G-Poppers … July 14th, 2017

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G-Pop is fully aware that he’s reached an age when there is a fine line between being colorful and being crazy. Yet there are some things that need to be said, because the integrity of character and moral soul of America are in jeopardy.

It has nothing to do with political parties or whether one group of pundits is more favorable than another. Rather, it has to do with an overriding attitude–that as long as the goal is kept in sight, the means by which we achieve it are somewhat irrelevant.

It came to a head yesterday when G-Pop listened to one of our national leaders proclaim, “I think everybody would do the same thing.”

It hearkened back to a playground perception we used as children, attempting to explain to the adults around us why we chose a particular behavior. You remember:

  1. Everybody was doing it.
  2. I didn’t want to be weird.
  3. It seemed all right–matter of fact, it seemed natural.
  4. There was no real reason not to.
  5. Since everybody was doing it, I didn’t think anyone would get in trouble.

Just as our elders corrected us on such errant thinking, we need to stop, take a deep breath and cease being a nation of children who move on whim and justify it by saying, “What else could I do?”

There is only one advantage to being an adult: you get to make your own decisions.

When you were a child, you were surrounded by pressure, intimidation, and obvious manipulation.

That is supposed to change.

G-Pop wants his children to know that there is a day and time when the only purpose for continuing to live on Earth is to get better–not to rationalize obtuse, repetitive and useless actions.

If you’re not getter better you’re getting “badder.”

And the end result of getting “badder” is that you’re going to be exposed and trumped by those who have a brighter idea.

I don’t care if everybody else is doing something stupid. I don’t care if it seems natural in the moment, if the end result is unnatural.

G-Pop wants his children to stop watching the actions of our leaders and government, and begin to find the inner voice that says, “Let me pause for a minute and find out what’s right.”

G-Pop places no judgment on those who are trying to take us into the depths of uncertainty.

But G-Pop wants his children to realize that just because “everybody would do it” actually makes it suspect, instead of righteous.

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G-Poppers … April 28th, 2017

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G-Pop took a few moments last night to talk to his godson.

The young man is personable, with potential dangling from him, similar to a bunch of electrical cords that need to be plugged in somewhere. Like so many of us, he just doesn’t know which cord goes into which socket.

It begins with a simple understanding: 80% of what we think is born in our fear.

G-Pop wishes he could proclaim that our thoughts are grounded in our faith or our devotion, but it’s not true. Faith, hope and charity have no chance until fear is confronted, tracked down and put in its place. So our thoughts scream from this fear.

Now, 90% of what we fear comes from what we see and hear.

If we surround ourselves with fearful people saying fearful things about a fearful world, we should not expect a great fountain of creativity to spring forth from our souls.

For instance, here’s a simple point about gun control in America: the problem is not the gun. The difficulty lies in the fact that what we see and hear about guns always has them with the barrel pointed at a human. If you go to Canada, you’ll see lots of guns. But they’re pointed at deer and moose. The Canadians don’t have a constant programming of seeing and hearing about guns pointed at other human beings.

In America, we would frown on a gun being pointed at an animal, but our guns are constantly pointed at human beings. Therefore, what we see and hear becomes our fear and our fear becomes what we think. And we think that guns are for killing people, not rabbits.

And the final statistic that G-Pop presents is that 100% of what we see and hear should be our choice.

So you will think from your fear.

Your fear comes from what you see and hear.

And if you sacrifice what you see and hear to what the pundits want to thrust down your throat or what your friends insist will make you cool, you will be at the mercy of the fear that is produced by these visions.

G-Pop’s godson is just like all of us.

He needs to learn that our thinking is controlled by our fear; our fear is manipulated by what we see and hear, so if we take authority over what comes into our eyes and ears, we begin to change our fear to faith and our faith can work to produce love.

Three final points set this in motion:

1. Run from strife.

Whenever you see people fighting for the hell of it, get yourself away.

2. Walk away from gossip.

Gossip is just violence in training.

3. Sit with good cheer.

When you find people who are looking for hope, who are smiling through the difficulties and trying to create unity and joy, sit your butt down.

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G-Poppers … January 20th, 2017

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G-Pop loves the Gospel.

Not because it’s religious, but because it’s good news. And good news always has a market, an audience and a possibility.

Many religious people think the Gospel is Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of the world. This is the invitation to salvation, not the solution to human conflict. After all, you can have seven billion baptised believers in the crucifixion who still want to kill each other.

The power of the Gospel is the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

For years, it has been honored as a sacred oracle, and even though tarnished, attacked and ridiculed, it stood the test of time–the only hope for us getting along with each other.

Then came 2016.

Under the masquerade of a Presidential election, the Republicans, Democrats, press, pundits and lobbyists worked together to dismantle the integrity and power of the Golden Rule. Through countless proclamations, we were told that “loving your neighbor as yourself” was too weak a position to defeat ISIS, negotiate Syria, overcome racism or eliminate terrorism.

You and I were there for it. It was televised nightly–a four-step process:

  1. People are different.
  2. Difference makes conflict
  3. Because there’s conflict we need to be strong
  4. Because we’re strong, we will make enemies

It was a macho, self-righteous belief that the “exceptionalism of America” means that we have a duty to view ourselves as superior to the rest of the world.

Both political parties utilized the platform, abandoning the Golden Rule in favor of alleged “brass balls.”

What is G-Pop telling his children?

What is our mission in 2017?

Get out there and renegotiate the Golden Rule.

  • Stop advertising violence and the aggressive idea that another drone strike will take care of our problems.
  • Stop focusing on our differences.
  • Stop colorizing people with blue, black, red, yellow or orange.
  • Find common ground and build a hope there.

Yes, the Golden Rule is under siege.

For thousands of years, it has prevented us from dissolving the human race

The Golden Rule is still gold.

It just needs people who will continue to tout its value.

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Good News and Better News … October 31st, 2016

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coldwater-back-wall-1From everything I hear in the news media, our country is “angry.”

People are mad.

I’m not really sure what they are so upset about, but I guess that’s why pundits get to dress up and over-explain.

Yesterday when I arrived at the Coldwater United Methodist Church, I met people who are trying really hard to be kind and gentle in an atmosphere of crudeness and despair. Even the pastor of the church is beginning a new phase of her life, expanding the horizons of her ministry–completely and totally by faith.coldwater-set-2

Even though we accept the veracity of the reports about the frustration in our country, the constant repetition of complaint does nothing to alleviate the pain.

But it really revolves around a three-step process:

1. Stop being mad at me.

Yes, I need to stop being mad at myself. Most of the antagonism I feel toward other people is centered in my own dissatisfaction with my choices–especially when it comes to lying. For after all, once we start deceiving ourselves and others, we’re grouchy and fussy because we fear there’s the chance we’ll be challenged or get caught. So the best way for me to stop being mad at myself is to set in motion no lying–and that goes for exaggeration, too.

2. Stop being mad at others.

No grudges.

The grudge is always a piece of pride we fester because we’re not willing to discuss our feelings, fearing that we just might have to compromise. When we no longer insist that other people are “just so stupid that we couldn’t possibly reason with them,” we begin to address the animosity we have with mankind as a whole.

3. Stop being mad at God.

Most Christians would insist they feel nothing but love for their heavenly Father. But since He is our Dad and we are His children, there’s a good chance that occasionally we’ll be pissed off over the household rules–especially since religion comes along and puts the doctrines in stone. You can’t have a relationship with God through religion.

So–no religion.

Religion will not make you closer to God. It makes people prejudiced, self-righteous and nasty.

So I contend that a good portion of what I am called to do is remove the arrogance of anger so that the congregation can manage to forgive themselves, others and God.

That’s the good news.

The better news is: when you have no lying, no grudges and no religion, you find it much easier to relax and enjoy your relationships.

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Good News and Better News … July 18th, 2016

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Lady Liberty hillAll the squirrels and sparrows in the woodlands of Pennsylvania did not seem to care.

As I drove through on my way to St. Andrews United Methodist Church in Valley View, these creatures were preoccupied with the pursuit of living–actually, rather excited and vigorous about it. They seemed unaware that political conventions were about to convene or that lunatic killers roam the earth, trying to prove that their god is better or that their lives truly matter.

I realized that I could either imitate my friends in the forest or the commentators on television, who bombard me with the command to be sad or mad.

After all, it seems appropriate to be forlorn or infuriated. Killing is deadly. Worse, it’s terrifying. (That’s why we call them terrorists.)

It seems irresponsible to follow the advice of Jesus and “be of good cheer” or “be not afraid” and “rejoice and be exceedingly glad.” Matter of fact, one of the better ways to be mocked in this day and age is to suggest that things will get better instead of worse.Valley View Map

So I was delighted when I arrived at the church and discovered that the human creatures emerging from their homes had decided to imitate the squirrels and the sparrows instead of the pundits on television, who continue to repeat the same information, hoping it will create greater nervousness and rage with each pronouncement.

Why do we need to be glad? Because we become emotionally unhinged when we’re mad, and mentally depleted when we’re sad.

Gladness releases the chemicals in our bodies which make us willing to go the second mile instead of complaining about the first one.

Gladness causes us to remember times of goodness instead of being partly cloudy with evil.

Gladness is the abiding notion that we still have something to contribute instead of being at the mercy of the people with the loudest guns or the biggest truck.

For I will truly tell you that yesterday the only place of satisfying sanctuary and hope was the church.

  • It’s not because it’s perfect.
  • It’s not because every issue is handled correctly by the clergy.

It’s because we serve a Master who insists on fueling us with good cheer instead of wearing us down with negative reports.

During the service, I watched the people bloom. They brought the seed, I brought the water and God gave the increase.

I watched Pastor Duane encourage it to happen without inserting reports of doom and gloom or trying to balance it out with an overuse of concern. Yes, concern is overused if it has no intention of becoming involved.

Here’s the good news: Jesus told us that even when we’re confronted by those who are persecuting us, we should “rejoice and be exceedingly glad.” Why? Because in the hour of need, our “smarts” might be our only friend.

And the better news is that the only way to tap the full potential of what we’ve experienced in our lives is to busy ourselves living instead of worrying about dying.

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Ask Jonathots … June 2nd, 2016

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I keep hearing from pundits that “Americans are angry.” Do you think this is true? If so, what do you think is the source of this frustration?

Every coin has two sides. The problem with America today is a two-sided coin.

This is the source of what most people are referring to as “anger,” which really is nothing more than a tantrum.

Here’s the two-sided coin:

  1. “It’s not my fault.”
  2. “God will take care of it.”

Both of these statements are inherently flawed, and therefore often lead to unsatisfactory conclusions, which can cause people to develop a childish rant.

Let’s start with the first one.

The problems in our lives to some degree always involve our own lacking, procrastination, indifference, laziness or bigotry. If you can convince someone that “it’s not their fault,” then they can start looking for an enemy.

On the other hand, the second assertion–that God will take care of everything–has generated false hope. God did not create anything that does not have to participate in life. Humans are no different.

So it’s not so much that people are angry, but rather, that they’re experiencing the symptoms of seven-year-old tantrums, brought on by the fear of being held responsible or the errant promise of God taking care of everything. When these fail, frustration sets in.

So what can be done about this?

First, we have to stop legitimizing childish behavior. We have to take authority over our lives by admitting our part in the problem.

Then I think we need to teach those who seek a spiritual aspect that God is always prepared to give us wisdom, but rarely offers free checks in the mail.

Just enacting these two simple ideas would remove most of the attitude in this country which we have dubbed “anger,” and would replace it with a new feeling of good cheer, because we would be empowered to negotiate in our own lives instead of always looking for someone to blame or some heavenly being to take over our mess.

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G-Poppers … April 29th, 2016

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G-Pop has a healthy and energetic disagreement with those who say they’re “sick and tired.”

Matter of fact, this phrase has become one of the favorite patters of the pundits.

“America is angry…”

Of course they’re angry. They live in a democracy where most of the time they won’t get their way. It’s the law of averages.

How often will your particular preference be in the majority? And if it isn’t, you are culturally and politically pushed to the side in favor of the plurality.

As I said, it’s called democracy–and democracy is like broccoli. No one particularly favors it, but everyone knows it’s good for them.

For example, if you want guns, be prepared to accept gays.

If you want to choose how you worship, make sure you understand that you must give every woman the right to choose what she does with her own body.

And if you love to celebrate the heritage of your genealogy, be fully aware there are those who are trying to come into our country who would also love to begin their own experience of generations.

If you are intent on pursuing your path and agenda exclusively, you will have to find a leader–a king, a queen, a shah, a dictator, an ayatollah–who agrees with your ideas, and place this person in power, being aware that eventually this absolute ruler will come along and take away something you really enjoy.

Otherwise, you should stay with a system called America, which is horribly flawed, but equally punishing to all of its citizens. And what is this punishment?

  • You’re not going to get what you want.
  • You will be part of an experiment of discovering the common good.

So for those who think America is angry, let me say: Get over it.

You are free.

But so is he.

And so is she.

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