Good News and Better News … January 25th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News Messiah Lutheran

I arrived early.

Nothing had started popping at Messiah Lutheran.

I was sitting at my book table checking out a few details when I looked across the vestibule and saw the bulletin board pictured above.

My first instinct was to chuckle since I was peering at a snowman while abiding in Panama City, Florida. But I guess because it was Sunday morning and my thoughts had become a bit introspective, I considered the snowman.

It isn’t, you know–a man, I mean.

If you came across a snowman and decided to melt it and free the human being inside, after extensive warming, all you would end up with is a puddle.

There’s nothing within.

It’s an imitation of life–using lumps of coal, a broom, a button, a scarf, a carrot and a top hat.

But it got me wondering if there are frozen people crusted over by the iciness of our culture, who really are more than just snowmen. Is it possible to become so chilled by indifference that you live beneath inches of ice?

Well, I certainly see it in politics.

Freezing out your competition and appearing above the fray, free of fault, seems to be the “call of the wild” in Washington. But I fear if the real heat of pressure and responsibility fell upon any one of them, they would sink into a drippy mess.

How about entertainment?

What could be more hypocritical than a bunch of snowmen in Hollywood who think they are so open-minded and liberal, who make a stand against guns–even as they use pistils, automatic rifles and any number of instruments of mayhem to kill thousands of human beings in their plotlines.

Then there’s religion.

Seems to me that we have sunk to the position of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, who spent their time counting cups, cleaning plates and decorating their robes.

Snowmen.

Nothing really left inside–just a cold form of what they once might have looked like.

So as I prepared to share with the folks at Messiah, I was reminded of the sarcastic statement of the angel, speaking to the women who came to the tomb to embalm Jesus: “Why seek ye the living among the dead?”

I had to ask myself a two-part question:

  • Is my life the pursuit of melting snowmen, only to find there’s nothing really there?
  • Or, under this arctic exterior, are there still living human beings who would like to have joy and abundant life?

The good news is that Messiah lifted my spirits.

Although at first they treated us as strangers, our hearts soon burned within us, taking away the frigid fear.

It was powerful.

It was good.

It was hopeful.

And unlike the snowman on the wall of their bulletin board, what I discovered were human beings suffering from a little hypothermia from being exposed to too much cold. So here’s the better news: We can warm up society and find out where the snowmen are and where the people just need to come in out of the elements.

1. When you see somebody doing a good job and you know they make minimum wage, give them a buck and a word of encouragement for their extra-mile efforts.

2. When you’re in the doctor’s office, instead of pretending to read an out-dated magazine, attempt to strike up a conversation with a nearby human being and see where it takes you.

3. Let “thank you” come off your lips more and more easily.

4. Lead with a smile long before you come face-to-face.

5. Appreciate the small things and be amazed at how the big things begin to take care of themselves.

6. Sit in your quiet, staid church and clap your hands during one of the hymns and see if anyone joins you.

I could go on and on.

Here are two dangers in life: falling under the spell of the deep freeze, or believing that you have no power to thaw it.

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Never Worship Where You Vote… January 5, 2013

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sock snowmanYes, the snowman always votes for more snow–just as the surfer casts his ballot for bigger waves. Politics is the selfish game of pursuing our own ends while insisting it’s for the good of the country and relegating our dissenters as unpatriotic opponents.

It is not suited for children like you and me.

Now a worse thing has happened: political parties are being worshipped. Indeed, it seems to be a godly mission to advance the platform of your party while invoking the name of the Most High as your major contributor. So we’ve moved from the necessary to the ridiculous to the nasty, ending up in abominable. It is time to hide the children from such mayhem.

Here’s why: children need to learn to tell the truth. We insist on it. There is no greater punishment for a youngster than lying and covering up an iniquity that is usually easily exposed. If the truth “makes us free,” it is simply because we are relieved of the burden of maintaining an ever-expanding, ongoing fable about misdeeds. It is exhausting to be politically correct instead of forthcoming.

Yes, all parents want their children to be considered top-notch, but to achieve that status it is also necessary that each child of the household learn that there are seasons for setbacks and disappointments in order for us to grow more fully into completeness.

Children can’t be involved in politics because they need to tell the truth, and obviously, veracity is optional “amongst them who seek votes.” By the time we get done spinning, expanding, promoting, advertising and sowing disinformation about reality, it is often difficult to attain a clarity of thought.

Children should also stay away from politics because children must hear the truth before they can tell the truth. There you go. Lying parents bring forth lying offspring:

Parents who keep alcohol in their refrigerator should not be surprised when their fifteen-year-old comes home drunk from a party that was supposed to feature pizza and root beer.

Parents who fib on the phone to creditors should not feign shock when their dear little ones lie about their grades.

To tell the truth you have to hear the truth. There is a very intelligent word that says “faith comes by hearing.” We build up the confidence to say our individual situation aloud because we’ve heard other people do it without fear.

What is the worst atrocity about our political system? The lies of the Republicans and the Democrats will come down and crash on us for two or three generations to come. We have made it acceptable to be misleading. It is not suitable for children. It is the R-rated movie of government.

And finally, concerning those who desire a childlike faith, we must comprehend that to hear the truth, one must be willing to be wrong. Politicians are never wrong. If you don’t believe me, just listen to them. They are often misquoted, misunderstood, caught on a bad day, taken out of context, targeted by the other party’s kill committee, or they are just victims of a vicious news cycle.

It is rather doubtful in our present political climate if we will ever hear anything that resembles the truth.

Such a gift demands that someone be wrong. Until you are willing to say you are wrong, you can’t hear the truth. If you can’t hear the truth, you can’t tell the truth. And if you can’t tell the truth, you can’t be made free.

The combination of self-righteousness, combined with an unwillingness to negotiate, culminating in a worship of political ideals, has rendered our society crippled of the change which only occurs by the real truth convincing us of the error of our ways … and making us free.

I will not participate.  I have never participated, but in 2013, with my desire to have a childlike faith, I must avoid the bad boys and girls of the political system, who require that I worship where I vote–but won’t give me the freedom of truth.

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