Catchy (Sitting 18) Clippings … October 15th, 2017

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Michael Hinston sat back in a leather chair which had been a gift from a Congressman from Mississippi who had recently remodeled his office, had no need for the extra furniture piece and “saw no reason for it to go to waste.”

In Michael’s hand was a plain manila envelope–the kind you would buy at a dollar store. There was no writing on the outside, except in the lower right hand corner, in small letters, was the name, Milford Hayes.

It did not take Michael any time at all to recollect who Milford Hayes was. Ever since the visit in his office, when he was given the fifty thousand dollars from Caine Industries, he had recalled the conversation with the stranger many, many times.

He hated himself because he hadn’t kicked the bastard out the door.

He hated himself for being part of a political system that allowed such corruption.

He hated himself because corporations thought they could buy and sell politicians like sides of beef.

He also hated himself because he had already spent some of the money.

And unlike more noble souls who could suddenly possess a fit of conscience and give the money back, he had no such resource.

He was in.

Whatever “in” meant.

And apparently, with the arrival of this envelope, he was about to find out.

He picked up the phone and asked his secretary to hold all calls, though nobody was actually phoning him. This was another troubling part of his journey in Washington. He had been elected by rural hometown folks in Ohio, but nobody in the Capitol even knew he was alive.

He had thought he was going to be invited to dinner with the President, but when it turned out that his vote was not needed for an upcoming piece of legislation, apologies were offered and he ended up eating pepperoni pizza with his family.

So now, sitting in his cast-off chair, in his uncomfortable office, with the knowledge in his mind that his wife and children despised their new home, he slowly opened the envelope.

Pulling out the contents, he found a clump of press clippings held together with a paper clip, and a white business envelope with the words “For the Kids” written on the outside.

He set the white envelope to the side and thumbed through the articles. They had one central theme–they were tiny news announcements, reports, opinions and press releases about his friend, Matthew, taking on the Harts fortune to popularize Jesus.

Included was an 8 X 10 glossy picture of a young man with long hair. Scrawled in magic marker across the photo was the name, Jubal Carlos.

Satisfied that he had discovered the essence of the newspaper clippings, he moved toward the business envelope. He opened it. Inside was a note written on 20-pound typing paper, along with ten one hundred-dollar bills. The note read:

It’s time to do something. It’s time for you to earn your money. Your nosy friend has decided to take on the challenge and we must do what is necessary to stall his efforts. The picture is of Jubal Carlos, a freelance musician from Las Vegas who lives on the street with the homeless and the indigent. Your buddy from college plans on using him. Don’t you think it would be a good idea for you to use your congressional clout to have the local authorities investigate him? It couldn’t hurt, right?

I have enclosed some “pin money” for little Alisa and Bernice. Stay faithful. Milford Hayes.

Michael put the letter down and stared at the picture of Jubal Carlos. He didn’t know what to do. The young man in the photograph certainly seemed likeable–a bright countenance.

Why would he want to trouble someone causing no trouble?

Why would he allow himself to be part of some plot against an old friend?

Why should he care what a dead, old billionaire wanted to do with the rest of his money?

But what truly haunted Michael was the thousand dollars. Just twenty minutes earlier, his wife, Barbara, had called to tell him that the school was launching a field trip to New York City. There would be additional expense. The secretary from the school said it would cost $500 for each daughter. Barbara apologized for laying a thousand-dollar burden on his mind while he was at work.

Michael paused, shaking his head. Now, twenty minutes later, he was staring at a thousand dollars in cash. A coincidence? A miracle? A blessing?

Or did Milford Hayes and Caine Industries know too much about his daughters?

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Good News and Better News … June 27th, 2016

Good News Kochenderfer 2 

Jonathots Daily Blog

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My visitation yesterday was to the Kochenderfer United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, not far from Harrisburg, the capital. A smile comes to my lips as I imagine you reading this, trying to mentally pronounce the word. For the sake of brevity and clarity, from now on I will refer to it as “KC.”

They were in the midst of a VBS explosion, hoping for 150 kids from the community to come out and enjoy some inspiring activities, complete with nutritious snacks.

So I slid in to address the humanity. After all, there are two aspects to our everyday challenge: there is the goal, and there is the humanity.

We love to talk about goals, so when the humanity arrives and robs us of some of our aspirations, we lament how it would have been “so much better if it had worked out according to plan.”

This has created a generation of people who struggle, promoting two central principles:

  1. Life is hard.
  2. Hard is good.

And why do we think hard is good? Because it makes us feel grown-up and causes us to believe we’re mature, like our parents. Unfortunately, it also makes us grumpy, grouchy, overly sensitive, depressed, despaired and I suppose even constipated.

But it’s the price we pay for being Earthlings, right?

Hogwash.

Such foolishness only makes disgruntled disciples of a Gospel that was meant to set us free.

So I don’t know if people agree with my simple approach to matters or not, but I have found it to be very liberating to my own soul.

Jesus really had only two things he wanted to get across to the human race. Matter of fact, he makes it clear that this is why he came to be among us:

A. “I have come to give you life and it more abundantly.”

B. “I have come that your joy might be full.”

We think he’s talking about heaven. But since Jesus said that he wanted his will to be “done on Earth as it is in heaven,” we should probably get busy practicing.

I let the people at KC know that if something comes along and robs you of your sense of abundant living and jubilance, you should be suspicious. Matter of fact, I guarantee you that if church was a place that produced abundant life and full joy, there might be more people showing up.

So by the time we got done chatting, fellowshipping, celebrating, laughing and crying at KC, I think the congregation was pretty well convinced that I was sold out on the concept of living abundantly with a jovial glee.

Did I have any converts? Did anyone buy into the concept that life is not meant to be hard and that hard is not a good thing?

I can’t be sure. But I know this–pain never produces gain.

That’s the good news–the arrival of pain is always a warning to cease the stress which produces the ache.

For you see, the better news is that “the joy of the Lord is my strength.”

Good News Kochenderfer 1

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Barack Romney … July 20, 2012

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Or is it Mitt Obama?

Either way, the two men are identical because the path available to them and accessible to their Presidential aspirations is already pre-determined.

Basically it comes down to wars and taxes. Yes, we are holding a very expensive election in this country to determine who will be in charge of the guns and bombs and how the revenue will be levied, collected and distributed.

If you are a Republican, you contend that there is evil in the world that needs to be uprooted–if necessary, by force. If you happen to be of the Democrat persuasion, you don’t see the world quite as black and white, but instead, feel compelled to use military force more sparingly and with less obvious destruction and financial loss.

Likewise, if you’re a Republican, you think taxes should be lessened, with money being given back to the people, hoping that the electorate will be inspired by their sudden burst of financial gain, to become consumers and generous towards others. On the other hand, the Democrats are not quite as optimistic about the integrity of the populace and wish to take a bit more tax from them, to ensure that the basic needs of the less fortunate will be addressed.

Wars and taxes.

But on the larger issues of the economy, diplomacy, and energy consumption, the United States finds itself somewhat at the mercy of events.

It happened in 2001 when a plan was hatched in a cave in Afghanistan to attack the United States with its own airplanes. There were three targets: the World Trade Center, to roust about the economy; the Pentagon, to make a symbolic statement against our military; and the Unites States Capitol, to disrupt our government. Even though only one-third of the plan was fulfilled, with the Pentagon being damaged but not destroyed and the Capitol spared by the heroism of common citizens on an airplane, it was enough to send us on a spin, which seven years later, led to a complete economic collapse.

It wasn’t because the World Trade Center was destroyed or even that three thousand people were killed in the atrocity. It was the fact that these devious plotters had an understanding that the American public would respond to this piece of treachery in three predictable ways:

  • First, we would become furious.
  • Second, because we are needy for foreign oil and dependent on other nations for loans, we would make ourselves vulnerable through our fury and overextend ourselves in actions of retribution which we could not pay for.
  • And finally, we would be drunk on our own sense of history and mission, insisting that we are the greatest nation in the world, even though there has been some slippage and repairs and renovation are required.

Osama bin Laden and all of his crew took it for granted that America would become furious, while still needy, and drunk on its own sense of self-importance.

We fell into the trap. We unintelligently believed that the attack was about what happened on 9/11, instead of realizing that the true monstrous deed was to get the American culture to over-react, sending us into a permanent spin. We accommodated our enemies.

The end result is that we have temporarily lost the ability to effectively remedy our situation, and instead, have begun to believe that the problems that face us are due to social immorality or over-spending for the needy.

We have lost our way.

So it doesn’t matter if it’s Barack or Mitt. As long as we continue to insist that we are something we are not, remain angry at the world around us while still needy for its goods, we will continue to plummet in both our fiscal power and our physical presence.

What would make a difference? What kind of leader would we need to choose to pull us out of this nose dive? We would need an individual who would tell us that we must stop being furious–and turn around.

Yes, to continue in the same direction we are heading, arrogantly pursuing a path of self-righteous anger about our situation, is to place us careening towards a cliff and a fall to our death. We must turn around.

Although people debate about guns in this country, the issue is not whether we have guns or not. Actually, the Canadians have more guns per capita than the people of the United States. The difference is, the Canadians aren’t furious. Logic tells us that if we were at a bar and someone was drunk and angry, we would not allow him to have a gun, even if we felt we were taking away his personal freedom.

No, the problem is not guns–it is that we have a nation that believes it has a God-given right to be angry. We require leadership that gently spanks our rump for being so frustrated and childish and tells us to get over it. What has happened in our world is not pleasant at all, but being furious about it and seeking revenge is neither spiritual nor productive.

The first message of any good leader in this situation should be, “Turn around. Stop being mad.”

The second thing this imaginary leader would have to bring forth is to ask each and every American to deal with the facts. We are under the thumb of OPEC because we use too much oil. We cannot possibly produce enough oil to satisfy our needs by digging all over our country. So we need to find other alternatives as quickly as possible, making it a national priority. Hybrid cars should be subsidized by the government and made available at less cost than gasoline cars. We should encourage people to “go green” rather than presenting the option as if it’s some sort of “hippie” fetish, like preferring tofu.

We should understand–the world’s resources and population are tilted to the east. We are a minority on our own planet, and therefore should learn how to deal with nations and cultures that are alien to our sensibilities.

A great President would demand that we deal with the facts instead of sitting around like a bunch of children on our birthday, making wishes as we blow out the candles.

And finally, this imaginary soul who would occupy the Oval Office should insist that we cease being drunk on our own self-reliance and touting of history, and instead, begin to focus on excellence in every portion of our efforts. We should start with education, move into production, spread into the arts and culminate in our own unique families. Without excellence, we will not be able to compete simply because we have George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in our lineage. We do not need anyone to retell our history. What we require are people to rise up from the mediocrity and become history makers.

As long as this country is furious, needy and drunk on its own conceit, it won’t matter who you put in Washington, D.C. The results will be the same because we will be at the mercy of the world around us and trapped in our own inefficiency.

It is time for quality management in this country, which demands we turn around from our anger, that we deal with the facts of our neediness and begin to become more self-sufficient–and finally, that we focus on excellence in the moment instead of having marching bands playing patriotic songs to remind us of better times.

Barack Romney. If he is elected, he will deal only with wars and taxes, leaving us at the mercy of a world twirling and progressing in ways that we don’t quite comprehend.

Is our country ready to recant blind rage, repent of excess and remove frustration? I’m not sure. But until we are, we will spend all of our time arguing about abortion, gay marriage, contraception … and which one of the pretty boys we’re trying to elect can eat the most apple pie.

   

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