G-Poppers … August 11th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop spends more time thinking than he does talking. Long before he offers a chat to his children, he tosses the ball of confusion around in his brain to see if he can get it to bounce right.

Such is the case between caring and involved.

Normally we think that if we care, we will become involved–but the danger of becoming involved is, with our assistance, we bring our opinion.

This year G-Pop has learned this lesson with great clarity. He aspired to be helpful and involved. Why? Because he cared.

But he did not believe that caring was enough–caring being that action of expressing concern and standing ready with prayer or even some financial support, to help those around him achieve what they set out to do.

  • “Caring” comes without interference.
  • “Involved” often brings a bit of nosiness and mouth along with the tender touch.

For instance, does God care for us or is God involved? And if He is involved, where does that place free will?

In other words, can you be involved in other people’s lives and still completely honor their choices, without displaying a disgruntled expression?

G-Pop believes the answer is no.

Here’s a truth: it’s better when people work out their own problems. We need things to be our idea. If possible, we need the idea to be born of our will.

Following advice does make you a follower.

G-Pop now realizes that he needs to care, but not get so involved. Caring will always be received well but involvement can be interfering.

So G-Pop says to his children, be careful not to intrude and then become offended because people treat you like you’re an intruder.

“All I was trying to do was help.”

What we should try to do is care–and encourage people as they find their path. Because if we stand afar and care more instead of involving ourselves, the number of people we can bless increases.

Because here’s the fact: involvement is downright exhausting.Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

 

Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 9) Tongue Depressor … June 26th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Monday morning was no better.

Before noon, Meningsbee succeeded in offending three well-meaning souls.

Coming back from the church service on Sunday in a growling mood, he had tossed and turned all night, failing to get enough sleep. So when he was awakened at 8:45 A. M. by the phone, he was barely able to eek out a respectable “hello.”

The call came from Pastor Mickey Jiles from the Pentecostal Assembly Church just down the road. Mickey explained that he had awakened “concerned for his brother” after the events of the past week, and wanted to let him know that “prayers were going forth” and “if he needed anything at all, just give a buzz.”

Meningsbee was in no mood for generosity. He managed a curt, “Thank you, but I’m fine,” and hung up–wondering if Pastor Jiles felt the conversation was over.

In the midst of Meningsbee trying to don his socks, there was a knock at the door. It was young Danny, the paper-boy, who came to collect for newspaper deliveries. Suddenly Meningsbee found himself in a squabble with the fine lad over a price hike that had come from the big city without asking Danny’s permission.

Meningsbee begrudgingly paid the extra money as he slammed the door.

Then, somewhere in the midst of a bite of burnt toast, the phone rang again and it was his good friend from Chicago, calling to see how he was doing and how the great experiment was coming along. Meningsbee lied and said he was on his way out the door and would call back later. The sweet old chum remained jovial, but sensed there was some difficulty.

Tuesday was not much better, and Wednesday threatened to get worse. By Thursday, Meningsbee felt it was best that he not interact with any human for fear that he would generate emotional devastation.

So when Sunday rolled around and it was time to go to the church, every “negative nagging ninnie” notion came to his mind as he drove to the sanctuary. He sat in his car, trying to get in a better mood.

The transformation was aided by the fact that there was a pretty good turnout. With his professional pastoral “car-counting ability,” he judged that most of the folks who last week made the benevolent journey to the other congregation had made their way back to the flock.

It should have put him in a good mood, but it didn’t.

So it was time to fall back on his training. How should a good pastor act?

He took three deep breaths, emerged from his car and proceeded into the building.

He forced a smile.

He portrayed himself as jovial.

He hugged a couple of children.

In so doing he became a little too loud, a bit boisterous, and although he had set a precedent for allowing the congregation to determine the tempo of the service, on this morning he stepped in to become the “leader of the worship.”

It was adequate. The average person sitting in the pew possibly didn’t sense anything different, but Meningsbee knew better. He had lost some innocence. What was once a passion for constructive change had now become a competition by a company man.

He was so angry. Or was it disappointment? Or was it a feeling that justice was not being provided?

He remained human just long enough to greet all those who came, and then, before the building was even emptied, he slipped away to his car, climbed in and sat for a moment, staring at the departing friends as tears filled his eyes.

It was a shitty day.

Yes, the word “shit” came from his lips.

Profanity had speckled his mind all week long, but had been held at bay by propriety.

Now it was unleashed.

What the hell was going on?

He started his car, backed up and headed out the exit. He turned right, pointing his vehicle northward, and just started driving.

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Good News and Better News … April 25th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Salem composite

Salem United Methodist Church in Blountville, Tennessee.

It was my pleasure to be with the dear citizens yesterday morning.

“Salem” means “a peaceful completion.” Ironic, since it’s contained in the name of the city, “Jerusalem,” which is hardly peaceful or completed.

But as I looked out at my new friends yesterday morning, I asked myself, what is peace?

Because Jesus told us that we are certainly meant to be peacemakers. As in most things in life, I think we get confused as to where to start.

The more religious among us believe we should make our peace with God first and foremost.

Those who are more secular-minded contend we should make our peace with ourselves–find our inner sanctum of tranquility. Then we would be in a position to make peace with others.

Even though these two schools of thought are very popular, they have not brought peace to the world.

Often when we feel we’ve made our peace with God, it makes us prideful of our salvation and therefore critical of others.

On the other hand, when we make peace with ourselves, we tend to get a bit pompous over our own satisfaction, feel no need for God, and pity the weaker humans around us.

Yesterday, while sharing with the Salem gathered, I realized that our job is to make peace with others.

Jesus made this clear in the Sermon on the Mount. He said if you get to church and you remember that somebody has something against you–maybe a grudge–you should leave church and work that out first. Otherwise, nothing good will happen.

Conventional thinking is that going to church would soften our hearts to be more forgiving, or that the solitude of prayer would prepare our souls for a peaceful resolution.

But Jesus said nothing is really achieved until we make peace with the offended. (By the way, that doesn’t mean we have a bone to pick with them, but instead, we recall that they want to pick our bones.)

I’ve got to be honest with you–sometimes those around me get miffed at something I’ve done and I couldn’t give a hoot owl’s “who-who” over it. But that’s because I think I can have peace of mind and peace with my God without having peace with my brothers and sisters.

That kind of attitude is the formula for conflict, feuds and even wars.

God has peace with me. He knows who I am. He still hangs around.

Generally speaking, under normal circumstances, I find a way to love myself–even if it’s the “ooey-gooey” of self-pity.

But true peace is when I become passionately concerned over trying to understand the situation of the individuals around me.

I can’t get peace with God or really have legitimate peace with myself until I attempt to make peace with others.

That’s the good news. Here’s the better news:

If we believe this to be true, we can get a jump on the situation … before misunderstandings become lasting conflicts.

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G-Poppers … November 13th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

Thoughtful is not the opposite of thoughtless.

G-Pop wants his children to understand that.

There is an in-between world. It is lodged somewhere between being absent thought and being filled to the brim. Shall we refer to it as thought-parts?

It’s the quicksand human beings often find themselves in when deliberating the best way to be generous without really giving up anything. It revolves around two questions:

1. Why don’t they…?

2. And why isn’t it…?

For some reason, we get stymied by the fact that life is not working out exactly the way we envisioned it. Even when we pretend to be flexible and resilient, there is a hidden animosity lurking within us, causing us to be grouchy or overly careful.

On our way to thoughtful, to escape thoughtless, we get bogged down in thought-parts.

Because we certainly want to avoid thoughtless, characterized by staring down at the phone with buds in the ears and a grimace on the face, as a pair of texts arrive, ruining the day by reporting that the tickets desired for the concert were not available and the favorite department store no longer sells skinny-leg jeans.

People don’t want to be thoughtless, where they throw up a wall of insecurity and frustration which basically makes them believe that life sucks and they deserve better.

They attempt to avoid pessimism, but still find themselves unwilling reach the status of “thoughtful,” sliding down into thought-parts.

They don’t want to make decisions, therefore they become a target of every pesky hassle that comes along.

So how do you get from thought-parts to thoughtful? Thoughtful is pretty simple–or shall we say, simply stated?

Thoughtful is two realizations:

They don’t have to.

And I can use it.

This pair brings about the holy realization that no human owes us anything, and rather than complaining about what we have, we find a trail in the direction of success.

Since one of the more common questions in life is, “What do you think?” we probably should develop an astute answer.

  • Thoughtless is always cynical.
  • Thoughtful is always prepared.
  • And thought-parts wants to do something positive, but finds it hard to get over being offended.

 

 

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Iffing Way (Part 6): I Quit … November 24, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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If bigger

What if a voice of sanity had risen up at various stages in the story of human history, to offer a challenging view when craziness was about to win the day?

If …

He asked for a private meeting.

It is very difficult to spit out your feelings while swallowing your pride.

He was insulted. Being a fully grown man, he had been called down in front of his colleagues with no regard for his position.

It was certainly improper. If there isn’t a free flow of ideas, then there is tyranny.

Yet somehow or another he had succeeded in calming his spirit to request a moment of time with this friend who had offended him.

It was all a little silly, yet grounded in a principle which was important enough for making a stand.

Mary had no business taking such an expensive amount of ointment and pouring it out on the Teacher’s head and feet. Three hundred dollars! Did he have any idea what three hundred dollars could do to aid at least five hundred families in this poverty-stricken area?

Yet when he lodged his objection, he was tersely set aside and told that he shouldn’t criticize Mary for her deed because she was anointing him “for his burial.”

What a drama king! What burial? He was thirty-three-and-a-half years old and as healthy as an ox.

Judas could not understand why the Teacher was pulling up lame at this point instead of standing strong and propelling the mission to a glorious conclusion. It was ridiculous.

So feeling confronted, Judas had stomped out, not wanting to say something he might regret later.

Judas chose to be the mature one. But now what was he going to do? He would not play the role of the bruised puppy who had been slapped on the nose by his master.

He had been taught by his father Simon to stand up for himself–to find what was important and risk humiliation and even alienation to defend it.

Once, when he was a kid, one of his playmates had stolen some toys from him and he was in the middle of plotting for the young fellow a painful retribution. His dad stopped him, telling him never to betray his own conscience and soul, but instead, to confront his adversary and try to find terms of peace.

So Judas decided to talk to Jesus.

“Listen, I was really offended by what happened last night.”

Jesus remained silent.

Judas continued slowly. “I want us to be able to discuss this without me playing the part of the disciple and you being the big boss.”

Jesus continued to listen.

“You see, Jesus, my problem is that I don’t think we should waste money and then preach a message of taking care of the poor when we, ourselves, are squandering cash.”

Jesus sat quietly without moving a muscle.

A bit frustrated, Judas pushed on. “Are you listening to me? Do you feel what’s in my heart? Do you appreciate my opinion, or since it’s different from yours, is it irrelevant?”

Finally Jesus spoke. “What is it you want, Judas bar Simon?”

“That’s easy,” replied Judas. “I want to be heard.”

Jesus paused and then looked into his eyes. “I can hear you–unless what needs to be done is more important than your words.”

“Are you pushing me out of this?” demanded Judas with a bit of heat.

Jesus sat quietly, without speaking a word.

“Then I quit,” said Judas. “I cannot stay somewhere that I’m not respected, and my father taught me not to seek revenge or betray people just because they disagree with me.”

“Your father taught you well,” said Jesus.

“So this is it?” punctuated Judas.

“That’s up to you,” said Jesus.

“It doesn’t seem to be,” replied Judas. “It seems like you want me out.”

“No,” said Jesus. “There are just certain things that have to be in my message, in timing and in the flow. Your comments were not within those boundaries.”

Judas wanted to continue to argue but found it difficult to do so because Jesus was still warm, but no longer open.

“I guess this is it,” said Judas.

“I guess so,” said Jesus, and inserted, “I wish you well.”

Judas turned and walked from the room. He should have known it wouldn’t work out–he was from Judea and the rest of the followers were from Galilee. It wasn’t an issue of prejudice–rather, culture.

He went back home to South Judea, to Kerioth, where he settled in, started a family, but tried to keep up with the affairs and times … of the every-growing Kingdom Movement.

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Three Ways to Forgive… November 20, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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forgiveness bigger

Nothing invokes more teary-eyed sessions and popcorn psychology than the subject of forgiveness.

And it isn’t because we’re all trying to figure out how to forgive other people, but more because we realize how frail our efforts are and how much we need forgiveness ourselves.

The danger is the sappy logic that forces people to pretend they have forgiven while never experiencing the personal satisfaction of moving on.

Honestly, my friend, there are only three ways to forgive, and in this particular case, they are approached in order.

1. Look for your own personal responsibility.

Yes, very few things in life are the fault of one individual, but rather, a twisted spider web of confusing details which have to be untangled order to get to the truth.

This is the power of the warning to “take the log out of our own eye” before removing the “speck of sawdust” from someone else’s peeper.

Of course, there are times when there is no fault on our part, but more often than not, we will discover a seed we planted which unfortunately grew into a root of bitterness. You will find that it is much easier to negotiate with an enemy when you’re willing to be honest about your own part in the mess.

Once you’ve achieved this step, you’re ready for:

2. Look for repentance.

The key to forgiveness is that those who have offended you feel a sense of regret.

I think it is a great lie to tell people they can forgive others who have not admitted their fault. It’s popular to act as if forgiveness can be a one-sided event when others have not joined in the contrition. But if you want forgiveness to work in real life, you need to see repentance in those who have wronged you.

And what happens if you don’t see that repentance? In other words, you have found your own personal responsibility, but those who have attacked you are not convinced of their evil, and refuse to repent? Then:

3. Look to create distance.

It is ludicrous to think that you can exist, prosper and be in good health while remaining around individuals who have hurt you but feel no compulsion to make recompense.

It is important to forget–but virtually impossible to do so if you don’t put those old things behind you.

Look to create distance. You can’t see the face of your abuser every single day and believe that forgiveness has any reality in your being.

Now I know there are people who will disagree with me on these issues, but I do believe that those people are offering a spiritual act of forgiving which has no reality in the human experience.

I don’t forgive people in order to be magnanimous. I forgive people because I need to get the hell out of the mess. If they won’t let me move on, then I need to move away from them–sometimes literally.

Forgiveness is a powerful tool, but even God took on the responsibility of creating humans as emotionally frail creatures. Therefore He looks for repentance, but when it’s not there, He draws away. This is made clear–God only comes close to those who come close to Him.

So if God has discovered the true essence of forgiveness, why don’t we take the step?

Look at what we’ve done, look for repentance, and if it doesn’t come, look for a door to sanity.

 

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Rebirth Certificate… December 18, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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birthdayJonI was born.

Although present, I retain no memory. Apparently there were people who were excited about the idea, who later became overwhelmed with the duties and responsibility and eventually settled into a nearly comical profile, blending pride and disappointment. Funny thing about family–it is often touted as our greatest benefactor. But truthfully, it’s more like investors grumbling over the return.

They gave me a certificate at my birth to confirm that the appearance actually happened–that I was not an alien and therefore was qualified, or at least permitted, to be President of the United States if I reached such an arrogant and ridiculous conclusion.

As wonderful as it is to be born of the wife of my father, I have found this year that to be born of Mother Nature and honoring my Father in heaven to be an even greater transformation.

Yes, this year I feel like I have received a “Rebirth Certificate.” It was really quite simple to procure. After all my years of earth travel, I have finally surrendered to a pair of principles that make everything work together to the good:

  1. Don’t expect too much.
  2. Don’t get offended.

That’s it.

If you can remind yourself of these two ideas every day, you can finish out with the setting of the sun having a joyous resignation to reality.

Of course, the society I live in denies these two precepts and replaces them with “dream big and don’t take crap off of anyone.” Matter of fact, you can get a cheer in almost any gathering by proclaiming your uniqueness, individuality and determination that you will not be overcome.

Not me.

Today is my birthday, so I’m going to tell you what I’m celebrating:

  • I have taken this year to lessen my need and increase my gift.
  • I have used these 365 days to find a way to accept my surroundings as the available climate for my next endeavor.
  • I have reached inside myself to find the Kingdom of God instead of demanding that others adhere to my theology or moral code.
  • I have challenged the only person I am able to affect: the one who stares back at me in the mirror.
  • I have realized that the treatment I receive from strangers has nothing to do with me, but rather, their ongoing struggle with understanding their own birth.
  • And those people who are determined to hurt me waste valuable time that they could be using to pursue their own personal excellence.

It is a “Rebirth Certificate.” I don’t expect too much and I try real hard not to get offended.

Since I have no recollection of my initial forthcoming from my mother’s womb, if you don’t mind, I will celebrate this new experience.

Born again.

Yes, I think I finally get it.

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