Good News and Better News … January 22nd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3560)

She stopped for five minutes to listen to the young teenage girl lament over the fussiness of a budding love life.

Arriving in the kitchen, he found a mess, but rather than complaining about it, he hummed a song while he cleaned it up, telling no one of his deeds.

She noticed that one of the pages of the hymn book was ripped. Rather than bothering anyone in leadership, she found some invisible scotch tape and repaired it–nearly good as new.

One of the older ladies was on her way to complain to an usher about a stopped-up toilet when he intercepted her, followed her to the restroom and successfully unclogged her need.

Realizing that the young preacher was very insecure in his new position, she was careful to take notes and ask him questions to further stimulate his study and bolster his ego.

Knowing that the choir director was employed to work with the existing talent to provide anthems for the church on Sunday mornings, he was very careful to encourage the conductor for his efforts instead of wondering why the altos were always just a little off-key.

And she–well, she noticed there was a young woman who took several extra pieces of cake off the hospitality tray every week, tucking them into her purse, with her little girl in tow. Coming to the conclusion that there might be some hunger need there, the following week she brought a cake just for them–fresh, sweet and theirs alone.

Church happens all the time. We just don’t call it church. We call it mercy, compassion, tenderness and concern.

Somehow or another we’ve convinced ourselves that true church is a worshipful atmosphere of massaging God’s ego.

The good news is that Jesus was a humanist.

The better news is, when we love one another and care for each other’s needs, we become the best friend of the Master.

 

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

Advertisements

Good News and Better News … January 15th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3553)

Sunday morning, I woke up with laryngitis.

Having dodged a cold most of the week, I was finally overtaken by the little booger and my larynx (voice box) was completely surrounded and incapable of screaming for help.

I sat on the toilet seat, realizing that in two short hours I was supposed to share at Saint James United Methodist Church in Goose Creek, South Carolina. That hardly seemed plausible. The word “unlikely” came to mind.

Yet I must tell you, I’ve never been content with accepting my first look at anything. My initial observation is always full of fear, culture and predictability. So realizing that I could not call these fine people and bail out at this late hour, I asked myself a valuable question: “What is it you can do this morning that will edify your brothers and sisters?”

Candidly, we all wake up every morning, each one of us a little lame simply due to being human beings. Yet it is our purpose to find ways to edify.

Singing was out of the question. My singing voice yesterday morning resembled a child’s squeal after falling off the monkey bars.

But I was able to speak.

I was able to think.

The ten fingers on my hands were not infected whatsoever, so playing the piano was available.

I had no congestion in my sense of humor.

So without troubling Pastor Susannah, Vance and all the cherished, human folk at Saint James, I just launched into what I still had at hand.

I made no explanation because it would not have been edifying.

I made no excuses. Once again, not edifying.

Edifying is when you take what you’ve got and instead of proclaiming it insufficient, you use it to bless other people.

It was a bit of a mine field–guessing when my voice would crackle or crunch–but after three blessed hours, I was able to make connection with my new brothers and sisters, and from what they tell me, lift their spirits.

The good news is that God’s spirit is sufficient to our every need.

The better news is that if we want to tap that grace, we need to humbly admit when we have found ourselves buried under the weather.

 

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

Good News and Better News … January 8th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3546)

Bethel United Methodist Church in Walterboro, South Carolina.

Although I’m not privy to your traveling plans, it does seem unlikely that you will ever make your way to darken the doors of this particular sanctuary. I did–just yesterday morning.

With a day that folks from Wisconsin would call “brisk” and those from South Carolina deemed “polar ice cap,” some very faithful locals gathered in the building to see what the weather and the road had brought to them via our humble efforts.

It started the day before, when Wally, Johnny and Collin arrived to help us set up, and all of my equipment, which had been sitting in the back of the van, tried to “fuzz out,” insisting it was Floridian. Overcoming those little missteps, we got all hooked up, and by Sunday morning, the Holy Spirit, resilient fellow that He is, arrived in a parka.

These are beautiful people. They are delightful human beings that the political parties take for granted, and the more snotty members of our society deem to be “simple.”

It’s a huge mistake. They are full of integrity; they have hearts which can be moved with the notion of a loving God, and after a considerable amount of time, they are even willing to embrace odd-looking strangers like Janet and myself.

As I sat and chatted with these adorable brothers and sisters, I was struck by a usable idea. All during my childhood and even in my adult years, I have been encouraged by society to “find my voice.”

Yes, “find your voice.”

But yesterday it struck me that this notion is the misconception that’s driving our problems into the ditch. People are trying very hard to find their own voice, and when all these individual voices speak together, what we have is” Tower of Babel II.”

Life is not about finding your voice–it’s about finding the voice.

The voice is humble, encouraging, respectful, open-minded, free of prejudice and also gentle and kind, with good cheer.

I suppose if you sat down all the people of Bethel United Methodist and had a political discussion, they might be at each other’s throats in three minutes.

That’s why we should never do that. We should take all things pertaining to government–“Caesar”–and let them stew in their own juices.

What we need to think about are the things that belong to God.

I’ve stopped trying to find my voice, and I’m looking for the voice. It is a voice that:

1. Encourages others.

2. Knows when to shut up.

3. Doesn’t repeat information unless there’s a personal experience.

4. Looks for a reason to be kind.

5. Quotes things that lift people up.

6. Refuses to accept complaining as natural.

7. Notices when things get better.

This morning I feel as joyous as a new baby colt. (They are joyous, aren’t they? I would think so.)

Because the good news is, I got to spend time with Wally, Johnny, Collin and the blessed souls of Bethel.

And the better news is, I got to practice once again finding The Voice instead of insisting on promoting mine.

 

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

Good News and Better News … January 1st, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3539)

“When life gives you lemons…”

Hold out for some nice oranges. See if you can’t pick up some fresh strawberries. Even some marked-down bananas would be better. Lemons need too much sugar to be drinkable–and often still end up tart.

It was my deep, abiding pleasure and joy to begin our 2018 tour across this great nation by sharing my heart at Saint Andrews United Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

It is ably and gently pastored by an open-faced and friendly brother named Brad. He sent along Jim, Chris and David to help us set up on Saturday, and they all treated us like kings instead of the vagabonds we be.

As I sat behind my keyboard before the service began and watched the congregation gathering, my heart was ablaze with the blessing of contentment. Even though I have lived for a decent season on Earth, I am still jubilant and optimistic over the possibilities of seeing humanity achieve its better potential by negating the available lemons and shopping for more fruitful possibilities.

And the lemons are available.

So my message to all I will encounter this year will be very simple:

  • Stop believing that lying is acceptable.
  • Mean is not and never will be good.
  • And prejudice is not common–just prevalent.

Once we accept these lemons, attempting to sweeten them, we can find ourselves frustrated and stuck with a drink that is still sour. Why? Because it’s got lemons in it.

So stop accepting the social lemons that make us believe we are trapped in our humanity instead of blessed by God to revel in it.

The command for this year is monumental: We will be kind to those of our own kind.

Of course, I’m talking about people. You may feel free to enjoy your pets, you can admire the wonders of nature, you can insist that you have the loveliest home in town, but we will be evaluated on how kind we are to our own kind.

The good news is, Saint Andrews has got the message.

The better news is, they don’t have to make lemonade.

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

Good News and Better News … December 25th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3539)

I went to church today.

There was no choir. There were no pews. There was no sermon. There was no invocation, except the squealing delight of children. There was no real benediction, but for the promises of those who had gathered to stay more in contact.

There was no threat of damnation, nor promise of streets of gold. There was so much contentment in being together that intimidation was unnecessary, and coercion, meaningless.

You see, I’m a father.

As a father, I do not evaluate my children by how much they adore me or praise my name. I determine the health of my children by how much they love each other–because it would be easy for them to despise their siblings so as to gain my favor, and perhaps, secure a sweeter inheritance.

So praising Daddy does not mean nearly as much as honoring one another.

In the church service this morning, there was respect for humanity. There was anticipation in the eyes of those who were giving, and a nervous jubilance twitching in the fingertips of those who were preparing to receive. An electricity filled the air that could only be adequately fueled by a perpetual flow of sweets and treats.

It was a worship of the Christ child–a salute to a simple birth, which simply ushered in the possibility of “peace on Earth, good will toward men.”

It was an intergenerational feast day of emotion and anticipation, culminating in the removal of all vexation, curses and grudges.

It was the kind of meeting of souls that causes the angels to sit back in awe, pricked in the heart with a bit of jealousy over not being human.

For we do everything best just as we do everything worst. We are God’s creation, who knows both the knowledge of good and the depths of evil.

Oh, but when we want to be good…we can be amazing.

We can bring tears to our Heavenly Father’s eyes when we tenderly take our human flesh and extend it from His mind and soul to reach into the hearts and lives of others.

Today I went to church. Some people would call it Christmas morning.

The good news is that Christmas morning is church.

The better news is, the more we take every church service and make it like Christmas morning, the more blessed the world would be.

 

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

Good News and Better News … December 18th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3525)

 

Christmas takes my breath away because it removes the stale air of predictable behavior and infuses the pure oxygen of the beauty of life.

It took a baby in a manger to address my childishness–because I am guilty of making the unimportant valuable, as I set aside the truly significant parts of life, praying in my soul that one day I will be able to give them their due.

Heft.

Yes, Jesus said there are “weightier matters” in life–things with girth, depth and breadth, which need to be addressed before all others, but are often ignored in favor of the pursuit of solvency.

It’s absolutely ridiculous.

The difference between religion and faith is that religion is satisfied to perform a service, and faith requires our full mustard-seed.

The weightier matters:

Mercy.

Mercy is not a lip-service devotion, but a proving ground, where those things that make us uncomfortable are forgiven so that we might retain human souls within the borders of the Earth.

Justice.

Escaping our family, clan, kin and even our country to catch a world-wide vision of equality within our race.

Faithfulness.

It is more than telling the truth and escaping the lie, but rather, making sure that the truth endures so that the lies don’t have a chance to gain root.

There is no season like Christmas.

There is no time during the year when “good will toward men” is considered a plausible possibility. There is no other occasion when redemption is viewed as a message rather than a human sacrifice.

The good news is that God weighs matters and gives them importance.

The better news is, if we place our concerns on the scale, we will know what value to give to each and every offering.

 

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

Good News and Better News… December 11th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3518)

Pictured are my wife, my granddaughter and my son, standing in a bandshell, Weston Park, Florida.

Jerrod, my son, produced an outdoor concert with the cooperation of three churches and invited two of their praise bands, while putting together a dramatic reenactment of the Nativity tradition.

It was cold.

Usually in Florida, when it’s cold, people escape into their homes and pull out blankets they purchased twenty years ago, which are still in plastic wrappers. But for some reason, a respectable, decent and nearly surprising gathering braved the chill to come, sit in a park and listen to music that was jubilant, if not pitch-perfect.

They perched patiently as the story of Christmas unfolded before their eyes with deliberation, dodging a few technical gaffes. I was among them, along with my comrade-in-tunefulness, Janet Clazzy.

I was struck with the beauty of the evening.

It was not all drenched in serendipity. The audience was tribal, and much too linked to their own concerns to homogenize into a spiritual sweet butter, but setting that aside, it was proof positive that the Christmas story still has wheels.

Honestly, as they told the tale in front of me, I giggled a little bit. If I were hearing this fantabulous explanation for the first time, I wondered if I would shake my head in disbelief.

But you see, it’s not about what happened in a manger two thousand years ago. It’s about what transpired in a park last night in Weston, Florida.

If an idea that appeared two thousand years ago can put a chill down your spine, (and not just because the thermometer dipped) and still has real human emotion, then you’ve discovered magic.

Christians are not better people. We have our share of sinners, assholes, pedophiles and fruitcakes. But we have a great back-story.

Our Savior doesn’t kill people.

Our Savior doesn’t want to hurt women and children.

Our Savior is humble.

Our Savior sets people free instead of locking them up in bondage.

Our Savior isn’t religious.

Our Savior was one of us.

I left warmed. (Well, at least warm enough to get to my car and turn on the heater.)

Congratulations to my son, my daughter-in-law, my granddaughter and my wife for having the courage to test the message of the angels one more time.

The good news is, when “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” get together, the better news is, it brings “Joy to the World.”

 

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

%d bloggers like this: