Balder … April 18, 2013

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hatI like hats.

I think I always have liked hats, even though I don’t remember wearing one until I was into my mid-thirties. Before that age, I took great pride in having hair. Matter of fact, in my twenties I grew it down to my shoulders and flipped it in the air when I sang, pretending I was Roger Daltry from the Who onstage at Woodstock, although obviously metabolically challenged.

But as I lost my hair I started wearing hats, the premise being that if you covered up the disappearing area of locks, people would not know that you were actually bald and you could still pull off being extraordinarily youthful and virile.

But I always ran into one problem: sooner or later you have to take your hat off.

Even though I would arrive at my engagements and set up for my show wearing a hat, it was generally considered inappropriate to sport one during the presentation. So actually, donning the beanie on top of my head for the first part of the event made the removal of the same more noticeable–and truthfully, I ended up looking … balder.

I know that sounds odd. But if people don’t know what’s under your hat, when you do finally expose it, it’s even more shocking. So about four or five years ago I stopped wearing hats so as not to send unnecessary electrical waves through the minds of those who meet me. Instead I establish my baldness from the beginning and never have to appear balder.

It’s a powerful idea–and can be applied in so very many ways.

About eight years ago I lost eighty-one pounds. I was VERY, VERY fat. I succeeded in shedding enough tonnage that I became just VERY fat. At that point there was one remaining goal–don’t get fatter. Traditionally, those who lose weight put all their weight back on. So even though I may be fat my whole life, I don’t have to get fatter. There is a certain regality to that which I shall rejoice in, even as I attempt to address losing additional ounces.

You want to know what the problem is with being angry? No one takes the advice of the Bible, which states, “Be angry and sin not.” So instead of getting angry and getting over it, we try to put a hat on it–a lid–and in the process, we become angrier.

Have you ever been hurt? If we’re not able to express the emotion of that pain, crying out some of the frustration, there is a great danger that people who are hurt become hurters.

We have a decision to make. Are we going to take what we are and share it from a pure heart, unashamed, or are we going to put a hat on it and pretend for a while that we really don’t have a problem?

Because I will tell you, I sin–but I am not a sinner. A sinner is someone who attempts to hide from what is done by sporting some fig leaves over the problem area, and end up looking more ridiculous.

  • I am bald–but I will not wear a hat, cover up, and end up looking balder.
  • I am fat, but plan on being conscientious enough not to become fatter.
  • I have been hurt, but I am going to work it out to keep myself from becoming a hurter.
  • I can’t lie to you–I do get angry. But I express it so I don’t become angrier.
  • And God and I both know that I sin. But I like to let my Daddy know when I break a vase in the house, so I don’t become a sinner, hiding out in my room and missing out on the blessings of the household.

So I am bald. But ironically enough, if I try to hide it under my hat, it really does become … a hairy situation.

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Peace with the Pieces… March 10, 2013

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piecesIt was odd.

I was suddenly overwhelmed by the notion of my own inadequacy.

Thinking about the sharing I would be doing tomorrow morning at Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, I was confronted with my lacking. I am a bald, aging man with limited mobility, who has suffered–or at least struggled–with obesity all my life.

To say that I feel humbled by the notion of offering exhortation, edification or even insight into the lives of others would be an oversimplification of my vacancy. I don’t know whether anybody is worthy to be a voice crying in the wilderness–especially entrusted with the concept of challenging people to “prepare the way of the Lord and make His paths straight.”

Somehow or another it seems prudent for me to straighten some of my own paths before instructing others in path-straightening.

But what does that mean? Am I to sit around and wait until I am a worthy representation of goodness in order to praise goodness, point to goodness or even stand in awe of what goodness can do?

I am pieces, trying to make peace with myself.

I am chunks of what could be a whole, but doesn’t really promise to ever coagulate.

I am an incomplete vessel who really has only one responsibility–don’t lie about my insufficiency. Don’t exaggerate my qualification. And don’t pretend to be anything other than the subtotal of my pieces.

When my knees gave out on me late last year, I thought my time  of speaking in front of audiences and pouring out my heart was over. I honestly did not want to be a disgrace to the kingdom of God through my weakness. I was determined to develop an excuse for escaping my continued participation in the unification of the human spirit with the presence of God by pulling up lame–literally.

Maybe it’s just that I felt stupid. Maybe “wheeling” my way in front of an audience to hobble to my keyboard was just a little too much hyperbole of uselessness.

I don’t know. It wasn’t that I wanted to quit. It just seemed that quitting was an honorable thing. Make room for someone who’s more … whole.

And then I remembered the words that God said to Adam in the Garden when his little buddy was hiding among the fig leaves.

“Why are you hiding?”

“I’m hiding because I’m naked,” said Adam.

“Who told you that you were naked?” asked God.

Yes–who told me I was unworthy? Who told me I was weak and beyond redemption? Who told me that it was time to graze in the grass instead of  shepherding people to greener pastures?

I did.

I decided what was righteous.

I decided what was beautiful.

I decided what was marketable.

God hasn’t worked with me for these many years and seen me crash and bounce to the earth to not allow me to continue to speak my mind.

I’m finding ways to be at peace with my pieces. For after all, being complete is over-rated. When we express our weakness, those around us perceive us as stronger by the confession. When we pronounce our strengths, yet obviously sprout flaws, we are only made weaker by our boasting.

I come to you in pieces, trying to find a way to have peace with them.

You can decide … whether it’s worth hearing.

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Slick and Slack … December 4, 2012

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Jon Signing

Sin or hypocrisy. Which one is worse? Or maybe those two words are too old-fashioned or medieval for you.  How about error or cover-up?

The trouble with human beings is that we are more comfortable with hypocrisy than we are with sin.

Not so with God.

Matter of fact, we are told that He does not look on the outward appearance but instead, does an inventory of the human heart. People, on the other hand, don’t hang around long enough to register our intentions or faltering, but instead, leap upon the action and focus on the dynamic.

The end result? We are taught from a very early age that it’s better to lie our way out of a situation than it is to own up to our mistakes and move forward in the learning process granted to us through the experience.

It really is the difference between cutting yourself slack and cutting yourself slick. When we cut ourselves slick, we come to the decision that we have done something that is not particularly savory to the appetite of the human family so we quickly begin to find some deceptive way to avoid being exposed. Matter of fact, I think some folks would say it’s just human nature to hide under our “fig leaves” of misconception. When we cut ourselves slack, we’re using the God-given intelligence we were provided to choose the moment to unveil our own inadequacy and confess it before someone else puts a spotlight on us and turns us into the next sideshow.

This leads to an interesting possibility–for we are told that “if we confess our faults one to another, we can be healed.” So does that mean the lack of confession produces illness? It sure appears to do so, doesn’t it–whether it’s emotional turmoil, mental distress or our actual immune system breaking down because of struggle, rendering us physically ill.

So let me be candid with you and tell you that I think I’m going to follow the heart of God in this matter instead of the teachings that were instilled into me by my culture, growing up in Central Ohio. I would much rather tell you about my foibles and stumbles, selecting the wording and staging of such a confession at my own pace and leisure instead of having you drag me into the streets and beat it out of me.

I don’t know why people want to “cut themselves slick” and end up sliding down to a hellish conclusion on their own greasy path. It’s just better to cut yourself some slack. Realize that whatever you’ve done wrong has been done before, repented of and has been redeemed–so if you are brilliant enough to get ahead of the horde, you will survive also.

I don’t know if I can convince many people to abandon the American predilection towards lying, but I will guarantee you that if you cut yourself slack, to be honest, you will not find yourself humiliated by cutting yourself slick and ending up exposed.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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