G-Poppers … October 23rd, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop is a wee bit concerned.

His children are once again choosing up sides, sniffing out the dogma of their favorite political party and barking out beliefs.

Issue by issue, debates are offering a collage of opinions with no real respect for the central issue that should permeate the hearts of all humanity:

Are we killing people?

Nothing progresses until we stop killing:

  • No financial campaign is worthwhile if there’s a death toll.
  • No honoring of traditions or regaling of the Constitution is noble if we’re filling up body bags.
  • The central issue of the human race is learning how to talk to one another instead of pulling a knife, citing some righteous motivation.

For 16 years, two Presidents from two different parties have ruled and reigned in this country.

Even though G-Pop is sure that each one could present a resume of his efforts, in the long run, one of these men began a sermon of death and the other has trailed behind with his own chorus of “amens.”

President Bush and President Obama have both pursued a fruitless campaign of irreconcilable mayhem in the Middle East, which has paralyzed this country with the preoccupation that we are a superior military power–as we continue to lose battles. Not since World War II has the United States been part of a full-fledged victory through military conflict.

So we must cease to believe that the Republicans are good because they stand for God and the Democrats are evil because they allow for atheism. And we also must realize that merely taking stands on social issues or giving health care to the masses is of little use if we’re taking the children of the poor and placing them in harm’s way in a foreign land.

G-Pop will tell you why he believes in Jesus: Jesus angers both Republicans and Democrats.

In one moment, Jesus forgives a woman caught in adultery, infuriating the right.

In the next moment, he refuses to give money to the poor, insisting that it’s a never-ending process which should be pursued with wisdom rather than wild abandon, causing every liberal to object tearfully.

Jesus had one central theme: “I have not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”

So the same Jesus who believed that “those who live by the gun will die by the gun” also contends that children are sacred and reflect the beauty of heaven.

Just as little ones should not be killed at their elementary schools, we should also find a way not to kill them in the womb.

Obviously, this approach pisses off both campaigns.

So G-Pop challenges his children to escape the futility of joining a side to instead pursue a purpose:

1. Is there any way to consider all the facts before we start following the fad?

2. Is there any way to favor one side in this particular case without offending the other permanently?

3. Can we move forward without rejecting what we know is true for the human family?

There is only one issue in the next presidential campaign: what is the best way to stop killing?

As long as we’re killing, no matter how noble we may feel our mission, we have become the enemy of the One who created us.

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Jesonian: Pillars… July 12th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Three pillars

Anyone who is willing to spend 24 hours hanging out with me will quickly realize that I have three pillars that hold up the household of my faith and keep a roof over my personality.

  1. Be of good cheer
  2. Be creative
  3. Be honest

It doesn’t mean that I’m never grouchy, lazy or a liar. It just means that normally I reject those profiles and when I accidentally slide into them, I attempt to repent quickly.

So it should be no surprise to anyone that Jesus of Nazareth–the unemployed carpenter-turned-preacher–should also have such pillars.

If you ignore them, you will fail to understand his character.

So what are the three pillars of Jesus?

1. Be smart.

He told his disciples to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

In other words, not everything can be solved by the Bible, and certainly not every situation is covered by the Constitution.

Sometimes science has all the answers, and on other occasions, we must defer to the mystery of creation.

The true Jesonian person understands the importance of being smart–applying what is applicable instead of forcing something in that is irrelevant.

2. Be universal.

Jesus made it quite clear to the Jewish people around him that he was not Jewish. He told them that before Abraham existed, he was around. He interacted with Samaritans and outcasts.

If you don’t believe this to be true, then you have only to look at the reaction of those who were Jewish around him. They deemed him a sinner, a seditionist and a friend of those who were against Israel.

He didn’t care. He knew the power of his message was to package it for the whole world and not merely for a small portion of Mesopotamia.

3. And finally, Jesus made it clear that he expects his followers to be forgiving.

Every time he was confronted with someone who was faulty and that individual was willing to repent, Jesus never failed to forgive.

What is forgiveness? It is the realization that we don’t perform the job of God and that each one of us is so needy that we shouldn’t point out the need in others.

Those are the three pillars of Jesus:

  • Be smart
  • Be universal
  • Be forgiving

I’m terribly curious what would happen if the Christian church actually followed these pillars…and built their house on the rock instead of the sand.

 

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Three Ways to Avoid Politics … October 9, 2014

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I grow very weary of politicians who discuss voting blocks, demographics and pet projects.

In like manner, ministers perturb me when they wax eloquent about liturgy, communion, baptism and the history of the church bell.

Corporations which feel they have “pulsed the market,” finding a strategy for selling their products instead of pursuing improving their quality also leave me cold.

Politics is when any institution–or even individual–attempts to execute a plan instead of planning an execution for absurdity.

Yes, politics should be avoided at all cost or it will end up robbing you of a soul, which comes in handy.

Here are three ways to avoid this political morass:

1. Evaluate issues, not causes.

For instance, I’m against all killing. Because of that, the Republicans are often angry with me when I don’t jump on the Humvee to head off to war. The Democrats frown in my direction because I’m against abortion. I don’t care. I give myself the gift of consistency, affording me the blessing of avoiding hypocrisy.

2. Don’t be afraid to be wrong.

Every great idea should be trimmed in elastic. It will need to stretch to adjust itself to the needs of humanity.

  • The Constitution is not written in stone. It has required many amendments and is not yet done breathing.
  • The Bible must spiritually keep up with the changing needs of the hearts of men.
  • And the movies should go back to moving us instead of shocking us.

I am often wrong. Matter of fact, one of my greatest joys in life is to say “I am wrong” before someone else discovers my dumbness.

3. Think about people instead of institutions.

I frustrate Republicans, Democrats, conservatives and liberals because I have just not found that any one of them has the ability to aid the cause of Earth without in some way digging in their heels and stopping a needful evolution.

You can feel free to be political, but eventually you’ll have to swallow something which is contrary to your soul, for the good of a cause that does not address the true nature of the need.

Not for me.

I am free.

My freedom was bought with a price.

And I have no intention of selling it to the highest bidder, nor joining a party which offers nothing refreshing.

 

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Populie: Be Careful What You Say… June 4, 2014

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sticks and stones“Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.”

Many generations have used that little adage as a philosophy to handle the bullying, accusations and lies that fly around when our race attempts to jockey for position.

In times past, a man or woman were judged by what they did instead of what they said. (Honestly, a slip of the tongue is very common on the icy roads of daily fumbling.)

But the choices we make in how we interact with one another and the deeds we choose to perform are in our power.

Yet nowadays, we are obsessed with “right speak.” And “right speak,” by the way, is determined by the mood of the moment.

So very little is being accomplished because the whole world is self-conscious–to make sure and say the appropriate thing.

Religion loves this populie because it sets up a scenario for what we shall call a false persecution complex. If we can convince God that the heathen are attacking us verbally, perhaps some of our indifference and spiritual awkwardness will be forgiven, considering how bullied we are.

Politics uses this “be careful what you say” trend to attack opponents and also to pull up lame, hoping to gain the sympathy of the electorate over false reports.

And of course, entertainment finds this populie profitable because it allows them to test the boundaries of free speech and sell tickets based on alleged controversy.

Yet the most recent bizarre example is that of Donald Sterling and the tape that surfaced with his paramour, discussing racial issues.

First and foremost, that particular conversation he had with the young lady was private. I, for one, would not want things I share in my business meetings with friends and comrades to be trumpeted and played out on CNN.

Secondly, Donald Sterling has done many deeds of prejudice over the years, which should have been called out instead of using the back door of illegal intrusion to alienate and defile him.

Bluntly, I don’t want to judge anyone on his or her words. I will leave that to Almighty God. My job is to look at the fruit people bear in their lives, to determine the soul of their human matter.

Even though we’re not allowed to judge, we are entitled to view the efforts and deeds of our fellow human beings to ascertain their mission and goals.

Not only are we becoming too sensitive to words, believing they actually do break bones, but we are also creating a generation of false apologizers, who have turned repentance into a political maneuver and social evasion.

“I’m sorry” needs to mean “I’m sorry” again. Otherwise, it’s just a gentler way of proclaiming, “Leave me alone.”

Case in point: the chances of me saying something wrong in a daily column are innumerable. But I will not allow you to judge me by a term, a paragraph, or even one entire essay. My life is available for review and is played out on any Google search. Click away.

With that in mind, let me tell you how I believe things should be reviewed:

1. Hear.

Yes, listen for something you agree with and then take the leap to believe in it. Stop trying to be safe with your language so you can please everybody. Commit to something.

2. Do.

Don’t preach at people. Don’t quote scriptures, the Constitution or the latest popular book. Take that belief you have claimed and put it to a challenge, to grant it credibility.

3. Share.

And then, once you’ve gained a testimony–a piece of evidence–don’t decide for others that they should walk in your moccasins. Just tell your story.

I am not going to be careful about what I say. Because of that, I will make errors that are sometimes contrary to my actual heart, life and doings. Instead:

I will hear things that I believe and follow them.

I will do those things faithfully to see if they stand the test of time.

And then I will share my story with no condemnation or criticism in your direction.

In a world where we decry bullying, we are all eventually cast into the role of bully. Then what do you do?

I think we are best served by going back to defending ourselves against sticks and stones … and regain our sense of humor about mere words.

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Freedom Part 1: GRASSHOLES… July 1, 2013

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FastSkewed.

All statistics can be twisted and turned to meet the specifications of anyone who wants to present a particular case for his or her cause. This is undeniable.

Case in point: on the day before last year’s Presidential election, there was one polling organization which was absolutely guaranteeing that the contender for the election was going to win.

If you spend enough time collecting information favorable for your conclusion, your conclusion will confirm the information.

So when it comes to the issues surrounding marijuana, it is absolutely useless to listen to the pundits submit their statistics. What I choose to reflect upon is the evidence. And I’m not talking about the evidence put out by the organizations which are against the product. I’m talking about the evidence promoted, advertised and shared by those who seemingly would love to see weed legalized.

There is no movie made which shows people smoking grass and portrays them as having generosity, intelligence, faithfulness, productivity, basic human interaction–or even know how to get to White Castle. As in the flick, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, marijuana smoking is portrayed as a practice which makes one “high” by making one dull and low.

This is not MY contention–this is the image given by those who are partakers of the herb–the GRASSHOLES.

Now let’s look at what we know:

  • Marijuana is used as a medicine to dull pain, discomfort and nausea during chemotherapy treatment.
  • Second-hand smoke from marijuana can intoxicate someone else–so therefore it can never be smoked in public (even though we don’t allow people to smoke at all in public anymore because of the effects of second-hand smoke.)
  • It is questionable that with the many deaths brought about on the highways due to alcohol, whether marijuana could be used by people operating vehicles without putting others in danger. By the time we could accumulate such data, multitudes of people could be killed.
  • What is the effect of marijuana smoke on the lungs and respiratory system? Still being studied.

So if the main use of this product by the GRASSHOLES is going to be done privately in their own homes, what’s the point of legalizing it? Are we merely trying to get revenue from yet another intoxicant to fill our coffers, even as we siphon off that profit to pay for rehab?

Are we positive enough about the lasting effects of the hemp plant to release it for common consumption to the public without fear of harm?

Is it really a positive argument–to insist that marijuana is “no worse than alcohol,” when we know that alcohol destroys tens of thousands of lives every single year?

And do we really want another reason for our teenagers to become more distant? Have you had a recent conversation with humans in their teens? Would you really want that to be any less interactive?

Just because we can rally does not mean it’s a legitimate party. And just because people may want the freedom to do something of their own choice does not mean it provides for the common good.

Yes, the Preamble of the Constitution says that our nation was constructed to provide for the common good.

Marijuana may be excellent as a relief for those suffering from cancer and terminal illness. But to indiscriminately give it to the public under the guise of freedom–or even finance–is to negate the evidence presented by users, who in their more candid moments, admit that it dulls the senses and causes people to “check out” from human discovery.

Be careful. Freedom is a wonderful thing–unless it robs us of more valuable freedoms.

And our most precious freedom is the ability to interact with one another with a clear mind, clear conscience, clear soul … and full awareness.

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Right or Privilege … May 2, 2013

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Model THis name was Henry Ford.

He was one of the early innovators in the gasoline combustible engine, which was referred to as the “horseless carriage.” We now call them cars.

Of course, at one time he had a prototype of such a vehicle and needed to test drive it to see how it worked in a world which was not suited for such activity. There were no paved roads, and on the dusty highways were horses and pedestrians instead of smoky engines from experimental automobiles. So you can imagine, at first he was an annoyance, or even a laughing-stock.

I wonder what his approach was. Did Henry Ford feel he had a right to the roads because he was smart, clever or entitled? Or did he feel it was a privilege to use the roads since they were normally occupied by horses and people?

Another interesting thing about that invention is that it quickly gained popularity–but it also created immense problems. So even though most of us insist that we have a right to drive a car, it was obvious from the first that those rights had to be curtailed for the common good.

For instance, everybody had to drive on the right-hand side or we would run into each other. Roads had to be paved, which meant there had to be taxes. It was agreed that a license was needed to prove that one was actually able to drive one of the contraptions. Tags were put on the vehicles to both identify them and garner some revenue for the state. Policemen issued tickets to those drivers who would not follow the rules and inhibited others from having a safe journey. When you add toll roads, seat belts, safety checks, car insurance and emissions onto the list, what started out as a “right of passage” is now presented as a cautious privilege.

Yet no one objects to this. The addition of demanding seat belts has lessened the death toll on the highways. The careful scrutiny for alcohol-drinking drivers is keeping us from killing off innocents.

So is driving a right–or a privilege?

Let me give you a definition of what I think a right is. You have the right to do almost anything you want if you can answer this question: “Can I do this without hurting anyone else?”

If the answer is “no” you don’t have the right. I don’t care if the Constitution tells you that you do–the Constitution will eventually have to change for the common good.

Here is the definition of a privilege: “Can I do this without hurting myself?”

So you see, driving is not even a privilege. We are not permitted to sit in our vehicles without a restraint because in doing that, we could kill ourselves.

No, driving is an opportunity. And what is an opportunity? “Can I do this with necessary boundaries?”

So as we assess the issues of our day–be it abortion, immigration, gun rights, gay marriage, terrorism or even political gridlock–we need to ask ourselves if we’re dealing with a right, a privilege or an opportunity. Democracy allots for all three–BUT puts restrictions on privileges and opportunities.

Does a woman have a right to an abortion? Go back to the definition: can this be done without hurting anyone else?

Do I have a right to own a gun? Back to the issue of right, privilege or opportunity.

As you can see, when you remove arguments about morality and replace them with more civil discussions of whether in a Republic such as the United States, we are entitled to some aspect of our lives as a right, privilege or opportunity, it puts things in perspective. Of course, there will still be variances of opinion, but if we’re going to make all of our future plans in this country based upon codes of morality or spiritual ethics, we will be at each other’s throats incessantly. There has to be a different yard stick.

Is this thing we are contemplating a right (can I do this without hurting anyone else?) a privilege (can I do this without hurting myself?) or an opportunity (can I do this with necessary boundaries)?

It is a doorway to the kind of compromise that can be grounded in common sense instead of shady backroom deals.

 

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Meant Well… September 2, 2012

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The Bible.  Some people think it’s just a book. Others call it holy. It’s divided into two sections–Old Testament and New Testament.

You see, I understand that. Really, it’s not that different from me. After all, I’m always divided into two sections: Meant well. Doing better.

I don’t know why we fail to notice that the Bible makes it clear that God is learning. We seem to be obsessed with the notion of perfection instead of enjoying perfecting. I think it’s because we secretly hope we reach a point where we’re always right and never have to make corrections, so we project that image onto God.

It certainly is not what He advertised about Himself. For after all, He created man; then he was sorry He did, so He killed them off with a flood. Then He was sorry He did that. He went along with the Jewish people when they wanted a King and then everybody was sorry about that. So God sent them prophets to tell them about a better way. Some of these messengers got heard; most of them got killed.

So just to establish clearly that God was in a learning mode, He started a New Testament. He decided to become human, and when He did, He came to learn. He used the name “Jesus” and we’re told that He learned obedience through the things He suffered and He grew in wisdom and in stature.

Yes, there is an Old Testament–that’s where God meant well. And there’s a New Testament. That’s where we’re doing better.

We did it with our country, too, you know. We got together and came up with a constitution–a magnificent document. It establishes that we meant well. But immediately we realized that this particular conglomeration of words didn’t cover all the needs of a society dedicated to liberty. So we started adding amendments, trying to do better.

I remember when I was thirty years old, I took a job at a teeny, tiny Bible college, as a professor. They were trying to expand the vision of their little learning center and increase enrollment. In the first four months, I wrote and produced a play, did several fund-raisers and started a five-minute daily radio broadcast of a continuing drama series. Sure enough, it got a lot of attention and the number of students increased. But I failed to notice that I was losing the support, confidence and affection of the president of this little college. But because I was very young, I assumed it was his problem and that he was just an old fuddy-duddy. Even though I began a good work there, I was unable to finish it because this disgruntled leader asked me to leave. You see, I meant well. But from that point on, I started doing better by understanding that the wheels of progress really aren’t supposed to roll across human flesh.

There is always a step necessary to take us from what we have done to what we need to do. It’s called learning. And if Jesus had to do it, who do we think we are? Why do we think our ministers should have the right answers the first time around? Why do we think our politicians should delve into problems they’ve never experienced before and perfect solutions on the first attempt?

I think life is pretty simple–and I’m so grateful that God uses Himself as an example to show us how it works:

  • Meant well.
  • Learn.
  • Doing better.

There’s your secret, folks. It really demands only three understandings:

1. Start with your heart as pure as you can, to make sure you’re at least pointing in the right direction.

2. Be prepared for a certain amount of success and an adequate amount of failure.

3. Pursue the success and abandon the failure.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But when pride, insecurity, frustration or stubbornness come into the mix, the whole thing gets screwed up. Let’s be honest–who would we be today if God decided to stick with the Ten Commandments and we were all judged solely on how well we jump through those hoops? God was kind enough to adjust His message for the human beings who were meant to benefit by it.

The Bible is not about human beings finding God; the Bible is about God finding human beings. The constitution is not about making the people adjust to the government, but rather, finding a government suited for the people. And my job at that Bible college was not about finding a way to show off my abilities, but using my abilities to show off the college.

If God needed an Old and a New Testament to get it just right, what makes me think that my first crack at anything is going to end up getting the job done? So I work on my heart. Make sure I mean well. Then I go into it keeping my eyes open, ready for signs of what works and what doesn’t. Then I learn. I take what I learn and I go out and do better.

If we actually applied that in corporations, politics and religion, mankind would inch its way forward instead of gradually slip-sliding away. We know it’s true. Otherwise we wouldn’t put “New and Improved” on a box of cereal to communicate the product is still being worked on. We wouldn’t hoist a sign in the window of a diner that says, “Under New Management” unless we wanted to communicate that change is in the air. And God would not have an Old and New Testament unless He was trying to tell us that learning is what pushes us forward and self-righteousness and pride are what destroy us.

I meant well. Honestly, in almost every circumstance of my life, I had no axe to grind and wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. But unfortunately, I did. So I had to learn. And fron that learning, I always came up with ways of doing it better.

So as I go off this morning to be with the fine folks of South Lyon, Michigan, I want to tell them that they’re coming together to praise a God who always meant well. But He did learn, and He came up with a way of doing it better.

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