Good News and Better News… May 22nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3314)

There’s a question hanging in the air, waiting for a brain to slurp it up and a tongue to dribble it off. If it isn’t expressed, we will continue to live in a world of assumptions.

I am not speaking of answers. I’m talking about beliefs people hold because of the dark side of their experiences and the edge of prejudice maintained from their upbringing.

Ask the question. If possible, ask it without being disgusted. Inquire with a thirst for knowledge instead of attempting to trick someone into saying something you can leap upon in anger.

The church has lost its questioning. Out of fear of making waves, we have decided to just never get in the boat. We stand on the shore and curse the ocean because it seems unchangeable. Yet there is an energy in the air. While people are despairing, sparring and spitting, the Holy Spirit is quietly seeking out those who will question and wait for the answers.

It sounds simple enough.

It even seems to have a spirituality unto itself. After all, Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given.” He never said, “Assume and you will be proven.” Jesus believed you could seek and find, and even, with a bit of perseverance, knock and have the door opened.

What Jesus never intended for his church was a gathering of smug converts who assume that getting their butts in the door was the last thing necessary to fulfill the quorum for the pearly gates.

Here’s the truth: you can join the church if you are a questioner. Even if it aggravates the worship committee, you can continue to pose questions in pursuit of finding a better way of doing things.

Likewise, you are certainly welcome in the church if you have answers as long as they are well-salted with humility and lit up with evidence.

But nowhere at any time did Jesus welcome the complainer. The complaint will be the death of the American church if we don’t call it out and exorcise that demon from the sanctuary.

How can you tell when someone’s complaining?

1. There’s an absence of a question.

They may speak to you for ten minutes about the problem, but never formulate an inquiry.

2. There is a complete denial of an answer.

They begin to enjoy hearing the sound of their own voice lamenting the difficulty–and if anyone suggests a solution, they will bury the notion as “impossible” so as to maintain their frustration.

3. They’ve rejected good cheer in favor of a bad sneer.

They think it’s ridiculous to maintain joy in the midst of difficulty and transition.

Beware complainers who pretend they have answers or insist they are just questioning.

The good news is that questions are always welcome in the Kingdom of God.

The better news is that answers will come if we don’t grump our way to fatalism.

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G-Poppers … March 18th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2871)

Jon close up

G-Pop sat quietly, listening to two family members talk about politics. Even though they are loving companions in every way, the political scene does divide them–right down the middle of their concerns.

Their conversation was interesting, but filled with assumptions which have cropped up in this present field of candidates.

Assumption 1: Politics is a different game and doesn’t have to follow the same rules. In other words, we expect them to lie.

Assumption 2: We’re in the process of choosing the best from the worst instead of merely attempting to extract the worst from the best.

Assumption 3: It’s not going to get any better.

G-Pop thought to himself that the true mistake lies in thinking that we are picking a leader instead of allowing the definition of leadership to do the selection for us.

Leadership has four components which end up with a determination.

1. Kindness: “I don’t want to start the fight.”

Anyone who thinks that politics and leadership is about fighting is promoting survival of the meanest.

2. Honesty: “I don’t want to initiate the lie. If lying is going to go on, I would rather watch it happening instead of being the founder of the deceit.”

3. Respect: “I don’t grow with your failure. I don’t need to honor iniquity, but I do need to ensure that the mistakes of others are corrected by nature instead of my rage.”

4. Resolve: “I don’t want to be the first to give up. I also don’t want to be the last to give up once it becomes obvious that change is necessary. I would like to give the plans available a chance to survive a bump or two instead of assuming that we’re heading off a cliff.”

When a good leader puts kindness, honesty, respect and resolve together, he or she ends up in strength, which is: “I don’t want to abandon goodness.”

For as G-Pop listened to his family members discuss politics, he realized there is no difference between being angry at the rich or angry at the poor. You’re still too damn angry.

Somewhere along the line, we have to put our faith into goodness winning the day, and not retreat from that purity … simply because evil does a lot of growling.

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Turning Kids Into Humans (Age 15-18) Apprentice… October 6, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2372)

Humanating

Assumptions are dangerous because they can cause us to become lax in a season when our attention is most warranted.

This is certainly true when it comes to dealing with the adolescent mind–between the age of 15 and 18. There isn’t a parent alive who doesn’t experience buyer’s remorse, personal disappointment, aggravation and a sense of futility while dealing with a teenager on an everyday basis.

The media and educational system do little to assist. Their goals are either to entertain or maintain order. So because of this acquiescence to the unchanging nature of the rebellious teenager, we actually end up extending those frustrating years into their twenties, when it should be dealt with and ministered to by the age of eighteen.

Here’s your basic difficulty: a young human between the years of 15 and 18 doesn’t want to do anything unless it’s in the moment’s whim.

This is why they are so susceptible to temptation. At their very core, vices are exaggerations of potential without ever warning of future difficulties.

So rather than throwing our hands in the air, giving up on our teenagers and waiting for them to emerge from the dark cave of futility, we should instead aggressively pursue a path to apprentice them in a direction that parallels their heart’s desire.

There are very few old-fashioned concepts that should be kept alive, but certainly the practice of apprenticing an adolescent is one of them. You can do it after school, you can make it a summer project, or perhaps a weekend endeavor. But every teenager needs the opportunity to:

  1. Work and be taught on a subject or occupation which seems to presently suit their mission.
  2. In the process of doing this, gain an appreciation of the adjustments necessary to be able to function with other fellow-workers.
  3. Earn money so they learn to meet their needs, save a bit, but most importantly, give to others from their own resource.
  4. Do something they’ve committed to do, even when they don’t feel like doing it.

Without this experience, everything is a theory which is put into practice when they are in college and need to make the grade, or worse, have begun a life filled with financial responsibility, and are required to pick up a paycheck.

The apprentice approach creates a beautiful buffer zone between childhood and adulthood, where teenagers can still maintain a novice profile without shame, before they reach an adult path which requires greater acumen.

They will learn empathy by working with others and gratitude by sharing with souls less fortunate.

If you allow your teenager to sleep in, maintain a bad attitude and refuse to participate in any organized endeavor, you are cursing him or her to putting off their adult life until age thirty.

This is your last gift to that little bundle of joy you brought into the world. While they still have choice, give them a chance to learn without being destroyed, to discover without pressure and to change their minds about their occupation without losing tens of thousands of dollars at the local university.

To be a human being, a teenager must learn how to express that empathy and gratitude which sets us apart–and gives us the righteous authority to have dominion on the earth.

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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