Good Hope… October 26, 2012


Yesterday morning my eyes popped open and it didn’t take me three seconds to realize that the reality I had anticipated being before me two days ago during my planning session had been transformed.

You see, that often happens–because what we planned for Thursday on Tuesday has to pass through Wednesday. If we just understood that, we may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but certainly could avoid stubbornly running into them.

When I made plans on Tuesday, I conceived a leisurely climb into my van and a drive up to Bucyrus, Ohio, to enjoy an Indian summer day and the last of the fall colors, to arrive in my motel where I would relax a bit and chew on some Kentucky grilled chicken with the skin removed (I’m trying to be a good boy…).

But Wednesday the amp that powers my PA system went to be with the Lord. (I know there may be a general disagreement that inanimate objects can find salvation, but after seven years of touring the country and “magnifying” our message, that little piece of electronics SHOULD rest in the bosom of Jesus.)

So detours came to my path. We were required to go to Columbus, enter a music store, purchase a new amp, spend money that we deemed sacred and still try to continue our journey, without feeling as if we were rushed, put out, or stressed.

That’s why, when I arrived at the church last night and discovered the name was Good Hope, I had to smile. I thought to myself, Finally, somebody who gets it. Because even though hope is touted as one of the great virtues of humankind, there are those occasions when it can be a real snotty son-of-a-gun. Hope can deceive us into believing that because we had the fortitude to cast our faith in a particular direction and even come up with an intelligent plan, that our rocket of possibility has been launched to the stars. As you probably know, most rockets fizzle on the pad. So hope can quickly become bad hope. And bad hope is what has infested our country over the past twenty years.

As we keep following the pied piper of new ideas from one location to another, only to discover insufficiency upon our arrival, we have chosen to become cynical, calloused and honestly, overly sophisticated. Hope, which is a noble adventure, has become the new Santa Claus of virtues. It is the “wouldn’t it be nice?” idea that is gradually being thrust into mothballs and stuck into our closet of memories.

It isn’t that we have been tricked into pursuing false hope–many of the things we have tried to acquire have been noble, but they lacked the ingredient necessary to make hope endure.

Understand that hope is the substance of faith. In other words, it’s taking our belief and actually coming up with an idea of how to propel it. But we also must understand that faith works by love, and love is the total comprehension necessary to survive the initial disappointments when our hopes seem to be dashed. Love hangs in there.

No wonder it says, “Now abideth faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.” Love changes hope into good Hope when it threatens to become bad hope. It keeps us from becoming stressed. After all, stress is just our immediate human reaction to having holes poked into our hope. What does love give us? Love reminds us of three things when hope seems to stop being the substantial basis for our faith:

1. Things will change. Remember, wedged between Tuesday and Thursday will be an intrusive Wednesday.

2. God will be there. Sometimes we forget that God is not only a Creator, He is also a Repairer.

3. I will not be afraid. Because love is there, fear becomes unnecessary. Why? Because love has already prepared for fear by being fully aware that failure is possible. After all, you can’t love someone unless you know you will need to forgive them.

I had a terrific day. It wasn’t because everything went well. It was because I went well with everything. I adapted to the change, I joined God in the process, and I kept my fears at bay.

Good hope–it bolsters our faith so that love can keep us in the game … until something wonderful happens.

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

Lame Excuses… October 25, 2012


Live from October 1st filming

Woosies, wimps and weenies.

Truthfully, we all probably take our turn donning one of these unfortunate personas. As human beings, we aspire to be sympathetic toward the weaknesses of others, but privately, we really desire that people suffer quietly and find their own means of overcoming. When they don’t, at first we muster a reserve portion of compassion that we save for such an occasion, and then, after an hour or so, we want to either excuse ourselves before we blow our brains out with a gun out of boredom, or accidentally say something mean.

You may not feel as strongly about this as I just stated, but overall, most of us do admire bravery and kind of shrink back from cowardice.

This is why, when I have pulled up lame recently, I have been careful to share–both on jonathots and in my personal life–a sense of well-being along with my candor about my exploits. So I went into my performance last night feeling quite brave and filled with a shield of valor over mixing the joy of honesty with the power of faith.

But you see, somewhere in the cosmos there is a little creature. I envision this booger to be about two feet tall, with fuzzy blond hair sticking straight up, a turned-up nose, a silly grin and big feet, similar in appearance to those of a rabbit. This being seems to have one function–to run into our lives in the midst of what we consider to be an outstanding presentation of balanced living and intelligent choices, and to hop up and down on everything around us, destroying all of our plans while giggling hilariously at his own antics.

I have even given this creature a name. He is a jeeber. His job is to take human beings who have become self-righteous, self-involved, self-piteous or self-aggrandizing about their own efforts, and expose the woosie, wimp and weenie lying beneath. He is so annoying that some people have actually referred to him as the devil, but in reality he possesses no Satanic attributes whatsoever–just a naughty predilection for disruption. Let me give you an example based upon last night.

I was feeling very self-assured that I was handling my current situation with my legs with fortitude. Now, I did have a set-back earlier in the week, when I got my emotional cart before my physical horse and tried to do too much, and ended up falling down in the parking lot of my motel, wallowing for a few moments in the left-over grease of a 1996 Ford Escort. But I was able to recover from that little piece of embarrassment, make better choices and literally regain my footing.

So as I headed off to the church last night to do my show, Janet revealed to me that this particular building had no ramps, so I would be required to roll in and then climb up five or six steps on my ailing limbs. This would also have to be accomplished in front of a few strangers, so I sucked it up, thinking that I was being extraordinarily broad-minded in expressing supernatural willingness.

The the jeeber showed up. The jeeber had all sorts of things planned for me last night in an attempt to expose all of my woosie, weenie and wimp. The steps were not easy, and then, arriving at the top and preparing to do our sound check, I discovered that the power amp for our public address system was not working. Reaching over to try to pick up the amp to do some repair, I jammed my thumb into the piano and began to bleed. No Kleenex could be found to help staunch my bloodiness, so I took a piece of paper to cover up my leakage.

We took the amp back into a room, where I planned to rewire the plug, and the knife I was working with to achieve this purpose slipped from my grasp and I cut the thumb on my left hand. Now I was bleeding in two places. It wasn’t a great loss of blood, just a continual reminder.

I could hear the jeeber laughing.

So I worked on this power amp for about fifteen minutes, realizing the true depth of my intelligence and the full extent of my ignorance. In other words, I couldn’t fix it. So I had to humbly ask our sponsor if we could use one microphone from their system, and Janet procured an amplifier from our car to play her wind machine and we quickly glanced over our program to see which songs would sound just short of horrible without our own security blanket of sound system.

Meanwhile, people were arriving and I was trying to hide my blood flow from the masses, which I think is always an act of extreme courtesy. It was obvious that we were not going to be able to make any kind of normal entrance onto the stage, as most performers are permitted to do, but instead, we remained in the front of the auditorium, trying to piece together a program, resembling janitors cleaning up confetti after a political convention.

While I was trying to figure out how to sop up some of the excess blood from my thumbs, I looked up and suddenly there was a woman standing in front of me, greeting me with the frightening statement: “Do you remember me?”

I could hear the jeeber laughing.

I don’t know how I did it, but I was able to retrieve her name. She was one of my comrades forty years ago in high school. She looked absolutely lovely, and was filled with great spirit, and I looked beleaguered, and perhaps in need, at this point, of a blood transfusion.

I had no idea what was going to happen.

“Woosie Jonathan” wanted to show up and make excuses. He is very good at that, especially when there is so much material available to justify the reasoning. I resisted him.

“Wimpy Jonathan” suggested that we make some sort of joke about the cuts on the hands to gain both sympathy and possibly make an adequate diversion from the lacking of equipment and sound. I dodged him.

Meanwhile, I could hear the giggling of my jeeber from the corner of the room.

Then “Weenie Jonathan” made an appearance. He’s the one that always makes the point that things “aren’t fair.” He wonders why God has allowed additional hassle to arrive when there seemed to be a sufficient arsenal of the weaponry of pain already stockpiled. After all, I was battling my legs, I climbed the stairs … My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?

It was a bit of a struggle, but I finally defeated Weenie Jonathan. For here’s the truth. Here is why jeebers exist. They are life’s way of reminding us that we are not as weak as we think we are. If everything actually went according to our aspiring notions, we would never experience any scenario that puts our abilities and talents to a complete test.

The evening was beautiful. The people were luscious. And woosie, wimp and weenie were shuttled off–exit, stage right. I think, around nine o’clock, I saw jeeber stomp out the front door with his big feet flopping, disappointed that he had not gotten more ha-ha’s out of my flaw-flaws.

Anybody can make an excuse, especially when you’re lame. Thus the name: lame excuses. But even though we think we have a case for being a woosie, a wimp and a weenie, there are no feelings of accomplishment when we give into the jeebers. All we feel is typical.

So jeebers, creepers–where’d you get those … well, I’m not sure. But I know this. Because we’re never tempted beyond what we can bear, when it seems that extra hassle arrives, it is one of those rare opportunities to find out if our talent has enough water … to get us through the desert.

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

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