Good News and Better News… August 7th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is truly amazing how God’s plan for my life works so much better when I make good decisions.

Maybe that’s because God, who gave every human being free will, does not “plan our life.” Instead, he offers wisdom, strength and grace to those who remain humble. I see this every single day of my time on Earth.

Some people are waiting for God to do what He’s already done.

Others take what God has done and go out and do something with it.

I was a blessed man to be granted the opportunity to share at the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Palm Harbor, Florida. I ran across people who were thinking about making good decisions.

One fellow candidly told me that when he walked in and saw that there were guest ministers, he wanted to walk right back out. But he decided to sit down –n a grumpy sort of way–and ended up being thrilled with his choice.

Another fellow was recovering from stomach problems and decided to come in spite of them, and departed exhilarated.

I ran across person after person who explained to me that the facts set before them did not necessarily warrant optimism or faith, but they chose to rearrange circumstances to their better advantage.

Jesus never criticized anyone for showing initiative to change his or her life. In our religion we often connote that too much ambition, or even an overload of passion, is detrimental to Godly humility. In the process, many of those who darken the door of the church are plagued by insecurity.

I am a human who truly has been granted a great opportunity of possibility–I get to go and share my thoughts, my songs, my words and my good cheer, with the aspiration of inspiring others. Did God plan for me to do this? He certainly is grateful for my efforts–and I, for His mission.

The good news is that we have been given the tools, the opportunity and the potential to make fruitful lives.

The better news is that our Father in heaven, from a position of support, is admiring our growth.

 

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Ask Jonathots … April 14th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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My son, a sophomore in high school, has a part-time job at a fast food restaurant. He came home talking about making fifteen dollars an hour when the minimum wage is raised. I’m not against raising the minimum wage, but at the same time, I don’t really think my high schooler really needs that wage. What do you think?

Paying people based on what they require is un-American.

It may sound good–it may seem generous. It may even temporarily appease the aching need of some folks who are living on the cliff of poverty. But it is un-American.

I will go as far as to tell you that it is also un-Christian.

At no time in the ministry of Jesus did he suggest that the best way to handle the poor was to drop everything you were doing, sell everything you had, change all your policies, reject your own desire for financial prosperity, and divvy up the money more evenly, so that “those who have a frown can turn it upside down.”

The most important thing any government program should encourage is initiative.

If you’re going to do the same work you did before, but make twice the amount of money doing it, you’re not stimulating productivity.

No, you have just purchased yourself a baby alligator. At first the little amphibian sitting in his bowl appears harmless and kind of cute. But it will not remain a small alligator. It will grow until it eats you.

Likewise, giving people more money for what they’re already doing without demanding additional increase in effort is the formula for disaster. It is not an issue of being a conservative or a liberal, but rather, taking a more intelligent political stance: practical.

If I allow myself to be concerned about the wages my employees are receiving based on their monthly needs, I will soon lose sight of the goal of my company, which is to make money and thrive so I can hire more people.

What we need is a compromise with a caveat.

  • The compromise is a dollar amount which is more representative of the work and the financial climate.
  • And the caveat is that this extra money will require additional training and pursuit of excellence.

Hand-outs take people off their feet.

And our economy runs on foot power, not charity.

So even though it may seem noble and may get the vote of tens of thousands of hourly wage Americans, to suggest that they should double their intake for the same amount of output…well, it is completely unnecessary and certainly un-human.

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Jesonian: This Ole’ House … July 6, 2014

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housePictured is a house I ran across in Janesville, Wisconsin, during my touring. It is owned by somebody, but unoccupied. There are no people on the premises because the residence is broken apart, the windows are shattered, and the general appearance is deteriorating.

A thought came to my mind. What does the owner think when he drives by the possession? Does he remember former times, when the edifice was beautiful and a source of joy to a family? Or does his mind race with ideas on how to renovate the surroundings, making them livable again and restoring the glory?

Or I suppose a third choice is that he turns their head away so as not to deal with the eye-sore.

I think this is the situation we face in the church.

We know that people are supposed to be changed. An encounter with Jesus historically, and certainly Biblically, always resulted in some sort of massive transformation.

But often, it seems the best we can offer to the congregant is the chance to give a testimony about how bad things were or how great things will be someday “when we all get to heaven.”

In the pursuit of showing compassion, we may have accidentally drained the actual passion out of the soul and faith of the believer.

For after all, we spend so much time talking about God’s grace and so little time reminding people that Jesus told folks it was their faith that made them whole.

Matter of fact, it doesn’t take a theologian’s understanding to comprehend that Jesus was in the business of making abundant life for people on earth, not just in heaven.

You can the teachings of Jesus balance beautifully on two axioms:

  1. He that endures to the end will be saved.
  2. Go the second mile.

After all, what got Jesus very excited was when people showed initiative, reached out and touched the hem of his garment, had faith for their servant to be healed, or lepers who tracked him down to gain cleansing.

He admired initiative. Dare say, he rewarded it.

Removing such initiative from our faith in an attempt to establish the supremacy of God is unfortunately the way we remove the glory from God, which He would receive from people praising our good works.

Jesus is to appreciate that he was a teacher who wanted to impart a lifestyle, not just a salvation plan.

I don’t know whether that house in Janesville will ever be restored, but for it to happen, someone will have to admit that it’s messed up, the glory days are not coming back and there’s no guarantee that the future holds promise for miraculous renovation.

It will need work.

We do need endurance. And we do require the energy and excitement to go the second mile.

So don’t rob people of the blessing of having Jesus speak to them admiringly: “Your faith has made you whole.”

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