Jesonian … June 9th, 2018

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It wasn’t a “God-storm.”

The disciples were wrong. They were wacked-out–frantic over a poor use of faith.

They were probably reflecting back to several weeks earlier, when they were in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, got swatted by a cloud burst with huge waves, thunder and lightning, were surrounded by other little boats, and Jesus walked on the water to save them.

Now, that was a “God-storm.” In other words, a storm that required the hand of God. But the little squall that blew up on this night was not a “God-storm.”

The disciples should have known–for Jesus was sound asleep on a pillow in the boat.

Let’s keep in mind–you’ve got four fishermen on this craft–at least that many. This isn’t their first raft trip. It’s not the first time they saw the waters well up around them.

But back before they were disciples–when they were men–they handled it. If they didn’t, they died.

But now, you see, they had faith.

And their faith, instead of making them whole, had made them lazy.

They didn’t need to wake up Jesus. They had just grown accustomed to the Master handling all the difficulties, and they were in no mood to put themselves in jeopardy by practicing what they had been taught.

They didn’t want to “take no thought” about the storm.

They didn’t want to be the “salt of the Earth and the light of the world.”

They were completely content being followers–while Jesus was trying to make leaders.

They were lazy.

This is the same problem we have in the Christian church today. The faith we espouse is making us lazy instead of whole.

For I will tell you–I cannot attest to the fact that the Christians I know are the nicest people I know.

I cannot testify that these same Christians are the smartest, most generous, most open-minded and most forgiving people I have encountered.

They are simply too damn lazy from living off grace to use their faith.

Somehow or another, Jesus had called men to be on his team, and they had all turned into little children: “Daddy! We’re gonna drown! Don’t you care?”

Even two ounces of faith would tell you that if Jesus is asleep on the pillow, this must be a livable situation.

Maybe it’s a “Me-storm.” That’s one that only requires “me” involved to produce a safe conclusion.

Maybe it’s an “Us-storm.” That would include my partner and myself, working together to provide energy, brains and faith.

Perhaps it’s a “We-storm.” We might have to beckon the whole family, maybe the congregation, the town, or who knows? The nation.

But when it’s not a “God-storm,” don’t expect God to take care of it.

Jesus wanted his disciples to trust him. But he wanted to trust them, too.

So if you want to have a Christian walk and you want to be Jesonian, you’ll have to learn the difference between a “God-storm” and a “Me-storm.”

After all, it’s not that God fails to answer your prayers. He just wonders why you’re so lazy, and don’t answer your own.

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G-Poppers … July 14th, 2017

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G-Pop is fully aware that he’s reached an age when there is a fine line between being colorful and being crazy. Yet there are some things that need to be said, because the integrity of character and moral soul of America are in jeopardy.

It has nothing to do with political parties or whether one group of pundits is more favorable than another. Rather, it has to do with an overriding attitude–that as long as the goal is kept in sight, the means by which we achieve it are somewhat irrelevant.

It came to a head yesterday when G-Pop listened to one of our national leaders proclaim, “I think everybody would do the same thing.”

It hearkened back to a playground perception we used as children, attempting to explain to the adults around us why we chose a particular behavior. You remember:

  1. Everybody was doing it.
  2. I didn’t want to be weird.
  3. It seemed all right–matter of fact, it seemed natural.
  4. There was no real reason not to.
  5. Since everybody was doing it, I didn’t think anyone would get in trouble.

Just as our elders corrected us on such errant thinking, we need to stop, take a deep breath and cease being a nation of children who move on whim and justify it by saying, “What else could I do?”

There is only one advantage to being an adult: you get to make your own decisions.

When you were a child, you were surrounded by pressure, intimidation, and obvious manipulation.

That is supposed to change.

G-Pop wants his children to know that there is a day and time when the only purpose for continuing to live on Earth is to get better–not to rationalize obtuse, repetitive and useless actions.

If you’re not getter better you’re getting “badder.”

And the end result of getting “badder” is that you’re going to be exposed and trumped by those who have a brighter idea.

I don’t care if everybody else is doing something stupid. I don’t care if it seems natural in the moment, if the end result is unnatural.

G-Pop wants his children to stop watching the actions of our leaders and government, and begin to find the inner voice that says, “Let me pause for a minute and find out what’s right.”

G-Pop places no judgment on those who are trying to take us into the depths of uncertainty.

But G-Pop wants his children to realize that just because “everybody would do it” actually makes it suspect, instead of righteous.

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … September 10th, 2016

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: Where have you been? I’ve been trying to get hold of you all morning.

 

Dear Woman: I can see that. Six missed calls. What can I do for you?

 

Dear Man: Listen, I didn’t believe it, but I heard through the grapevine that you went to a Donald Trump rally.

 

Dear Woman: You heard correctly.

 

Dear Man: Why would you do that?

 

Dear Woman: I was curious. I wanted to hear for myself what all the fuss was about.

 

Dear Man: Curious? How can you escape the fuss? It’s on the television twenty-four hours a day.

 

Dear Woman: But that’s their opinions. I wanted to draw my own conclusion.

 

Dear Man: Okay, I guess. Did you learn anything?

 

Dear Woman: I did. What I learned is that Mr. Trump answers a need.

 

Dear Man: A need?

 

Dear Woman: Yes. There are times when things are moving so fast that I just need everything to slow down a bit so my head can catch up. Gay rights, gay marriage, transgender, immigration, Black Lives Matter… It just crowds my brain. It’s not that I want to prevent these people from having a voice. I could just use some time to get accustomed to it.

 

Dear Man: Well, you need to realize, all these people have been waiting decades–sometimes centuries–for the basic rights that you take for granted.

 

Dear Woman: I don’t need your sermon. I get that. But it doesn’t change how I feel. The world seems dangerous, and when you see something dangerous, you want a weapon. You want to protect yourself. I’m sorry. Hillary Clinton just doesn’t seem like a weapon to me.

 

Dear Man: She’s got so much experience! Why can’t you see that? Donald Trump doesn’t know anything about the world.

 

Dear Woman: I agree. But it’s not a geography test. It’s not a civics exam. It’s about leadership. And I just don’t know if Hillary has it.

 

Dear Man: Why do you say that?

 

Dear Woman: Well, first, she can’t even manage her own email.

 

Dear Man: Not that old story! She’s answered that a thousand times.

 

Dear Woman: Yes, but it’s the same answer. “I made a mistake but I didn’t know it was a mistake.” Is that what she’ll do as President? Constantly making mistakes but apologizing to us for fouling up? And speaking of that, the main thing that bothers me is having Bill Clinton in the White House again.

 

Dear Man: He won’t be President.

 

Dear Woman: I got that. But he’ll be back. And the things he did the last time he was there to defile the Oval Office with his immorality were nasty. And the fact that Hillary stuck with him makes me believe she’s kind of … girly.

 

Dear Man: You mean you’re mad at her because she forgave her husband?

 

Dear Woman: I guess so. I would just find it easier to vote for Hillary Rodham than Hillary Clinton.

 

Dear Man: I get it. It’s because she’s a women Answer me three questions, without thinking too much. Number 1, do you think women are weak? Number 2, do you think women are more emotional? Number 3, are men smarter?

 

Dear Woman: Wow. I don’t want to do this.

 

Dear Man: Come on. Be honest.

 

Dear Woman: Okay. Are women weak? They don’t have the same muscle mass as men. Concerning the second question, I was always told women are more emotional, even by women. And concerning men being smarter, well..they do win more often on Jeopardy!

 

Dear Man: What?

 

Dear Woman: I was just kidding about the Jeopardy! thing. I suppose you’re going to say my answers prove I’m a male chauvinist.

 

Dear Man: No, they just prove that you would vote against Hillary because she’s a woman instead of based on her qualifications.

 

Dear Woman: I just don’t want any more Orlandos or San Bernardino terrorist attacks. I would like to scare the shit out of them–the terrorists, I mean. Hillary is more like a queen. She’s stately, polite, on-point, courteous. But here’s the problem–the world is filled with pirates. Pirates take down queens.

 

Dear Man: So what is Donald Trump?

 

Dear Woman: He’s a pirate. So it’s a pirate fighting pirates. See what I mean?

 

Dear Man: No, I don’t. Because with a pirate you get thievery, treachery and the danger that he’s going to make everybody walk the plank.

 

Dear Woman: Well, anyway. Do you remember that story of the man who came across two doors, and behind one was a lady and behind the other was a tiger?

 

Dear Man: I think so.

 

Dear Woman: You see, that’s our choice this time. A lady or a tiger. I just don’t know if the lady can get it done.

 

Dear Man: You know that’s very prejudiced.

 

Dear Woman: Yes. But I don’t think I’ll be the only one thinking about that when I walk into the voting booth.

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Ask Jonathots … May 12th, 2016

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My daughter is in the first grade. She’s always been very shy and insecure, which her father and I have been trying to address with encouragement. But the school psychologist tells me she’s developing a neurosis and I should take her to a psychiatrist. What is a neurosis?

Being neurotic is having a fear of the edge of a cliff which is in front of you.

Psychotic is thinking that the edge of the cliff is chasing you.

But there is a situation where we become so afraid of the edge of the cliff that we keep backing away from it while increasing our trepidation and limiting our possibilities.

Although I am sure there are psychological and physiological reasons for people to be afraid, normally in the case of a child, these insecurities are caused by hesitation, which is accepted by parents who don’t want to “push” their children.

There is a certain amount of jeopardy necessary if we want to grow instead of falling back into intimidation.

What do I mean?

Let’s say your little daughter takes piano lessons. She comes home at the end of the first lesson and says, “I don’t like piano.”

So you ask her to go a second week, but she has even less passion–so when she returns from the lesson and is nearly in tears over being pressured into doing this adventure, you give in and let her quit.

She’s relieved.

You feel you’ve done a good thing because she’s no longer terrified. But terrified is not a position of life–rather, it’s a reaction to it. And if you don’t live enough, you gradually become horrified by things that used to be enjoyable. This is where we develop a neurosis.

You’re catching this at the right time.

We’re not trying to turn all of our children into concert pianists, Broadway dancers or professional athletes. But we are trying to teach them to begin something, muddle through the middle and finish it the best they can.

Success does not go to the world’s most talented people. Success is achieved by those who are still around when the awards are handed out.

So let me make three quick suggestions:

1. Sign a contract.

In other words, if your daughter wants to take piano lessons, make her sign a contract that says she will stay with it for two months. Hold her to it.

2. Encourage what is encourageable.

Children are not stupid. They know when we’re insincere and when we really think they might have done something good. Point out what seems to be growing without criticizing what is lacking.

3. Learn to ask why.

If your child says she’s afraid, have her verbalize the source of her fear and explain why she thinks that is acceptable or why she believes it needs to change.

Fears are not alleviated by conquering them, but rather, by talking about them so we’re in the right mindset to begin to address the problem.

If you do these three things while she’s still young, she won’t become convinced that she’s just not “a particular type of person.”

I can always recognize someone who’s poorly trained. They will begin a discussion by telling you what they aren’t instead of stepping forward with what they are.

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Ask Jonathots … August 13th, 2015

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I am a mother of three children, two boys aged 5 and 7, and a daughter aged 13. I arranged to work half days this summer, and we planned to have our daughter babysit the boys in the mornings. After two weeks, it’s a disaster. My daughter spends too much time texting her friends, and the boys are running wild. Is thirteen too young to babysit? And should I just give up and put them all in day care?

I’m just curious–if you think your dog barks too much, and if you do, if you think the way to correct the situation is to place him in a kennel?

I’m not trying to be snarky with you. Lest you think I’m saying children are animals, I certainly am not. But their care is not dissimilar.

You are being critical of a thirteen-year-old girl who is texting. It is parallel to being angry at a dog which is barking. That’s what 13-year-old girls do. They don’t suddenly become nannies and take care of their brothers efficiently.

I don’t think anyone can tell you that 13 is too young to babysit, but I do think I can tell you that your 13-year-old is too young. I suppose you can choose to be upset about that, or you can realize that this is your situation.

Let’s go with some suggestions:

1. Daycare would be the last possible consideration because it is expensive, and also a little less personal than you might want for your children in the summer months.

2. Is there a compromise? Could your 13-year-old watch the children for a couple of hours a day, and then have a neighbor come in and check in on the situation and rejuvenate the energy? Wouldn’t you be happier to give one of your neighbors a little cash to assist, which would help their finance, instead of using a daycare?

3. There also may be a woman or man who is a house-parent, who might like to combine families and pick up a little extra cash, and take all the pressure off your 13-year-old.

But let’s look at what we do want to avoid:

A. Making your daughter feel guilty because she’s not a good “mommy.”

B. Spending too much money taking care of your kids and losing your livelihood.

C. Having your children in jeopardy because they are not well-cared-for.

You also have the opportunity of explaining your situation to your boss, and possibly doing some work from home, or at least being permitted to take a break from work to check on your children.

Never throw anger or money at your problems–your teenage daughter does not need you to be disappointed in her, and your bank account does not appreciate being depleted in order for you to work a job.

Use your three magic words: Look around you.

It is a miraculous way to live.

Often the solution is within eyesight, and we ignore it because we think everything needs to be more complicated.

 

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Confessing … July 11th, 2015

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X.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

Her name was Sherry.

She lived ten miles from my home town. She liked me.

I knew this–the way an eighteen-year-old boy is aware that a girl is attracted to him because she’s awkward and nervous, while still persisting in hanging around.

I met her from Bible League. Bible League is a little hard to explain, but just envision Jeopardy! on scriptural steroids. I competed against her church and we struck up a conversation a time or two, and she made it clear that she was very interested in me by listening to my stories long after they possessed any intrigue.

I got my girlfriend pregnant my senior year in high school. Being good Ohio boys and girls, we decided to get married. She went off to Europe on a summer vacation and never wrote me.

This was not the plan. Of course, I was convinced she was carousing with every young French boy who knew where the back stairs were to the Eiffel Tower. I was upset.

I was moping around the house one day when my brother suggested I invite another girl on a date just to get my mind off of it. It seemed unfaithful, but when he offered his car and twenty dollars for the excursion, all my defenses broke down.

So I thought of Sherry. I was not in the mood to ask a girl out and get a no, and I was fully aware that she would say yes. She did. Matter of fact, it was an enthusiastic affirmative.

I got directions to her house–a long driveway leading back to a beat-up mobile home surrounded by trash and enough dogs for a junk yard.

We got in the car, went on the date, and she tried so hard to be perfect. Matter of fact, we ended up parking somewhere and necking for a while.

But it was romance by default and affection by revenge. I knew I was never going to be interested in Sherry.

She seemed oblivious to my indifference and shared her life story with me. She was poor, mistreated and even abused by her alcoholic father.

Damn. I should have cared.

I didn’t. I was smarting from my own little crisis.

About halfway through the date she made it clear that she wanted to see me again, and also sent out a signal that she was prepared to go further romantically on this date if I was interested.

I wasn’t interested, and fortunately, didn’t take advantage of her.

As I dropped her off, I kissed her goodnight, knowing that I would never see her again.

One week later I received a letter from her in the mail, sharing how much she had enjoyed our time and hoping that her vulnerability and living situation had not been a turnoff to me.

I didn’t respond.

Sherry deserved so much more than my selfish leaping into a fling. She was wounded and I accidentally dribbled some salt water into it.

I wasn’t vicious. I wasn’t unloving. But I was one of the worst possible additions to her life. In her mind’s eye I was a nice boy who took her out on a date and never called again, proving to her that she was just white trash.

I don’t know what became of Sherry, but I learned very clearly that night, that a temporary need or a piercing yearning does not give us permission to use another person to comfort our woes.

confessing trailer home

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Turning Kids Into Humans (Part 5) 6-9: Humble Intelligence… September 15, 2014

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Humanating

Probably the most terrifying interlude in the journey of parenting is needing to release your young offspring into the general care of the educational system. This is not to cast shadows of doubt on knowledge nor the teachers who impart it.

But in the pursuit of teaching empathy and gratitude to change kids into humans, you may discover that others do not share the importance of such values. Unfortunately, the goal in our social order is to pass on knowledge and leave it to the hearer to determine application.

As I said, a bit frightening.

So knowing that for the first time in your child’s existence, he or she will be away from you for nearly forty hours a week, under the tutelage of a structure which is not necessarily completely in the flow of what you have set in motion, you need to have special times, when you take the intelligence being passed along to your little one and translate it into a practical humility.

It is humble intelligence.

For we well know that humility without intelligence is basically useless in the human family, and intelligence without humility is often belligerent and abusive.

So it is during this 6 to 9-year-old period that three things need to be established in the life of your son or daughter:

1. With knowledge comes responsibility.

Believe it or not, the goal of knowing stuff is not to make other people feel ignorant or to be able to answer Jeopardy! questions. Knowledge is afforded us so we can better our lives and the lives of other.

2. With prosperity comes the need for generosity.

It may sound a little bit ridiculous, but there are those folks who do not understand the concept that to alleviate poverty will take the assistance of those who are not impoverished. Merely telling people to “get a job” will not guarantee their financial stability. With the acquisition of finance and possessions comes the joy of giving to others.

3. With victory comes the awareness of defeat.

Yes, I will say it aloud: I find it ridiculous to analyze failure because all it does is add guilt and fear into future projects. The time to be analytical is when you’ve had a success and you can fine-tune it without feeling despair.

So let’s put these ideas into “working man’s clothes.” How can you take your 6 to 9-year-old and teach him or her to be responsible for knowledge?

Motivate them to tutor another kid in the class who’s not doing as well. I don’t know why it escapes so many people in our society, but children learn much more easily from their peers than from adults. It’s amazing that we do not have tutoring programs among the students, allowing the accomplished learner to further learn by imparting the data to someone who needs assistance.

Secondly to teach the generosity which should come through prosperity, you must be willing to give your children a weekly allowance and then teach them how to budget it–with charity being included in the process. If you’re going to pay the way of your child, but not instruct him or her about how to pay for themselves, they will have some severe problems when they get into their twenties.

And finally, to make them aware of the need to improve, celebrate their glorious moments of achievement, but help them to realize how they can do it better the next time. Self-awareness is the best way to teach your child how to avoid being criticized.

So even though they’re no longer solely the product of your teaching, you can still establish these necessary guidelines, which will allow for the process of making a kid into a human being continue without interruption.

 

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