Dudley … May 18th, 2017

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DUDLEY

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G-Poppers … August 26th, 2016

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G-Pop just wasn’t sure it was relevant.

He wanted to share a story from the Acts of the Apostles from the Good Book, but was concerned that when it comes to the Bible, many people are looking for religion instead of reality. Yet the parallel to our times was so strong that he decided to take a risk.

The tale is rather obscure and rarely spoken of in church circles. It’s about a fellow named Simon, from Samaria. He is described as a prominent man with great influence and appreciation among his peers. When the disciples of Jesus appear, sharing their message of love and hope, praying for the sick and bringing the Holy Spirit to the masses, Simon is impressed by the anointing and intrigued at the opportunity.

So he approaches Peter. He says, “How much would it cost for me to get the Holy Spirit?”

To a man who believes that material things provide all security, it was logical for Simon to think there was a purchase price for anything and everything. We’re even told that Simon professed to be a believer–but what he was interested in was absorbing the power.

G-Pop would like to pause for a moment and parallel this with Hillary and Donald.

Both of them claim to be Christians, feeling the need to acquire that support and even be immersed in the community. But simultaneously, they deny the power of the message of Jesus of Nazareth and his lifestyle.

  • Jesus did not verbally attack his enemies.
  • Jesus did not subjugate the poor.
  • Jesus did not think that lying was an option.
  • Jesus did not believe that one person was better than another.
  • Jesus did not contend that the Jews had an edge over the Gentiles.

Yet we have two candidates running for President who purport to be followers of Jesus, and are not bearing fruit of his mission in their everyday lives.

Returning to the story, when Peter was offered money by Simon, who was referred to as a Sorcerer, his reply was very blunt. “Take your money and go to hell.”

Today the response given by the Christian community and evangelicals to the Presidential candidates is quite different. It’s because they don’t believe in the insights of Jesus and are looking for a political solution.

What would happen if the Christians in this country stood up to Hillary and Donald?

Because when Peter challenged Simon, there was a happy ending.

Simon repented.

Hillary and Donald will continue to assert that cutting, hurting, attacking, back-biting, gossiping and lying are viable ways to become the leader of our nation until people who treasure faith stand up and say, “To hell with this.”

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Ask Jonathots… July 28th, 2016

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Why did Jesus say it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom? Is there something evil about having money?

With all due respect, I think you’ve asked the wrong question.

For a discussion about evil–its sources and implications–is the best way to leave yourself paranoid and frightened to do anything.

The real question: Is there anything good about money?

1. It can allow us to be free of the tension of sustaining ourselves, and cause us to begin to “consider the lily.”

2. If we can convince ourselves that we actually have enough of this money stuff, it is possible to stimulate a wave of generosity in our actions which will be a blessing to those around us.

3. If we find ourselves in the black instead of the red, we grant our spirit an energy to generate creativity and come up with inventive ideas.

4. Having money gives us a chance to give opportunity to those who have talent but just lack funding.

5. If we’re able to convince ourselves that we are accomplished, and therefore do not have to fear losing our finance, we can expand our vision and become less critical.

When Jesus said “it is more difficult for a rich man to make it into heaven than a camel to go through the eye of a needle,” what he was referring to was not the presence of money, but rather, the failure to exorcise the demon of insufficiency.

Just because you have money does not mean you cease to believe you’re poor.

For it is the love of money that is the root of all evil–the yearning, the despair, the nervousness, the feeling of inadequacy–that launches all sorts of vile actions.

If you’re going to have money, you must reach a point where you’re convinced that you have money.

That frees you up to become generous, turning money into a gift of the spirit, which grants you angelic potential to be a Good Samaritan to the world around you.

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Ask Jonathots… June 23rd, 2016

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In this political season, I find myself thinking about the issue of lying. We point fingers–but at the same time, accept the notion that “all politicians lie.” And I must admit, I’ve told my share of whoppers. So what is the truth about lying? Is it possible to live life without doing it?

Telling the truth is not a virtue.

It’s not like giving to the poor, sacrificing one’s life for your country or even rescuing baby seals from the Canadians.

Telling the truth is an issue of survival. It is essential to accomplishing our goals.

So is the truth built into the natural order?

Yes. Because when the truth is not told, there is no way to adequately proceed with our lives–the premise we’re basing everything on is sand instead of rock.

In other words, someone might turn to me and say, “Do you think you can drive to Albuquerque by next Thursday?”

If my immediate response is yes, without checking the mileage, then I easily make myself a liar when Thursday rolls around and I have not arrived in Albuquerque.

It may sound noble to ask people to tell the truth. But every human being wants to look like he or she is at the top of their game–always putting their best foot forward. This nurtures lying.

The best way to escape lying is to learn the majesty of three responses:

1. I don’t know.

You can avoid about 50% of your lying by being willing to admit that you don’t know. With the availability of the Internet, “I don’t know” does not mean you will remain ignorant. It just means you are not going to lie.

2. I’ve never done it before.

A good portion of our lying is in the arena of the false promotion of our efforts and background. If you’ve never done it before, that does not mean you don’t get to do it now–it just means that those who are asking you to participate should be aware that they are dealing with a novice.

3. I’m not so sure this is something I like.

Politeness contributes to a huge portion of the lying that goes on. If something doesn’t ring your bell, you need to let people know before your bell is “ringless.” This kind of candor will free you of many ridiculous commitments, which you will end up pursuing begrudgingly.

So the first fruits of the truth is to acquire these three intelligent answers.

In doing so, you buy yourself time to learn, consider and be motivated toward enthusiasm.

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G-Poppers … June 10th, 2016

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G-Pop wants his children to understand the true plight of the poor.

For you see, progressive liberals contend that poverty is caused by lack. They think the top 1 % hoard finance from the 99%. They also have a deep conviction that the funds should be distributed more evenly, and that in doing so, the problem would be solved.

On the other hand, conservative traditionalists coyly assert that those who live in destitution hold a major responsibility due to an infestation of laziness. They would say there are plenty of jobs, but those who live in the “ghetto” are not willing to do them.

So while these two camps hurl rocks at one another, those who are struggling continue to suffer without ever being consulted.

G-Pop has taken the time to talk to people who are in need. The response is pretty universal.

Poverty is about location.

Even though lack and laziness come to play as byproducts of the circumstances, poverty begins with proximity.

In America certain areas are targeted as insufficient, dangerous and destitute of hope, and then we take our brothers and sisters, place them in that atmosphere and insist they thrive.

Their communities don’t have fresh produce, reasonable grocery stores, health clubs, libraries or safe parks for play. Instead, they are dotted with convenience stores, dark alleys, poorly lit streets, loan sharks, pawn shops and prostitution.

The reason? Racism–and the fallacious notion that “birds of a feather flock together.”

Once we’re safe in suburbia, we just don’t give a damn about “the bad side of town.”

We could hire the young people from the poor sections to paint, clean up, construct and organize their communities for brighter possibilities. Then we would be offering jobs–and the money paid to these young folks would be recouped through less crime and rehabilitation.

Progressives are limited because they only recognize the lack.

Conservatives are weakened by their penchant to characterize citizens as lazy. When people lack, they do lose hope–which can make them lazy. This is true.

But it begins with the old axiom: the key to all real estate is location, location, location.

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Poor Coverage … August 9, 2013

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For two-and-a-half years I shared and ministered with the poor, disenfranchised and homeless folks in Shreveport, Louisiana.

I would not trade that experience for any amount of gold or prestige. Yet I have to tell you that even though it was peppered with great blessing, it was also salted with revelation and discovery.

I learned first-hand what Jesus meant when he said that “the poor you have with you always.”

It never stops. A bag of groceries does not alleviate aching hunger. Paying an electric bill fattens the purse of the local utility, but frustrates the recipients, who realize that next month they will find themselves in the same predicament.

There is a misrepresentation about spirituality–that those who pursue deeper understanding of the heart of God are meant to be propagators of generosity to the destitute. Why the misconception? Because it sounds good.

I observed it last night during my visit to a church in Michigan. These wonderful congregants had put together a system of providing paper goods and needful supplies to members of their community suffering under the rigors of financial depression. I watched as the people came in to receive their bag of goodies and observed as they departed. There was no joy, no sense of appreciation, no discovery of a deep truth etching its way across their features. They were resigned. Or maybe they HAD resigned. I don’t know which one.

But even though they possessed goods which they did not previously count in their storehouses, the realization that it was a “temporary fix” burdened their souls.

Discussing poverty is probably one of the most difficult subjects to broach. You will find yourself becoming either encompassed with the festering futility of the ongoing epidemic, or trying to distance yourself–coming across as a calloused, uncaring goofball.

What SHOULD be our position?

Jesus said they’re not going to go away, so you should “do what you can.”

I think that’s what the generous folks WERE accomplishing at last night’s church. But simultaneously, I must alert them that Jesus fed the five thousand … until he discovered they were following him JUST for the food.

  • Jesus healed the lepers but never visited a leper colony. He instead required that these diseased souls track him down and bring their faith.
  • And Jesus, when confronted by Judas about being uncaring toward the poor by wasting ointment on his head and feet, replied that Judas was out of the flow and didn’t realize that there are more important things than a temporary band-aid on a gaping wound.

What DID Jesus do?

1.  He energized the working class and the rich to appreciate what they had and realize that more of them was required.

2.  He kept his ears open to those who broke out of the pack of self-pity and made their way to his side for transformation.

3. He taught people how to be industrious instead of dependent on luck or divine intervention for their provision, telling them that they were “the salt of the earth” and that  “the Kingdom of God was within them.”

4. And in more than one parable, he told them that seed needed to be sown even when it seemed like there was no possibility for it to take root.

I learned during my two-and-a-half years that caring for the poor is something that has to be done in stride rather than being an actual walk in and of itself. And ultimately, the best way to solve poverty is to take the ten per cent who are ready to pursue personal and financial excellence and ask them to look out for the needs … of nine of their neighbors.

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Unconventional… August 31, 2012

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I received contact this week from two friends. Both of them are believers in the life and times of Jesus. One is a Republican and one is a Democrat. They were each  sharing their particular rendition of what they believe to be the best profile for our nation in the upcoming four years. Each one believes himself to be a patriot of some sort; each one thinks that the other political party is detrimental, if not dangerous, to the progression of our country’s values.

Neither one believes that the philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth can be applied in purity into a real-world situation of social and political upheaval. They honor the idealism of the Master but doubt that the range of ideas that Jesus presented would practically work in real-time situations. How do I know this?

Because one’s a Republican and one’s a Democrat.

They pursue movements that utilize the name of Christ, but fail to engage his heart and will. They revere political ideas that truly praise him with their lips but keep their hearts far from him.

Here are two outstanding examples of Jesus principles that escape both approaches:

1. You shall know the truth and the truth will make you free.  It seems that you can not be involved in politics and keep the sanctity of that idea. Matter of fact, it’s joked about and even given other names, like “disinformation” and “playing loose with the facts.” Here’s what I know: those who gathered in Tampa this week did so failing to recognize their most recent President, George W. Bush, and pretending as if the eight years of his administration did not exist. That’s called a lie. Maybe they didn’t like what he did. Then they should explain how the new platform and ideas will differ. Maybe they thought he got a bum rap from the press. Then they should speak to his honor and his goals. But to totally ignore eight years of a Presidency from your party during a time when you are allegedly celebrating your aspirations and victories is misleading and downright dishonoring of the truth.

And the Democrats will gather in Charlotte next week and will continue to do what they have been pursuing for the past several months–fail to take responsibility for the lackluster performance of the past four years. Honestly, there may be reasons for it. It isn’t like America exists as an island unto itself, able to produce all of its own products and provide its own resources. We are part of a global economy and there certainly are difficulties that arise because of our dependence upon other nations. But instead, the Democrats pretend. They pretend that things are a little better. They pretend that they do not have any responsibility in their Democratic party for what has transpired over the past four years. Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats do go back and invoke the name of George W. Bush–as the villain of the situation.

So Jesus says the lack of truth from both parties will cause our nation to be absent of freedom.

2.  Secondly, I become concerned with the political leanings of my two friends–one Republican and one Democrat–because Jesus told us that “the poor will be with us always and we should do what we can for them.” Unfortunately, that is not what I heard in Tampa this week with the Republicans. The Republicans hold to the concept that hard work brings prosperity, everybody wants to be better off and if we all just pull together, we can all be financially solvent and successful. We know this isn’t true. We know that no matter how hard some people work, there are limits on wages for that particular occupation, and certainly doors closed to advancement that would take them into a new tax bracket. It isn’t an issue of whether we discourage people from trying to climb up the economic ladder; it’s just that some people are given shorter ladders. To extol those who succeed with what we consider to be the obvious evidence of financial prosperity, while ignoring those who are still successful in their own way, but without the “dough to show for it,” is not only short-sighted, but could be deemed by the Master to be mean-spirited.

On the other hand, those Democrats who will gather in Charlotte contend they are on a mission to eliminate poverty by trying to make things more fair in the realm of capitalism. Let’s understand two things: (1) capitalism isn’t fair. It rewards those who have the most and then gives head starts to them in the race; (2) Jesus said “the poor you will have with you always.” We are not going to eliminate poverty. What we can do is give everybody a chance to excel and then provide an idea for what happens if they fall short.

As you can see, I’ve only mentioned two of the hallmark principles of Jesus, and both parties fail miserably to either address the ideas or set in motion a plan to honor the principles.

So as I thought about my two friends who are Christians, who have divided into separate political camps, I realized that the reason I remain apolitical is that I am not willing to sacrifice precious, powerful precepts which I know work in an attempt to compromise on lesser notions that have been historically proven to be ineffective.

We need something unconventional–but it is unlikely that this will ever come out of a political convention.

  • The Republicans need to be honest about the administration of George W. Bush, take responsibility, and offer a plan on how they might right their own wrongs.
  • The Democrats need to admit that they had no idea of the scope of the difficulties they were facing and that they spent their time spreading around idealism instead of hard-core principles to address the issues. They failed to embody the idea of hope–and the Bible says that “hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

Heartsick. That might be a good description of the American spirit.

So for those of you who insist on pursuing a political solution, may I point out a criteria for what you should require before releasing your vote? Here are the two questions. Which party comes closest to the truth by November 6th? And which party has a realistic approach to poverty instead of idealism or placing the issue on the back burner?

One thing is for certain–our country will need a little bit of luck and an awful lot of blessing to come out of this spin. To do that we must honor something other than ourselves. We must tip our hats to history, respect one another, work together and never stain the facts by ignoring the truth.

I love both of my friends dearly. I am just sorry that they are sacrificing the power of their belief for a temporary solution. The end result could be a complete loss of respect for the truth and the ignoring of the poor.

Jesus’ response to that would be, “I never knew you.”

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