Good News and Better News … May 30th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Mt Pisgah 3Pastor John Crawford had decided to retire.

While in the midst of considering what would be his favorite chair, he was urgently “recalled” to help out at the Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church near Verona, Virginia.

It was a temporary assignment that has lasted for twelve years.

I was fortunate to be invited to share with the delightful congregation and Pastor John this past Sunday morning.

The people are the salt of the earth, unfortunately living in a time when the masses prefer pepper.

Yes, we are a generation who has convinced ourselves that we are happiest when we portray reality as being dissension, describing politics as deception, and fostering religion that has more verse than rhyme.

So as I settled in to play music and chat with these inspiring individuals, I wanted to make sure I kept it simple–not because they were incapable of complexity, but because I am incapable of complexity.Mt Pisgah 2

If it’s necessary to make things difficult to find solutions, please do not contact me.

I’ve read the Bible through enough times that I have discovered there’s a central theme. Such a golden stream of understanding can never be achieved by focusing on a few passages here and there which seem to back your favorite prejudice.

The central theme I’ve discovered is that God will have a kind people, or no people at all.

Yes, I’m telling you–God is love until you get Him really frustrated. At that point He is described as a consuming fire. And what really sparks His blaze? Unkindness.

In our society, we now believe that the tougher you look, the meaner you act and the more aggressive you become, the better off you are in this dangerous climate.

Holy hogwash. It’s about being kind. Which, by the way, begins with the word “kin.”

Yes, to be kind you have to learn how to treat everyone you meet as kin.

This means you will continue to love them through their quirks, their preferences, their ideologies or even, God forbid, their diverse choices in baptism.

Kind.

Mt Pisgah 1For instance, I can never pray to my Heavenly Father unless I’ve already expressed kindness to His children. I even exaggerate it–especially when I’m feeling grumpy and my natural inclination is to spit at the world around me. Instead, I keep my saliva to myself, pucker up and force a kiss.

Case in point, driving to the church yesterday, a young man came behind my van, honking at me. I was a little surprised so I slowed up, thinking I must be doing something wrong. This infuriated him even more, causing him to pass me and give me the finger as he zoomed by.

Now, when I was younger I would have been aggravated at this assault to my person. But in my present mindset, I land somewhere between baffled and amused. (Because if he’s going to give me the finger over my slow driving, he should be around when my real faults show up.)

The good news is that being kind–treating all souls as your kin–is guaranteed to produce pleasure in the heart of God. There may be other things you can do to make Him happy, but they are completely negated if you are unkind.

The better news is that kind is not nearly as exhausting as mean.

Mt Pisgah 4 

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The Triplet… January 17, 2012

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In Philadelphia

 
It is musical–three notes, played in rapid succession, linked together on the paper in unity–the triplet.

We also have such a phenomenon going on in our lives, based upon the philosophical choices we make, which ultimately steer our emotions–either renewing our minds or keeping them tethered to former fears.

God is…

I am…

Why not…?

There it is. The word or words that follow each of those three phrases end up controlling how we look at our time span and also how we react to those around us. It is not that a belief in God, or even an unbelief in the existence of a universal creator, has to manipulate our destiny or our reaction. It’s just that we have some sort of inner barometer that generates our sense of good will based upon where we believe we were spawned.

It is the triplet: God is…  I am …  Why not?

What about for those who don’t believe in God at all?  Simple. God is not. I am here. Why not allow the weariness to overtake me? It is very exhausting to find oneself carrying the whole world on one’s shoulders.

How about this one? God is light. I am enlightened. Why not illuminate? It is difficult for us as human beings to replicate anything we haven’t experienced for ourselves. If we have seen the light, it is much easier to reflect its blessing.

God is dead. I am abandoned. Why not be lonely?

God is a judge. I am unworthy. Why not condemn others?

God is a consuming fire. I am scorched. Why not burn it down?

God is love. I am loved. Why not love my neighbor as myself?

God is far away. I am searching. Why not give into the darkness?

God is in heaven. I am on earth. Why not prepare for eternity?

God is powerful. I am weak. Why not let Him do it all?

God is good. I am learning. Why not imitate?

God is religious. I am human. Why not lie?

The triplet determines whether we are going to take our image of God and transform our lives into usable units of fruit-bearing favor–or just give in to futility. Desperation is what overcomes every human being when we really dislike the God we have chosen to worship. It’s a frightening thought. Matter of fact, it would be almost impossible to admit that the source of your devotion is also the origin of your disappointment. It would be like having a long-term marriage, bound by children, mortgages, checking accounts and responsibilities, but knowing deep in your heart that when the bedroom door shut, there was not only an absence of warmth, but a complete presence of apathy. It is something we all must understand if we’re going to actually allow ourselves to be emotionally clean, spiritually faithful, mentally alert and physically fit.

It is the triplet–the philosophical thrust that either pushes us forward, grabs us by our shoulders and stops us from progress, or casts us backwards into the pit of anxiety.

God is …

I am …

Why not?

What words would you fill in? What is the truth of the matter about your relationship with the One who decided to set this thing in motion? Or maybe you believe it’s all a myth. But if it is a myth, it has one reality–you. What are you going to do with that if the rest of the equation doesn’t add up? Think about it. What you decide, what you believe, what you walk in and what you possess will be determined by that triplet.

And because it’s musical … what will be your melody?

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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

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