Good News and Better News … August 29th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dividing people is easy.

Just get them to focus on their differences, and their prejudices will do the rest.

But uniting people is equally simple.

Turn the conversation toward our common humanity and let our sense of humor draw us closer.

Ebensburg Penn State highway signAs I finished up eleven weeks in Central Pennsylvania, I headed off to Ebensburg en route to begin my tour in Michigan.

Every little community in America touts some piece of uniqueness, or sometimes even insists that it has a personality unto itself. I have absolutely no idea why we want to distinguish ourselves by our quirks and profiles.

But once you break through that initial crustiness, what you find are human beings. As human beings, they have three basic natures:

1. They are concerned for themselves.

2. They are concerned for what is directly around them.

3. But it doesn’t take a whole lot for them to realize that in order to get Numbers 1 and 2 means they need to be concerned about others.Ebensburg set with Jan

I loved my time in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania.

The audiences were not easy. Having an insulated sense of community, they wanted to look on Janet and myself as strangers, but we popped out of that box and offered big hugs.

So by the time we got to the end of our programs and were ready to pack up, they invited us to a luncheon. We shared with them that we needed to hit the road, because we had a two-hour drive to Youngstown, Ohio. dividing people, prejudices, uniting people, sense of humor, commonality,

They sweetly accepted our explanation, but then they came back a second time and invited us again. Why? I suppose if I were bratty, I could say they were being pushy. But that wasn’t the case.

Ebensburg pianoIn the three hours we were with them, a connection was made–and they just wanted us to know that they were fully aware of it and treasured it.

We gently declined again, and all at once one of the sweet Ebensburg souls said, “Why don’t we make you some plates to go? You have to eat. What is it you want?”

It was so moving. Perseverant love.

They wanted us to eat their food, and we needed to eat food, even though we could not stay–so they came up with a plan.

They bagged us up dinners, complete with two cold bottles of water.

As I drove down the highway enjoying my salad with just the right dressing and all the little choices they put on my plate, I considered perseverant love.

The church is in a position to become the only resource in America that has an open door policy and offers perseverant love. It will begin when we stop studying the Bible in abstract, but instead, study human life, find out what’s really going on with people, and then come back to the Gospels to unearth what Jesus says about it.

That’s the good news.

The better news is that when we have this perseverant love, it’s a lot easier to comprehend that somebody could feel that way toward us, too.

Ebensburg empty piano bench

 

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G-Poppers … July 22nd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop watches and listen intensely.

While confident of his intelligence, he still realizes that rich wisdom can be attained through great observation.

Once again the political parties meet to do battle, contending that the one left standing is superior simply because he or she has not been vanquished. Promises are made in the midst of an avalanche of accusations, tossed back and forth with a disregard that foretells ignorance of the beauty of consolation.

How many different things can we insist we’re going to accomplish, so as to make our opponent’s list seem puny? But once elected, every President of any party immediately discovers that life takes over–and the stumbling blocks that have been permanently established in the lethargy of legislation forbid much progress to pass through the gates. After all, in regards to Congress, any organization that operates by Parliamentary Procedure is in no hurry to achieve its aspirations.

So how should G-Pop’s children evaluate who to place in the position of prominence for our land?

They must look for the candidate–whether male or female–who:

1. Handles disappointment with grace.

Since we live in a democracy, nothing of original purity will ever pass muster without being manipulated. There will be disappointment. How that is handled will determine meaningful outcomes, especially if a split second of frustration causes our leader to take his or her eyes off the prize.

2. Discovers the better way to navigate reoccurring surprises.

After all, some of us fare pretty well if one blip comes on our radar screen, but when they start popping up all over, a disgruntled spirit can cause us to forsake our more clever and intuitive parts, and succumb to our more Neanderthal attitudes.

3. Has a great sense of humor.

What we “take personal” becomes personal–even if only in our minds. Once we feel we have been targeted, we tend to seek revenge. The President of the United States cannot have vendettas.

So even though a promotion of ideas is constantly flooding through stump speeches, once the election is completed, these wishes will have to take a back seat to the daily tribulation that the world threatens to afford.

Every once in a while, things calm down long enough that you might be able to fix a highway, start an after school program, or keep the country a little safer.

But most of the time, if you are President of the United States, you’re trying to maintain the purpose of our nation and the dignity of our freedom–in a world gone crazed.

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Hurt, Heal, Praise … June 29, 2013

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dancersThe most difficult road to take to achieve humility is the highway of humiliation. Yet for some reason, it’s the most popular.

Many years ago, I wrote a musical called Mountain. Humbly I offer to you that the composition was really quite good. I had some friends in Columbus, Ohio, who let me use their studio very reasonably and we put together the music for the production. In the process of doing so, we stirred up a lot of interest in the community. So when it was announced that a two night premiere would be held,  tickets sold quickly and we realized we were going to have a hit.

Our job? To come up with a cast who could perform the piece and portray the material adequately. We selected our individual members but failed to consider that most of the young folk we had placed in the roles had grown up believing that dancing was “of the devil,” and the rest of them were just hellish dancers.

The musical required some choreography. Even though the music itself came off very well, and the acting was sufficient, the instructors we selected to teach our entourage how to do live stage movement were far too advanced and left our fledgling foot-flyers completely confounded.

So on opening night, the portion of the show that required choreography was an absolute disaster, leading one observer to refer to it as “collisionography.”

Unfortunately, the theater was nearly packed. I was embarrassed. I was humiliated. I was young, impetuous and unfortunately, too quick to want to give up.

But from somewhere down deep in the bottom of my socks, I found the faith to get up the next morning, realize we had another premiere to do, and instead of being angry or frustrated, took the cast and worked on simplifying the dance portion of the show.

We were all hurt.

Life is not a journey of avoiding hurt, but rather, a continual odyssey to be healed.

The only way my cast was going to be healed was by believing they could actually find something to do onstage that was within their grasp, and that they could have another opportunity to prove their ability.

The second night was fantastic–night and day difference. Unfortunately, the crowd had shrunk due to the bad reports about the faltering footwork. We didn’t care. We had been hurt the night before and it was time to heal. And heal we did.

Our confidence soared and we went out on a tour to twenty-five cities, getting better and better each night–because our healing turned into praise.

I will never forget that experience. It is a constant reminder that being hurt has absolutely zilch nobility or value unless you immediately set a process in motion to be healed. All healing is then confirmed by the presence of praise.

We have to learn this in our society:

  • Hurt people are determined to hurt. They don’t mean to–they just duplicate what’s inside themselves out to others.
  • Healed people seek healing.
  • And people of praise are always looking for reasons to praise.

So the next time you get in a  mood and think there’s nothing that’s any good anymore, take a moment and trace back in your life to find that unhealed hurt. You will be surprised at how much brighter the world looks when you have shed some light … on your own pain.

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