G-12: Wanting or Willing … February 21, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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baby birdBeing human, I have an ongoing sensation that the world will not be completely set aright until those around me become more concerned and involved with my immediate happiness.

The difficulty with that thought process is that when eight billion individuals are campaigning for their own cause, you create collisions instead of promoting cohesion.

Matter of fact, if you’re in a room with ten people and there isn’t at least one person who abandons his own selfish intention to bring about a treaty of peaceful coexistence, the silent warring that goes on among the members will stall all progress and promote an atmosphere drenched in stress.

I don’t think anybody would disagree with that. Yet the reason nothing is done to improve this standoff is that we are convinced that it’s natural to be unnaturally contrary.

Actually, we don’t actually see the results of evolution in our lifetime because it is several generations before one single transformation emerges. Blinded by our own ambition and completely unaware of the need for change, we stubbornly pursue the status quo, selfishly.

But if you’re of a mind to consider something revolutionary, you might want to contemplate the difference between wanting and willing.

If you’re a person who is absorbed in the quest of wanting, you always end up with the same three questions:

  1. Why did this happen?
  2. Why isn’t it better?
  3. What am I going to do?

On the rare occasion that plans work out to spec, you will find yourself happy. And the ninety-five percent of the time when your calculations are altered, you will revert back to this trio of nonsense.

The transformation to becoming willing is not adding a divine aspect to our nature. Rather, it is allowing our nature to accept the fact that divine conclusions will come if we just allow time and chance to work in our favor.

Here are three other questions sprouted by a willing heart:

  1. Do I understand what has really happened?
  2. What do I have?
  3. Where is the starting line?

It is an advanced form of common sense that slows life down so that the subtle changes become more visible instead of whisking by quickly, oblivious to new possibilities.

Wouldn’t it be fascinating if the great evaluation of human life in the eternity of eternities ends up being a single question: were we just wanting or were we willing?

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Acts-I-Dent… May 22, 2013

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dentAmazing grace is only amazing if it helps us find a way to stop being so stupid.

Even though I am very grateful for grace, mercy and forgiveness, somewhere along the line, I would like to grow up, mature a little bit and not always be standing in the bread line of neediness. If you don’t agree with this, I understand. There are many religious AND non-religious people who find submission to inadequacy to be appealing–or maybe even the definition of humble. I happen to think that you don’t get the CHANCE to be humble until you do something great.

So you see, on Monday when I backed my van into a truck, denting my door (see above picture), I did not feel humbled by the experience because I did NOT achieve anything great.

What I would like to describe is the process my brain unleashed following this little piece of idiocy. When I felt the thump of making contact with the pick-up truck, I thought:

1. “Oh, crap.” Truthfully, it wasn’t crap–but for the sake of discussion, let us keep that word. It is my normal reaction to difficulty. I have not become a supernatural being who welcomes adversity because it builds patience and character.

2. “Oh, no.” The realization came very quickly: I was entering a world of insurance companies, phone numbers, complaints–and fussiness. I hate those places. Sometimes I pursue extra work just to make sure I don’t have to do THAT work. So realizing I was now in an unwelcome realm, I moved to:

3. “Oh–who or what  can I blame?” Let’s be honest–no one wants to look like a loser, so even when we do loser things, we want to make sure that everybody thinks we are winners doing loser activities. To achieve that requires some back-pedaling and manipulation of the story. But since I don’t like to blam eother people for my mistakes, I had a fourth notion, which was:

4. “Oh. Where can I run?” I don’t have very good legs at this point, so escaping the scene of the accident was unlikely (unless I was being trailed by a herd of turtle-constables). So in that split second, when all these conflicting thoughts were jockeying for attention, the first viable inclination surfaced:

5. “Oh. I’m not gonna lie.” I was not going to tell the guy I hit that it was his fault because he hit my rear end. I’ was not going to tell my friends in the van that it was their fault because they distracted me. The cleanliness of that notion quickly took me to:

6. “Oh, It’s my fault.” Okay, okay–no one likes to say it. But the sooner we get to that freeway of understanding, the faster we can exit from our calamity. It was my fault. I can give you excuses. I can tell you I was tired. I can tell you I should have already been in my room instead of out shopping. I might even get your sympathy. But my series of explanations would never get your respect.

It was my fault. And I have the dent to prove it.

That wonderful admission to myself brought about another reassuring ointment to my mind and heart:

7. “Oh–I’ll survive.” I always have. There’s no reason to think this is the one that’ll take me down. Not until I am unconscious, flying away to eternity, will I run across a problem which is beyond my power–based upon my willingness to adjust.

I was not proud of my stupidity. I don’t ask God’s grace to cover it. God’s pretty busy in Oklahoma right now. What I want is to tell you is that the Acts that I put forth Dented my van.

It was me. I am better because I survived the seven-step process–which only lasted two or three seconds in my mind–to finally land in the reality that I will “never be left nor forsaken.

Stop being afraid of the truth and give yourself a chanceto be made free.

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Dissatisfaction… October 7, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

The unknown.People who believe they understand the unknown are plagued with the curse of arrogance instead of blessed with the abundance of faith. For after all, faith gently permits hope but fiercely avoids certainty. It is what causes us to be faithful instead of self-assured.

I have many unknowns. I occasionally will awaken with a pain–and at my age, the mind races towards more dismal possibilities. If I take a moment to regain my sanity, I can laugh at my own jumping to conclusions and merely move on, realizing that most discomfort is temporary.

I don’t like to join into conversations about heaven–not because I lack a desire to go there or because I am secretly agnostic about its existence. It’s just that when I hear folks trumpet their testimony and support for the supernal, it rings of a bit of insincerity and maybe even hidden anxiety about the presence of eternity. Yes, it’s true–often the louder we talk, the less we truly believe.

Again–the unknown.

For instance, I don’t know what you’re going to do next. I neither control it nor do I particularly affect it. Anticipation is what we do when we have decided what people should be pursuing, audaciously making out a “things to do today” list for them and become quite disappointed when they wad it up and throw it away. Most arguments between friends are not based upon an actual occurrence, but rather, a general feeling of disapproval over the failure of one person to comply with the other person’s demands.

I heard someone once say that there’s a “world of the unknown” out there. Actually that’s not true. The world is something that we CAN understand–we are able to discern the face of the sky and pretty well forecast what will fall from above. But strangely enough, we often become the most pompous about the things that are NOT of this world, and fuss with those who disagree with our conclusions. For instance, those of the Hindu faith would be greatly disappointed if they discovered they were not returning to earth again in some new incarnation. On the other hand, most Christians would be very surprised if they came back as a fox instead of walking streets of gold.

So we stomp, argue and insist. But no one really knows. No matter how much you try to point to testimonials of those who claim to have come back from the dead, the fact of the matter is, they always tend to share a rendition of what they saw in the afterlife that is very similar to what they were taught here. We know that can’t be true. The Bible says that “eye hath not seen nor ear heard” what God has prepared for those who believe in Him. So if it ends up being an exact replica of what has already been written, it certainly would smack of the mediocre.

There are so many unknowns. What will be the next virus to invade our world? Will Iran and Israel make peace, or continue to throw rocks at each other over a poorly constructed fence?

This subject came to my attention the other day when I was backing out of a parking lot in my van, and in my blind spot was a pick-up truck which was perched behind me–double parked and awaiting another available space. Honestly, I did not see the truck, so as I backed up, there was a long blast from his horn. I quickly stopped.

I didn’t think anything more about it, until I began to leave the parking lot and an older gentleman stepped in front of my van. He was angry. I glanced over and realized that he was the owner of the pick-up truck which had just honked. He demanded that I roll down my window. So I did, and with a red-jowled, angry face, he challenged my driving skills and wondered “what the hell I was trying to do.”

I was not expecting this. I did not know why he was so angry. But you see, I had been spending some time with myself, which is the most important “known” factor you can actually deal with in life. In the past, I would have been angry that HE was angry and we would have exchanged an unfulfilling conversation ending in rage. He explained to me the obvious, which was that I almost backed into him.

I replied, “I’m so glad you were paying attention. We needed ONE of us to! Thank you for doing that.”

He was completely disarmed. I don’t know what he wanted; I don’t know what he envisioned. His motivations are completely unknown to me. Therefore, honestly, I don’t care. Maybe he had a bad morning. Maybe he just came from the doctor’s office and was diagnosed with cancer. Maybe his wife burned his eggs and for the forty-fifth time this year he had to eat them without saying a word. I have no idea and once again–it doesn’t make any difference.

Because I will tell you truthfully–there are only two knowns that I make my concern: my space, my face.

After all, if there ends up being no God and just a grave, I will only be remembered for how I handled my space and what disposition I selected to display on my face.

I can’t control your space and when I do, I am always made to look foolish, and liberty wins the day and curses my interference.

I certainly have no authority over your face and if I suggest that you may be offering a disconsolate countenance to the world around you, you will not only consider that an intrusion, but actually may deepen the furrows on your brow.

After all the unknowns are set aside and placed intelligently into the hands of more divine ability, I am left with my space and my face.

I surprised myself a little bit when I had this encounter with the frustrated gentleman in the parking lot. I was amazed that I felt no wrath or desire to hurt him. I just wanted to move on.  I wanted to quickly admit that I was unable to see him, he did a good thing–and because of that, we were not exchanging the numbers of our insurance companies.

My space. My face.

Here’s what I do know:

My space is peace. I will not fight with you. I will not try to hurt you. I will not try to impart anything to you that hasn’t been tested and proven in my own soul to be beneficial. Then, when I do share it, I will do so as an offering instead of a demand.

My face is joy. Joy is a resolute happiness that continues in a desired path, even when others have abandoned it for the latest craze.

You may continue to debate the unknown and contend that you have some sort of authority over things beyond your fingertips. I would rather indulge in the power of dissatisfaction about the supernatural and instead, take care of my space and my face.

And in case you didn’t hear me the first time, and for all my lifetime to come:

May it be clear to one and all–my space is peace and my face is joy.

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Don’t Get Confused … July 17, 2012

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Driving along on Interstate 40 towards Knoxville, Tennessee, I was confronted with a billboard which read, “Where will you spend eternity?”

I had an immediate answer. “I don’t know.”

Now, before you start trying to evangelize me to grant me eternal security and awareness of my heavenly destination, let me explain that I do have aspirations, desires and even requests on where I would like to spend the afterlife. But since Jesus, himself, told us to”make sure our hearts were not troubled on the issue, and we only have stories, promises and opinions, I think it could be considered a classic waste of time to deliberate such a question. Matter of fact, I will go so far as to say it is the festering sore on the backside of humankind–our preoccupation with the future, life after death and what’s going to happen next. I have written on this issue many times, but I continue to be surrounded by those who feel it is all right for them to be inconsiderate in the moment as long as they are pursuing a path to consider what is best in the future.

It’s annoying.

I would like to set this to rest. I think to be halted between two opinions–one being that humans have complete free will and the other contention that there is a perfect will of God in which we all should try to center our lives–is what makes us totally inept, if not comical. I guess I don’t care which side you choose, but I would request that you cease to believe that humans have free will and then continue to worry about what God may have in store for the future.

If I have free will, there IS no future. It has yet to be determined by my next action. Even if you want to believe that God is all-knowing about what I will do next, you must admit that if He is going to honor His system, He somehow or another has to at least pretend that He is experiencing my choice for the first time.

But I’m not concerned about God’s part in this process, but rather, my involvement. We should be suspicious of destiny–a philosophy that really found its origin in fairy tales and is now being introduced into the realm of basic human logic and interaction. Perhaps Snow White was always meant to be a Queen–or was that Cinderella?  Perhaps they were pre-destined and merely went through some obstacles to be rescued in the end and reinstated to their purposes. But that’s why they call it a fairy tale–because it’s not true.

I am not destined to be anything. Even though I’ve lived a life of being a father, a writer, a composer and traveling troubadour, if I want to, I can go out and take a rifle and kill twelve people tomorrow–and become known as a serial killer. I can choose that. I can select to change my image at my own will–and it isn’t because I was destined to eventually become a serial killer. It’s because my gift of free will allows me to be spiritually motivated instead of manipulated. Yes, I choose to love God instead of loving God because He chooses me to do so.

So I just wanted to take a few moments today to see if I can help you to get through this nasty piece of confusion that continues to insult humanity by introducing falsehoods and fairy tales into what could be a really exciting life.

1. There is no destiny. There’s just opportunity. Once you comprehend that life is about asking, seeking and knocking instead of sitting, watching and waiting, you not only begin to fathom the power of the gospel of Jesus, but you actually tap into the natural energy and karma in our world. What happens next is how effectively I use what I have to my advantage.

2. There are no thoughts–just thoughtful. This is why Jesus told his disciples to “take no thought for the morrow.” How do I get myself in trouble? When when I have down time, begin to analyze my situation and how it relates to my perceived future. I become frantic, I worry, I may even tear up because I think there’s a futility to my pursuits. In my ridiculous nature, I might consider these times to be rich with ideas and introspection, but really, it’s a complete waste of time, because unless I use this particular moment effectively, my thoughts will take me nowhere but despair. I will tell you of a certainty that no one ever thinks himself into repentance. Nobody ever thinks himself into rejuvenation. We just normally think ourselves into a tizzy. That’s why the beautiful brain you’ve been given is supposed to conjure ideas about how to be thoughtful–right now. How can I express, in a physical way, my feelings of joy to the world around me–in this second? That’s what the brain is for. If you hire your mind to do anything else other than act in the moment’s possibility, it begins to think it has more power than it was intended to possess. No thoughts, my friend. Just thoughtful.

3. And finally, no future. Just now. There is no future. What is going to happen tomorrow is being determined right now by my choices. God comes along for the ride. It is similar to the game we used to play with our children when we told them that they could make all the decisions for the day–where we were going to go, what we were going to eat and what we were going to do. For this particular exercise in fun to succeed, we had to get rid of all of our adult preconceptions, become childlike and go for it. This is exactly what God does. Our Father, who has given us life, does not suddenly snatch it back from us when we begin to make choices that are different from what He might consider to be fruitful.

There is either free will or we are creatures of pre-destination. The in-between state that we try to propagate in our pop culture not only is erroneous, but causes us to run into walls in the dark. I am deciding the future by my choices in the present. It’s as simple as that.

I had a new grandson born last week. What will he become? Well, some folks get that far-off look in their eyes and say, “It’s in God’s hands.”  It isn’t. It’s in his mama’s and papa’s, family’s, friends’–and mostly, it’s in his own hands. What little Johann is going to turn out to be is eventually going to be up to emerging Johann.

And hopefully, if we learn to respect our humanity and the power of our lives, in that process we will often stumble into the whims of God. There is no future–just now.

So I don’t want you to get confused. And even though there are those who will argue with this position, in the midst of their discourse about my error in theology or reasoning, they will collide into so many contradictions that they will eventually end their report by saying, “Well, much of it is a mystery.”

Feel free to pursue life as a mystery–but please allow me and others like myself to pursue it as an adventure. In the long run, you will understand that an adventure is much preferable to a mystery.

Don’t get confused. There is no destiny, just opportunity; no thoughts, just being thoughtful, and no future–just now.

So go and enjoy your day, knowing that it is truly your day, and it is one that God has made available for you–to revel in your free will.

   

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Not Really Evil … April 29, 2012

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In Los Angeles

When two dreams are separated and ignored, what lies between is a nightmare–a surrender to sleep, devoid of rest.

Such was my life for a season. About twenty years ago I stopped traveling. I ceased writing. I refrained from sharing. I removed creativity, suffocating my dreams. I settled into the San Francisco Bay area in a motel room with my wife and three children and attempted forced domestication. I worked the “dead man’s shift” at the front desk of the same motel to cover my expenses.

I was at that position late one night when he walked in the door. I had heard rumors from the maids and maintenance staff that he had checked into room 214 and was planning on staying a while, but it seemed so unlikely that I dismissed it as idle chatter. But all at once, in the night hours, he came strolling in, looking for a book of matches.

It was Evil Knievel. I didn’t know much about him. I mean, I had a cursory understanding of his fame and the bold endeavors he had undertaken by leaping over things with his motorcycle. So I was a bit starstruck and dumbfounded at the same time. I fumbled around, found him some matches and he stood there, staring at me, saying nothing. It was very intimidating.

I wanted to speak or maybe even ask a question, but each idea I formed in my mind was more stupid and comical than the previous, so I pretended to be working on some figures behind the desk–as he continued to stare. He only stayed for ten minutes. During that time he asked me three questions.

1. “Have you always been fat?” (That one was easy. I said “yes” and then began a sentence to explain, trailing off prior to verb usage.)

2. “Does the motel offer anything other than Danish for breakfast?” (Another easy answer. We didn’t. We wouldn’t. We can’t. And we shouldn’t. All the excuses I had been provided.)

3. And finally, he said, “What’s your name and what in the hell are you doing here?” (He tricked me with a two-part question. Through my flustered condition, I still was able to retain my name–Jonathan Richard Cring–but I was not sure what I was doing there, though I couldn’t confirm it was hell. But in a strange burst of boldness, I flipped it. “Let me ask you, Mr. Knievel. What in the hell are YOU doing here?”)

He gave a quick laugh which turned into a smoker’s cough, with a long clearing of the throat. “Damned good question, my man,” he said. He turned on his heel, walked out, disappeared around the corner and I never saw him again. About three weeks later he checked out of the motel and I followed his career enough to know that he had a couple of come-backs over the next few years before he took his final leap over the River Styx into eternity.

But in that brief visitation with this man, who had achieved such great fame and now was discussing breakfast choices, I realized that I had escaped down a hole simply because it appeared in front of me. I had decided that traveling around the country with my family, sharing a message of hope and love, was a bizarre thing for a father to do and that I was tired of being out of the box. I wanted to be normal. So I settled in and began to live in a motel, which in itself was extraordinarily abnormal. So here I was, trying to please an existing social system that was not of my heart or making, and even though I had forsaken all of my sense of calling and the energy which rattled my soul to excellence, I had still fallen short of the demands of my culture. What a fool. Just like Evil Knievel, I was hiding away because the hideaway was made available.

It was shortly after that visit that I packed my bags up and took my family back out on the road to reestablish our identity, such as it was. Because life does not consist of a marching army of conformed troops adorned in the same uniform. Life is a personalized journey through a wilderness, where survival is contingent on using what is available while maintaining the best attitude you possibly can.

Evil walked through my door that night–but he really wasn’t so bad. He wasn’t mean. Evil wasn’t out to get me. The main thing I will remember about Evil is that he was lonely. Loneliness is what we’re left with when we follow a voice that is not our own, which ends up not being God.

For after all, respectability is achieved when my needs are covered and you are happy over my choices. Contentment is when my needs are supplied … and I am happy with my choices.

  

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