G-Poppers … July 28th, 2017

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Jon close up

G-Pop was pretty sure what he wanted to share with his children this morning. As he climbed in his van to begin a ten-day tour to Tampa, which would include five presentations, G-Pop had pretty well sketched out what he saw as an aching need in our present human interactions: a return to concern. He was pretty pleased with what he was going to pen.

But he got about twelve miles down the road and his front passenger tire blew out. There was no personal injury or damage to the van other than one exploded tire.

Now, G-Pop and his traveling companion don’t carry a jack or spare with them, simply because neither one of them is capable of taking care of such a feat. So it was a hot, Southern-Florida morning, and he was stuck by the side of the road, waiting for a tow-truck and a willing technician to help out.

Things never work that way. Once your plans are edited by Mother Nature’s intervention, things never get easier–they just get different.

The blow-out happened at 9:00 A.M. and G-Pop was not on his way again until 1:10 P.M.

A lot of waiting.

A lot of heat.

A lot of chances to be discouraged, frustrated or to do that dastardly human thing of trying to find someone to blame.

Then it struck G-Pop. The article he had planned to write, though well-intentioned, was a discussion of human generosity in the abstract. In other words, “we could” or “we should.”

But it is one of those subjects that is easy to “Amen” but not so easy to amend. So instead, G-Pop is going to talk about concern, compassion and tenderness in the practical rather than the abstract.

Would you believe that four people stopped to see if they could help?

Would you believe a young man who has his own towing company had his car overheat on the way, but still made it there to change the tire?

Would you believe that G-Pop’s daughter-in-law brought out some drinks and a sandwich, asking if there was any other way she could help?

Would youi believe that G-Pop’s wife scurried around town, suddenly becoming a tire purchaser, for the good of the cause?

When it was all over, G-Pop realized there were so many people he got to meet that he never would have met had he not been stalled.

Maybe the whole problem in life is that we think we’re going to teach each other to be better humans. Actually, life just comes along and messes with us, giving us the chance to practice making gentler decisions from a position of deeper concern.

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Good News and Better News… June 5th, 2017

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Last night at the Renaissance Fellowship, I was privileged to be part of a holy collision. It wasn’t the “moon in the seventh house and Jupiter aligning with Mars.” Much more practical than that.

It was a blessed event, in which “willing” brushed up against “working” and satisfied “waiting”–the human trinity of possibility.

Without people being willing, it is useless to share things that are working. And if workable concepts are not being instituted, the sense of waiting in our souls lingers, rendering us frustrated. But when willing meets working, it satisfies waiting.

Foolishly, we’re all waiting for something.

How in the world waiting ever became a virtue baffles me–because waiting can be done by the foolhardy or the wise. There’s nothing particularly noble about it–matter of fact, it can degrade into first-class laziness. After all, what is the difference between waiting and stalled?

That’s where willing has to step in and become the big brother. In other words, we’re not only waiting for something to happen, we’re also willing to accept applications. They don’t have to be perfect. They don’t have to be what we’re praying for. Just able to be used to get us to our next place where we can stand in our faith.

You can tell you’ve grown spiritually when you know that complaining in any form can’t be justified.

Matter of fact, many of our prayers are glossed-over complaints. We lament to God instead of petitioning Him. We plead angst in His direction under the guise of just being worried and concerned.

Somewhere along the line, those that are “waiting upon the Lord” must renew their strength by being willing.

Willing to run and not be weary.

Willing to walk and not faint.

Suddenly–when willing shows up–working ideas seem to leap from the cosmos into the field of our vision. Hope does not spring eternal, it becomes an earthly possibility.

And when human beings who are waiting for some specific answer allow themselves to be willing to adapt to possibilities, then a Gospel full of working ideas can be preached and change the world.

Last night, people who quite obviously are waiting on promises suddenly became willing to enjoy themselves in the moment, and consider a temporary blessing, taking a rain check on their future hopes–and because of that, they were infused with working mercy, tenderness, excitement and insight.

It was magnificent.

But unless people become willing, nothing works. And when things don’t work, our waiting is absolutely futile.

So the good news is, it turns out that waiting is made much more tolerable by being willing.

And the better news is that willing people are ready to get to work.

P.S. Pictured is me with my grandson, Jonathan. (I’m the one in red.)

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Dudley … April 6th, 2017

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DUDLEY

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Published in: on April 6, 2017 at 12:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … November 30th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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pohymn-in-charge-of-fate

In Charge of Fate

Here I sit and fitfully wait

He always seems to be so late

So left to my own thinking

Sleepy, my eyes are blinking

What is taking so long?

It’s painful to remain strong

Does it care that I am weary?

Fearful, angry, sad and dreary

As each second dribbles away

Impertinent, wasting a precious day

Why am I being rejected?

The only soul seemingly affected

Do they possess some care for me?

Are you too busy to look and see

That I have lost my childlike dream

Abandoned my hope of a heavenly scheme

My soul may need the patience I know

But I require some harvest to grow

Here I sit, nowhere to be

There it is, ignoring me

Is there a purpose, perhaps a plan?

Or just a random mistreatment of man

I should be kinder to their name

But right now I need someone to blame

For the place I’ve landed, ordained by me

Only my willingness can make me free

Yet truth is such an abstract thought

Can’t be cajoled, stolen or bought

Am I the one in charge of fate?

If not, why is she so goddamn late?

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Waiting for the Load… October 13, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

Swimming pools have water. May I follow that revelation with the admission that I enjoy water? Baptism, baths, splish or splash–the wet stuff is nice.

That’s why it’s difficult to believe that until I was twenty-seven years old, I never put on a suit, went to a swimming pool and jumped in the water with my friends. I was fat. I was that “adolescent obese,” where as a man, you have muscle and strength but you’re also covered with enough loose skin and blubber to make it appear, from a distance, that your sex is ambiguous. At least that’s the way I felt.

I actually sat by the pool with my companions, dressed in long pants, shirt and shoes and pretended I was having a good time while they all acted “cool in the pool.” They pleaded with me to come in but I always told them, “Next time.”

As you well know, next time never comes.

Matter of fact, as I look back on it, I’m not quite sure what finally prompted me to slide on a pair of short pants, take off my shirt and flop my way into the refreshing tide. I think I finally just got tired of being tired. I got weary of being the one who had explanations for all my insecurities, which were generally accepted by those around me.

I bring this up to you because the first time I did go in a pool without a shirt, wearing trunks, was probably one of the more horrible experiences of my life. I  succeeded in finding a time when there was no one at the pool and slid into the water without being eyeballed. But lo and behold, before I was able to make my departure, a kid’s party invaded the establishment, with balloons and about twenty of the brattiest children I have ever met. So I dunked myself under the water to hide my obvious thighs, but the time of the party extended beyond my available pool time. In other words, I had to get out of the pool in front of the kids.

I put it off and I put it off. Finally, it was beginning to look like I might be a little odd or checking out the children for hanging around so long, so I headed for the exit steps and ascended. As I came out of the pool, I noticed that the children, who had been screaming and playing behind me, suddenly fell silent. All at once, one of the boys started to laugh, which caused all the other children to burst into hooting and hollering.

I was humiliated and angry–and in my haste to try to grab my shirt, I tripped over a chair and fell against the fence. This only increased the enjoyment of my little rabble-rousers. I stomped away, saying some nasty little piece of nothing in their direction. It was months before I attempted to be courageous again.

But I learned that day. Well, maybe it was weeks after that I learned. But eventually, a lesson did land in my spirit. Here it is. No matter what we attempt, no matter how we try, no matter how much we plan–every day life is going to arrive with a load.

It isn’t there to aggravate us. It isn’t Satan tracking us down so he can poke us with his pointy tail. It isn’t because we are full of evil and depravity. And it isn’t because we “forgot to do something” and next time we need to be more careful. It’s just that God allows Mother Nature to mix things, up so all the big boys and girls don’t grab all the big marbles and go into the big house and make their big plans and look out of their big windows–and laugh at all the little people. In other words, all of us take a turn at losing our marbles.

This week, as I have launched on this faith-mission with my health, the realization about the “Load” has been prevalent in my mind and present in my reality. Take yesterday. I love Fridays on the road because I have an extra writing session–a letter I write to 350-plus pastors across the nation who have become my acquaintances and friends. It is also laundry day. Without fear of losing my macho portion, I love the smell of clean clothes. It is a day to plan for my weekend, when I will get to meet wonderful, dynamic human beings and share my dribble of talent and insight.  Yesterday was no different. I had all those blessings, but mingled in was the realization that I am struggling in my walk.

So what is the key to life when we’re all “waiting for the load”–that unexpected punch of possible problems that comes our way, ignoring both our wishes and our pre-packaged purpose? It’s a two-step process:

1. Plan simple so complications won’t frustrate you. If you look at what you decide to do on any given day and you’re already exasperated, take four things off the list. Because four things will get added on later without your permission, and if you have kept your list intact, you will not only be overwhelmed, you will become infuriated.

2. Budget in time for rest. You may not get it, but if you don’t budget it, you can guarantee yourself that you’ll never find a moment to take a breath during the day.

There’s the magic. I woke up yesterday morning knowing that I am still having pain in my legs, with some difficulty in standing to my feet without a grimace or two. So what became my load?

Well, because I have been working so hard to try to walk, I had to overcome a muscle ache in my right leg. But I did have a great bathroom stop which, for some reason or another, seemed to alleviate some of the discomfort.

I made my way down to the pool in the wheelchair and lowered myself into the water and it felt so good–but walking around in the pool was a bit painful and caused climbing the steps and getting back into the chair to have a bit of a Herculean effect.

It was completely balanced–but I did not begin the day setting any anticipations that did not seem reasonable. I was waiting for the load.

It is coming. There is no temptation that is not common to all of us. Please do not think you are going to escape making tough decisions in faith, simply because you have padded a bank account, paid into Social Security, done an oil change on your car or saw the doctor a month ago. There is one certainty for all of humanity–there will eventually be something that comes our way that we did not plan for that will jettison us from this earth.

So, what did I learn yesterday while I was “waiting for the load?” I once again praised my heavenly Father for such an articulate and meticulous organizational creation, available to us mortals if we will allow ourselves to be human instead of insisting that we’re gods.

Here is a four-stanza little verse that I pass on to you, which you may want to absorb into your everyday thinking:

No more than we can bear

Not less than we can share

Not easy to make us lazy

Not hard to make us crazy.

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