Good News and Better News … November 2nd, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good news Better news Columbus

I drove to Columbus, Ohio, to assist one soul. 483 miles round trip.

It was a decision:

  • If I go, then I’ll know I went.
  • If I don’t, I leave all circumstances to time and chance.
  • If I come up with a good excuse to stay and not go, then I will need evidence I tried–some extraordinary measure that expresses my concern. More than “I’m praying for you.”
  • If I make the journey, I risk expense and exhaustion.

“If, then.”

It got me thinking.

If there is a God, then there is a heaven.

Cool. Covered. Taken care of.

If there is no God, we really still need a heaven.

What is heavenly?

That which promotes life instead of death.

That which allows for my happiness and the happiness of others.

“Love your neighbor” jumps out as an essential ingredient.

How about being “the salt of the earth and the light of the world?”

And let us not forget, “don’t judge people”–or become your neighborhood ass.

Makes sense.

If there is no government to help the poor, then my two dollars, given to the guy on the street, becomes the safety net.

If there is a safety net, I can use my two dollars to help someone who can’t find it.

If there is no solution, then we will need really good diversions to keep us happy.

If there are solutions, then perhaps our task is to make big, easy-to-read signs so people can find the possibilities more easily.

I am not a destination; I am a GPS.

“Where do you want to go?”

That’s what I ask.

“Let’s find a good route.”

If there is no eternity, then it is all happening now.

So perhaps we should just “enjoy the heaven” out of it.

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Three Ways in Three Days to Escape the Maze… September 18, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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maze

Feeling trapped.

It brings out the worst in us.

Once we have the sensation of being a mouse caught in an endless series of twists and turns, we very quickly turn into a rat, clawing at our surroundings.

Perhaps it is a flaw of human character, but we have a tendency to blame others for our limited circumstances in an attempt to avoid the inclination for self-destruction.

It usually falls into three categories:

  1. I don’t like what I’m doing.
  2. I don’t like who I’m doing it with.
  3. I don’t like doing it here.

If you think about it for a moment, these three statements can become the descending path that plummets us into inactivity, depositing us at the bottom, grouchy and unproductive.

So what can we do?

Take three days of your life and try to generate a GPS to escape your maze.

DAY ONE

Set in motion a culture of candor. You will be astonished how much freedom and peace of mind you can achieve simply by stating the facts or trying to live up to your press release.

In a twenty-four hour period, if you will be completely honest about your desires, as long as you’re not attacking people, they will appreciate the revelation.

A culture of candor relieves at least half the burden.

DAY TWO

Show what you mean. Don’t explain what you want, demonstrate it. Create a prototype for your heart’s desire. Even if it’s crude and not exactly to spec, let people know what you want to do.

Let me say, working in the music industry over the years, I have run across two types of individuals who dub themselves “artists.” There are those who believe they are camera-ready and studio suited and they’re just waiting for the big break. And there are those who are tired of waiting for the big break and have found a way to use their talents every single day, to demonstrate their ability, while improving.

If you’re not going to show what you mean, don’t expect people to understand your explanation. We all need a visual.

DAY THREE

And finally, move towards the movement. If you’ve had a day of candor and a day of showing what you mean, a bit of movement will come your way. It may not mirror your final preference, but if you always move toward the movement, something is always moving.

When you feel trapped in your maze, trying to reconnoiter your environment is exhausting because you never know if you’re going in the right direction.

But if you’ll take three days to create a culture of candor, show what you mean and move towards the movement, in no time at all you will begin to understand that there is a way to escape the mundane. 

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G-Pop’s Coming — Part 2 … November 25, 2013

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Learning is what happens when we stop complaining and start believing that what has come our way is usable.

I guess the best way to describe my life is that I have gradually learned how to learn.

In so doing, I have become less critical of others because I understand the aching process involved in transition–but I have also become more motivated to escape the sidelines, nursing my injuries.

When I meet with my family this week and they ask the golden question, “What have you learned?” I’m going to tell them the following six things (of course, one at a time over a space of time, so as not to bore them):

1. People want experience without wrinkles.

Everywhere I go, audiences desire insight, excellence and maturity but because of our culture, they would like to receive it from someone who is young, handsome or pretty. Unfortunately, beauty and youth don’t always coincide well with wisdom and moxie. You have to make up your mind–do you want a beautiful billboard? Or a slightly beat-up but very functional moving truck?

2. The second mile is the new GPS destination.

Sometimes I wonder why people think they can get by doing what everybody else does and still distinguish themselves from the mob. You have to have an edge. You have to have a little extra oom-pah if you’re going to perform in the best polka band.

3. Sophistication is everywhere–and it’s annoying.

Somewhere along the line America has become more demanding than giving. We expect other people to jump through hoops as we feel only the necessity to hold them. We need an innocence in order to create revival–a belief that we haven’t seen everything yet, and what we’re looking for is not necessarily dazzling, just heart-warming and meaningful.

4. Good cheer is the new money.

People are so morose, despondent and out-of-whack that simply coming across with a willingness, a smile and a desire to pursue betterment pushes you to the front of the horde. Good cheer is when you purposely put on the mask of a face you deeply desire to be your own.

5. Indecision is killing us.

I don’t know when we started defining maturity as the act of holding meetings, discussing and deciding nothing. Sooner or later we will need to risk being flawed in order to actually move forward and discover improvement.

6. And the final thing I will tell my family that I learned this year in my journey across this United States is freedom isn’t always right–but it’s never wrong.

Unless you have some sort of belief that the U.S. should be ruled by Christian Sharia law, you have to understand that democracy grants freedom at all costs. This doesn’t mean that the things people select to do are always right, or even moral. It’s just that they’re never wrong–because the freedom exists in this country to do what you deem necessary, as long as you don’t infringe on the rights of others.

I see absolutely nothing in error in a church establishing in its doctrine that certain attitudes or behaviors are appropriate for the message they espouse. But if that same church lobbies for other American citizens to be forbidden to conduct themselves however they deem best, then that church has gone from a personal choice of worship to a position of robbing civil rights from their brothers and sisters.

So there you go. If I were to sum up all six of them, I would say this:

Find yourself, be happy, love people–but leave ’em alone.

That is what G-Pop learned this year as he traveled across this country. I’m in my van, driving to meet those who are willing to be called my kin.

It should be exciting.

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Earth Trek … June 8, 2013

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clouds

But what does that mean? Why hasn’t any man gone before? Is it because they’re lazy? Maybe they’re prejudiced against the natives? Could it be that the GPS is malfunctioning? No money?

But candidly, where would a place exist where no man has gone before?

I guess such an arena might be a sanctuary for honesty instead of making excuses to cover up simple errors that become even more complicated because of the lies.

I guess I’m on a search for a place that has faith instead of relying on tradition and superstition–faith being an actual belief that proves itself by being set in motion instead of just screaming at unbelievers.

Well, I know of a place where no man has been before–it’s where humor is pursued instead of convoluted, made-up drama. (After all, do we really think we’re more important because we complain?)

How about this? I’m in search of an atmosphere of equality instead of men and women fussing with each other to gain dominance in a struggle that ultimately requires both participants to find some sort of agreement.

I think we could find wisdom without going through the painful process of listening to know-it-alls who are constantly backpedaling from former positions because life or Mother Nature has doused their fires.

And of course, my quest leads me to search for life forms who are child-like–simple and fun-loving instead of childish, selfish, bratty and demanding.

So I am on my Earth Trek.

It is one I will continue until such time that I am no longer needed for the mission. To be successful, I will keep my feet on the ground and my head out of the clouds. Because right now they don’t need me in heaven–but it seems that my services might be of some advantage on earth.

  • Earth Trek.
  • I am certainly Captain Quirk,
  • And I will continue my odyssey until the Star Fleet Commander beams me up.

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Stop and Start Traffic … November 21, 2012

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“No thanks.”

Those two words don’t really seem to go together, do they? “No”–which works very hard not to be negative but always ends up part of the nay-saying family; and “thanks”–an expression of gratitude, which always carries some semblance of appreciation. So what is negative appreciation?

Negative appreciation is the infection eating at the soul of our society. (Boy, does that sound strong.) Even though the statement may be a bit overwrought, it’s still true. And as we come into this Thanksgiving season, I am overwhelmed with a sense of awareness that for the average American, going through the gestures of being truly grateful is riddled with many insecurities, misgivings and dare I say, objections. Yet we still feel, at our root, we need to express our awe and wonder. Basically, it becomes nearly impossible to do so when we allow one ugly monster to live inside of us and control our disposition.

Complaining.

As long as we allow an attitude, a spirit or a willingness to complain into our existence, we will never be truly thankful. Because complaining is always the “but” hanging off of the “body” of praise.

  • I am happy, but …
  • I appreciate what you did for me, but…
  • It truly is a beautiful day, but…
  • I love to cook a turkey on Thanksgiving, but…
  • It’s always great to get the family together for the holidays, but…
  • I even enjoy driving in traffic, but…

Somewhere along the line, we have convinced ourselves that we are allowed a disparaging remark to follow our proclamation of joy. Let me give you a definition of complaining:

Complaining is ANY objection to circumstances.

That’s an annoying definition, isn’t it? Some objections are necessary, right? If it’s 1843 and you’re a slave on a plantation in Georgia, objecting–or if you will, complaining about being beaten–would only be logical. But no matter how much basis there may be for your lamentation, it would still be useless, and therefore … just complaining. Because the truth is, you are twenty years away from being set free, and in that twenty years you need to do something with your life other than objecting to your circumstances. Verily, verily, I say unto you, life does not have a suggestion box.

We have given ourselves permission to complain about everything, therefore setting ourselves up to be ignored because often our opinions don’t matter.

I realized in my travels this year that there was still a seed of that disgruntled American spirit in me, which is unfulfilled even in the presence of bounty. I now am walking proof–or maybe limping proof–that bounty can be lessened. Then we have to find a way to survive with our portion.

Complaining is ANY objection to circumstances. It is a waste of time.

It is the fifteen minutes you take setting your GPS when you’re driving five minutes down the road. It’s the extra paragraph you add onto an email sent to your children which you know more than likely will not be read. It is insisting on asking for thirty extra minutes to get dressed for an evening out when the fact is, you’re getting older and becoming prettier is less likely.

Somewhere along the line we have to deal with our circumstances without objecting to them and mollify the world around us by being more intelligent than we are complaining. If we don’t, we never actually feel thankful or grateful–just go through the motions, waiting for an opportunity to point out why something wasn’t exactly “perfect.”

If you want to have a good Thanksgiving this year, stop complaining. Otherwise, you will surface the holiday with platitudes of being conscious of your physical world without ever allowing the true depth of appreciation to reach your heart.

And once you stop complaining, the greatest aid in making that decision stick is to start moving. If something is objectionable, come up with an ingenious plan to move yourself away from it at the earliest possible convenience. Don’t stand in the middle of the fire and wonder why your pants are burning. Don’t sit in the council of the ungodly and lament feeling uninspired. And don’t think you’re going to get around family members who have abandoned many of your ideals and generate a sense of fulfillment and fellowship.

You not only can’t get blood out of a turnip, it is also very difficult to get taste out of one. So stop expecting negative issues to change because of your attitude and instead, start moving away from that which is a deterrent to your peace of mind and cruising in on solutions that satisfy your soul.

I think it’s virtually impossible to be thankful if you don’t stop complaining and start moving. How do we start moving?

1. Decide what you really like.

2 Stop apologizing for liking what you decided.

3. Don’t judge other people’s choices, enjoy your own.

4. Let your happiness be your testimony instead of your complaining becoming your epitaph.

It’s really that simple.

I raised a family. I let them know what I like. Some of them do not share my likes. I love them dearly. I pursue my likes. They can judge for themselves what they feel about it by noting the ecstacy I feel over my pursuits.

Stop objecting to your circumstances and start moving towards environments that make you want to be thankful to the point of gushing to God about His glories. Anything short of that is life with a side order of misery, which only makes you grumpy and unpleasant to be around to those you insist you love the most.

So on Thanksgiving Day, give yourself a wonderful gift. Stop complaining. Don’t object to your circumstances, but instead, start moving toward the things you like without apology, without comment, without fanfare and even without explanation. If you do so, you will end up with a heart that is full of immense appreciation for the goodness of life and the gentleness of your Father, which art in heaven.

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You’re Not Ugly… January 7, 2012

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We made a mistake. We do that every once in a while … just to maintain an obvious profile of needful humility.

On Thursday night we told two ladies where we were going to be on Friday night, but unfortunately, the information we gave to them was incorrect. And also, the starting time of the event was actually a half-an-hour earlier. We didn’t do this to be mean or evasive–we did this because it was our time to establish our quorum of stupidity. When we returned to our motel room we realized our error, but it was too late because we didn’t know who the ladies were or how to get ahold of them.

Move ahead to Friday evening. I was about half-way through our program, in front of the delightful and inspiring folks of Port Charlotte, Florida, when in walked those two charming women whom we had accidently misled. Even though I was singing a song at the time, I had to chuckle in my spirit. I started thinking about what these two individuals had gone through to actually find out where we were, arrive and come through those back doors. First they went to the wrong church, sat in a dark parking lot, coming to the conclusion that this must not be the place. Then, checking all of their GPS information, they came up with the correct location, only to arrive and find that the program had already begun because we told them the wrong time. What remarkable human beings.

So after the program, when I was at my book table, they came up and were so gracious about the whole event that it nearly brought tears to my eyes. As they were about to leave, one of the pair whispered across the table to me.

“And by the way … you’re not ugly.”

Now that might seem like a strange statement unless you understand that in my program I make it clear to the audience that I am not a physically attractive person and being beautiful is not my aspiration. I’ve never had any problem with that. Actually, I’m quite amused with desperate candidates who are always trying to win the beauty contest of life. I work on my love of people, my talent and my flexibility much more than I do my appearance. I’m not ugly–I’m just homely. “Homely” is about two fewer bumps and bruises from ugly, and about a mile and a half down the road from good-looking.

It has actually done me well. For in my case, all the Monica Lewinsky‘s I have encountered have actually wanted to be an intern to my ministry and business–to learn what I know instead of desiring to give me a personal “inter-office memo.” You see, that’s good stuff. (One of the easier ways to avoid sexual misconduct is to be a whole lot less sexually attractive. Then you never have to find out if you’d actually slip-slide away…)

So when she said that to me–“you’re not ugly”–I laughed. She was so sweet and gentle, but it just doesn’t make a whole lot of difference to me. What did register on my awareness scale was her and her friend–making such a noble effort to reconnect with us and spend a few more minutes together before our earth passages end.

Don’t give up on humanity. You may feel free to turn your back on organizations and those who have incorporated their ideas into a cement block–but don’t ever give up on people. For I will tell you two certain things right now: (1) Never over-estimate the willingness of any system to actually adapt to what needs to be done; and (2) never underestimate the power of an individual (or in this case, two) who want to overcome the dorkiness of a system.

There you go. Oh, and I thought of a third one:

By the way … you’re not ugly.

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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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