Catchy (Sitting 55) It Wasn’t a Terrible Idea…… July 1st, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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No plan is perfect–except in the minds of those who want to declare it so, to calm their nerves.

And certainly, this particular plot put together by Charmaine and Thomas was only functional if every detail worked in unison.

Trouble began as soon as they hit the hallway heading into the rotunda. Thomas realized how out-of-place he was in his cowboy hat and serape, fearing that they were in danger of jeopardizing the plan. So he quickly removed them, searching for a trash can as Charmaine moved briskly down the hallway in front of him.

Rudyard Simmons, a fifty-three-year-old guard who had served the Capitol for twenty-five years, found it a bit suspicious that someone was disposing of their clothing in the trash, so he eased over to speak with Thomas. Mr. Kinear sprouted some nervous energy, which made Rudyard even more suspicious.

Simmons was a fine, old, wizened civil servant, who actually had achieved his job because his mother had the good sense to name him Rudyard (after Rudyard Kipling) figuring that white folks, who might be considering hiring him some day, would be aware that at least name-wise, he had brushed up against European tastes.

Meanwhile, Charmaine turned around, aware that Thomas was not behind her. Seeing Rudyard making his way toward her cohort, she made a fatal mistake. She panicked.

She instinctively reached for her gun, and before she could cover it up, one of the guards spotted the weapon and screamed to the whole hallway, “GUN!”

When Rudyard heard this, he turned toward the sound of the warning, and Charmaine realized that the scheme was unraveling. She pulled her .38 calibre pistol from her holster and aimed at Rudyard, as several guards moved toward her.

Charmaine fired her weapon at Rudyard, but he, still possessing some cat-like reflexes, ducked, hitting the ground so that the bullet flew over him and struck Thomas in the chest.

Without missing a beat, Rudyard–who had never used his weapon during his entire twenty-five years; never even pulled it from its holster–yanked it out with all his might, swirled around on the ground, pointed at Charmaine and fired, striking her with a bullet in the throat.

The two intruders lay bleeding in the hallway of the Capitol Building while Rudyard’s heart pounded like a marathon runner’s. Charmaine lasted about two minutes before she completely bled out. She was barely able to form any words, but did manage to gush an anguished, “Sorry.”

Thirty feet away, Thomas was dead. Quite dead.

The hallway was now full, as the gallery stood by in stunned silence. Slowly, two of the Capitol armed guards moved over to help Rudyard to his feet. With horror in his eyes, he asked his friends, “Did I kill her?”

No one responded, but instead, took him to the nearby office of the Speaker of the House and sought a doctor to examine him for any wounds.

It really wasn’t a terrible plan. Charmaine and Thomas had conceived to capture the Speaker of the House and take him into the Chamber, holding him hostage until their demands could be met.

Thomas had become a “knight in armor” for millions of Americans who were unable to afford their medications due to the rising costs of drugs. Charmaine had joined him when her mother was forbidden a particular treatment because the insurance companies deemed it unnecessary.

Maybe the two of them should have sought more peaceable means of presenting their plight, but when there’s smoke in the air, it’s difficult to decide which fires to put out.

That night the President of the United States secured time on all networks to speak to the people, but CBS sent a request to have Jubal Carlos address the country, right before the President spoke.

They had no idea if they would be able to connect with him, especially since he had just finished the series in North Carolina with the reporter, Jennifer Carmen. Not only did Jubal take their call, but he agreed to fly to Washington to share.

The network asked him how much time he would need. They were a little shocked when he responded, “Four minutes.”

So five were set aside, just in case, and promptly at 7:55–just prior to the eight o’clock hour when the President was due to speak–Jubal sat on the steps of the Capitol Building with a single camera framing his face.

“Horrified. Shocked. Despaired. These are words that will be used for today’s events in the hallowed halls of our legislature. We should be upset. But in the midst of it, some very powerful and positive moments occurred. His name is Rudyard Simmons and he’s fifty-three years old, and you would have never have known him. Nor would I, had this tragedy not occurred. Had this attack happened five months ago, I’m not so sure Mr. Simmons would have been ready for it. Just because insanity has an agenda–one which is evil–does not mean good people are prepared to do their part. What has happened in our country over the past months has not only built up our love, increased our hope, but it’s made our faith more sturdy.

“Rudyard Simmons saw something that didn’t look right–a cowboy hat and a serape in the Capitol Building being thrown away by an anxious stranger. He wasn’t judging cowboys nor Mexican immigrants. He moved decisively to find out if there was something that needed to be done. Over the past years we have lost our boldness. We nibble at each other. We fuss like little children. But today, a real man boldly walked over to ask a question, and in doing so, threw a wrench into a plan to silence our government.

“I don’t know what the President is going to say. You know I am not a political person. But tonight I am grateful for the boldness of Rudyard Simmons, and more than that, I am thrilled that his faith, along with his works, made sure that there weren’t many dead.”

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Good News and Better News… April 10th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I grew up in a church which contended, believed and insisted that baptism was only to be performed through immersion. No “sprinklin’ on the head” for our parishioners. It had to be a full, “ear-washin’, born-again, dunkin’ hullabaloo.”

Our church also believed that communion needed to be served every Sunday, not every once in a while, leaving a congregation spiritually malnourished due to the fact that they had not sufficiently partaken of the wafer and juice.

There were also other fragments of doctrine which were enforced by numerous sermons, as the minister often mocked other ways of thinking, which he deemed heresy.

Even nowadays, every single church on every corner has some pet portion of the Good Book they feel supersedes all others, and sets them apart as the “true Chosen of God” instead of the errant rabble.

Although the mainline denominations, such as the Methodists, will smile at you and promote their flexibility, they still would never think about saying “hallelujah,” clapping their hands, or allowing for the possibility of the miracle of healing in the middle of a service. I guess we need Pentecostals for that.

Every single fragment of a once-noble, unified body of Christ is positive that they are the heartbeat of the Gospel.

Over the years it has become very simple to me–I don’t give a tinker’s damn what people believe. I watch how they act.

Some of the most intolerant, inflexible and mean-spirited people that I’ve worked with over the years seem to possess the most intense Bible knowledge. And other folks, who the righteous would consider to be damnable sinners, have taken the time to wash the shirt on their back before they gave it to me.

Of course, there are all sorts of Christians out there who will tell you that I’m promoting a Gospel of works rather than grace. Actually, all I’m saying is that I can’t thoroughly confirm that grace is at work unless the recipient is gracious.

I’m not so sure people are forgiven if they can’t forgive.

And I definitely don’t see them possessing the Spirit of God when they’re prejudiced against other people.

If you want to find out if a man, woman or child is a Christian, take one morning of your life and work on a project with him or her. Then go back and look at what the fruit of the Spirit is. Because if memory serves me, it is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

When I see those virtues at work, I begin to believe in what people say they believe that they truly do believe.

When I run across grouchy, short-tempered, fussy, back-biting, gossiping and aggravated individuals, I think they are disconnected from their beliefs, even though they seem to be very proficient at quoting scripture.

Don’t tell me what you believe. Show me how you act. And if that has too much “works” in it for you, then go cuddle up to your dead faith.

The good news is that Jesus said “by their fruits you shall know them.”

The better news is that a Gospel that can be acted out is much easier to imitate than trying to mouth holy words.

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Good News and Better News… November 9th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News Osceola 2

I did not sit there and count, but I do believe it was about seven of the good brothers and sisters from Osceola, Indiana, who came up to me and in varying ways, exhorted me to “keep doing what I’m doing” and “please don’t stop.”

These lovely folks are pastored by a fine fellow named Bob. Yes, there’s something truly endearing about being associated with a “Pastor Bob.”

He was a kind, considerate fellow, and along with his wife, (who, by the way, has an infectious laugh) has taken on the responsibility of bringing joy and inspiration to dear folk living in Northern Indiana.

I was so greatly encouraged by all the individuals I met at this church.

Some were aspiring ministers.

Others were hard-working Hoosiers looking for a little piece of hope to both lift up their souls and challenge them to excellence.

There was even one young dude who had a heavy metal band.

It was a mixture of American humanity.

And out of that stirred-up bowl rose a voice challenging me to continue what I am doing, and never stop.

So I asked myself, “What is it these people want me to truck on, sharing across the United States?”

Well, first, I guess they want me to continue to speak to the weakness of power.

Yes, we have leaders who are in control in this country who often pull up lame because their goals are inhuman. In the secular community, it’s the notion that “the meaner you are the more powerful you become.” And in the religious community it’s the proclamation that “we need to get people to come to God.”

The truth of the matter is that it takes more guts to find a way to get along with people instead of fighting, and God never intended people to come to Him. That’s why He sent Jesus–to go to them.

A second reason folks might want me to keep on doing my little work is that I believe it’s important to bring true possibilities to humans instead of insisting that our race consists of either animals or angels.

We aren’t. We are human.

And unlike the animals, we require inspiration; and quite different from the angels, we desperately need to be entertained while receiving it.

When you arrive at that blending, you become a friend to the human race instead of putting them in the monkey cage, or thinking we can ascend to the heavens.

And even though I’m theorizing, I would assume that the Osceolians might want me to continue to broker a deal between “works” and “grace.”

I don’t know why we feel we always have to choose between these two. I, for one, am so blessed by the grace of God that I would like to go out and share some good works. It’s not that I think good works replace the grace of God. But I also do not believe that grace has provided me free admission to anything without tapping my involvement.

The marriage of works and grace is the definition of the life of Jesus: God graced him with being a son, and he returned the favor by making many become sons of God.

Osceola, I enjoyed myself so much, and send my love your way. You have the good news.

And in closing, I offer you one beautiful piece of better news:

There is the life we are given, and there is the life we return. Our only job on this journey is to make sure the life we return … is a bit better.

 

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Graceful Effort … May 1, 2013

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birdsI love believing. It’s so much more fulfilling than being cynical, doubting the power of virtue and the possibilities that lie within the human family.

On the other hand, I don’t always LIKE being a believer. What I mean is, the stigma placed upon spirituality by relegating it to the status of mere “religion” often annoys me to the point of pulling out my hair (thus explaining my baldness).

What is the difference between believing and being the common believer who follows the rhetoric of religion? I think it lies somewhere in discovering the balance between grace and works.

If you’re on of those believers who thinks that God has a wonderful plan for your life,” or that everything is written in the stars, or that the future is pre-determined and you’re just finding your place in the great scheme of destiny, you usually find yourself in a bit of despair, inept and impatient with your lot.

If you happen to be one of those individuals who is minus a spiritual direction and believe that you forge your own path with no help from a divine friend, you can also become disheartened and angry at the complexity of what you hoped would be simple.

I think it would do us good to become bird brains. For some reason or another in our pursuit of human superiority, we have deemed the bird to be stupid, when the Bible actually tells us that the birds have it figured out better than us. For instance, I woke up this morning to the sounds of chattering, singing, flying feathered folks right outside my window. I didn’t pick up any aggravation in their song; no disgruntled soul complaining about the early hour or off-key brothers and sisters. They just seemed to get it.

“We’re birds. We sing. It’s morning. Sing loudly. Sun came up. Go get worms. Bring them back to the nest. And fly around … until something kills you.”

But in our pursuit of some deep hidden meaning to life, we refuse to accept the fact that even though Jesus said we are worth “many sparrow,” he DID compare us to sparrows. You may want to believe that you, personally, are of more value than all the sparrows in the world, but in heaven your actual rate of exchange is merely MANY sparrows.

So what is the perfect balance between grace and works?

Graceful effort: pursuing what life has set in front of you, working on the excellence of your humanity, perfecting your craft, keeping a good sense of humor, while all the time understanding that this humility permits God to extend His grace to you.

God does not give grace to the prideful–and it is certainly prideful to proclaim our sanctity and purity without producing any evidence of works and effort.

So what creates humility?

  1. “Like the sparrow, I will sing my song.”
  2. “Like the sparrow, I will hunt my worms, knowing that they feed me.”
  3. “Like the sparrow, I will build a nest and find my peace within it.”
  4. “Like the sparrow, I will know that life is brief and my time, limited.”
  5. “Like the sparrow, I will leave the rest to God’s grace.”

No sparrow ever dies in its nest of natural causes. Sparrows don’t get Alzheimer’s. They live their life full-throttle until their lives are no more. Often it’s a tragic end–but quick. Knowing this, they never miss a morning to sing.

Graceful effort: when I realize that life has conditions, direction and purpose, and rather than fighting it, I eagerly join in with my portion. In doing so, I humbly offer my melody to my Creator

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Invisible … August 11, 2012

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Don’t go bad-mouthin’ the tooth fairy. If there was actually some flying creature sticking dollar bills under my pillow while I slumbered in exchange for decayed enamel, I would defend the right of that being to be revered against all comers. Matter of fact, I’d be tempted to grab a pair of pliers and increase my wealth.

The problem with the tooth fairy is that its existence is dependent upon the good will of mommies and daddies, who keep the concept alive. But remember, it is why the idea still lives. The tooth fairy would not last more than twenty-four hours if we just believed in it and no parent ever took a dollar out of his or her wallet to justify and affirm the faith.

Likewise with Santa Claus. He is not going to leave the picture of humanity very soon. It is not because he’s building extensions on his North Pole complex to guarantee his position for generations to come. It’s because those who believe in what he stands for perform his duties for him in his absence.

Tomorrow morning, all over the world, churches will meet and talk about faith, hope and love. They will scratch their heads as they count the number in attendance and realize that it is shrinking. They will wonder why the younger folks are beginning to abandon a commitment to God–those same younger folks who continue to promote the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. It’s because God is not as well promoted as these two fantasy creatures. God, who certainly has more evidence through His creation, interaction, healing and general welfare of humanity, is actually believed in less than “Toothy” and the Claus.

Why? Because faith, hope and love are being passed along as ideals and goals rather than being backed up by actions. Faith has become a belief, hope is a fantasy dream, and love is normally presented as a romantic tizzy. We have given over the three greatest forces in the universe to speculation rather than providing adequate evidence.

This is why James so brilliantly states in his epistle, “Faith without works is dead, being alone.” And the writer in Proverbs tells us that hope which continually fails makes us emotionally and even mentally ill. And love, which is only viewed as interaction between the sexes, lasts about as long as the normal American marriage.

We deserve better.

When belief in God has the same intensity of follow-up that we see during the Yuletide in reinforcing Santa’s image with giving, singing carols and decorating, then we will see a rebirth in faith. Spoiler alert: after all, God, unlike Santa, is real. What He lacks are elves. What He is absent are the jubilant followers who will propagate the joy of the season and bring about good cheer.

Here is the truth of the matter–faith works. What I mean by that is that you can show me your faith without works, but I plan on showing you my faith with works so that my belief will not just be a personal triumph in the quietness of my soul, but rather, a victory to those around me who “see my good works and glorify the Father in heaven.” We can no longer mouth the words of the sacred without delivering the fruit on our tree.

Faith works. If it doesn’t, it’s dead on arrival.

Hope pursues. Jesus used the phrase, “endures to the end.” Hope is not a dream; it is not a fantasy. It is not a slogan. It is a premise of our faith that we decide to follow through to a conclusion. We’re willing to persevere through difficulty, cynicism and even a contrary spirit. It doesn’t matter. Hope does not work as long as it’s viewed in the ethereal and not changed into a workshop application. Hope is pursued.

And love–perhaps the most misinterpreted force in all the spectrum of the universe–cannot be limited to romance, or even romantic notions. Love agrees. You can really tell you’re in love when you walk around looking for reasons to be in agreement with those who have captured your heart. I can always tell when love has left the room because pickiness, grouchiness and a disagreeable attitude slither into the door, discouraging any semblance of passion. These monsters bring fear. We’re afraid that if we give out an agreeable nature from our heart, that we will not receive from others–so we withhold. We allow apprehension and suspicion to prevent us from being an agree-er. Love agrees. For it is the prayer of agreement that brings healing. It is two people agreeing at an altar that consecrates a marriage. And it is God and man agreeing for peace on earth that sets in motion the first fruits of tranquillity.

Love agrees. There would be no romance without agreement. There would be no sex without agreement. There would be no answered prayer without agreement. There would be no building constructed without the agreement of the architect and the construction worker. Love agrees.

As long as faith is a belief, it will suffer from those who are jaded against pursuing fairy tales. Faith works. And if the works aren’t there to reinforce it, it is dead.

Hope that is merely a fantasy or a dream eventually leaves us disheartened and emotionally distraught. Hope pursues. It hangs around for the meek to inherit the earth.

And love that is touted as a romantic notion is soon rendered insipid in the climate of infidelity. Love agrees. Love looks for a reason to come to terms with even its enemies on some form of sympathetic endeavor.

  • Faith works.
  • Hope pursues.
  • Love agrees.

Try to make that your new doctrine and see if your religion doesn’t become more realistic to those around you. Because when the world can actually see proof of your assertion, it is so much easier for them to launch out into the deep and cast their nets.

Faith, hope and love are not invisible. They are just well-hidden from those who only want to believe, pursue fantasy and think that romance is the only form of love.

 

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