Sit Down Comedy … January 25th, 2019

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TAKING ON TWO THINGS

I like to work on two things and give myself four days.

When I do it this way, it becomes more of a lark instead of a project. Working on myself cannot be a project, or I tend to become defensive, and when I fall short of my own goals, blame others around me for the failure.

I don’t like to work on one thing—then there’s too much focus, and disappointment follows if that single item is not addressed well. And taking on three things is not ambitious—it’s the kind of arrogance that Mother Nature likes to slap your hand for and put you in the corner, on time out.

But if I can find two simple things to address in a ninety-six-hour period, I can rub them up against each other, and they will start competing for first place in productivity. Now, I’m not talking about big things. If you’re a liar, you probably shouldn’t swear off lying and think that in four days you’ll overcome your Pinocchio spirit. Or if you’re dealing with some sort of addiction, ninety-six hours will just bring you to the place of having a gnawing brain and a twitchy body.

I’m speaking about the areas where we interact with other people, and the quirks we possess that hold us back from achieving even what we want to do.

If you take four days, pick two of these and find a way to keep a sense of humor about back-sliding, you’ll be astounded at how much progress you can make, and how the evidence of improvement is nearly enough to convert you to your own move of faith.


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G-Poppers … March 3rd 2017

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G-Pop wants to share a pair of principles with his children. Even though they are very simple, he wants to take a minute to review them, along with some of the attacks that have risen.

1. Do good work.

Seems rather logical, doesn’t it? But we’ve replaced this sentiment with other thoughts we think are the same:

  • “He has talent.”
  • “He’s on a learning curve.”
  • “She had a bad day.”
  • “He was overwhelmed.”
  • “She misunderstood the assignment.”

Do you see? Good work consists of:

A. “This is what needs to be done. ”

B. “This is how I’m going to do it.”

C. “This is the finished product, just as promised.”

America is sacrificing quality in the pursuit of making everybody feel good about themselves. It is important that sometimes we feel bad about ourselves, so some ultimate improvement can come of it.

2. Make your work look easy.

We pride ourselves in expressing exasperation, anger and exhaustion over our jobs. Work plus complaining is not only ineffective labor, but it’s unacceptable because it taints the environment.

Just think how productivity in America could jump simply by declaring war on too many opinions and too much bitching.

It all revolves around the fact that we think we’re too important. So when we fail, we want everybody to agree that given the circumstances, they wouldn’t have done any better.

So G-Pop thinks we should return to this pair of principles:

Do your work well

Make it look easy.

If a plumber is charging me $40 an hour, I do not want him to return in three hours with sweat on his brow, explaining what a difficult job it was. I will never hire him again.

He needs to return in forty minutes–with a smile on his face, listening to my gratitude and saying, “No big deal. It’s my job.”

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Ask Jonathots … April 14th, 2016

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My son, a sophomore in high school, has a part-time job at a fast food restaurant. He came home talking about making fifteen dollars an hour when the minimum wage is raised. I’m not against raising the minimum wage, but at the same time, I don’t really think my high schooler really needs that wage. What do you think?

Paying people based on what they require is un-American.

It may sound good–it may seem generous. It may even temporarily appease the aching need of some folks who are living on the cliff of poverty. But it is un-American.

I will go as far as to tell you that it is also un-Christian.

At no time in the ministry of Jesus did he suggest that the best way to handle the poor was to drop everything you were doing, sell everything you had, change all your policies, reject your own desire for financial prosperity, and divvy up the money more evenly, so that “those who have a frown can turn it upside down.”

The most important thing any government program should encourage is initiative.

If you’re going to do the same work you did before, but make twice the amount of money doing it, you’re not stimulating productivity.

No, you have just purchased yourself a baby alligator. At first the little amphibian sitting in his bowl appears harmless and kind of cute. But it will not remain a small alligator. It will grow until it eats you.

Likewise, giving people more money for what they’re already doing without demanding additional increase in effort is the formula for disaster. It is not an issue of being a conservative or a liberal, but rather, taking a more intelligent political stance: practical.

If I allow myself to be concerned about the wages my employees are receiving based on their monthly needs, I will soon lose sight of the goal of my company, which is to make money and thrive so I can hire more people.

What we need is a compromise with a caveat.

  • The compromise is a dollar amount which is more representative of the work and the financial climate.
  • And the caveat is that this extra money will require additional training and pursuit of excellence.

Hand-outs take people off their feet.

And our economy runs on foot power, not charity.

So even though it may seem noble and may get the vote of tens of thousands of hourly wage Americans, to suggest that they should double their intake for the same amount of output…well, it is completely unnecessary and certainly un-human.

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Populie: God Bless America… July 2, 2014

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Kate Smith

God is still pretty popular.

America, too.

Yet there are many people who believe the two are synonymous–practically inseparable.

Thus the populie: “God bless America.”

Politics loves this slogan because it enables them to incorporate just enough religion to get the evangelical vote and just enough patriotism to acquire the libertarians.

Entertainment plays off the idea by producing both tear-jerking war movies and also flicks that question the authenticity and purpose of nationalism.

And of course, religion is partial to this idiom simply due to the fact that if we are convinced that we are favored by God, we might be able to get by with a few more inconsistencies before Daddy calls a time-out.

Yet as we near Independence Day, I am focused in on the power and veracity of the statement, “To he who much is given, much is expected.”

So because I love my country, respect our attempts at democracy and favor our liberty, I would like to deny the populie of “God bless America” and replace it with, “God challenge America.”

I know that God chastises those He loves–to make us sharper and more powerful. Yet we are losing our authority, presence and respectability due to the belief in our exceptionalism.

  • When it comes to women, we should be world leaders in equality, but we trail behind others.
  • We should take it seriously to stop killing. After all, when we discover a few packages of tainted ground beef in a grocery store, every package is recalled. Yet if twenty-two children are killed in a school, we continue to taint our lives with guns.
  • We should expand ourselves in equality by including others we do not agree with, honoring their right to freedom. God respects free will above all else, even purity.
  • We should be a nation that excels in productivity. For instance, I think we’re taking the wrong approach to the minimum wage. To give people more money for what they’re already doing is not only foolish, but actually a slothful business practice. But by the same token, if we can encourage productivity in our work force while passing along the dividends by increasing paychecks retroactively or offering bonuses, then we’re making our workers part of the solution instead of tying them in with the problem.
  • Why aren’t we leaders in morality?
  • How about civility?
  • Instead of arguing about the climate of the Earth, why don’t we at least see if there’s something we could do and then surprise ourselves by doing it?
  • Why don’t we take our young generation and encourage them to be respectful, industrious and creative instead of working to legalize more drugs, to dull their senses?
  • Why do we allow our older citizens to become bitter and calloused instead of demanding they use their journey to become wise and merciful?
  • If we truly do have the best medical care in the world, why aren’t we healthier?

Hiding your talent and refusing to use it is considered to be the definition of a sluggard.

Knowing what to do and not doing it is the best example of sin.

And living beneath your privilege only generates self-pity.

The populie is, “God bless America”–a way to live off the past by pretending that the present is sufficient because a Divine Presence controls our future.

My hope in this season is that we will allow God to challenge America to live up to our ideals, abilities and dreams.

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How Does It Feel? … October 6, 2013

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  • college playerWhat do you think?
  • What do you believe?
  • What do you do?

These seem to be the three questions constantly bandied about in our society as a way of expressing our maturity, growth and aspirations.

I disagree.

I contend that anyone who believes that human beings are really focused, controlled and guided by what they think, believe and do is probably working from very old information or following an inept social model.

We are creatures of feeling.

I know I talk about this a lot. I do it because our culture has moved into some sort of Zen idea that if we repress our feelings and focus on what we think, believe and do, we can overcome immaturity and silliness, thereby maintaining an enlightened path.

We just don’t work that way. We are creatures of heart.

Case in point: watching a football game last night, I realized that our entire national sports organization somehow thinks that boys between the ages of nineteen and twenty-two are able to think, believe and work their way to victory. It’s comical.

They are kids and they are humans. So what do I know? They will perform at the level of what they feel. If they feel defeated, all the talent they have amassed will dissipate in tiny piles of frailty. If they feel overwhelmed, they will misplace their helmets, their brains will shut down and they will forget what they’re supposed to do on the next play.

So if you’re a good coach, you have to learn how to keep the emotions and feelings of your team generated in a direction of clean expression and follow-through.

Also, you can’t tell me that in the midst of this government shut-down, that we are running our political arena by what we think, believe and know to do. We have sixty-five-year-old men and women who do not like each other and are willing to rob the purses of innocent Americans to make their point.

That said, how can we transform our beings into more efficient and intelligent units, who address our feelings instead of pretending they’re not there?

1. Listen to yourself. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Is there a harshness to your tone? Is there desperation in your words? Has judging others entered into your profile? Your mouth will not lie because it will express the abundance of your heart–a great barometer of your emotions, and therefore, your productivity.

2. When is the last time you aired your feelings? Have you recently told someone of your frustrations, misgivings or confusion? Or are you keeping it to yourself?

Here’s the truth: human emotions have no storage area.

If you don’t release them in a fruitful way, they will dribble into your spirit, your mind and your work.

3. Do you feel that silence is a sign of maturity? Or can you be honest and admit you just don’t think you’re being heard by anyone? If you go to bed at night wondering why something isn’t working without ever verbalizing your concern, you are confusing your brain, causing it to forget; a self-righteous spirit which judges others with a hammer, and a body that has more aches than you can imagine.

How does it feel?

I’m going to church this morning. It doesn’t matter what I think about church; it doesn’t matter what I believe about church. It doesn’t even matter what I do at church.

It matters what I feel about thinking, believing and doing church.

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Fifty-Two Days … January 28, 2013

Jon Signing(1,774)

I got out my calculator and figured it out–one-seventh of a year.

I just spent one-seventh of a year situated in South Florida to spend Christmas with the family, record a new album and share in a whole bunch of Sunshine State churches before making my departure this morning.

People often talk about evaluating the success of a project or the fruitfulness of an endeavor. The only difficulty with that aspiration is that we can’t keep moving the goal post to accommodate the lack of achievement. (Actually, that may be the secret to bringing America out of its economic and spiritual doldrums–if we could just get people to admit that the present flow of finance and inspiration is lacking, we might become righteously disgruntled enough to DO something about our plight instead of rationalizing it.)

So as I drive up 27 N to take on another hunk of the Floridian countryside, I must ask myself what I thought I wanted to accomplish when I arrived in Ft. Lauderdale over seven weeks ago.  It really boiled down to four missions:

  1. I wanted to enjoy my family.
  2. I wanted to bless all the people I met.
  3. I wanted to increase my productivity by recording an album and getting my video ready for touring in 2013.
  4. And I wanted to make sure my children are growing in the faith, prospering and in good health, “even as their souls prosper.”

So even though it’s silly, I would like to take this morning to give myself a report card. Now, there is a good chance that I will grade myself too generously, but since I don’t have anybody else to come in and score my papers, we’ll just have to be satisfied with my ciphering.

Let’s look at #1–enjoying my family. I think I can give myself an A on that one. I am convinced that being a good father is the correct mixture of hands-off, hands-on and hand-outs. In other words, I want to give my children room to breathe and be themselves while simultaneously intervening when I see them racing toward the edge of a cliff–and never make them feel that if they hit a hard spot, they can’t ask for assistance. I hope they all feel that way. So thus far, so good.

Concerning blessing all the people I meet, this has become a heart’s desire and source of chilling excitement to my soul. At my lodging location during this period, I got to know the maintenance people, the maids and all of the staff–blessing them with a dollar or two from my wallet from time to time, letting them know I appreciate their contributions to my life and that I admire the work they pursue to make a living wage. I certainly could not do it.

I also tried to tenderize my heart even more towards all the congregational members, audiences and sponsors who were gracious enough to allow me a platform to air my thoughts. So I’m going to give myself a B+–mainly because we can always do better at doing better.

Now, concerning increasing my productivity, it was a smashing success, as I slid into my son’s recording studio, producing a new album, and with the assistance of my other son, put out the video of my show. Both the album and the video are now in my van, journeying with me. I really feel that I landed on a bit of inspiration and heavenly breath with both projects. It doesn’t cause me to be prideful, but certainly grateful for the spunk and initiative to bring God to life through art instead of just reading about Him in a book. So I’m going to make that grade an A+. (I’m a little embarrassed because it seems like I’m grading myself very generously. But it was a good 52 days.)

And now for the final step of assuring my own soul that those individuals who sprang from my lineage or have been introduced into it are finding power in their spiritual journey. I think I have to give myself a C- here. The world and the pressure to conform have taken some toll on my little conclave of family. Don’t misunderstand me–they’re beautiful people and I love them dearly, but they are living in a society that has convinced itself that it is cool and intellectual to deny the work of a universal Father. It doesn’t sadden me so much as it makes me realize that they’ve increased the difficulty in their lives by journeying without a map, compass or co-pilot. I think most of them still believe in God–they have just bought in a little bit to the social lethargy which feels snooty by ignoring a divine goodness.

I know they will not like hearing me say this, but I do believe it’s my duty after fifty-two days to warn my friends that the popularity of the moment is never the lasting virtue of the future. God has not gone away. He is often disguised by religion, which wishes to profit from His image more than seeing the world enriched by His wisdom. He’s been nearly mutilated by politics, which has attempted to turn the Almighty into a poster child for everything from abortion to gun advocacy. And He has been locked up in a black leather-bound book, which is so vulnerable in establishing the weaknesses in its heroes and characters that it falls prey to the cynic.

So as I drive on today with my A, B+, A+ and C-, I realize that I have once again ended up where I have often found myself in life–B.

I don’t know. Perhaps maybe I am doomed to be a B movie for eternity. But at least, God has given me the sense of humor, ability to be honest about it while simultaneously refusing to give up–continuing to pray and believe that all things work together for the good.

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