A Moving Experience… August 30, 2012

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I didn’t expect to stay this long.

When I arrived in Michigan twenty-four days ago, I had a full calendar of events taking me all over the central and eastern parts of the state. I devised a plan. I was going to move to a new headquarters every Monday, nearer to my business and engagements. But when I arrived in Lansing I found lodging so well-suited to our needs that I took a closer look at my plan and realized that I was already centrally located, and could just drive out to fulfill my obligations. So I settled into this one place for the past twenty-four days, which gave me my requirements, and I jettisoned myself around the Wolverine State via my van.

But today is moving day. It is time to move closer to Detroit where I can finish up my tour of this delightful location with these blessed people.

Moving day used to be a problem. You can imagine–if you had to lift your life out of your home every seven days, put it in a van and travel down the road to a new abode to set up camp, it could be a maneuver filled with indecision, frustration, labor and strife. Let’s look at those four things: indecision, frustration, labor and strife. Anyone over the age of ten will quickly inform you that all of those things are unpleasant, if not useless. But still we pursue them. Doggone it, sometimes we even feel grown-up, mature and sacrificial because we suffer through them.

I don’t agree. I sat down one day and looked at the things that made moving difficult, and rather than accepting them as my lot, I changed them. It really all boiled down to having just too many things to carry. So I made two important steps: I got rid of what I did not need and I incorporated the rest into fewer containers.

For instance, we were carrying around five clothes bags for our stage outfits. Clothes bags are not suitable for long-term travel. They are difficult to get into and they don’t exactly keep your clothing wrinkle-free. We got rid of the bags and substituted a lovely clothes trunk with wheels. We fold them up nicely, and when it is time to use them, we remove them and iron them as required. We also had our food and utensils spread through too many bags. I simplified that by moving into one case on wheels, also. So eventually, what used to take three or four hours to pack up can now be achieved in about forty minutes.

It removes the dread from my head. And when you take the dread from your head and instead, move towards solutions, you clean up mental pollution. You stop being afraid. It’s powerful.

So I woke up this morning looking forward to a move. Of course, something will come up that I am not expecting, but as long as it’s not mingled with my own inefficient disorganization, it probably won’t take me down.

I bring this up today not because I think you are horribly interested in my packing patterns. It is because I would like to introduce you to a simple four-step process for anything you will ever do in your life.

1. Have fun. If you think that such advice is cute and trivial, then you don’t understand anything about what makes our journey on Planet Earth successful. If you don’t find a way to make things fun, you will remove the joy from your existence–and the Bible makes it clear that “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” (No wonder most people look like they’re exhausted and it’s only eight-thirty in the morning…)

2. Make a plan. It doesn’t mean you’ll get to use it. It just relieves your brain of the tension of believing that everything is hanging out in the air without any resolution. Jesus said you should “count the cost.” Sit down and figure out what you can do, what you can’t do, what might come up, what has come up in the past–and blend it all together into a concise idea that you can pursue … while having fun.

3. Keep it easy. The minute you begin to complicate your life, you are mingling your arrogance about your talent with the unpredictability of Mother Nature. Jesus said that his yoke, which is basically his way of doing things, is easy–and his burden is light. The contortions that religionists put their congregations through in the pursuit of divine favor may truly be the only thing worthy of hell. Keep it easy. Don’t flatter yourself by thinking that you can handle it if it becomes hard. You can’t.

4. And finally, don’t worry. I was trying to think of a mental process or reaction that was more worthless than worry. I decided that a tie for first place might be wishing. But I still think worry would beat it out. Worry is the fussiness of simultaneously believing that life “should be easier” while trying to make it harder. Talk about double-minded! Jesus said,“Take no thought for tomorrow.” Don’t worry. And don’t come back with some cute little phrase like, “That’s easy for you to say. You don’t have my problems.” I not only have had your problems, I’ve had mine. The Bible tells us there is no temptation that is not common to all men. Worry is what we decide to do when we really don’t want to do anything about something that demands effort.

So there you go. As I move out of my Lansing location and travel to Detroit today, I am fully implementing this quartet of possibilities.

  • I will have fun.
  • Because I have made a plan.
  • And even though that plan may change, I am still going to keep it easy.
  • And I refuse to complicate the myriad of twists and turns of life by worrying.

This applies to everything. It would even apply to solving the economic problems in this country–that is, if we had Republicans and Democrats who could have fun with each other, make a plan, keep it easy and not worry.

A moving experience–it happens every time I go from Point A to Point B without becoming frightened about Point Z, looming in the distance.

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

Deciding… January 5, 2012

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Fear is the womb that births all indecision.

What makes us afraid?

It is the monsters we chased from our childhood closets, which now have mysteriously found “home” in our adult minds. Most people think the important thing is deciding to do right. Actually, the more valuable choice is landing on the right way to decide. 

I think there are six things that prompt us to “decide,” and the quality of your decisions will be based on which one of these frightens you–or excites you.

1. What’s up? There are many folks who make all of their major directional changes based on the climate of society, the mood of their surroundings or the popular choices of the day. They are literally “blown by the wind.” They move from one thing to another based upon the fad of the moment. They are at the mercy of trends. Of course, we know what the problem is with such a profile. What is presently in vogue will, within a matter of days or weeks, be considered foolish. So if you’re making your decision based on “what’s up,” half the time you’ll be hidden within a  host of adherents and the other half of the time, you’ll be considered out-dated and meaningless.

2. What’s proper? Propriety always harkens to a former time. Former times tend to bring habits to the forefront that are repetitive but not necessarily good. Bad habits breed repression. Repression welcomes sin–and sin ushers in a premature death. Making your personal choices based upon what is proper also puts you at the mercy of the opinion of the strongest and loudest screamer instead of the still, small voice of reason.

3. What’s hard? This is a tricky one–because some people avoid hard things and other people welcome them, feeling they’re very mature because they’re taking on difficult tasks. Can we make something clear? A thing is not better just because it’s harder to do. “Hard” is just a level of fussiness which exists, awaiting an intelligent mind to simplify it. Doing things the hard way is basically admitting you’re stupid–because if any “smarts” existed, a more proficient and easier path would be found.

4. What’s God’s will? This is the one that really makes me laugh. There are people who believe that through prayer, Bible reading or meditation, they are able to make decisions in their lives based upon their discernment of God’s will. This is scary. When I look back over the history of the Crusades and other causes launched in the name of God, a shudder goes down my spine at the notion of anyone believing they are tapping the present daily schedule of the Almighty to find the best approach in any given matter. Actually, God’s will is very simple.  It is: love your neighbor as yourself. And since love and fear cannot coexist and being uncertain of who your neighbor is might stall the process, and an unwillingness to embrace one’s own abilities and emotions could be a deterrent to the conclusion, those very religiously based individuals certainly will find God’s will a bit beyond their groping.

So there are the first four. As you probably can tell, I don’t favor any of them.

  • I will not decide anything based on the vox populi.
  • I certainly cannot condone moving forward on an idea solely determined by its propriety.
  • I am not inclined to pursue a project on the basis of how hard it is–either as a punishment to myself or a proof of my prowess.
  • And honestly, being a mere mortal, accessing God’s will in every matter really is just a case of playing “hot potato.” Because every time I try to toss it off to God, He throws it back my way.

That leaves the final two–and as you probably have guessed, this pair tends to be my favorite.

5. What’s next? Let’s be honest. There is a natural order to things which we sometimes deny because we have pet concepts we want to push to the forefront and often they tend to be out of the flow. On any given day, I know exactly what needs to be done first, second and third, but I may not want to do those things so I pretend they’re unimportant. Life pretty well gives you a “things to do today list,” which you can either ignore or put off–but it doesn’t mean they won’t reappear the following morning. There’s a power in knowing what’s next. Here’s my criterion for what’s next: Of what I presently can do or am willing to do, what is going to create the greater happiness? I will never choose to be unhappy. Even if I am inflicted by disease, my particular attitude will be to move towards happiness and contentment. If you want to know what’s next, find out what’s going to make you happy. If you remove happiness from your life because you think it is unnecessary or unachievable, you are at the mercy of society, propriety, difficulty or a misinterpretation of God’s will. Not a good place to be.

So even when I look at what’s next, I also ask myself, “Is this going to make me and other folks happy?” If the answer is “no,” I am suspicious that this intruder has jumped in line and is not really the next thing I’m supposed to deal with.

6.  And finally, what’s fun? In some ways, we were smarter when wearing short pants. When we were children, we pursued things that were fun and ended up at the end of the day well-exercised, giddy, exhausted and with many friends. What scares away excitement, giddiness and people? Any assertion that fun is not necessary. Because if you’re choosing “what’s next” based on being happy, then deciding what’s fun is just the procedure of making your happiness obvious. If you ask most people if they’re happy, they will say “yes” —  as they frown at you. I just happen to believe that happiness is better expressed through visibly having fun.

As we travel across the country, people will often explain to us that they have to make a decision on whether to have Spirited come into their church. I listen to the tone of their voices.

For some, it’s about, “What’s up?” In other words, “Is this in the flow of our people and will they think it’s a good thing?”

With others, it’s, “What’s proper? Is Spirited going to come in and suggest things we are not presently doing–that might be different?” It’s amazing to me that people expect to have revival in their churches without doing anything new.

Some people want to know if hosting Spirited is going to be hard. They’re afraid there might be a level of difficulty that may surpass their abilities, or that we might make it so easy that they will feel no sense of achievement.

And of course, there are those who think it has to be God’s will. You know, folks, I don’t think I could have traveled for forty years if I didn’t have God as my main investor.

Here’s what I think the basis of every decision should be: What’s next? Is it going to make myself and other folks happier? And: What’s fun? Is that happiness going to be obvious and make us grow into becoming more fruitful individuals?

The first four on our list are decisions based on fear. The last two are decisions of grown-up people who have chased away all the demons — and no longer believe in the Bogey Man.

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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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