True Trinity … December 6, 2012


Jon Signing

The final performance of 2012.

It happened last night at Trinity Lutheran Church in Jacksonville, Florida, in front of a handful of lovely folk who were unaware of the significance but still managed to enjoy themselves thoroughly.

We did it again. We traveled from coast to coast this year sharing a simple message of “NoOne is better than anyone else” to tens of thousands of people. In the process, I discovered the true trinity. Even though I have no intention of replacing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there IS another triangle of possibilities that work together to our good.

First, you have to love yourself. That’s tricky business. Sometimes when you say it out loud it comes across as pompous and arrogant. But loving yourself is really the intentional blend of self-awareness and hope. In other words: “This is where I presently am and with God’s help, here’s where I’d like to be.” When you mix it that way, it creates an intoxicating brew called humility.

Then, once you’re humble, you’re ready to love people–the second part of our trinity. I must tell you that loving people is not a theory. It is always giving the person right in front of you adequate attention while maintaining your faith in humanity as a whole. That kind of thinking will certainly be challenged by everyday events, which will create in you–patience. In our patience we possess our souls–but also the capacity to love. As you know, without a little bit of long-suffering, love has about a fifteen-minute shelf life.

So you learn to love yourself by using self-awareness and hope, which generates humility. You take that humility out to your fellow human beings and love them, giving them the attention they deserve, use a little bit of faith and it produces patience.

Then you’re finally ready to love God. And those who love God need to do it in spirit and truth, and we know that God loves people who are humble and patient. Too many folks try to love God before they love themselves or others–or they get that self-righteous mixture of loving themselves and God and being prejudiced against others. Or they try to love people and themselves and leave God out of the equation and become frustrated and angry.

No, the true trinity is to love yourself by blending self-awareness and hope to create humility. Then go out and love people, giving them the attention they deserve and a little boost of faith through patience. And then you’re ready to love God in spirit and truth, bringing your humility and patience to the heavenly party.

What I often saw this year was misplaced affection–called love–which didn’t work together, but instead pulled people apart in dissension.

  • Love yourself.
  • Love people.
  • Love God.

It’s a great trinity–well worth our time, energy and worship.

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

Silver Street, Golden Heart… November 19, 2012


I prefer the word “unusual.” “Weird” always sounds too judgmental. Actually, I would rather you refer to my particular tastes, desires and inclinations as “selective.” But whatever your choices, whether “unusual,” “selective,” or if you insist, “weird,” you may feel free to call me that. Because whenever I arrive at a church, I am immediately looking for signs of Jesus.

Other people may be impressed with the building. You may wish to “ooh and aah” over the organ pipes. For me it is a quest to acquire the heart of the Master of our faith.

Silver Street United Methodist Church was my last stop-off on this Spirited Tour in 2012. I was looking for signs of Jesus.

It started on Saturday night when I met Don and Vicky, who pastor this congregation. Because of the situation with my legs, I am presently unable to carry in my own equipment. They took on a servant’s heart. How can I characterize a servant’s heart? It’s someone who arrives at your side at just the right moment and whispers in your ear, “Let me make it easier.” That they did.

Another sign of Jesus I look for is joyousness. I will never forget the lady who came up to me after yesterday’s presentation and with tears in her eyes and a smile on her face, exclaimed, “I just want to be happy!” She may have uttered the phrase which is truly the secret of the universe. Because as any well-seasoned traveler knows, happiness never arrives. It is always chased down and tenaciously embraced.

Jesus believed in life abundant. It’s one of his signs. Several people marched out yesterday saying, “I feel alive.” You can’t really blame people for crawling inside themselves and dying a little bit every day when our society has decided that the best way to act out our freedom and maturity is to be pessimistic and angry. So what happens when you remove dark predictions, fearful apprehensions and prejudice from your spirit? You suddenly feel alive instead of like you’re crawling into your grave.

Of course, one of the signs of Jesus is finding folks who want to be the salt of the earth. There was an old man yesterday who was just about as feeble on his feet as I am, who ambled to my side when I was packing up my books and said, “What can I do?” I almost cried. You see, that’s salt of the earth.  Salt of the earth is not complaining about the lack of flavor in your world; it’s sprinkling in what you have to offer to enhance the recipe of life.

One of my favorite signs of Jesus is finding folks who really want to be the light of the world. Being a light in any situation demands a faithful balance of bringing what you’ve got and arriving with a bit of humility. A young man came to my book table when he saw it was free of other visitors and asked me a very poingnant question. “Where do I start?” He wants to be a writer–or maybe it was a singer. Or perhaps a preacher–he hadn’t decided but he wanted to know where to start.

I didn’t get too philosophical with him and I didn’t tell him he needed to know what he wants to do now. I just said,”There are a lot of things going on. Find something that has passion, throw your heart into it and see how it feels. God will show you when you’ve harbored up in the right port.”

Looking for signs of Jesus.

So I headed out the door of Silver Street, having completed my work there, and was rising from my wheel chair to walk the few steps to my van, when a dear lady standing nearby said softly, “Does it hurt?”

There you go. Another sign of Jesus. Compassion. Merely being able to feel my own pain without transferring that experience into sensing the pain of others too often just become self-pity. For a moment that woman stepped out of herself and wondered what it was like to be me. Amazing. My response to her was, “Yes. It does hurt. But not as much when you know someone cares.” We shared a smile.

I went to Silver Street looking for signs of Jesus.

  • I found a servant’s heart— “let us make it easier.”
  • I spied joy— “I want to be happy.”
  • A whole bunch of life abundant— “I want to live.”
  • Then there was the salt of the earth— “What can I do?”
  • The light of the world— “Where do I start?”
  • And that blessed compassion, which asks, “Does it hurt?”

Thank you, dear hearts, for opening up to me and allowing me to open up to you–to create an atmosphere of openness. You were the omega to my journey and an ongoing reminder that as long as we can find Jesus in the church, we do have a very important reason … to assemble together.

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

The NoOne Caper … September 24, 2012


I had a dream.

It was in late October, 2011. As far as I know, I wasn’t thinking about anything particularly philosophical or even considering what I might be sharing in the coming year, 2012. But I had a vivid vision, filled with emotion, anxiety, joy and energy, about conveying a specific mission in that coming year. It was a typical dream in the sense that the images had significance in the moment and were difficult to explain later, when sleep had disappeared.

But there is one thing that came out of the experience that is as clear as a bell–it was six words. They were to become my central theme as I journeyed across the country in 2012: NoOne is better than anyone else.

Two immediate problems presented themselves.

First, Janet pointed out to me that “no one” was not a compound word, and that it should be dubbed the Seven Word Tour. I normally try not to be stubborn, but I really felt impressed from my nighttime visitation, that the theme was to be six words. So we went on the Internet, checked with grammar sources, and found what one often does when seeking an answer concerning the English language–it could be this, it could be that. Some sources said that “no one” was two separate words. Others insisted it was a normal compound word, separated because it was thought that the two o’s placed together looked rather odd. (Honestly, that’s why I like it. Two o’s look like a pair of eyeballs staring at you, checking out your reaction.) So even though I have great respect for English grammar, I decided that since I was given license, I would pursue my own path. (However, even though I validated the choice, I still occasionally have folks come up to me, thinking they are clever by pointing out that it’s really seven words. I just smile.)

The second problem was a little bit more deeply ingrained within our culture. After all, we live in a society that holds conventions in which discussions ensue on how important it is to not mistreat cows while simultaneously serving fillet mignon at the banquet. In other words, some notions have become high-sounding ideals instead of practical pursuits. Unfortunately, that’s kind of what has happened with “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We have basically decided that this principle is completely implausible, and even though we allow it to be spoken in public, everyone quietly retreats from its purity because of its difficulty and seemingly inhuman feasibility.

So I knew when I stood in front of an audience and said, “NoOne is better than anyone else,” I would receive mixed reviews–at best a nod of assent followed by a quiet grunt of disapproval.

But I came to the conclusion that everything evil that has ever happened in our world was forged in the fires of supremacy. When we believe that we are to live our lives by the rules of the jungle, using domination as the settling ground for all conflict, we are admitting that possessing a larger brain and an eternal spirit is useless to us.

This is not the surrender that we should accept without a fight. Let me repeat it: everything born of darkness in the human experience begins with the notion that “i am better than you.”

  • Six million skeleton, slain, Jewish innocents were thrown into mass graves because one man was able to propel a message of the supremacy of his supposed Super Race.
  • Over three hundred denominations of churches met yesterday in America, not simply because they favor one style of worship over another, but because at some point, doctrinally, the forefathers of their faith believed they had found a more enlightened path which made them better than their brothers and sisters.
  • The Republican Party believes it is better than the Democrat Party.
  • The Democrats believe they are better–more high-minded–than the Republicans.
  • A white man, even though enlightened by his experience and journey, will still sprout nervous energy when in the presence of a black man–not quite sure how to carry on a conversation because the whole climate of his world has screamed his preeminence over his darker-skinned brother.

This pervasive philosophy not only creates an impasse, but an obstinate, disguised anger that pouts in the corner, refusing to participate in détente.

When I looked at those six words–NoOne is better than anyone else–I realized I was headed for an experience rife with blessing and froth with controversy. So if you will allow me, over the next several days I will give you the ten objections I have received to my dream message from October 2011–NoOne is better than anyone else.

These assertions tickled me but also gave me pause to find the reasoning, both spiritually and intellectually, to prop up this valuable axiom.

So tomorrow I will start with what I call The California Consideration–the two objections presented to me while I was in the Golden State. I hope you will come along. It will be great fun, and like all good things that are entertaining, will certainly have its moments of inspiration.

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

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