Ask Jonathots… September 29th, 2016

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I am always suspicious of superstition–blaming resistance on outside forces and nefarious entities. But at the same time I believe the blessings in life are always wrapped in hassle and difficulty. How can you tell the difference between the resistance that comes from a bad idea and the resistance that come from the brink of greatness?

In the moment of conflict, our personal reaction cannot be controlled.

Even though people insist they can “count to ten, take a deep breath” or “breathe a prayer” to muster a mature response to difficulty, we have already locked in our profile.

This is the essence of “turn the other cheek.”

Jesus is saying that we must literally choreograph our reactions. Otherwise we will spill out the abundance of our emotional turmoil.

Therefore, it really doesn’t matter if something comes from a nefarious source or if it’s just an inconvenience.

Our reaction determines if it will be elongated or eliminated.

So we should be working on an emotional sense of security. We are heart creatures. We don’t answer tribulation from our spirit. All communication comes from the abundance of our heart.

So where should we start?

We should work on the dance–the ability to know how to move when life tries to stop us. To do this we must learn to recognize the triggers that cause us to fall back into genetic or pre-programmed training instead of making our own pure choice.

1. If I’m angry and I do not reveal it, it will turn into frustration, which will make me incapable of handling any unwanted surprise.

2. If I feel cheated and don’t voice my concerns, I will accidentally look for ways to diminish the ego of others to match my depleted profile.

3. If I’m tired of trying, I will stop doing the necessary steps that make my effort productive and start acting entitled.

4. If I believe that I’m supposed to find my enemies in order to isolate and avoid them instead of love them and overcome them with wisdom, then I will become paranoid and find myself making new adversaries.

Even those evangelicals who fear Satan and his wiles need to realize that the punishment of the Serpent in the Garden of Eden was to be cast down to Earth. In other words, evil has to work with Earth-bound fussiness to get at the believer.

So any way you look at it, the more you prepare for life by choreographing an emotional outlook that is not shocked by the arrival of setbacks, the better the chance that you can conquer problems–whether you believe they are natural or supernatural.

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The Alphabet of Us: F is for Fret … January 12, 2015

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All human beings possess a heart, soul, mind and strength. Nothing of any true significance can be achieved unless this is understood.

Fear tentatively creeps across the stage and cautiously introduces “fret”–then runs and hides. Fret takes over.

Fret has three modes of operation:

1. Hesitation. “I’m not sure.”

2. Procrastination. “Let’s wait a little while.”

3. Frustration. “What the hell is happening?”

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that fear is what got our fretful show going. Matter of fact, it’s almost impossible to trace it back to a specific apprehension that triggers our nervous twitches and worrisome attitudes.

People spend millions of dollars in therapy attempting to find the lineage of their fret. Honestly, my dear friends, I think it’s time and money wasted.

Since fret has decided to be the front man for the “band of fear,” you might want to deal with the lead singer.

Therefore, the main reason we hesitate is because we either refuse to deal with what we have or we’re convinced it’s insufficient. Here’s a great piece of advice:

What you have you have. What I have, I have.

Waiting for a new shipment to reinforce our supply causes us to fret. We do much better when we assume that no more is coming and we make a plan to use what we have.

Likewise, we procrastinate because we are unsure that what we have can be turned into what we can do, and that it will have any impact in solving our situation. Can we simplify?

What we can do is what we can do, and if more is needed, there is nothing we can do.

And often, developing a sense of humor about our lack causes others, and even God, to want to step in and fill in the gap.

And finally, frustration is when we’re constantly obsessed with the finish line and have lost sight of the steps that get us there.

For if I find out what I have and what I can do, I have the great opportunity to celebrate what is at least a good start.

Fret is an exercise in vanity.

It is the notion that we have achieved some status of importance that should make us pressure-free.

But if we find out what we have, and we discover what we can actually do and we pronounce it to be a good start, then hesitation, procrastination and frustration will be dismissed from our cast and replaced with much better actors.

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The Night Visitor… October 2, 2013

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shadow manHe comes very late at night, although I think he would insist it is actually early in the morning.

You see, that’s the problem. He not only has his own opinions, but definitions for terms that are separate from mine.

The creepy part is that he insists he IS me–and in my weakened state of sleepiness, I find it difficult to resist his will.

  • He has the same memories I do.
  • He has many similar beliefs.
  • He has encountered the emotional conflicts and victories which are part of my history.

But physically, he is smaller. Yes, he takes up less room. And he lets me know it.

He shares ideas with me which certainly make sense in the dim light of the evening, which don’t come to mind when I’m in the shining light of the day. He has four repetitive, nagging subjects:

  1. Why didn’t you act kinder?
  2. Do you really think you’re achieving your goal?
  3. Why do you think you can continue to be so fat and survive?
  4. Wouldn’t it be easy to change these things?

You see what I mean?

It’s an annoying mixture of reality, self-righteousness, valid points and impossibilities.

But when I’m lying there on my bed, it does make sense. I do feel the inadequacy and the conviction to improve my situation. But somehow or another, this vigorous being who visits by night is completely vanished by the morning light, leaving me with the emotions of upheaval without the step-by-step solutions to victory.

Yes, I am abandoned.

It doesn’t make me angry. It doesn’t make me sad. It just baffles me enough that I want to eat something. It triggers the worst part of my appetites, which are devouring my future birthdays.

I want to figure out how to turn the conversations with my night visitor into a true motivation, to trim up the areas of my life that have caused me to become lumbering and clumsy.

But how can I retain the impact of the midnight confession into breakfast time  and the construction of a realistic “things to do today” list?

The truthful answer is I don’t know.

I’m not sure if my visitor is an incriminator to demean me or an angelic presence trying to spur me on to more noble causes. I’m not positive that the encounters I have with him are beneficial or just aggravating enough to cause me to slip a little further down the rock-slide of bad habits.

But I guess it’s just like everything else–if we view it as good, we can somehow carve it into a position to strengthen us. If we view it as bad, it can be used to discourage us and leave us wanting.

There are parts of the philosophy of my night visitor that I desire to possess. Honestly, I can’t be as hard on myself at ten o’clock in the morning as he is at two o’clock in the morning.

But if I can take bits and pieces, maybe I can launch a great idea which could eventually cause the man that I am during the day to make peace with the visitor who comes by night.

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The Death of Hubris … July 29, 2012

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Behold the myth:

“I can nourish a relationship with another human being and still maintain my need for acceptance.”

Ridiculous.

If you show up needy, you end up greedy. Yes, if you do not have your own life worked out and your ego completely appeased, you will end up attacking any person you interact with, pursuing predominance.

It’s called hubrisan exaggerated sense of self-importance.

Under the banner of self-esteem, this country has become obsessed with the mission of making sure that everybody feels that they are valuable. Unfortunately, we forget that fat egos don’t exercise well with others. If something is exaggerated, it means it has departed from facts and has begun to deal in fantasy. So how is it exaggerated?

We have raised up a generation of people who have no idea whatsoever where the praise and appreciation for their lives and deeds is supposed to come from. They keep looking for it in approval from others or confirmation from the society around them and ending up feeling slighted because they’re always standing in line behind other people who are equally as determined to receive acclaim.

To rectify this, we have to learn the difference between unnatural praise and natural praise. Unnatural praise is manufactured by our culture to make everybody feel good for a few minutes, only to have their hope dashed later by the intensity of this competition called life. Here are the three practices of unnatural praise, which trigger frustration, anger and sometimes even violence:

1. I am valuable because I am alive. Since making a human being is not a very difficult task, we should be careful not to put too much emphasis on merely possessing flesh and blood, but much more consideration on what we do with our heart and soul.

2. I need to be loved to love. When you’re working under the premise that you require a stimulus to stimulate you, and you are living around other folks who have the same basic approach, then who is left to become the trigger to start the fire? It’s why we’ve begun to peer at each other from a distance in suspicion. We’re not sure of the next move to make. Remember this–love is not an emotion, it is a response. And if that is not birthed from another response, then often it simply vanishes.

3. I demand acceptance and respect. Even though there are thousands of cars on a busy highway, each and every one of them is driven by human beings who feels that they have the right of way. Their destination is more important; their feelings should always be taken into consideration and their particular rendition of traffic laws should be upheld.

These are the three angles that people take to gain footing, which only grant them an unnatural praise. You can imagine, as you look over them, that if all of humanity followed these concepts, we would soon be warring with each other. Facts are, we are already suffering under the burden of the inadequacy of this approach. If you watch television you will be convinced that reality is that people cannot live in the same space without fighting and attacking each other. Even though our country extols the beauty of conservative values, the word “dysfunctional” seems to have parked itself in front of the word “family.”

It is impossible to enter into a covenant with another human being if you are showing up requesting that they reinforce your ego, which leads to natural praise. Unnatural praise consists of false assertions about our divine rights, which leads, at best, to flattery and at worst, to conflict. Here are the forms of natural praise:

1. If I do well, I will be accepted. It’s from the book of Genesis–words God spoke to Cain after the young fellow killed his brother out of jealousy. It’s a rather simple concept–you just don’t do well on Planet Earth until you realize that you’re part of nature. Human beings are not a ruling class, free of responsibility. We must learn what works well, what functions, what succeeds, what fails and what is the normal procedure so we can submit to the wisdom of the Creator who made the atmosphere in which we dwell. When you’re in rebellion to the rules of the game, you can’t expect to win. Built into life is acceptance, appreciation and applause for those who will simply enact the plan without festering a gripe against the process. The earth has a manual of behavior. If you learn it, respect it and do well by it, you receive the natural praise of productivity that follows. It’s as simple as that–and there is no replacement for that affirmation. No standing ovation or kind words from others can ever be a substitute for knowing in your heart that you’ve done well and you’ve received your rightful reward.

2. To everything there is a season. If you’re going to be successful in life, receiving the natural praise cast your way, you must speak aloud to your surroundings, “I can evolve.” You may insist that because it worked last year, it still should be applicable, but guess what? It doesn’t work anymore. I know your “grandma and your grandpa used to do it,” but it just doesn’t fly in our present climate. There are seasons. Those human beings who learn the seasons, adjust to them, smile, adapt and find a way to enjoy themselves with the transition, receive natural praise for being so flexible. Those individuals who dig their heels in and insist that they are protecting and defending some universal concept that has already moved on, always end up looking stupid, perched in fellowship with the idiots. I will tell you right now–you will never be on the right side of any issue that takes freedom away from another person. No natural praise is awaiting you.

3. And finally, give and it shall be given unto you. It may be a good thing to show up to a buffet with an appetite as long as you’ve got the ten dollars in your pocket to pay for the privilege. But you will never receive anything in this life until you’ve invested something. Nothing happens until we give. So if we are reluctant or selfish, we will be targeted by the human beings around us and “stiffed” of any blessing. It takes giving to get. Not giving is the explanation for the complete lack of receiving.

If you’re going to welcome the natural praise built into this system, you must understand from a joyful heart, and say aloud, “I am the initiator. No one will love me–until I love; no one will give to me–until I give; no one will see me–until I see them, and God, Himself, will not move on my behalf–until I bring my five loaves and two fishes–my faith, my heart, my passion and my purpose.

These are the three approaches that guarantee the natural praise that feeds our ego with legitimate encouragement instead of creating a monster of hubris and exaggerated importance. It really boils down to an issue of mathematics. If two zeros show up on a piece of paper and you add them together, you get zero. If the zeros try to multiply, you still get zero. Even when they fight and divide, you end up with zero. It takes one plus one to create the agreement of two. And to become a one, able to be added into the significance of life, you must pursue natural praise and reject the foolishness of unnatural praise, and once and for all, put to death the hubris that makes us more nasty than valuable.

Being on this tour for seven months and speaking from the stage the words, “NoOne is better than anyone else,” I have realized that a shock goes through the audience. Even though the words have appeal to their hearts, they realize that in order to guarantee their own self-worth, they have decided to be superior to certain individuals around them. You don’t need that. All you need to do is seek the natural praise the God put into His universe, which says:

  • If I do well, I will be accepted
  • To everything there is a season
  • And give and it shall be given unto you.

Perhaps this will never become the working plan of our nation, but if you want to be ahead of the game–empowered instead of groveling–you will step into it, kill off your hubris and receive your praise … from more heavenly sources.

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