A Lying Tongue… August 29, 2012

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So I decided to count.

I took yesterday morning and focused on the number of times that I told fibs in the course of a three-hour period. Even though I was alerted to the scrutiny, at the end of my little session, I had to admit that I actually told three untruths. Isn’t that amazing? Even when I was aware that a spotlight was being put on my language, I still ended up producing a bit of dishonesty.

Why?

After all, it is one of those seven thing that God hates. It says right there in Proverbs that He just really despises “a lying tongue.” And the reason He does is because a lying tongue is always located just beneath “a proud look.” Every little piece of pride that we manufacture to justify our present form of behavior has to be backed up by a series of lies to keep it going and real. And even though pride displays arrogance, it is a symptom of insecurity–and insecurity is why we all lie.

I’m sure there are people who stretch the truth because they just enjoy deceiving others, but most occasions for a lack of candor have something to do with the fact that we are ashamed of our truth and at least want to embellish it and make it look prettier.

It was a great exercise for me. I am one to extol the value of “telling it like it is,” yet when it’s time for me to do that into the mirror or into the face of adversity, I am just as prone to escape to the “little white something-or-other.”

God hates a proud look. We talked about that last week. And because of the necessity of reinforcing that over-blown image, it becomes necessary to lie.

Politicians lie all the time–not because they are immoral by birth. It’s because they find themselves needing to make promises when such proclamations are ridiculous and impossible. Thus, lies.

So a proud look breeds a lying tongue and a lying tongue exists because we have selected pride instead of simply standing behind the evidence of our fruitfulness. If you are going to be able to escape the pride that is born of ego, which leads to a lying tongue, you will need to come to three very specific personal conclusions:

1. It’s okay to be less than what people want me to be. Most of us become mentally imbalanced because we’re trying to live up to an expectation from other people which they, themselves, neither live nor pursue. If every person who was moral was truly moral, then morality might seem to be a good banner for a campaign for a better society. But the people who claim to be moral are always exposed for some of the greatest immorality. We should not rejoice over their failures, but we should be forewarned that arrogance leads to deception and lying, which always culminates in exposure.

I know that my family and friends hoped that I would be famous and rich. That was never meant to be. I have a message, not a product. If I had merely a product, I could hone in on it and make sure it was perfectly adjusted and fine-tuned to the tastes of the society around me. But having a message, I must be sensitive to history, reality and truth, and therefore, I do not gain immediate acclaim. I decided early in life that I would rather share a message that actually transforms human thought than produce a product that merely panders to it. So to me, it’s okay to be less than what the people around me want me to be. I don’t have to lie about the fact that I don’t have a college education–I can be honest that what I am is the by-product of what I have experienced, the sweat of my struggle and the blessing that God has given me by His grace.

2. Stop thinking about the right thing to say and test-drive honesty. The reason I use the phrase “test-drive” is that at first, you may only be able to say it in a room by yourself, then maybe to one other person who loves you. But eventually you have to be candid. It takes practice. It took me a long time to admit I was fat and not terribly attractive without either having a tear come to my voice or looking around the room for someone to contradict me.

Test-drive honesty. Start today. If you don’t, you’ll get behind the wheel of your life and steer yourself right into the ditch–and the ditch always involves some form of lying.

3. And finally, don’t wait to be attacked. Beat your critics to the punch. In the pursuit of self-esteem, we seem to have lost the power of self-deprecation.  If I notice my weaknesses before my adversaries are able to turn them into a slide-show, I retain the power. If my weaknesses are ignored by me and divulged by those who have less concern for my well-being, I am at the mercy of public opinion. If you want to know who I am and you haven’t figured it out by reading my jonathots, just ask me. Or for that matter, spend twenty minutes around me, and in that length of time you will know my weaknesses and my strengths.

The reason we lie is that we are protecting our pride. The reason we’re proud is because we are somewhat insecure that what we believe is really going to win the day. That’s as simple as it gets. So every politician who lies is really attempting to protect his or her pride, which means they are insecure about what they are telling us they are capable of achieving. See what I mean?

I am going to tell you the four things I can do. This is the truth, as far as I know.

1. I can fail. Even when my feet are set in the direction of prosperity and an inclination towards good, the luck of the draw or time and chance can withhold my reward.

2. I am not what you want me to be. I know that will disappoint you at some point or another. I apologize. Yet I need you to know that my job is not to please you, but to find a way to please myself enough that the love sprouting from my innards can be expressed to the world around me.

3. I am not satisfied with my talent. No–it is not enough for me to do what I am doing. Rather, I gain a sense of passion by multiplying my gifts, and in so doing, define what it really means to be a human being.

4. I am not better than anyone else. If you have seen people do stupid things, please understand that I am equally capable of the achievement. If you’ve seen folks excel, please allow me to opportunity. NoOne is better than anyone else. We have built a nation on that principle. Yet we manifest our American hypocrisy by departing from it whenever we want to extol our conservative nature or uplift our liberalism.

There you go–God hates a lying tongue. He hates it because it comes out of a proud look. God is not mean, He just doesn’t want His people to be so insecure that they have to be prideful and end up lying about it.

Are you ready to be vulnerable, so that you don’t have to be caught with your pants down? Let’s be honest–when you’re caught with your pants down, lying just won’t help.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

A Proud Look … August 22, 2012

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Did you know that there are seven things that God hates? Of course you did. You’re just as smart or smarter than me.

But do you remember–at the top of that list is “a proud look?” You would certainly think that God’s primal distaste would be for poor church attendance or a lack of tithing; perhaps misguided prayer or ignoring the Bible. But no–it’s a proud look.

When I read that yesterday it gave me great pause. The word “pride” is an established premise in our society for psychological well-being. Simultaneously, it’s also an accusation we make at others when we want to attack their over-wrought sense of importance.

How can it be both?

Is there a certain amount of pride necessary in order to maintain any human presence? And if you exceed that magical level, does it suddenly become detrimental,  even intolerable? And while you’re answer that one, since when would human beings be able to distinguish and maintain that kind of balance?

Pride, it would seem, is similar to handing a vial of nitroglycerin to a child and calling after him, as he heads to the playground, “Play safe!”

It doesn’t seem to come with instructions. We do know this–the seven things that God hates are actually very human and are also the things that we, as people, despise. So God’s preferences are not nearly as religious as one might think–and we know that at the top of His list, in the catacombs of the despicable, is a proud look.

If I’m emotionally proud, I come across condescending, as if I have solved all the secrets of the universe and have arrived here to aid my ailing brothers and sisters. If I’m spiritually proud, there is a piety that causes people to want to hurt me because I have transformed everything practical into the realm of the supernatural, leaving me arrogantly annoying. If I’m mentally proud, it means I think I’m smarter than everybody else, which is usually reason enough to plot my death. And of course, if I’m physically proud–preening all of my outward members–I just cause those around me to try to think of ways to make me stumble, or at least sprout a pimple.

Sometimes we say, “I’m proud to be an American.” That worries me, too. Nationalistic pride is good–as long as it’s inclusive of others and doesn’t begin to believe in the supremacy of our particular type of people.

Pride is like having a knife with no handle–just two blades. The more you use it, the more you cut yourself. So here’s what I came up with–I think it is a complete package and when enacted correctly, allows us to culminate with a sense of confidence and pride.

Emotionally, I am learning me. I need to stop rationalizing who I am or comparing myself to people with lesser conviction and focus on my own emotions and learn what I can about myself without fear and shame.

Spiritually, I am learning God–not from a Biblical sense, from what others have written down in a book, but from the perspective of Him being my Creator and Father, and comprehending what His love and also His mission entails.

Mentally, I am learning earth. Right? That’s where I live. And until I am evicted or given a bus transfer, the best place for me to learn is earth–how it functions, how I can be a good caretaker and how I can submit to the wisdom of Mother Nature without appearing to be a mama’s boy.

And physically I am learning to work with what I have. In our bodies, there is a danger of being too satisfied with our present condition and certainly equally a precarious cliff we can hang from if we’re constantly disgusted with our appearance. In my case, as a large, aging, bald white man, it’s a good idea to try to play up my better parts and disguise areas that may be ready for retirement.

When you put all that together–when you are emotionally learning yourself, spiritually learning of God’s love and His desires, mentally learning the earth of His creation, and you have taken a few moments to eyeball yourself in the mirror and learn to work with what you have, you do reach a point when you can be proud. It is not a look in your eyes that exudes domination, but instead, a simple statement: I am proud of my pursuit.

It doesn’t show up in your facial expression or countenance. Instead, it is manifested in the fruit you bear, in your tasks and your dealings with others.

A proud look is when we allow one part of our being to jut out from our face while we have ignored the other portions that are ragged and rusty. But a true pride is in rejoicing over the pursuit of learning yourself, learning God, learning earth and learning to work with what you are.

It is still a delicate adventure, but to me, it makes more sense than playing with dynamite … while holding a match.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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