Deciding… January 5, 2012

(1,384) 

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.

*************

Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

**************

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

Here You Got–November 10, 2011

(1,326)

EC + W = IND.

Looks like a formula, doesn’t it? I guess it really is. We do live in a material world, chemically charged, and we are part of that process. So what is this little formula? Let me break it down for you: EC stands for “emotional counting.” The W signifies “worry” and the IND is “indecision.” So what IS emotional counting?

Emotional counting is when we fail to come clean with the feelings from the previous day and carry them over without self-discovery into today’s activities, allowing them to color how we view our possibilities.

In other words, if I had a bad day yesterday and failed to clean myself out emotionally with God, the mirror or a friend, and then I look at the little dab of what I have, that little pile of potential will always look insufficient.

Yesterday’s unresolved problems always make today look impossible—and when we think things are impossible, we commence to worry. Worry, very simply, is pitching a fit that “life is unfair.” Let me tell you—life is unimpressed. Life does not care that we are spoiled brats who threw a temper tantrum because we didn’t get what we wanted.

Next, when worry fails to produce inspiration, we choose the dastardly position of indecision, which causes us to finish our day in greater frustration, compiling our emotional upheaval. This is why those who have problems continue to be plagued by more problems, which we deem to be bizarre and unrighteous.

You cannot count your blessings or even assess the value of what you presently have if you’re still distressed over yesterday’s failures. Looking back on yesterday causes us to worry about tomorrow, making us squander today. Just go back and read that sentence to yourself again. It is a powerful thought.

Emotional counting is allowing ourselves to be ungrateful for what God has given us and what has been provided by our own hands because of fear of yesterday’s inadequacies following us into this 24-hour period. It makes us lose all faith in ourselves and God to supply the need.

So emotional counting produces worry, which is the arrogance of thinking that things should be different, which incapacitates us with indecision.

 And what is the danger with indecision? Is it necessary to make decisions every day? Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s a jungle out there?” It’s true. And when we choose to be indecisive because we’re worrying over our lack, due to being emotionally clogged up, we leave much of our destiny in the hands of others—who just go ahead and decide for us.

Emotional counting is when we cease to believe that we have enough if we just can come up with a very good angle. So can I give you a better formula? How about this one: C + P = A

Yes, simply Counting what we have and know instead of coloring it with a dark crayon energizes us to do a bit of P—Planning. How can I take what I have and make it work for today without allowing myself to be overly concerned with tomorrow? And when you legitimately count what is available to you and permit yourself the grace of planning instead of worrying, it always leads to A: action.  Yes, as human beings we just feel better when we’re in motion. “And a body in motion shall remain in motion and a body at rest shall remain at rest.” Likewise, a body that’s emotionally distressed will remain that way and one that is worrying will eventually turn into the proverbial wart.

Ingratitude is not merely acting like we don’t appreciate what has been provided. Ingratitude is also believing that it’s just not enough.

God does not have any victory in making us look stupid. God does not receive glory by abandoning His friends in the middle of the desert. But God is quickly rejected by those who will not deal with their emotions and begin to view their possibilities through a clouded lens which produces worry, causing them to land with indecision.

“Here you go” is when we allow ourselves to be emotionally clean by speaking out our worst fears to God, the mirror or our friend. And “here you got” is when we view what is available to us in a positive light because our cleansed emotions do not prompt us to begin to worry and become indecisive.

If I will clean up my emotions, I can count my blessings and plan to use them well in this day’s period, which will prompt me towards action. Remember, often our problem is not that we are destitute, but rather, that we look beyond today’s need and project what tomorrow will demand.

Counting + Planning = Action. 

But to count with a sense of joy what God has given us demands that we remove all the emotional frustration of the previous day … and give God a good chance to bless us right now.

***************

Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

%d bloggers like this: