1 Thing You Can Do This Week (To Become a Better American)

1 Thing You Can Do This Week …

(To Become a Better American)

Although he made a questionable choice–to wear red boots with an ocean-blue leotard–Superman was very adamant in his mission statement.

He was determined to promote and protect “the American way.”

He also had his own definition for “the American way.” He believed that it was only brought into existence by justice, which was triggered by truth.

Truth, Justice…Then the American Way

So take a moment and roll up your flag. Save the Pledge of Allegiance and sit, walk or stand during the National Anthem. But comprehend that being an American begins with honoring the truth.

Yes, your one thing you can do this week is:

Tell the Truth

Begin with small things. Stop hiding behind partial revelations. Take the risk. Be honest. Go against the common flow in our country, which insists that a little bit of lying is necessary to provide cover.

Just take seven days and tell the truth. Here’s how to get yourself started:

1.Don’t wait until someone asks you to be forthcoming.

Waiting makes it so much easier to lie.

2. When you tell the truth, make sure it’s what you have seen and heard

Not what you’ve read or had whispered in your ear.

3. Make your confession brief

Don’t offer explanation unless someone asks for it.

If you take those three things as the power of telling the truth, see where your respect level, authenticity and acceptance from others will be at the end of the seven days.

Because once truth is established, the desire, energy and climate for justice is suddenly thrust to the forefront.

Then we can tout the American way.

After all, we may laugh, applaud or even cheer people who lie–as long as it’s not to us.

 

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Salient…May 28th, 2018

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There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

Taking into consideration the attitudes and climate in our nation, there are certainly times you might feel like you’re stuck in an elevator with a life insurance salesman, a Mormon missionary and a flasher. It is very difficult to escape without being offended by one of them.

Yet before you fall into a pit of despair or decide to give in to trending thoughts, you might want to consider that there are certainly ongoing principles that need to be honored. Even though it may seem that people break these cardinal rules and get by with it, ultimately, there’s always a reckoning.

There are three words that make the world go ’round: “I was wrong.”

Without “I was wrong” nothing can ever be right.

If you can’t say “I was wrong,” you inevitably resort to lying.

Also, if you’re unable to say “I was wrong,” it leads to an immediate situation: “I am wrong.”

In other words, I continue to be wrong as long as I don’t admit I was wrong.

For most certainly, nothing we ignore ever changes.

Nothing is transformed merely by the passage of time.

Everything must be evaluated, confessed and revised. Otherwise, we cannot separate ourselves from wrong.

I personally don’t mind visiting “wrong” as long as I don’t have to live there. And the only way to keep from dwelling in the condition of being wrong is to admit that you stumble.

Because if you are unwilling to say “I was wrong,” you enter the realm of “I am wrong.” Then the ultimate curse that befalls you is “I will be wrong.”

So no matter what your position is in life, if you’re slow to say “I was wrong,” by the law of nature, you will continue to be MORE wrong as time passes.

You can object. You can try to disguise your iniquity, but your foolishness will be exposed.

So here is your salient moment: “I was wrong” is the only way to ever become right.

 

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Ask Jonathots … March 24th, 2016

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What type of government would Jesus have preferred? Wasn’t the early church basically a communist organization? Is there one form of government that represents Christian principles more than another?

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

He continued by saying that if his kingdom were of this world, then his disciples would need to fight.

Government, politics and nationalism always establish a foundation with a flag flying–which then needs to be preserved and protected. This creates natural allies, and of course, enemies.

Jesus’ premise was simple: Wherever you place your devotion is where you will be devoted.

Makes sense, right?

So if the teachings of Jesus only worked in a democracy, with a capitalistic style of commerce, then nearly 70% of the world would be left out.

On the other hand, if Jesus had favored socialism and an even-handed distribution of funds to the masses, then the initiative to excel and do better for oneself would have been discouraged.

So Jesus promoted a lifestyle which excels under every form of government, because it does not need a particular climate.

Christianity has survived everything–from revolution, to renovation, to renaissance, to reformation–even to the threat of annihilation. Why?

Because Jesus said the kingdom of God is within us.

Each believer is a self-motivating, self-governing and self-aware “nation.” So we make our own decisions without having to express loyalty to politics or society.

To pull this off, there are three laws by which we maintain the “congress” inside ourselves:

1. No one is better than anyone else.

We don’t need a government to tell us what is acceptable or forbidden. It can be lived out through our actions.

2. Don’t worry.

The elimination of the fear of the future gives us the energy to shape our tomorrow.

3. Go the second mile.

The worst enemy of any culture is mediocrity. It’s when we begin to believe that our lesser efforts are sufficient.

You can take these three principles and live them out in any culture.

So Jesus is not a Republican, a Democrat, a socialist or a capitalist.

He is of the belief that meekness (adaptability) enables us to inherit the Earth.

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Ask Jonathots … January 21st, 2016

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When is it right to fight–to stand up for yourself? Everyone I know and everywhere I look, people say you have to “fight back” and “defend yourself.” So what does it mean to “turn the other cheek” or even “thou shall not kill?” And how is it we are a “Christian nation” when fighting and killing and wars are constant?

Let’s begin with the concept of a “Christian nation.”

Jesus never envisioned his work as a country. He said his “kingdom is not of this world.” So the Christian message was intended to be an individual experience. Then these converts were challenged to become “the light of the world,” and affect the climate of society.

So to tout ourselves as a Christian nation, we have blended in the concepts of the Old Testament so that we can obtain a nationalistic flavor. And when you include the Old Testament, you get “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” and vendettas against enemies.

So I don’t know if it’s possible to approach this as a Christian nation without including ideas which Jesus said had been cast aside in favor of more loving and noble adventures.

If we were a Christian nation, our agenda would be simple: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

In other words, take care of those around us and develop a healthy, prejudice-free environment where people can prosper, and in so doing, gain personal peace of mind and solvency.

Then that “city on a hill” could be a testimony to the world and they could begin to measure their philosophies against our philosophy, and decide where they might want to revise their thinking.

Of course, in the process, we must realize that enemies still come along due to jealousy and revenge, but when this happens, we can stand guard without totally destroying those who attack us.

This is exemplified in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus takes eleven men into this secluded place for a time of prayer, asking them if they had the means to defend themselves, and when they said, “We have two swords,” he replied, “It is enough.”

So if we could put together a military without trying to overwhelm our enemies with our prowess, then we would be in a position to take the rest of our money and use it to improve the lives of our citizens instead of constructing an arsenal of intimidation.

You will be told by most people that this idea is childish and stupid. This is why Jesus never intended to take over countries and rule them.

The Christian message is intended to be placed in existing cultures, and through its charity, affect the climate that surrounds it.

So I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this question. Yet I will tell you that the fighting and killing that goes on in our world cannot be attributed to the message of Jesus of Nazareth, because he never intended to possess turf.

And if you ever have to add Old Testament to New Testament to justify your actions, then you are not living under the total spiritual impact of the Kingdom of God.

So I walk in a simple situation:

  • If the United States is attacked, we should defend ourselves.
  • We should also protect the innocent of the world as much as possible without entering into old grudges that are thousands of years in the making.
  • And we should take most of our financial power to build up the lives of our people so that we can offer a testimony of peace and prosperity to the world around us.

Whatever it would take to do this is what would be sufficient. Because when eleven men told Jesus they had two swords, he said it was enough.

It certainly is not enough to attack, but it did end up being enough to allow them to escape.

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Confessing … November 28th, 2015

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XXX.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

For the sake of this essay and season of confession, let me refer to it as “Thanksbumping.”

It’s that uncomfortable moment when older folks such as myself decide to openly share some insight with younger folks who absolutely have no interest in the input whatsoever.

It is tricky. It can slip up on you when you merely believe you’re sharing your heart, and almost always is interpreted as intrusion.

I thought I had outsmarted “Thanksbumping” this year by controlling the amount of time I spent with my family, while also promising myself to keep my convictions to my own inner pleasure.

I did really well the first night, but at the second joining together, subjects came up for which I had great passion.

I spoke up.

It did not go well.

I quickly retreated and spent the rest of the evening trying my best to imitate invisibility.

At the Thanksgiving meal the next day I was much better, and had learned my lesson.

But I must apologize to myself, to my Father in heaven and to those who once sat under my tutelage, for accidentally continuing to “tutle.”

Before you become self-righteous and insist that you never do such a thing, let me gently and mercifully explain that our children perceive any intervention which they have not requested as a breach of their territorial waters.

So as I confess this to you–that I did better at “Thanksbumping” this year but am still not without reproach–let me give you three hints to keep you out of this iniquity:

  1. Avoid giving opinions without hearing a question coming your way.
  2. Don’t offer contrary views in a climate where well-established ideas are being revered.
  3. And certainly, don’t attempt to do any sideline parenting.

It may be difficult to succeed at being a bystander when you feel as if you should be included and treasured, but it is the nature of our species.

It is the changing of the guard.

And to have a good Thanksgiving, you must make sure you dodge the “bumping.”

 

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The Alphabet of Us: A is for Anger… December 8, 2014

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All human beings possess a heart, a soul, mind and strength.

Nothing of any true significance can be achieved unless this is understood.

  • Trying to deal with our emotions by thinking our way out of the situation is doomed to failure.
  • Becoming emotionally involved with mathematical equations is equally sunk in the bog.
  • And ignoring our spirituality, hoping to physically dominate in every facet of our lives, is just downright exhausting.

Every human being gets angry. Beware of those who insist they don’t–they are ticking time bombs, having stuffed all of their frustration down inside, likely to explode at a most inopportune time.

Anger is an emotion. To take a class in anger management is the belief that we can control that emotion by using better thinking.

I must disagree. As an emotion, anger must be handled emotionally.

So in pursuing the alphabet of us, let’s look at how we should handle our anger:

1. Be verbal.

Emotions should not be trapped without speech. It is “out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” What you want to ensure is that you can speak in a climate where you don’t have to be judged by your adversary, but can sound off to a friend and hear your feelings expressed in syllables.

That’s right–practice. Rehearse your anger–in the mirror, to a friend, to God or to anyone who is not the source of your resentment.

2. Listen to yourself.

There is nothing worse than being in the middle of an argument and hearing yourself voice your misgiving for the first time, and suddenly realize how stupid it is. Then you’re stuck in the midst of a fight, with your pride trying to win the day.

Listen to yourself.

That’s why we need to be spiritual. It is the soul that gives us the ability to separate out the real complaint from the blown-up rendition.

3. Clear your head.

There’s only one way to renew your brain. Make sure you take all previous experiences and set them aside in favor of a fresh encounter.

That’s what clearing your head is. It’s offering a brand new pathway, to allow conversation to produce change.

4. And finally, choose what’s really important.

Before you go have that interface with a person who has upset you, find out the core issue. Keep your anger as small as you possibly can to make it easier for the person hearing your insights to comply.

The biggest mistake we make is separating our parts–heart, soul, mind and strength–and believing they have the power to act on their own.

They are a team. They perform best as a team.

And the only way to handle anger is to use their teamwork.

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Populie: God Bless America… July 2, 2014

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God is still pretty popular.

America, too.

Yet there are many people who believe the two are synonymous–practically inseparable.

Thus the populie: “God bless America.”

Politics loves this slogan because it enables them to incorporate just enough religion to get the evangelical vote and just enough patriotism to acquire the libertarians.

Entertainment plays off the idea by producing both tear-jerking war movies and also flicks that question the authenticity and purpose of nationalism.

And of course, religion is partial to this idiom simply due to the fact that if we are convinced that we are favored by God, we might be able to get by with a few more inconsistencies before Daddy calls a time-out.

Yet as we near Independence Day, I am focused in on the power and veracity of the statement, “To he who much is given, much is expected.”

So because I love my country, respect our attempts at democracy and favor our liberty, I would like to deny the populie of “God bless America” and replace it with, “God challenge America.”

I know that God chastises those He loves–to make us sharper and more powerful. Yet we are losing our authority, presence and respectability due to the belief in our exceptionalism.

  • When it comes to women, we should be world leaders in equality, but we trail behind others.
  • We should take it seriously to stop killing. After all, when we discover a few packages of tainted ground beef in a grocery store, every package is recalled. Yet if twenty-two children are killed in a school, we continue to taint our lives with guns.
  • We should expand ourselves in equality by including others we do not agree with, honoring their right to freedom. God respects free will above all else, even purity.
  • We should be a nation that excels in productivity. For instance, I think we’re taking the wrong approach to the minimum wage. To give people more money for what they’re already doing is not only foolish, but actually a slothful business practice. But by the same token, if we can encourage productivity in our work force while passing along the dividends by increasing paychecks retroactively or offering bonuses, then we’re making our workers part of the solution instead of tying them in with the problem.
  • Why aren’t we leaders in morality?
  • How about civility?
  • Instead of arguing about the climate of the Earth, why don’t we at least see if there’s something we could do and then surprise ourselves by doing it?
  • Why don’t we take our young generation and encourage them to be respectful, industrious and creative instead of working to legalize more drugs, to dull their senses?
  • Why do we allow our older citizens to become bitter and calloused instead of demanding they use their journey to become wise and merciful?
  • If we truly do have the best medical care in the world, why aren’t we healthier?

Hiding your talent and refusing to use it is considered to be the definition of a sluggard.

Knowing what to do and not doing it is the best example of sin.

And living beneath your privilege only generates self-pity.

The populie is, “God bless America”–a way to live off the past by pretending that the present is sufficient because a Divine Presence controls our future.

My hope in this season is that we will allow God to challenge America to live up to our ideals, abilities and dreams.

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