Forty-two Months… May 24, 2013

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ShreveportIt was a hot, humid, May evening in an area of the country that only knows how to be hot and humid in May.

It was the night that I first met my partner, Janet Clazzy. She was the principal oboist in the Shreveport Symphony and came out to a press conference I had put together to publicize my musical, Mountain, the Sermon on the Mount set to music. I was twenty-nine years old–energetic and just stupid enough to believe that great things could be done with little effort.

This initial meeting came to my mind last night as we drove into Shreveport to do a gig.

The first time I arrived in that town, I was a refugee from a year of my life which had been crowded with too much activity and laced with disaster.

1980.

I moved from Nashville, Tennessee, traveling the country with my Broadway-style show, Mountain, to twenty-five cities. After that I took a position at a church in Alabama. My second-oldest son, Joshua, was in a hit-and-run accident with a car and suffered a massive brain trauma. I left Alabama and moved to Shreveport to take a position at a small Bible college, which appeared to be getting smaller all the time.

I was damaged goods.

I did not know the extent of the buffeting that had occurred in my soul, but I was fully aware of the residue of the bruises. I stayed in Shreveport, Louisiana for forty-two months–in what I would call a complete human overhaul. It was more than healing–it was a rediscovery of my self, my talents, my faith, my potential and certainly–my limitations.

Nearly all the people I met when I was in Shreveport during those forty-two months are still in my life in some capacity. Some of them are close to me, a few have abandoned our former relationship, and most have moved on, taking bits and pieces of what they learned in that season and salting their lives with the experience.

When I finished up last night, walked out to my van and looked at the skyline of the city, I was grateful. It was in Shreveport that I remembered I could write again. I composed songs, penned dramas that were aired on the radio and was called “pastor” by a handful of loving souls.

I learned to fight for what I believed in without becoming aggressive. I became a producer of videos for public access TV and argued with the zoning commission of the town to permit us to have a location for our tiny fellowship. I found myself going down to the county jail in the middle of the night to help people who had fallen through the cracks, and practically begged companies to give food, bread and blankets for us to distribute to the hungry and needy.

I grew a soul.

A soul is like anything else that grows–it requires seeds. Some of those sprouts are unconventional–things like tears, pain, heartache, disappointment and anguish. Yet they all produce beautiful fruit when they are allowed time to mature. But the laughter, joy, cleverness, creativity and the unexpected blessings also were sown into my spirit, “bringing in the sheaves,” rejoicing.

I would not be the man I am today if it were not for that forty-two months I spent in Shreveport–in “spiritual rehab.”

Even though my son eventually passed away and the little work I began there as an outreach is no longer intact, the manifestations of that effort are still evident every day in the lives of my friends and colleagues.

So I am grateful.  I am grateful to Shreveport.

I am overjoyed that instead of giving up on the idea of God, I decided to reinvent faith … inside my tattered being.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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Jonathan’s thinking–every day–in a sentence or two …

 Jonathots, Jr.!

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Seven Points… May 23, 2013

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In the midst of scrambling some points with a couple of dozen good eggs in Seven Points, Texas, last night, I discovered that there really are seven points necessary to put together the kind of human life that is both good to ourselves and valuable to others.

First, I think it’s important that we CARE. After all, apathy is when love has died and finally shows up as a frown on your face.

The second suggestion I would make is to HEAR. Faith comes by hearing. That may explain why we’re in the middle of a faithless generation–people have stopped listening to each other.

How about ACCEPT? Certainly there are folks who might consider me to be wishy-washy, because I believe that if I can’t accept something in the life of another human being, I choose to ignore it. The other options are to judge them or try to change them, both of which are contrary to good sense and the Jesonian philosophy.

If I were to go for a fourth idea, I would certainly recommend REJOICE. The reason the joy of the Lord is our strength is because the absence of finding purpose in our journey makes us feel weak. There is something positive about hanging around with individuals who can kick up their heels and squeal in delight.

I think we should INTERCEDE. When it is in our power to do something good, to fail to pursue it is certainly sin. I sometimes see problems in people’s lives, and it’s just too painful to discuss it with them, so instead, I pray for them or I stand in the gap to make sure they don’t get hurt while they’re learning better ways.

Here’s a sixth one: TRUTHFUL. There aren’t many things we owe one another, but the truth is hard to top. There’s something about looking someone in the eye and refusing to lie to them that creates a bond of trust which is beyond measure.

And if you will allow me a seventh possibility, I would call it YEARN. Instead of becoming nagging ninnies, constantly fussing about the way life is, there should be a yearning in our hearts to see things get better. People who do not yearn always end up complaining–which is the best way to chase God away–AND all the people created in His image.

So here are the seven points I garnered last night from Seven Points, Texas:

  • Care
  • Hear
  • Accept
  • Rejoice
  • Intercede
  • Truthful
  • Yearn

And if you take the first letter of each and every one of those, you end up with the acronym “charity.” And charity is when love gets up out of its chair to answer the door because someone needs help.

Tonight I am off to Shreveport, Louisiana, where thirty years ago I first met my partner, Janet. So we will take a little walk through some memories, and hopefully in the process, create some new ones.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

******

Jonathan’s thinking–every day–in a sentence or two …

 Jonathots, Jr.!

Click below

https://jonathots.wordpress.com/jonathots-jr/

******

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Acts-I-Dent… May 22, 2013

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dentAmazing grace is only amazing if it helps us find a way to stop being so stupid.

Even though I am very grateful for grace, mercy and forgiveness, somewhere along the line, I would like to grow up, mature a little bit and not always be standing in the bread line of neediness. If you don’t agree with this, I understand. There are many religious AND non-religious people who find submission to inadequacy to be appealing–or maybe even the definition of humble. I happen to think that you don’t get the CHANCE to be humble until you do something great.

So you see, on Monday when I backed my van into a truck, denting my door (see above picture), I did not feel humbled by the experience because I did NOT achieve anything great.

What I would like to describe is the process my brain unleashed following this little piece of idiocy. When I felt the thump of making contact with the pick-up truck, I thought:

1. “Oh, crap.” Truthfully, it wasn’t crap–but for the sake of discussion, let us keep that word. It is my normal reaction to difficulty. I have not become a supernatural being who welcomes adversity because it builds patience and character.

2. “Oh, no.” The realization came very quickly: I was entering a world of insurance companies, phone numbers, complaints–and fussiness. I hate those places. Sometimes I pursue extra work just to make sure I don’t have to do THAT work. So realizing I was now in an unwelcome realm, I moved to:

3. “Oh–who or what  can I blame?” Let’s be honest–no one wants to look like a loser, so even when we do loser things, we want to make sure that everybody thinks we are winners doing loser activities. To achieve that requires some back-pedaling and manipulation of the story. But since I don’t like to blam eother people for my mistakes, I had a fourth notion, which was:

4. “Oh. Where can I run?” I don’t have very good legs at this point, so escaping the scene of the accident was unlikely (unless I was being trailed by a herd of turtle-constables). So in that split second, when all these conflicting thoughts were jockeying for attention, the first viable inclination surfaced:

5. “Oh. I’m not gonna lie.” I was not going to tell the guy I hit that it was his fault because he hit my rear end. I’ was not going to tell my friends in the van that it was their fault because they distracted me. The cleanliness of that notion quickly took me to:

6. “Oh, It’s my fault.” Okay, okay–no one likes to say it. But the sooner we get to that freeway of understanding, the faster we can exit from our calamity. It was my fault. I can give you excuses. I can tell you I was tired. I can tell you I should have already been in my room instead of out shopping. I might even get your sympathy. But my series of explanations would never get your respect.

It was my fault. And I have the dent to prove it.

That wonderful admission to myself brought about another reassuring ointment to my mind and heart:

7. “Oh–I’ll survive.” I always have. There’s no reason to think this is the one that’ll take me down. Not until I am unconscious, flying away to eternity, will I run across a problem which is beyond my power–based upon my willingness to adjust.

I was not proud of my stupidity. I don’t ask God’s grace to cover it. God’s pretty busy in Oklahoma right now. What I want is to tell you is that the Acts that I put forth Dented my van.

It was me. I am better because I survived the seven-step process–which only lasted two or three seconds in my mind–to finally land in the reality that I will “never be left nor forsaken.

Stop being afraid of the truth and give yourself a chanceto be made free.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

******

Jonathan’s thinking–every day–in a sentence or two …

 Jonathots, Jr.!

Click below

https://jonathots.wordpress.com/jonathots-jr/

******

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Quatrain of God… May 21, 2013

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It was

You can

We will

I am

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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Jonathan’s thinking–every day–in a sentence or two …

 Jonathots, Jr.!

Click below

https://jonathots.wordpress.com/jonathots-jr/

******

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Published in: on May 21, 2013 at 12:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Little Red Marble… May 20, 2013

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blood marbleShe gently slipped it into my hand.

It was a little red marble. She whispered in my ear, telling me it represented one single drop of the blood of Jesus.

Honestly, those kinds of representations of religious artifacts usually leave me cold, or even occasionally” creeped out.” But the combination of her sincerity and a sweet revelation in my soul moved me.

It is an abomination that in our society, blood has become so frivolous. We now have shows about vampires, doctor and police escapades where blood flows freely, and gore and violence represented repetitively in front of our eyes on a daily basis.

But it really isn’t true and there is no reality to it. The Bible tells us that blood is life. That’s true. If you’ve ever been at the scene of an accident and witnessed blood pouring out of a human being, you immediately realize that their life is draining away. Just because that same sensation does not communicate quite as vividly on the silver screen, DVD, blue ray or photographs does not take away the reality of blood loss.

One drop of the blood of Jesus means that there were many, many pints that flowed from him that day when he gave his life. Having once needed a blood transfusion myself, and having four pints pumped into my veins, I can tell you that the absence of that gift rendered me dizzy, with blurred vision, thirsty and nearly out of my head. Why? Because I didn’t have enough blood.

I do not know what it will take for us to realize that the pictures that come to us from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and points all over the world–where we see blood draining from human bodies–are warnings to us of the temporal nature of human life and the commonality of us all.

Two thousand years ago, a just and righteous man hung on a cross because other men forgot how valuable human life and blood truly was. Even though I may not focus on his death very often (because Jesus, himself, requested that we honor his words) I was moved yesterday in that moment, when the lady handed me a symbolic drop of his life force.

We will never become civilized again until we honor life by refusing to portray the shedding of blood as entertainment.

And we will never become spiritual if we fail to recognize the redemption, salvation and healing that comes through one drop of the blood of Jesus . . . even when it is shown to us in a little red marble.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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Jonathan’s thinking–every day–in a sentence or two …

 Jonathots, Jr.!

Click below

https://jonathots.wordpress.com/jonathots-jr/

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Many are Culled but Pew are Dozin’… May 19, 2013

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Here I am again. Another Sunday sitting in my pew. I am not alone, but not everyone is here, not even everyone I love or those of my own family. They have given up on the idea. I do not hate them because they have deserted the cause. I understand.

Even though I believe in God, I comprehend doubt. Why? Because I have doubts of my own. Sometimes the stories of the Bible sound like stories–you know what I mean? There are moments when Jonah and the Whale resembles Jack and the Beanstalk, which makes me contemplate whether I am dumb for believing or the world is dumb for denying.

Hymns don’t always make sense. Bible readings come crashing to my ears like colliding syllables jumbled together without ever forming words. Where do my prayers go? Are they heard, answered or just therapeutic–to make me and all beseechers feel better for a minute or two?

Now, I don’t feel this way all the time. Sometimes my heart is full of spirit and my mind soaks up a gentle truth. But on other occasions, I feel silly in one moment and then ashamed of my doubt in the next.

What is real? I certainly know that we can’t go on living in a world where we hate each other. Politics doesn’t help. Psychology is a band-aid. Entertainment adds to the confusion. Also, goodness is essential, but not natural. Selfishness is our normal profile. So I guess if I can turn myself into someone who cuts slack to my brothers and sisters, I become valuable.

And then there’s this “after death” stuff. Even if heaven doesn’t end up being  heavenly, earth needs heaven to keep from becoming hell. Yes, I require a Father and a Creator or I stop chasing dreams and settle in for defeat. So I am here, perched in my pew–assigned seating for the heavenly bus.

I don’t know everything. I’m not always sure. I am not ready to argue the Bible with anyone. It’s just that life without a pew?

Well, it really stinks.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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Jonathon’s thinking–every day–in a sentence or two …

 Jonathots, Jr.!

Click below

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

The Waxahachie Project… May 18, 2013

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WaxahachieWaxahachie, Texas.

The name “Waxahachie” comes from the Native American tongue, meaning “Buffalo Creek” or “Cow Creek.” Honestly, I have nothing to say about that. Sometimes it’s better to leave things like that alone, and certainly resist any temptation to be clever or draw deeper meaning from the context.

Here is what Waxahachie means to me: I have three-and-a-half hours to spend with a few hundred people, to communicate my heart and soul, and to leave hopefully having edified them and encouraged them in the better parts of themselves. If you didn’t know, that’s two hundred and ten minutes. It’s not very long. There certainly is no time to waste being picky, fussy, careful, suspicious or opinionated.

I have decided that there are five things I would like to accomplish during my brief stay with these delightful human examples of why God loves the world and hopes the best for it.

1. I’d like these folks to know that we have more in common than we in difference. We are killing each other with the religion of “uniqueness,” which is only giving us license to murder attempts at commonality.

2. The gospel is earth friendly because God is people loving. I guess you can feel free to focus on the parts of spirituality that have nothing to do with human beings, but rather, deal with angels, demons, heaven and hell. But considering the fact that we ARE not yet in the realm of the supernatural, it is perhaps wise to make sure that we focus more on natural pursuits.

3. Good cheer is our best offense in reaching the world. Matter of fact, if you want to act worldly, the most obvious way to achieve that goal is to establish a grumpy disposition. It is rather unlikely that we will be able to help people if we suffer from the same disease of disappointment that infests their entire beings.

4. Meanness gets meanness. I don’t know where we got the idea that we could actually “out-muscle” our competition, or find a way to be nastier than the nasty.  Once you establish the fact that you are trying to get what you want and are willing to do anything to do it, you create the kind of enemies who never forget how you attacked them and lie in the weeds, waiting for a chance to wreak their vengeance. I cannot promise you that you will always get “nice” back from being nice, but I can guarantee that you will always get “mean” back for being mean.

5. And finally, I will share with the dear folks in Waxahachie that every buffalo crosses the creek at the same place. I phrase it this way: NoOne is better than anyone else. As I travel, it amazes me how many people give a nod of assent to this idea, only to later resist the notion because it fails to grant them the supremacy they desire. It doesn’t make any difference. The minute you try to be better than somebody else, there is someone standing in the wings, ready to dash your hopes because they have evidence of presumed superiority.

Well, that’s about it for me. Oh, and by the way–one last thing I will impart to these folks: I love you. Because anything less is too hard to explain.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

******

Jonathon’s thinking in a sentence or two …

 Jonathots, Jr.

Click below

https://jonathots.wordpress.com/jonathots-jr/

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

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