessed, had daughters who were vexed of Satan, were members of Herod’s court and prostitutes. They all refused to give up, but instead reached out one last time to someone who would give them compassion with a necessary dose of confrontation.

It is impossible to have equality with people if all you’re doing is feeling sorry for them. It is also equally as implausible to view each other as equals if all that stimulates the relationship is domination.

Jesus explained exactly the way things work. You find a woman who is not complaining, who has not given up, who is refusing to drown in her own self-pity, and you grant her compassion. Then you gently confront her–to do more.

It’s an amazing process. And because he took this profile with these dear hearts, they were drawn to him and ended up being a major thrust in the foundation of the new faith, called the Kingdom of God. It is why we can say with confidence, “In the Kingdom of God there is neither male nor female.”

There are just people who refuse to give up, won’t feel sorry for themselves, receive the compassion of the Holy Spirit and the confrontation of truth–and start over, completely born again.

Jesus chicks–women who had more to believe in than to complain about.

 

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Like … March 4, 2012

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Love is over-rated.

It is a panacea of promises often deteriorating into a garbage can stuffed with disappointment.Although it is pure in its intentions, it is tainted by the greedy and the needy, who unwittingly pervert its purposes. For after all, the Southern plantation owner loved his family and his state, whistling Dixie while simultaneously abusing a race of people. Adolph Hitler proclaimed his love for Germany while murdering its inhabitants. The early American settlers loved their freedom and the prospects of new land, as they rolled their wagons over the dreams of the Native Americans. Then we have the concept that it is possible–supposedly–to love the sinner while hating the sin. And finally, is there any adult who has abused a child who doesn’t perpetuate the myth of undying love for his or her offspring? Love is a tattered emotional blanket that we throw across a frigid humanity, self-satisfied that everyone is now warm.

Yet we know the Bible says that God is love, so why is our love so different from God‘s? What does God possess in His implementation of love that is so separate from our meager efforts?

God likes people. We don’t. Simple.

Yes, God likes people. What a magnificent word–like..  Mainly because it has two immediate applications: like–as in having affection, and like–as in perceiving a connection.

  • “I like you.” In other words, I have taken the time to find reasons to be favorable to your continued existence as a person.
  • “I am like you.” I have taken an equal space of my attention span to discover ways that you and I are similar instead of focusing on our differences.

There are also two reasons our love is tainted.

1. We believe that everybody is different. If everybody is different, we can’t find enough in each other that is like us to cause us to like one another. God rejected this concept. Matter of fact, the Bible makes two things clear–“God is no respecter of persons” and “God so loved the world.” Do you see it? He thinks we’re so much alike that He refers to us as “the world.”

2. Our love is ineffective because of our ongoing contention that we were “born” some way. It is the universal copout that keeps us from dealing with who we are and allowing ourselves the possibility of being born again.

So if I’m different from you, I can love you in the abstract and not like you in the present. And if I was born this way, all of my actions can be excused by my genetic fallibility. Somewhere along the line, we need to learn how to like one another. Like is the kindness and gentleness that props up the concept of love. Like is the willingness to adapt to the needs of others, even when our present thinking may be contrary to theirs. Like is considering the value of another person instead of contemplating how easy it would to function without them. Like is when we abandon the importance of our cause for the primary mission of respecting and honoring the human race.

We heard a talk show host this week call a young woman he had never met a “slut” and a “prostitute.” He did it because he loves America. He did it because he loves the tenets of his movement. He did it because he loves truth enough to call an ace an ace, a spade a spade and obviously, a whore a whore. What he said was, in his own mind, rooted in the concept of love. But because his statement lacked tenderness, humanity, concern, awareness or even vulnerability, it left his rendition of love empty of virtue.

I will tell you this–Jesus would not appear to be loving if he had just quoted scriptures or taught on the subject. I am a follower of Jesus because he had compassion, he was moved by people’s faith and he put children on his knee and embraced them, defending them against overly zealous grown-ups.

Jesus liked people. If Jesus hadn’t like people, not only would he be useless to us, but honestly, he wouldn’t be Jesus. So neither am I a Christian–a follower of Jesus–when I superficially place love in a position of predominance and deny my fellow human beings the opportunity to be liked by me.

My principle is very simple: it’s “like or hike.”

Plainly, if I can’t like someone, I’m going to give them the great gift of getting out of their way and allow them the freedom to pursue their dreams without my allegedly loving intervention.I am not going to sit around and question whether I agree with people, but rather, whether I can be of any use to them, encouragement to them, or edification to them. Can I offer them a good bathing in my likability?

Love will become a powerful word again and a universal energy when we insert “like” back into our vocabulary and actions. Like is when I have affection that admits I have a connection.

  • I am not black, but I know what it’s like for people to have prejudice against me.
  • I am not Hispanic, but I know what it’s like to be treated like an alien instead of welcomed like a new settler.
  • I am not gay, but I know what it’s like to be spied on and viewed unfavorably.
  • I am not a woman but I certainly know what it’s like to be treated with inequality.

If you’re not going to like someone, get the hell out of the way, because you can bring no heaven to them.

Let’s give love a chance. Let’s start by liking one another.

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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