Ask Jonathots … June 2nd, 2016

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I keep hearing from pundits that “Americans are angry.” Do you think this is true? If so, what do you think is the source of this frustration?

Every coin has two sides. The problem with America today is a two-sided coin.

This is the source of what most people are referring to as “anger,” which really is nothing more than a tantrum.

Here’s the two-sided coin:

  1. “It’s not my fault.”
  2. “God will take care of it.”

Both of these statements are inherently flawed, and therefore often lead to unsatisfactory conclusions, which can cause people to develop a childish rant.

Let’s start with the first one.

The problems in our lives to some degree always involve our own lacking, procrastination, indifference, laziness or bigotry. If you can convince someone that “it’s not their fault,” then they can start looking for an enemy.

On the other hand, the second assertion–that God will take care of everything–has generated false hope. God did not create anything that does not have to participate in life. Humans are no different.

So it’s not so much that people are angry, but rather, that they’re experiencing the symptoms of seven-year-old tantrums, brought on by the fear of being held responsible or the errant promise of God taking care of everything. When these fail, frustration sets in.

So what can be done about this?

First, we have to stop legitimizing childish behavior. We have to take authority over our lives by admitting our part in the problem.

Then I think we need to teach those who seek a spiritual aspect that God is always prepared to give us wisdom, but rarely offers free checks in the mail.

Just enacting these two simple ideas would remove most of the attitude in this country which we have dubbed “anger,” and would replace it with a new feeling of good cheer, because we would be empowered to negotiate in our own lives instead of always looking for someone to blame or some heavenly being to take over our mess.

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Good Hope… October 26, 2012


Yesterday morning my eyes popped open and it didn’t take me three seconds to realize that the reality I had anticipated being before me two days ago during my planning session had been transformed.

You see, that often happens–because what we planned for Thursday on Tuesday has to pass through Wednesday. If we just understood that, we may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but certainly could avoid stubbornly running into them.

When I made plans on Tuesday, I conceived a leisurely climb into my van and a drive up to Bucyrus, Ohio, to enjoy an Indian summer day and the last of the fall colors, to arrive in my motel where I would relax a bit and chew on some Kentucky grilled chicken with the skin removed (I’m trying to be a good boy…).

But Wednesday the amp that powers my PA system went to be with the Lord. (I know there may be a general disagreement that inanimate objects can find salvation, but after seven years of touring the country and “magnifying” our message, that little piece of electronics SHOULD rest in the bosom of Jesus.)

So detours came to my path. We were required to go to Columbus, enter a music store, purchase a new amp, spend money that we deemed sacred and still try to continue our journey, without feeling as if we were rushed, put out, or stressed.

That’s why, when I arrived at the church last night and discovered the name was Good Hope, I had to smile. I thought to myself, Finally, somebody who gets it. Because even though hope is touted as one of the great virtues of humankind, there are those occasions when it can be a real snotty son-of-a-gun. Hope can deceive us into believing that because we had the fortitude to cast our faith in a particular direction and even come up with an intelligent plan, that our rocket of possibility has been launched to the stars. As you probably know, most rockets fizzle on the pad. So hope can quickly become bad hope. And bad hope is what has infested our country over the past twenty years.

As we keep following the pied piper of new ideas from one location to another, only to discover insufficiency upon our arrival, we have chosen to become cynical, calloused and honestly, overly sophisticated. Hope, which is a noble adventure, has become the new Santa Claus of virtues. It is the “wouldn’t it be nice?” idea that is gradually being thrust into mothballs and stuck into our closet of memories.

It isn’t that we have been tricked into pursuing false hope–many of the things we have tried to acquire have been noble, but they lacked the ingredient necessary to make hope endure.

Understand that hope is the substance of faith. In other words, it’s taking our belief and actually coming up with an idea of how to propel it. But we also must understand that faith works by love, and love is the total comprehension necessary to survive the initial disappointments when our hopes seem to be dashed. Love hangs in there.

No wonder it says, “Now abideth faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.” Love changes hope into good Hope when it threatens to become bad hope. It keeps us from becoming stressed. After all, stress is just our immediate human reaction to having holes poked into our hope. What does love give us? Love reminds us of three things when hope seems to stop being the substantial basis for our faith:

1. Things will change. Remember, wedged between Tuesday and Thursday will be an intrusive Wednesday.

2. God will be there. Sometimes we forget that God is not only a Creator, He is also a Repairer.

3. I will not be afraid. Because love is there, fear becomes unnecessary. Why? Because love has already prepared for fear by being fully aware that failure is possible. After all, you can’t love someone unless you know you will need to forgive them.

I had a terrific day. It wasn’t because everything went well. It was because I went well with everything. I adapted to the change, I joined God in the process, and I kept my fears at bay.

Good hope–it bolsters our faith so that love can keep us in the game … until something wonderful happens.

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