Faithful Seeds … July 31, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1960)

BurpeeSeeds of Faith. The name of the church I was at last night.

Since we no longer live in an agrarian society, where everybody is well-associated with planting and harvesting, sometimes we forget the power, magnitude and mission of seeds.

It reminds me of my Burpee encounter. When I was a kid I suddenly became enthused over the notion of ordering a bunch of seed packets from the Burpee catalogue. I think it was because they looked cool, in their little containers with the pictures on the front. Whatever the reason, in about two-and-a-half weeks, I received an envelope filled with seeds for corn, peas, and I think, pumpkin. They were cool. I took them out of their envelopes and shook them like maracas.

But you know what I DIDN’T do? I didn’t plant ’em. I just put them on the shelf, looked at them occasionally, and once I went the back yard, dug some holes—but I forgot to bring the seeds with me. My idea was to return later to plant them. But when I did return a week or so later, the holes were gone—filled up—and I didn’t have the energy for re-digging.

So even though I ordered seeds, owned seeds and carried them around, I never made corn, peas or pumpkins.

I think the name Seeds of Faith is really cool, but it’s really not the seeds that make the difference. It’s putting them to their faithful mission. It’s scary.

It’s kind of weird to take something and plant it in the earth and trust that it will do something old-fashioned and natural, like grow. Seeds in little, tiny envelopes with pictures on them are so much prettier. Keeping our spirituality locked up in a book, having assigned seating in our pews at church or proclaiming the beauty of our favorite hymn is so much easier and more pleasant than actually taking the words of the songs and the ideas of the gospel and planting them into real-life situations, where we risk rejection.

Eventually, by the way, I lost my seeds. I don’t know what happened to them. I think they got shuffled in with some old papers and my mother threw them away during one of her frequent binges of cleaning.

It was weird. I felt sad. Because those seeds fell into my hands—an inept non-farmer—they never got to fulfill their purpose.

It’s time for us in the religious system to actually become the church.

It’s time for us to realize that seeds have been entrusted into our hands for planting, so that we might find reasons to place them in good situations, where they can grow.

Yet the same group of people who can spend hours talking about the plot of the movie, Titanic, can barely get two sentences out about what happened during a spiritual experience in church on Sunday. Why is this? It’s because we worship the seeds and don’t yearn for the harvest.

Here’s what I want to tell them at Seeds of Faith tonight:  “Take your seeds and…”

  1. Find good earth. We keep planting the gospel into dusty, old individuals who couldn’t grow a wart if they handled a toad. Find some good earth. Find people rich with possibility. Find people in need, so salvation means they were salvaged.
  2. Bury yourself. Become passionately involved with your spirituality, just as you are with your family, your movies, your food choices, your fishing and your grilling.
  3. Crack your hull. Understand, a seed doesn’t grow until it’s broken open. It splits open and a stem protrudes, going both up and down, so that the experience is obvious to the earth and to those above.
  4. And finally, suck it up. Suck up all the goodness and nutrients you can, in the earth where you are planted. Don’t miss a chance to discover something worthy of praise. Don’t avoid discussing goodness because the people in the room want to focus on Breaking Bad. Be the counter-punch to the sucker-punch of life. Suck it up—enjoy, relate and rejoice in the Lord. And again I say, rejoice.

Faithful seeds are seeds that find good earth, bury themselves, crack their hulls and then suck up all the nutrients around them, to grow.

Burpeemaybe I ordered them because I thought it was a funny name.

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

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

Quatrain of Eden … July 30, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1959)

garden

In my image

In our home

In your work

In us one

  

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

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

Published in: on July 30, 2013 at 12:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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It’s My Party … July 29, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1958)

party hatI went to a party last night.

Some of you might not consider it to be that type of gathering–perhaps not festive enough for your taste. For instance, there was no alcohol. Nobody was smoking. As far as I know, the only pills popped were four Tylenol–by me, for my achy knees.

Laughing was available but not because somebody made a funny bodily noise and because the joint was inebriated everybody burst into guffaws. People at this party laughed just because things were funny.

There was no big stereo system in the corner, piping out the latest hits at ear-piercing decibels. Just music. Maybe to some people, simple music.

No huge buffet of food spread so that everybody could overeat as they complained about their waistlines, vowing to do better on the morrow.

No one was getting high–except for the fact that spiritually, they were being filled … as promised by their heavenly Father.

Yet it was quite a party. The kind where designated drivers were not demanded. Part of the joy was reveling behind your wheel about the fun you had.

It wasn’t even a party of friends who had known each other for years, so comfortable with one another that they can resort to personal insults and call it “poking fun.” No, most of the people at my party were strangers to each other except for embracing ideas like brotherhood, love, peace and joy.

  • The world has its own way of doing things.
  • The world lets you think that you’re an individual and your opinions are welcome–until you dare to disagree with the mentality of the mob.
  • The world is more than happy to have you in its conclave as long as you don’t excel too much, step out of the box or dare to suggest some sort of more righteous approach.
  • The world is selfish but hides behind the notion of “freedom for all.”
  • The world is uncaring but tries to take the sting of that revelation away by offering you a “swig.”
  • The world preaches individuality yet extols and advertises conformity.

It’s not that my party was better than the party down the street, where they drink, smoke, carouse and curse. It’s just that after a party is over, what remains becomes our lives. We can either have memories of tender thoughts filtering through our minds, enlightening us, or a series of regrets that we try to assuage by going to the next party.

“In the world you have tribulation.” That’s what Jesus said.

So once the world realizes that everything will be in a constant state of upheaval, it tries to intoxicate itself and warm in a blanket of self-love.

Jesus said this was not a good idea. He said the only way to handle the uncertainty of this world is to “be of good cheer.”

Start a party in your emotions.

Invite your spirit.

Welcome your mind.

And encourage your strength.

I went to a party. I wake up this morning rejuvenated, not hung over. I wake up this morning with everything the world promises me from its party–individuality, freedom and acceptance.

Those waking up from the party held by the world are lamenting it’s over and hoping that another one will come soon, to take away some of the confusion and pain.

Thanks to Faith Lutheran.

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

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

Godfusion … July 28, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1957)

People are immediately turned off if you make them feel ignorant or if you make things too complicated. So in our time, religion and atheism have joined forces to turn God into a confusing dilemma—alas, an unnecessary pursuit. A fresh wave of agnosticism in this country portrays those who have a belief in a divine being as being backwoods, unintellectual or just generally speaking, lacking the fetchings to ever place them at the front of the line. 

In retaliation, a very conservative religious surge presents God as a complex Being with stringent demands, unusual tastes and apparently insecure enough to constantly need the confirmation of our love and devotion. 

It seems bizarre to me that these two should unite to create a climate in which spirituality is chilly, to say the least. 

God is dead.  

That’s what some people claim. Even if it’s not true, no one wants to be around a deity who is even on the verge of dying. Is God so old that He’s out of touch with anything our younger generation might consider valuable? 

God is mean. 

Some people would insist that it’s not an inherent rudeness but rather, an unflinching desire for morality at all costs. 

God is Jewish. 

Yes, we have the joining of Jews and Christians—once again to the alienation of the Muslim community—instead of the purity of a Christian faith which keeps itself focused on the lifestyle of Jesus instead of cautiously clinging to the tenets of the Old Testament

God is busy. 

There are those who feel the Supreme Being just has too much going on to be interested in the meager affairs of His human creation. 

God is needy. 

Yes, we are told that He’s a jealous God and will have no other gods before Him (even though I don’t know why that would be an issue, since He insists that He’s the only God…) 

All of these converging contradictions create a Godfusion—a frustrating misrepresentation of our Creator, which leads people to either run away in horror or smirk at the notion of Bible stories

Who is God? Let us start off with three simple insights: 

  1. God is not much use to us if He doesn’t like humans. Any belief that contends that He is miffed, distant, demanding or bewildered by our choices and make-up is a bizarre notion, considering that He was so meticulous in creating us.
  2. God, being a Spirit, needs to find a way to communicate to us, who are in flesh and blood, by devising a persona that is earth-friendly. I don’t know what you call this Being—I know him as Jesus. And even if there wasn’t a carpenter born two thousand years ago, we would need to come up with one to help us relate to a Spirit and help bring that blessing to us in a human way.
  3.  God is of little use to human beings if he isn’t fatherly. Any discussion about the Divine that takes us into a belief that He is irrelevant to human life because He is beyond our comprehension, or we are so beyond the comprehension of religion that we have become irrelevant to faith leaves us alone and fatherless. 

It is time to understand two very important things about moving our faith, our beliefs and our ideas forward: 

  • We need God. Without Him, it is virtually impossible for us to grasp the brotherhood of mankind. If we’re not related to a common Father, then we’re just warring tribes, looking for reasons to get enraged so we can set our war machine in motion.
  • If we don’t have a God, we begin to believe that this life is all that matters, and any time we’re only given one choice, we not only lose our motivation, but we also begin to lose the desire for excellence.

Be careful of the Godfusion in our country today, instigated by both atheists and religion, to chase our Father from us and coronate either a clown or a dictator. We need a Father who is in heaven. Earth cannot be a jungle—it was created to be a garden.

And until we get back to the Garden, we will be in danger … of flirting with extinction.

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

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

Shell-rocked … July 27, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1956)

faithlutheranshellrock

  • The me you see
  • The me that’s me
  • The me I’m freed to be

 It’s three different people, you know. Maybe success in life is about getting that trio of personalities to blend into oneness—for if they stay separate, there can be a lot of frustration.

As I head off tomorrow morning to Faith Lutheran Church in Shell Rock, Iowa, I am completely aware that God was speaking the obvious when He said that “man looks on the outward appearance.”

Honestly, my dear friends, my outward appearance has never been my “best foot forward,” unless you are fond of stumbling:

  1. I am fat.
  2. I am certainly NOT tall, dark and handsome.
  3. The aging process has relieved me of my hair.
  4. And I don’t seem powerful because my knees are pretty bad and I utilize a wheelchair to cover long distances.

Now at first reading of this description, you might be sympathetic, or even feel that I need your pity. But that’s the me you see. That is not the me that’s me.

The me that’s me is a father who has raised six sons, traveled the country many times over, written symphonies, books, movies, and has performed in front of hundreds of thousands of people.

I learned early in my life that my best shot was to abandon beauty, my “good looks,” and instead, take a good look at myself and find the best way to be of benefit to others, and therefore find great prosperity in my soul.

new jon and janSo what does that mean?

It means that I’ve developed a sense of humor about how I look, a sense of passion about what I do and a deep abiding gratitude for who I’ve been freed to be.

For you see, that is the third process. God has come along and given me permission to be a new creature—born again, as it were. He has implanted in my spirit notions, ideas and promises that don’t always jibe with my reality, but still remain available if I’m willing to accept them by faith.

Take salvation, for example. I’m glad He handles that particular arena. If I were in charge of salvation, I would first of all have to always be a good person, saying all the right things, while being that guy who believes in life after death even in moments of doubtful consideration.

But I don’t have to worry about that.

The reason most people get shell-shocked on their way to Shell Rock is because they become anxious about what other people are going to think about them and they don’t have much confidence in God pulling off His part. They have bookends of insecurity, making them very nervous about their own package of talent.

I fully expect the people in Shell Rock to initially see me as a fat guy rolling along in a wheelchair. In fact, if it were a silent film, that would be it. But life isn’t a silent film:

  • We get the chance to have a voice.
  • We get the chance to express ourselves.
  • We get the chance to be loving.
  • We are afforded the opportunity to be generous.
  • We are provided moments when we can be confrontational in a way that benefits the common good.

And I am not about to ever forget that even though people may have an immediate visceral reaction to me and I may have gifts that can overcome that prejudice, it still holds no candle to how much I am loved by my Father.

If you’re going to be successful on Planet Earth, you have to realize that the me that people see can never, ever be perfected. No matter how many times you lift your face, tuck your belly or comb your hair, someone will have a problem with your appearance.

So spend more time with the “me that’s me,” and perfect the art of being yourself. And don’t be afraid to move towards excellence.

Because when it’s all done, even when people reject your offering as a whole, you can come home to the “me you’re freed to be” … in the arms of your Father in heaven.

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

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

Human Seeings … July 26, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1955)

eyesI’m not sure what the origin is.

Someone apparently came along with a clever sound bite which has now caught on—as they often do—which states, “We are not human DOings. We are human BEings.”

Of course, it has gradually seeped into our society. Any chance for us to remove our own responsibility and celebrate the value of just being born, will be a pleasing opportunity for the average mortal.

Here’s the problem: like so many ideas we tout, it never follows through to a realistic conclusion. Because we DO judge each other by our fruits.  Matter of fact, Jesus said we should. We are not unique and beautiful just because we occupy space. It is actually what we choose to enact that is the most revealing.

But I also do not believe that we’re the sub-total of our accumulated efforts.

I think we’re human SEEings. Yes, I believe our eye movement determines our ultimate quality.

Some people cast their eyes to the heavens. They’re optimistic, always wanting to believe that good things will come. Often they are oblivious to the moment, favoring the future.

Other people cast their eyes to the earth. When they don’t see an immediate solution to the problem, they become cynical, angry and frustrated. They can’t control through manipulating circumstances, so they look for evil to be the source of their detriment.

I just don’t feel that either one of these groups have the power to bring love, human tenderness and God’s mercy to the world.

  • I don’t think we need to look up.
  • I don’t think we need to look down.
  • I think we need to look  AT.

Make eye contact with both your angels and your demons. The angels won’t look quite as heavenly, yet the demons won’t look quite as sinister. Look at what you’ve got. You’re not really a human being. You’re not merely a human doing. God has called you to be a human seeing.

Blessed are the poor in spirit—for they shall see God.” They begin to see God in everything, because the light of the body is the eye, and if we’re not afraid to look every situation head-on, deep into its soul, we gain the confidence and power to both BE and DO.

It happened to me yesterday. Having completed my first night in Springville, Iowa, I launched on my morning activities, which led me to a Hy-vee Drugstore in Cedar Rapids, some twenty miles away. Lo and behold, there was a delightfully energized, beautiful woman who had been at the performance the night before.

What are the chances? Not only were there very few people at the performance, but Cedar Rapids is a town of over 100,000 people, not to mention countless stores—and taking into consideration that I apparently needed to get something at a pharmacy. But there was a blessing, looking right at me.

I came back to my motel and there was a phone message from a man who had seen me perform in Texas, who happened to be in Cedar Rapids, and read my Jonathots yesterday. He wanted to know if I might be performing again because he wanted to come out and get re-acquainted. I got the chance to look right at a dear friend.

And then I returned from last night’s show—where two and a half times the number of the previous night’s audience came out for a second dip—and there was a message from my daughter-in-law, who has just lost her mother. She has the chance to speak at a convention of her company in front of more than 3,000 women. She asked me to edit her speech.

I realized what a blessing it was to be part of such an adventure, and that my words would be literally “looking at” three thousand folks I would never meet.

I am not just a human being, treasured because I was born.

I’m not just a human doing, the sub-total of my deeds and accomplishments.

God has called me to be a human seeing—not looking too much up to the heavens to solve my dilemmas, not looking down to the earth in desperation and disgust.

Rather, looking at what is before me, realizing that it is the embodiment of God’s grace … which is sufficient for me.

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

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

Last Night … July 25, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1954)

Not many locals showed up last night in Springville, Iowa, to see the traveling strangers come to town with their show.

It is an unusual season in our country, where sensationalism has replaced common sense, yet at the same time, we are weary of all the rag-tag attempts to dazzle.

“There are times in my life

Nothing comes repairs the breach…”

Those are the words I sang last night to begin the presentation.

“Let it blow…”

I don’t give the human race much of a chance if we don’t look for reasons for commonality.

When I got done sharing that little piece of tune, I talked to them about John Chapman, otherwise known as Johnny Appleseed. Even though I occasionally have someone tell me that Johnny Appleseed actually began his journey of sowing fruitful possibilities because he was trying to get away from his wife and kids, we can become so cynical that we don’t leave a doorway for blessing and truth to slip under the crack. Whatever his reason, Johnny Appleseed left the comfort of his home and security of his neighbors to do something with his life.

Not that different from Jesus, who told us to “be of good cheer.” Yes—I shared “good cheer” with the tiny handful who made their way out to last night’s sanctuary.

That’s our job—to be of good cheer.

So if your philosophy and theology do not deposit you in a position where you have enough air in your lungs to keep on believing and going forward, you probably have the wrong thinking stewing in your brain. Good cheer is just knowing that things work a certain way, and if you learn them, you can push with them instead of pulling against them.

Once we got done talking about that, I told them a story about a man named Russell. This gentleman made the mistake of thinking that life was a shipment he was waiting for instead of a blessing requiring a hunting trip. I think they were a bit surprised at the end of the story when I let them know that Russell was my dad.

Yes, it is possible to love those who birth you and still not wish to imitate their mistakes.

It was at this point that Jan stepped in, talking to them about the political upheaval in the country and how we faced it head on when we did a prayer breakfast with politicians in Washington, D.C., who tried to maintain their parties at the morning devotional—sitting in their respective areas of political persuasion. We demanded that they change seats and sit next to someone they normally would disagree with in Congress, but needed to commune with in the presence of God.

I wanted to make sure that the folks last night understood that Jesus didn’t come to earth to make us into religious people, but instead, came to be human with us. So I told them a story they already knew, but from a different perspective.

You see, Jesus didn’t expect his disciples to believe they could feed five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes. It’s why he broke the problem down into fifties and hundreds—so they could start small and build.

As each moment passed, all of us who came in not knowing much about each other were gradually swallowed up by a common sensation of well-being and brotherhood.

That’s what made it possible for me, at the end, to tell them the secret to the gospel:

NoOne is better than anyone else.

Don’t you just get tired of trying to prove that you’re superior to your neighbor? It’s exhausting. And the time could be more wisely spent finding ways to bless the world around you, receiving blowback your way.

That’s what happened last night.

I’m going back to the same place again tonight because that’s what we agreed to do. I have no idea if anybody will be there—but I learned a long time ago that everything which is truly important has to go through a season of alienation and rejection before it becomes popular.

Unfortunately, often when it does become popular, it loses some of the soul it had during the struggle.

So if you don’t mind, I’ll just enjoy where I am and giggle in my spirit, knowing that when I share my little piece of me, it doesn’t make people mad.

It seems to make ’em glad.

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

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

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