PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … February 22nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog



Practicing My Kick

I can still do something

After failure has given me astart

My gifts may be fewer

Or may be a bit tired

Yet they remain

Faithfully the same

I cannot judge myself

By the value adhered to me

I must simply rest and consider

How blessed I continue to be

For the bubbling in my soul

Is still a volcano of power

Ready to erupt and display

Many wonders in this hour

For if I am too confident

I abandon the chance to learn

Yet if I am afraid

An opportunity I will burn

Thank you, thanks and appreciation

Grant me love for every nation

Just give me a door and watch me sell

I’ll ask and seek and knock so well

A little slower but still not sick

Feeling alive, practicing my kick

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The Peep Show… September 1, 2012


She was about to begin her comedy routine. She lifted her arms, extended them toward the audience and declared with great jubilance, “I am so glad to be here in front of all my peeps!” This was followed by a cheer from the congregated horde.

It reminded me of a note I received in my email yesterday. It was from a fellow in the Buckeye State who had been deliberating whether to have me come in to share with his congregation. He had come to a decision. He felt that it was best to “pass” on the opportunity. Even though he found my material to be intelligent, powerful and poignant to our times, he believed that my outreach was a poor match for his particular gathering.

We have become a nation obsessed with the religion of our own individuality.

Even though we don’t want to establish this uniqueness by pursuing new efforts and goals, we find our value in being set apart by our preferences. It’s why the Republicans and Democrats scramble around trying to hit the right buttons to bring the favor of various portions of the electorate. For after all, the theory is that Hispanic voters want different things from black voters and senior citizens have special requests which are quite divergent from those of young people. We keep trying to play to an audience of our peeps.

It creates a three-point philosophy that continues to separate us off into tinier and tinier segments instead of coagulating our nation into a force for good. The minute you believe that different people have different needs which must be handled differently, you create the following climate:

1. “I believe I am normal.” Even though you may try to please other people and reach out to meet their desires, no one is of a mindset to think that these other people actually have a better way of doing things. Otherwise we would adopt some of their practices for our own. The minute you believe you have “peeps,” you will start to reluctantly try to find a way to reach everyone else, while privately wondering why they aren’t more “normal”–like you.

2. “Because you have preferences which are different from mine, try as I might to be magnanimous, I view these variations as weaknesses which I must adapt to in an attempt to gain your favor.” If we believe that people have great chasms of difference from us, we will have a tendency, human as we are, to perceive them as underlings. I know there are those who will disagree with these observations, contending that they have the toleration to experience diversity without drawing conclusions, but honestly, that would only be true if some of the discoveries being made ended up being part of their personal philosophy.

3. “Because I believe that I am normal, and that your preferences, though permissible, are somewhat weaker, my attempts to reach you may come off as condescending.” It would be similar to playing hip-hop music in front of a black audience and hiring a mariachi band for an Hispanic gathering. Yet that’s exactly what we do. Just like high school–juniors feel they are superior to sophomores. It isn’t true, but it gives a sense of exhilaration to lord it over an underclassman. The minute you assume that any group of people will react uniformly in a particular way when given certain stimulus, you are not only condescending, you are certainly guilty of prejudice.

So do you see the problem? Once we believe that each one of us has a particular “bird of a feather” that we are “flocking together” with we are in danger of awkwardness and even bigotry towards people who are different from us. Here’s what I would like to say to that comedian who felt she had found her “peeps,” to the Republicans and Democrats who are constantly trying to plump up their message to reach a variety of clumps, and to that fellow in Ohio who felt he had a pulse on his group of people, and understood their boundaries:

It is the job of every person born of woman to find a way to be a human being instead of just following the example of their culture.

We are all heart, soul, mind and strength.

Since I know that, I gear my message and life to the knowledge that our emotions are touched by commonality. In other words, everybody hurts. Everybody gets older. Everybody needs to learn to laugh at himself. Everybody would gain greater power by ceasing to worry.

Since I know we all have a soul, our spirits are enriched by a loving God who anticipates that we can do better. It doesn’t do any good to preach just a loving God, or certainly to present a disapproving one. Since God is your Father, whether you’re black, white, red or yellow, you want Him to love you and you’re glad He thinks you’ve got more to come.

We all have a brain, and our minds are renewed by seeing what works–not merely by education, conversation or job training. We’re human beings. We need to see what works to allow it to find root in our consciousness.

And finally, we all have a body–and that particular physical unit is enlivened by finding simpler ways to achieve good health. Don’t complicate it. Make it easy.

I don’t care what audience I’m in front of. I don’t care if they’re young, old, black, white or from another planet. As long as I don’t believe in this foolish, short-sighted pursuit of categorizing off our race into little ant hills, I have a chance of reaching them.

Because quite bluntly, folks, I don’t believe I am normal. In some ways I fear normalcy because it has a tendency to settle for mediocrity. I don’t think your preferences are weaknesses. Matter of fact, I am curious if many of them might be better than mine. And I will never be condescending to you because I have too many foibles of my own that can easily be pointed out as evidence of my inadequacy.

But I will address your heart. We will find common ground.

I will speak to your soul. I will tell that soul about a loving God who really believes His children can do better.

I will infiltrate your mind by allowing you to see things that are working instead of just advancing theories of politics and theology.

And I will be vulnerable to you by telling you that my body is in need of improvement and I am on a quest to ascertain simpler ways to discover good health.

Finally, I have no peeps. Just people. And all of them are my family … if I make myself available.

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Bewildered (1,244)

August 20th, 2011

· 10

· 14

· 20

· 25

· 33

· 40

· 50

· 65

· 80

· 90

What are these? They’re numbers, of course. And when these numbers are associated with the ages of human beings, we begin to anticipate a drastic difference between 10 and 90. It’s not only 80 years of life, but also eight decades of what we deem to be experience and maturity.

So I am sometimes baffled when I stare into the faces of my audiences and I see the same bewildered expression on the faces of the retired folks that I see on the teenagers. For I will tell you quite bluntly—there is no advantage to getting older whatsoever if you’re not becoming cagey and wiser.

Getting older when you’re still fighting against the realities of life has to be one of the more painful experiences for a human being. At least when you’re sixteen you can say, “When I get away from my parents life will be better.” But when you’re sixty years old, you can’t use that statement anymore. You’ve been away from your parents for a long time, you’ve had a sufficient crack at life and the dissatisfaction that may remain is now of your own doing or at least the by-product of the choices you’ve made.

No wonder I see bewilderment on the countenances of aging Americans. The proclamation is practically written on their foreheads: “It wasn’t supposed to be this way.” It contains the immature notion that God only makes a difference when we’re looking for someone to pray to for a miracle or blame for a disaster. The rest of the time we don’t study His planet, His natural order, the shifting of both physical and social winds or the lay of the land. Instead we want to insist that these messages—often literally carved into the stone—should revise themselves to accommodate our personality and needs.

I don’t know what age I was when it happened—in other words, I don’t recall the specific day, time or place. But somewhere along the line, I stopped arguing with life and the natural order and began to try to find God’s ways within the framework. The reason we are so often bewildered by our earth passage is that we are convinced that it “just shouldn’t be the way it is.”

Is anybody else a little bit confused by people who live in Oklahoma and Kansas who still insist on being surprised at tornadoes in the springtime? Isn’t there a reason they call it Tornado Alley? Is God really trying to punish this region, or perhaps should there be greater care given to finding ways to protect the homes and warn more effectively of upcoming turmoil?

I think we carry a childish edge into our adult years that makes us look ridiculous because we’re still looking for magic instead of discerning the message of our times. Here are the three points that changed my life:

1. Nature is not God but God is in nature. And nature is here to tell me how God is working in the physical realm. Candidly, the earth has one of the simplest roadmaps to discovery that has ever been conceived. Very little happens by accident, there are few haphazard events, there is always a warning before a storm and there are always signs of the times. The definition of maturity is the ability to read these signs.

2. God doesn’t have favorites, but God also does not have enemies. Even people who do not believe in God—but who honor His system—receive the benefits from their respect. And those who are very religious who desecrate His creation or disrespect His beloved human experiment find themselves at odds with His system.

3. And finally, reality is in the moment. My destiny lies in how I deal with the reality of the moment and how I choose to input it. You cannot change reality by ignoring it. You cannot walk around pretending that difficulty does not exist and end up conquering mountains. Even the statement of Jesus that “saying to a mountain that it be removed” does require that we not doubt in our hearts—and the heart is the center of the emotions. The only way to get a handle on any emotion in a situation is to cease being in denial of the reality of the moment, deal with the situation and then set in motion a plan to create a new set of circumstances.

Let me give you an example. Every time I walk into a concert in a church I am dealing with years and years of tradition, family obligations and beliefs that people hold dear because of the passage of time. If I am not prepared to recognize these tenets of their faith and preferences of their personalities, I will be in no position to maneuver my way into their hearts and open the door for any fresh possibility. Change does not occur because we rebel against reality. Change occurs when we recognize the reality that exists and begin to deal with it using the tools provided.

It is a terrible thing to reach your seventieth birthday and be as bewildered by life as you were when you were sixteen. It is why there is just as much need for revival amongst the retired folks as there is with the teenagers.

Because until you learn to deal with reality in the moment, you will have no chance of changing history.

Published in: on August 20, 2011 at 2:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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