Ask Jonathots … December 8th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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What do you think about the idea that people get depressed during the holidays? Do you believe in “Blue Christmas?”

The diagnosis of depression is applied to everything from copouts to extreme physiological disorders. It is a shame that such a legitimate concern is rendered questionable by people who simply want to feel sorry for themselves.

So when we talk about depression, we’re referring to three different regions of human behavior:

  1. Fear of the afar
  2. Fear of our surroundings
  3. Fear borne from a chemical imbalance within

So when dear hearts come to us and say they’re in no mood to celebrate Christmas because it leaves them sad, it is important that we listen to them and decide if they’re expressing some apprehension about the world around them, some feeling of a lack of appreciation by those they interact with, or whether the recent concern about the holidays is aggravating what seems to be an ongoing thread in their lives.

Those who are involved in conspiracy theories or worry about what’s going on in our world can often be comforted with good cheer, a sense of well-being and the knowledge that someone cares for them.

Others who are disappointed by their surroundings or who have been subjected to mistreatment are often healed right before our eyes by a spirit of gentleness and kindness.

And those who have physiological roots for their depression need our encouragement to see a doctor so they can feel better.

So during this holiday season, when you run across people who are expressing misgivings, start with some good cheer and give them a listening ear, and see if that doesn’t lift their spirits.

If it does, you are like the angels on high, who declared “peace on Earth, good will toward men.”

But if your attempts at healing still leave them feeling empty, you might use your holiday joy to encourage them to seek an answer and find out the source of their depression within.

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Flawed and Blessed… September 25, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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doctorA rather new phenomenon. At least, I think so.

I can’t remember a time in my four-decade career when people have led so persistently with their diagnoses.

Perhaps that’s a bit unclear. Here’s what I mean: when I meet new human beings, within a very short time they tell me what ails them, the name of their condition, their treatment, and sometimes even the conclusion.

Now, this is not limited to older people. Younger folks do the same thing, although sometimes it will be proffered from their parents standing nearby.

To a certain degree I think our society has become the victim of “diagnosis-hocus-pocus.” Rather than coming to the conclusion that we’re just human beings, and therefore an amazing collage of “flawed” and “blessed,” we are beginning to establish our distinction based upon the uniqueness of conditions.

I, too, received a diagnosis–actually, several of them–about eighteen years ago. I don’t share these. Why? Because pity in no way resembles respect, and sympathy is a horrible substitute for love. But if pity and sympathy are what you want, then having a nearly unpronounceable illness might be valuable.

I know this could be misinterpreted as an attack against the medical field, or some sort of assertion on my part that “we should not be so concerned about our health.” I do believe in modern medicine and am quite aware that ailments exist, even to the point of tormenting my brothers and sisters.

But I just think that how we feel cannot be the impetus for what we are.

We are all flawed–and if we develop a sense of joy about being alive, we can persevere and achieve blessing.

I, like all my fellow-travelers, could describe my aches and pains and keep you busy for a good hour and a half. But there’s a wonderful statement in the Good Book that says, “Let everything be done to the edification of all.”

I just don’t think anyone is edified by hearing me complain. I don’t think humanity grows by realizing my weaknesses.

Somewhere along the line, each one of us has to walk away from a diagnosis and move toward a prognosis of living on with a little hurt.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t take treatment–but I am saying that when treatment overtakes your desire to excel, multiply your talents and love life and the folks around you, you’ve already put one foot in the grave.

  • Not every child who is hyperactive needs medication.
  • Not ever skin rash is a sign that we are allergic to forty-four different chemicals.
  • Not every headache is a brain tumor.
  • And not every sore knee means that you should be wheeled into surgery and turned into an android.

All of us are graciously flawed and blessed–flawed in order to truly appreciate the value of our blessing; and blessed so that we don’t spend so much time thinking about our flaws.

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Sufficiency… January 27, 2012

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From Miami, Florida

 “There’s nothing you can do.”
 
To the human, there are no words more chilling than these. If you heard them from your doctor concerning your diagnosis, you would be frantic–pleading for alternatives. Probably the same sensation if the phrase came off the lips of your mechanic. It is not the natural state of mortals–to be abandoned without alternative. It is not clever; it is not meaningful. It is not submissive and it certainly is not spiritual.
 
When you remove the ability to affect one’s own life from the equation, then liberties are taken by that same person to affect life in SOME way. So religious people, who believe in grace and consider themselves to be at the mercy of God, will take their theology and decide who goes to heaven, who gets communion, who gets considered righteous and who gets included on the registry of the faithful. Of course, those jobs really aren’t their business and are in the hands of the Almighty, but when you remove possibility from people’s lives and replace it with hopeless, hapless and helpless, they will initially become lethargic, and then end up vindictive.
 
This could not possibly have been the plan of a Creator who understands the emotional, spiritual, mental and physical make-up of His creation.
 
What we’re actually trying to eliminate is worry. Of course, everyone knows that worry has nothing to do with being involved or participating in solving your problem. Worry is what we do when we stop believing in grace–and grace is what people select when they’re trying to escape worry and mask it with the smirk of faith.
 
What IS the right thing to do when we are presented with the day-to-day difficulties which sometimes seem to overwhelm us? Because removing your own personal responsibility and involvement in your life does not promote mental health. It allows for deception, frustration and laziness to co-exist with each other, creating an atmosphere of desperation. Here’s the truth, friends. I have never seen anyone succeed who is desperate. Certainly we all believe that God’s grace is sufficient for us–but when does God’s grace kick in, when am I supposed to be involved and when does the combination of the two create the necessary energy for resolution?
 
Let me give you a quick four-step process that I hope will help you and certainly does help me in discovering the balance between “doing” and “trusting.”  When any problem or situation arises:
 
1. Understand it. I mean really understand it. Not what you fear it is or what you think it is. And if you’re too close to the situation, get a second and third opinion. Don’t lean to your own understanding when your butt’s on the line. Make sure you comprehend what your dilemma truly is instead of what you might perceive it to be, or even sometimes how it’s presented to you. This is the first step, often ignored because we think our quandary is obvious and does not require us to reflect on the elements of the problem. If the doctor has given me a diagnosis, I need to leave the doctor’s office and go read up on what he has told me. It’s not that I think he’s stupid–it’s that I know he is human and limited by his own education on any given subject. Understand. If you get a bill in the mail from the electric company and it seems large, don’t immediately leap to figuring out how to pay it. Make some calls. Find out why it’s so large. Track down the elements and understand them before you proceed any further. Understanding is like an ointment on a sore wound. It gives you time to escape the pain, to allow healing to begin.
 
2. Evaluate. What are we evaluating? We are taking what we now understand and cross-secting it over to what we know we presently have. Jesus referred to it as “counting the cost.” It is the step necessary in order for human beings to maintain sanity in the midst of adversity. If you receive a charge on your credit card for $500 and you look in your checking account and you see $210, you no longer have a $500 need. You have a $290 need. Subtracting what you are able to do from the problem that you now understand is also part of the healing process for your emotions–which gives you the energy and willingness to pursue. For I will tell you, it is impossible to be successful in life without calming yourself down enough to receive the healing information that “everything’s going to be all right.”
 
3. Provide. Isn’t it interesting that sometimes, after we understand what the problem truly is, and we have evaluated what we have for any given proposition, we sometimes fail to have the energy to provide and give it up? What would have happened if the disciples had not brought the five loaves and two fishes for the five thousand hungry people? What if they had decided on their own that it was completely insufficient, so why even bring it up in conversation? Or what if they concluded that five loaves and two fishes would at least give the twelve of them a little snack? I’ll tell you what would happen. Nothing. And that’s what happens in each of our lives when we fail to provide what we have, convinced that it’s useless–or selfishly trying to save it just in case everything falls apart. There is no feeding of the five thousand without the five loaves and two fishes. God is not going to move without people moving first. You must provide. It’s where faith comes in. Faith is when we take the last cup of what we have and pour it into the bucket of need, giving us a sensation of participation and also leaving plenty of room for God’s contribution.
 
4. And finally–relax. If you truly understand what the situation is, you’ve evaluated your own resources and you’ve provided them into the chasm in front of you by faith, then you can relax–that God’s grace is sufficient to you. For the Bible says that God “will supply all of our NEED.” It does not say NEEDS. It is the singular of the word. We only have one need–and that is the deficit that’s left in our particular piece of difficulty that is still hanging around after we understand, evaluate and provide.
 
The word “covenant” means to be joined together in a common cause. I cannot be in covenant with God and refuse to understand, evaluate and provide. Nor can God be in covenant with me if He does not see my faithfulness and step in to foot the balance of the responsibility. It is a beautiful system if it’s handled correctly. But grace is not believing that we are depraved, desperate and helpless. Grace is when we believe that God has given us the ability to understand, the capacity to evaluate, the desire to provide and then–having done all that–the opportunity to relax in His mercy.
 
You will find many theologians who will disagree with my formula. But dare I say that they have raised up congregations filled with insecure, flinching, judgmental people who are so exasperated by their lack of input in life that they’ve begun to turn the sword of frustration on the world around them. God is smart enough to know how we work. Actually, you and I are smart enough to know to some degree how we function.
 
So take a moment. Understand your true situation. Evaluate the inventory of your potentials. Joyfully provide what you have into the equation, and then relax–knowing that you’re in covenant with a God who can supply your need–that gap between your  provision and your solution.
 
It’s a wonderful system. And in all cases it WILL provide sufficiency, because grace is when we accept what we have, give it over to God and believe that the combination will work.

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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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