Good News and Better News… January 23rd, 2017

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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good-news-trump-obama

On Inauguration Day 2009, many of my conservative brothers and sisters were profoundly convinced that Barack Hussein Obama was the Anti-Christ.

Likewise, this past Friday during Inauguration, many of my more liberal brothers and sisters were in a complete stew over the assumed devastation coming with the Presidency of Donald Trump.

In this back-and-forth treachery of accusations, abiding truths are being completely ignored.

Since 9/11, we have become a nation living off of hope because of our fears, and ending up with fears because of the disappointment caused by our hope.

But hope and fear are not opposites, but rather, uncomfortable cousins–because when hope does not deliver its promises, it produces fear over its failures. And when our fears are in full force, hope is set aside with a jaded sneer because we are convinced there is really no way to escape our difficulty.

In the midst of this topsy-turvy war between hope and fear, faith and love have been set aside.

Very simply:

  • Faith is when I realize that when God and I work together, great things can be done.
  • Love is when I decide to include you.
  • And then the three of us–God, me and you–can do almost anything.

The aspiration of the church should be to return faith and love to the equation so that hope and fear do not continue to rebound off one another.

The good news is that faith makes us believe in both a divine possibility and our involvement in the solution.

The better news is that when we include love, we increase our numbers, we increase our passion, and therefore we increase our possibilities.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … October 19th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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pohymn-not-always

 Not Always Like This

Concerning this morning’s mode

I seem burdened, overload

Hampered by nagging retreat

Fostered through vague deceit

I pity again my worried self

Placing others on the shelf

Determined that I must be seen

Bubbling a heart of treacherous mean

I probe to find the callous slight

Denying the evidence of what is right

I am the critic for the meek

Sneering, I mock the lovely weak

Exposing their obvious lack

Hoisting burdens on their back

Enemy, I emerge of that deemed decent

Ruddy with anger over offenses most recent

Finding the Christ I deny

Shaking my head, I decline to try

To simply deal with my lot

The portion provided, what I’ve got

Frowning at the human race

Unmercifully mocking the joyous face

For goodness seems too good to me

Foolishness and fear are what I see

In this cauldron I melt into a creep

Unworthy to mingle with the holy sheep

Beware, my friend, something is amiss

Please understand, I’m not always like this.

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Good News and Better News … June 13th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News Stephens City

You might find the picture I’ve selected for this morning’s essay to be a bit odd. After all, considering the possibilities of objects and people available to me at the Stephens City United Methodist Church, to focus on a plant sitting between two chairs might certainly be considered obtuse.

Yet as I arrived in the foyer yesterday morning, this vision leaped out at me. It prompted a notion: something is growing in the midst of the furniture.

Feeling very blessed to be invited to share with the church on Pastor Bob’s final Sunday, I came with an open heart and a yearning soul.

Hearing reports of treachery in Orlando and the pernicious inhumanity that continues to speckle the globe, I was in need of a baptism of hope with a refreshing splash of good cheer. For after all, the world will not be changed through contemplation, but instead, by each one of us concentrating on what is good, pure and worthy of praise.

So I salute the Stephens City United Methodist Church because it is a plant growing in the midst of all the religious decor.

1. They stood at the door and welcomed us in without exuding the “sneer of beholding the queer.”

2. They tried to find reasons to help us. They wanted to connect. It was so refreshing to see other human beings who were prepared to link.

3. They sat close to us in the sanctuary rather than perching themselves far away.

4. They clapped their hands when we played “I’ll Fly Away” instead of acting like a bunch of music critics on America’s Got Talent.

5. They believed in belief. Most people recite belief instead of holding the conviction that it still has power.

6. They honored Pastor Bob, who had served them for 730 days, and blessed him as he headed for the new assignment procured by the United Methodist Church.

7. They sang with the gusto of passion instead of being careful not to be heard.

8. They laughed without fear. They laughed without reservation. And they laughed like they were supposed to be laughing.

9. They cried because they cared. Maybe it was the thought of so many dead fellow-Americans who were attacked by a maniac that made their hearts a little more sensitive. I don’t know, but they were willing to be touched.

10. They gave because they understood, not because it was required.

11. And they are blessed because they are blessed.

Maybe I caught Stephens City on a good day. Yet the real pulse of our country is not in the devastation of a night club in Orlando. It is when we realize that life is short and each one of us is fragile, so we decide to express our feelings freely.

The good news is that Pastor Bob labored well.

But the better news is that there is something growing in the midst of the furniture.

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Three Ways to Use Your Doubt… October 23, 2014

 

Jonathots Daily Blog

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cliff

 

In the traditional story of Easter, three interesting characters are brought to the stage.

  • Judas, who betrays
  • Peter, who denies
  • And Thomas, who doubts

Unfortunately, the audience viewing the drama is encouraged to believe that all three of these individuals are equally culpable.

Please understand–there is a huge chasm between betrayal and denial, and likewise one existing between denial and doubt.

Betrayal is doubt which has already given up on the idea and is looking for a reason to rationalize its treachery.

Denial is doubt that has never been voiced, but when put under the pressure of persecution, exposes its weakness.

But on the other hand, doubt is what human beings do to flush out the trash and make room for new stuff.

It is a good thing.

There is not a day that goes by when I do not doubt the existence of God. No hour goes by when I do not question my own ability. And no minute ticks away when uncertainty does not stall me for a second or two concerning my resolution.

Trying to dispel these uncertainties through a chatty spirit of positive thinking is not only hypocritical, but futile.

Doubt is the powerful tool that transforms us from nostalgia to action. Use your doubt to:

1. Dispel fake faith.

What is fake faith? Any belief you hold which has not been personally tested. It is the accumulation of knowledge with no experience. It is the fear that if your faith was brought into the heat of the day, it would shrivel up and die.

Probably fifty percent of what we all believe is not only impractical and implausible, but actually inhibits us from living with lighter hearts.

2. Use your doubt to understand others.

Too often we become frustrated with human beings because they dare to speak the confusion that we try to hide behind our fake faith. I have much more compassion for people when I’m willing to admit my own doubts.

3. And finally, use your doubt to learn to be more honest.

  • Doubt is your spirit crying for a moment of truthfulness.
  • Doubt is when your heart desires to remove the clog of unanswered questions.

Thomas was not a denier nor a betrayer. He was a man who was dealing with some pain and rather than drinking it away …  he posed the question.

 

 

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