Iowa Lot… July 24, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1953)

Iowa cornIowa lot to fruits and vegetables. They have prevented me from killing myself with fats and carbs.

Iowa lot to my parents. They could have fought instead of having sex.

Iowa lot to my third grade teacher. She got me interested in history, and the rest is … well, my life.

Iowa lot to my enemies. Trying to destroy me, they accidentally alerted me to dangerous flaws.

Iowa lot to good tires. They make my engine usable.

Iowa lot to mistakes. They are the potholes that teach me how to be road-worthy.

Iowa lot to my family. Learning my virtues while ignoring my vices, they continue to make me look good.

Iowa lot to Gloria, who came down from her highest and accepted our kin and has gone to her hallelujah moment.

Iowa lot to my voice. It keeps working, sometimes without the assistance of my brain.

Iowa lot to faith, hope and love – these three. But the greatest is remembering to use them.

Iowa lot to God. He gives me free will and then bravely rides shotgun on the bumpy ride.

Iowa lot to my fat body. Without it, I just might have leaped on anyone wearing perfume.

Iowa lot to Iowa. She has welcomed me to share my talent and heart.

I owe a lot.

I am debtor to all.

I will spend the rest of my life attempting to repay the loan…with interest.

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Quatrain of the Atheist… July 23, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1952)

There is no God

Life ends at death

Everything is about breathing

I try very hard

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Published in: on July 23, 2013 at 12:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Outsmarted… July 22, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1951)

chinese foodI don’t consider myself dense, unless you are referring to physical girth. Then, probably so, but in the realm  of intelligence, usually not. Matter of fact, I have learned to enjoy planning so that I can relax and be at peace with the process instead of wondering what’s going to pop up and smack me in the face. I would be so bold as to say that 75% of the damage we experience happens because we think we can handle things on the fly–and they end up stumping us, even though they could have been more easily plotted out.

So last night when I finished up at Faith Lutheran Church in Dodge Center, Minnesota, in front of a wonderful handful of folks who had come out from the community to see what benefit we humble artisans might share with them, I was somewhat pleased that I had already prepared for the evening meal by having Dollie call a small-carry out Chinese restaurant in the tiny town called the Hot Wok. She ordered our food so it would be prepared for pick up as we left the church, to be toted back to our headquarters.

$24.05–that was the tally. I pulled a twenty-dollar bill and a five dollar bill out of my wallet and gave it to Dollie. I was sitting in the parking lot waiting, when Jill, from the church, pulled up with her delightful two daughters, waved at me, ran inside and short moments later came back out.

Do you know what crossed my mind? This must be a good place to eat if the locals frequent it. (It was also just nice to see her again.)

Jill and her husband, Mike, had been our sponsors for the event and had not only put their hearts into promotion, but their backs and strength into helping us carry equipment in and out and their souls into receiving. They are inspiring people, who keep me optimistic in the presence of all the grumpers around who would like to see me become cantankerous.

Anyway, back at the Hot Wok… I waited for about ten minutes and finally Dollie emerged with our order, got in the van and handed me back my twenty-five dollars. It STILL didn’t register with me what had happened. She explained that Jill had overheard her calling in the order to the Hot Wok, and that she and her husband had decided to come down and pay for our dinner as a final blessing.

I was shocked, blessed, tickled, grateful and in awe.

I got out-smarted.

Usually when I say that phrase, it means that somebody pulled the wool over my eyes, taking more time and money from me than I planned on giving. We live in a society that thinks it’s cute to stomp around, spouting, “Let the buyer beware.”  We think that good business is when we squeeze the extra dollar from the unsuspecting consumer.

But Jesus let us know that there’s a better way to outsmart our fellow humans. He called it “being wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

As I look back on it now, recalling the countenance on Jill’s face as she emerged from the Hot Wok, I did see the twinkle in her eye. She had done something on her own for another human being without being forced or intimidated into the action.

Amazing, don’t you think?

So to Jill, Mike and all the good folks at Faith Lutheran, let me tell you that you’ve inspired me to outsmart my world–outsmart them by blessing them, touching them, giving to them, thinking about them, praying for them, creating for them, rejoicing with them and being gentle with them … beyond their expectation.

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

Destiny’s Childish… July 21, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1950)

destiny signThose who are not religious by nature call it “destiny.” The more religious among us refer to it as Calvinism.

It is the contention that there is some sort of “master plan” for every human being–that we find our purpose, value and joy in discovering this mystical path and following it fervently.

It is one of those strange areas where those who believe in God and those who don’t converge in a common mission of discovering an individual odyssey that was pre-determined for each and every soul.

There are many problems with the belief in destiny:

  • Often it removes the motivation to excel in our pursuits or experiment with new ideas.
  • It can make us bitter when misfortune strikes our journey and we are dumbfounded because our Benefactor has taken us down a darkened thoroughfare.
  • It can cause people to walk away from legitimately good relationships under the guise of pursuing the perfect soul mate.
  • And it can render us completely incapacitated as we wait for guidance that just never seems to come.

There are really three choices:

1. God has a wonderful plan for our lives, which we must follow if we want to be pleasing to Him and truly happy.

2.  God has a plan for our lives but we can take detours and even change it up a little bit, as long as we still get to the point He wills us to be.

3. We have free will choice and a Father who stays with us and will never leave nor forsake us.

Now I’m sure there are derivations, blendings and even differentiations but generally speaking, anything you would come up with probably falls within the scope of one of these three ideas.

My problem with #1 is that Jesus compares God to an earthly father. There is NO earthly father who would ever think about controlling the lives of his children–even if he felt it was to their betterment. In doing so he would weaken their wills and perhaps make them resentful of his interference.

When it comes to Choice #2, I become confused because random acts and accidental discoveries are frequently at the root of the progression of the human cause. People were searching for different cures when magnificent elixirs were stumbled upon. The Bible makes it clear that time and chance happens to all–and if we’re under some belief that God’s will is a straight line or even an arc, heading for a specific apex in the future, then we rule out the glorious possibility that our lives can be enriched and changed for the better. And even generational curses, which seem placed on some families by genetics and environment, can be breached and overcome.

The only sensible understanding of humans on earth is free will. That means there is a past, by the grace of God there is a present, but the future is undeclared. Why?

Because the future is in our hands.

Perhaps you would feel more comfortable to think that God was controlling everything, but in doing so He would be taking away any significance of worship–because we would not be selecting to follow Him, but instead, toeing the line out of fear.

I love God because He gives me free will. I love free will because I can choose God.

There you go.

I can choose God in my dealings with human beings, I can choose my Father in heaven through the tenderness I express through my art–and I can even choose a divine sense of earthly understanding when I consider my calories and food intake.

I believe that the devotion to the notion of destiny has stymied our creativity, expansion, love and spirit of adventure.

It makes us childish–childish in the sense that we are afraid to displease an angry parent, while insisting that we love him dearly.

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

Faith Without Woks Is Not Stir Fry… July 20, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1949)

Chinese wokThey were trying to help.

Keith and Ruth Ann thought it would be good to offer assistance to Dollie and I since we were only twenty years old, just getting started with life in general.

So they bought us a wok. It was the craze of the time.

It was a huge, stainless steel or aluminum bowl that you were supposed to cook vegetables and meat in to concoct a meal.

It came with instructions. Of course, I ignored those because I was already fully intelligent enough at age twenty to comprehend all things, both practical and cerebral.

So the first meal we attempted in the wok burned.

When I explained this to Keith and Ruth Ann, they asked if I had “treated the pan”–per the directions. I had not. It seems that you needed to smear oil on the inside over and over again, until the surface “accepted” this ointment and prepared itself for you to actually cook.

Honestly, I was not pleased to own a neurotic pan. But I smeared my oil and then cooked my second meal. It was horrible.

Why? Not because it burned, but because it was flavorless. When I shared with Keith and Ruth Ann, they laughed. (That’s what experts do when they want to make novices feel like idiots.)

They shared that an adequate amount of seasoning needs to go into the meals, since vegetables and the like don’t provide much taste on their own.

So we tried again–a third meal–adding various seasonings to complement the ingredients. It tasted better, but was not fully cooked.

I once again consulted with my experts on the Chinese cuisine. They were fully sympathetic, and presented that it was necessary to stir the food constantly while it was cooking, so as to get even distribution of the heat, to make the meal of one common texture.

So on my fourth go around, I finally cooked a meal in my wok that was edible.

The reason I share this story with you is that tomorrow I am heading off to share at Faith Lutheran Church in Dodge Center, Minnesota.

It is nothing but a stainless steel wok. But since I had that experience with Keith and Ruth Ann’s gift, I know what to do:

  1. First, I will bring the oil of gladness. Nothing in the human experience that proposes human fellowship is of any value if it doesn’t bring joy.
  2. Then I will pour in the right ingredients–healthy things that when mixed together, look like they’re fun to receive in your being.
  3. How about adding seasoning? Salty ideas and music peppered with emotion.
  4. And finally, praise God–stir it up! If you plan on leaving people the way you found them, you have no business being a spiritual chef.

So that’s my plan.Dodge Center Faith Lutheran

Faith Lutheran without woks is not stir fry. That I can tell you for sure.

So even though I was not particularly grateful for my gift from Keith and Ruth Ann, and ended up only using it a fifth time after my success on the fourth attempt, I learned that it’s not about simply having a pan … it’s knowing how to apply the heat.

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

The Family Way… July 19, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1947)

angy kitchenAt first consideration, one would not think that Jerry Springer, the PTL Club, MSNBC and Fox News have much of anything in common.

But having great fun in the middle of the night, awakening from sleep, and doing a little channel surfing on the old TV, I found that all four of them, in the process of a few moments, espoused an identical declaration:

“It’s all about family.”

Even though the words came out of the mouth of a former crack-addicted mother, a black preacher, a liberal lesbian newscaster and a blond bimbo, they were still exactly the same wording and rhetoric.

Matter of fact, I would say that those words are what you would call a “safe haven” for anyone to speak if they wanted to evoke applause.

But doing a little figuring, assuming that there are eight billion people in the world and growing, if each little family consists of about four to eight individuals, then we would have one billion non-connecting units on planet earth, who are mainly concerned about their clump of four to eight people.

Does that frighten you? Does the notion of one billion renegade troupes of human souls, focused only on their own well-being, put a chill down your spine?family studio

But once again, ironically, we refuse to reference Jesus’ feelings and attitudes on this issue, even though we claim to be a Christian nation. So let me refresh you:

  • When Jesus was informed that his family had arrived “to see him,” he turned, pointed to the crowd and said, “These are my family. Anyone who does the will of my Father is my mother, sister and brother.”
  • During his Sermon on the Mount, he warned us that if you only love those who love you, you are no better than the heathen.
  • He gave another stern admonition to his disciples, warning that often our worst enemies are those of our own households.
  • He selected twelve disciples with not a brother, sister or cousin among them, mainly because his family members had rejected him.
  • And he closed out his philosophical insights on this subject by saying, “If you don’t hate your mother and father, you are not worthy of the Kingdom.”

Now I do understand that these are all subject to interpretation. Some folks would even say I am taking them out of context. But the sheer glut of evidence lets us know that Jesus wanted us to expand our vision of family to include the entire brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind.

I have an absolutely fabulous family. I would not use the word “proud” in describing my sentiments about them–their lives are their own and I should not garner kudos for their accomplishments. Christmas jassBut I will tell you this–I have often upset those immediate kin of mine by including more people into my circle as family than they deemed necessary.

I have three sons who were born of my seed and three others that I took into my home and adopted.

I have young people all over the country I have supported with prayer and encouragement, who I feel close to because I include them in my family.

The notion that we can continue to shrink our vision of fellowship and treat the rest of human beings as either peripheral OR superfluous will cause us to become a more closed society, wracked with indifference.

Here are my three suggestions:

1. Love your family by finding other people who remind you of your family and love them equally.

2. Don’t cut more slack to your family than you do to other people; otherwise, you are on a dangerous road to hypocrisy.

3. Teach your children to love people because they are God’s creation instead of the fact that they’re “your creation.”

The “family way” of doing things in this country is a sly trick, designed to keep us insulated from feeling the pain of others.

If we don’t increase our vision, don’t be surprised if we become blind to the need.

 

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

Unconditional Growth… July 18, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1946)

couchI remember it vividly.

A mother came to me for counsel with her nineteen-year-old daughter, She explained that her parenting principle had always been “unconditional love.” All at once, in the middle of the mother’s speech, the girl interrupted, screeching, “Yes, mom! You gave met unconditional love, but you didn’t teach me how to make myself lovable!”

Perhaps that’s why we need two–a pair of parents, that is–one to maintain the standard while the other assures the child that there is no condemnation.

The Good Book tells us that God “disciplines those He loves”–and the truth of the matter is, a heaven with no hell is an invitation to mediocrity. And a hell with no benefit of a heaven is a plunge into dark despair.

In our generation, unconditional love has just become another “feel good” lie. We have several of them:

  • Everyone is unique.
  • Everyone deserves an equal chance
  • There is no prejudice in our society.
  •  And unconditional love is what we should offer one another.

But this is not the way human beings work. Certainly we need the reassurance that our inadequacies will not result in exclusion, but each one of us also needs to know that there IS a point of excellence which is required of us in order to be included in the circle of the celebration.

After God created man and woman, He told them to be fruitful–to multiply and replenish the earth. You can either believe that this was a message of mere exhortation, or realize that it was the yardstick set by the Divine for human development.

Be fruitful: don’t settle for what you’re doing if there’s a possibility of pursuing just a little further.

Multiply: take what you have and use it instead of hiding it, deriding it or explaining away your indecision through fear.

Replenish: stop being a taker. Give something back before you demand your next shipment.

When we finally arrive at the concept that unconditional love is really a belief in unconditional growth–a balance between maintaining a standard and making sure that those around us feel free of condemnation–yes, if we don’t start instituting that practice, we will have an ambiguous mission for our generation, which will leave people crying “foul” simply because they are challenged to do their jobs.

So if God isn’t always patting us on the head, telling us how cute we are, but instead, demanding that we repent and revise our deeds, why would we think that child-rearing should be any different?

Unconditional growth–the amazing mixture of maintaining the standard while providing the gentle reassurance of no condemnation.

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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