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Other Names Being Considered For “School Shooting” to Give Television Commentators a Little Variety

A. Hall cleansing

 

B. S. H. O. T. Score

 

C. Early Dismissal

 

D. NRA Pep Rally

 

E. Homecoming

 

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Matters … May 22, 2012

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He was very loud.

He apparently had a deep conviction that using much volume and vigor was the symbol for commitment and passion. He strutted across the stage, engaging the audience, whipping them into a frenzy of agreement. I was never quite sure whether those listening were responding to the words or were merely overtaken by the sheer magnitude of the effort.

I turned down the noise in my mind and listened solely to this TV preacher’s  content. This is what he said:

“Sometimes I’m moody. Sometimes I’m depressed. Sometimes I’m mean. Sometimes I don’t like people. Sometimes I’m hard to get along with. Sometimes I’m not a very nice fellow. Sometimes I’m not a good husband. Sometimes I’m not a good preacher. Sometimes I’m just who I am—and without God giving me grace, I wouldn’t have a chance to ever make it to heaven.”

Each time he offered one of his “sometimes” phrases, the audience cheered. I wondered what they were cheering about. Was it just a gigantic pep rally, where anything that was in the context of “Yea, our team!” would have been greeted with equal exuberance? Or was it just that the gathered souls were simply offering their support to the general position of their leader?

I don’t know. But when I got done listening, the question that came to my mind was, “What’s the point?” If you’re going to be a believer, following the leading of the Heavenly Father, and you’re still the same kind of jerk you were before, why go to the trouble? Why take money out of your coffers to support a cause that doesn’t make you any different? Why take the time to dress up, perfume yourself and drive  to a building to worship an entity that offers no reprieve to your ailing soul, but rather, seems to revel in your insufficiency? How can we be the light of the world when we continue to be dim-witted? How can we be the salt of the earth, but have such a flat taste? How can we be a city set on a hill and be in darkness because someone failed to pay the light bill?

Jesus called God “the Father”’ but what KIND of Father? Is He one of those abusive Dads who levy punishments for minor infractions? Is He one of those doting Papas, who thinks His offspring can do no wrong, and always makes excuses in order to maintain the family bond? Or worse yet, is He one of those Fathers who pretends to be supportive, but inwardly and secretly hopes the child fails at his independence so “the young ‘un will come home to Daddy?”

It gave me a chill. Is that really the best we can offer? “Come and worship God, who will show you how weak you are and help you maintain your feebleness until you either die and discover the truth of the matteror get sick of being the underdog, run out of the door of the church screaming–to escape the bondage of religion?”

Is there a way to be human, acknowledge that you are, but also learn from the spirit of the Divine how to be better at it–and be adequately challenged and loved through the whole process?

I sat down and wrote three things on a piece of paper. I believe these three points are necessary to maintain emotional well-being, spiritual prosperity, mental health and physical solvency. (1) I matter. (2) You matter. (3) It matters.

First of all, I cannot advance my cause if I don’t believe that I matter. I can only tolerate a certain amount of self-imposed incrimination before my heart rebels against being treated like an unwanted orphan. Everything of quality in life has to commence with the understanding that “I matter.” To me, one of the more invigorating verses of scripture is when Jesus told his disciples that they didn’t need to worry, because the Father in heaven knew what they needed before they even asked. How lovely. And as a smart Creator, He knows that he placed within each and every one in us a need to believe in ourselves, pursue our own betterment, and refuse to give in to mediocrity. I matter—and if I matter, I’m not going to sell out and assume that my most meager efforts are my best.

So I say to that minister on the television, you may get some immediate “Amens” from the crowd by portraying human beings as incapable of overcoming their inconsistencies, but in the long run, you will cause them to lose the power to become the sons of God.

Because until I believe I matter, I cannot possibly let YOU matter. I love you but I’m not going to let you be better than me. I appreciate that you’re God’s child and I welcome you to a seat at the table—but I’m never going to give you my pork chop.  But when I feel secure in the fact that I matter and have a mission to improve myself instead of settling, I then will pass the platter your way and let you partake. It’s impossible to love your neighbor if you don’t already love yourself. Facts are, you WILL love your neighbor just as much as you DO love yourself, and if you think that you, yourself, are just a big pile of trash in the corner, then you certainly will be prepared to haul your friends to the curb.

If you really believe it’s natural for human beings to be depressed, mean, moody and selfish, then you will become fiercely competitive with others and suspicious of the world around you. The only way I can let you matter is because I know that I matter. If God is not transforming my life, why do I think He would be interested in your situation? Spirituality is not the absence of self-confidence, but rather, the definition of it. And that definition is simple: I matter enough that God tells me what will make my life even richer, so that I can live that out and make room for you to matter, too.

Do you see where we’re going? After I realize that I matter and my life is important, I have the joy of believing that you matter. And once you matter, suddenly the true miracle of life occurs: IT matters.

There’s nothing too small–setting up chairs in an auditorium, driving your car, buying groceries, folding the laundry, watching a football game or sitting in a church, worshipping. You know that I matter, and you’ve given grace to others to allow them to matter as well, and then suddenly–everything you do matters.

You give the greatest part of yourself to your own life—and that is attention. For instance, as I write this jonathots, I am nowhere else, thinking of nothing else, worrying about no one else, completely absorbed in this matter. I love it.

I was greatly saddened by this flamboyant, energetic minister on TV. He was seeking the approval of the populace by telling them they didn’t need to do anything more than what they were already doing in order to be godly. I suppose it is true if your goal is to maintain a mediocre lifestyle. But if you really want to be happy, you have to find a way to challenge your moodiness, depression, meanness and selfishness—and open the door to continual flows of living waters into your soul.

  • I matter.
  • You matter.
  • It matters.

And in the end, because it DOES matter, it gives even greater confirmation to why I matter, and it starts the circle of life again.

I’m sure there are those who can cite specific holy writings which might contradict parts of this thesis. But real holiness is a truth that makes us free—a word which has value because it is both heavenly and has an obviously rewarding earthly application.

Don’t settle. Don’t give in to your weakness and call it humility. Find out why God is a good Father—because He teaches His children to believe: I matter, you matter, it matters. 

  

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

Pep Reality — September 29, 2011

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  • Thundering applause.
  • Stomping feet.
  • A marching band playing off-tune versions of Sousa‘s dream tunes.
  • And a coach, preaching the gospel of victory to raucous response.
  • A pep rally. It is a phenomenal place to be. I played football for a short season in my life and I have stood in gymnasiums and listened to the student body scream their approval as the leader of our team proclaimed the power of our punch.

Here’s the problem. No game was ever decided on the quality of the pep rally. No one ever won a championship by screaming the loudest in an auditorium. The game is won on the field.

It is the problem in this country–we are a nation of people addicted to the pep rally. We do it in politics, we do it with corporations and we do it in religion.

In politics it shows up as the obsession we have over the process of voting, campaigning and electing a leader. In corporations, it’s the sheer, brute force of clever and seductive advertising to enhance the visual presence of the product without having to deal with its actual limitations. And in religion, it’s getting everybody “saved” and on their way to heaven in a worshipful way without ever really preparing them for the rest of the life they will spend on earth.

I will tell you as a football player–after the pep rally is done there are three things that remain.  The success or failure of the campaign lies in how each player deals with these three eventualities.

1.  Can you take a hit? The biggest shock to me when I went out for the football team was the startling impact that happens in the body, soul and mind the first time you are struck by another person and thrown to the ground. It is your instinct to want to stay down there for a while, never get up–or rise quickly and run away from the pain as quickly as possible. No, you have to develop the realization that a hit is coming, often from where you least expect it–and you must condition yourself to be ready to receive the punishment. Most people fail because they can’t take a hit. They either discuss how unfair life is, how difficult things are or how they wish things were better–and in the time they take commiserating over these issues, they lose valuable moments when the game is played and won.

I could always tell whether I was going to win my campaign against an opponent. After the first play, if I dominated him and he fell back and I noticed that he was intimidated by my presence, I knew I owned him the rest of the night.

We have created a generation of Americans who are accustomed to a tradition of winning, although they, themselves, have never been part of the victory and are quite perplexed about why the nation is experiencing such defeat at this point.

We can’t take a hit. So it’s very easy to intimidate us and relegate us to a status of being a pending loser.

2. What do you do when you fumble? It’s a ball, folks. It’s shaped oddly.  You are GOING to fumble. We spend too much time worrying about why things happened the way they did instead of correcting them and moving on. The team that learns how to fumble, survives it, gets the ball back and tries not to fumble again is always the team that wins. Any team that fumbles and throws a fit, pouting about it, will not only fail to get the ball back but if they do, they will be psychologically damaged and repeat the error, fumbling again.

3.  And finally, what are you going to do when you get tired? America starts OUT its day believing it is exhausted.  How is anyone going to put in a decent day’s effort if they start out the morning acting like they’re not going to make it? Any person in sports will tell you that games are won in the fourth quarter.  The best-conditioned, most determined and mentally alert team will always wear down the opponent, create mistakes and take the day.

These are the three things that determine the outcome of any conflict. In politics, our leaders cannot take a hit, nor do they know what to do when they fumble an issue, and they spend all their time complaining about how tiresome the whole procedure is.  Losers.

Corporations can’t take a hit because they are afraid of competition and try to eliminate anyone who comes up with a better mousetrap. They cover up their errors instead of correcting them and they continue to offer boring and often useless choices to the American public instead of innovative and creative ones.

In religion, we do not prepare people for the world’s tribulation–the hit. We do not teach our congregations how to experience a set-back without wading in a pool of disappointment. And we have the religious folks so heavenly minded that they’ve grown tired of earth and have ceased to be the “more-than-conquerors” that the Bible says they were meant to be.

The Pep Reality is that advertising, preaching, shouting, exhorting and praising do not win games.  It is he who can take a hit, survive the fumble and overcome fatigue who will stand at the end of the contest, proudly holding the game ball.

Pep Reality.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can skip steps–because you may be saved by grace, but heaven doesn’t come if you’re no earthly good.

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