Ten Things God Wants from the Church… May 5, 2013

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10. Human beings that are not afraid of each other

9. Give as the Lord has prospered you

8. A sense of good cheer

7. Music and worship from the heart

6. Integration

5. A “judging free” zone

4. Humanity

3. The philosophy of Jesus expressed with power

2. Joy and fullness

1. NoOne is better than anyone else.

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

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

Have Yourself a Mary Christmas… December 25, 2012

jon-in-red-hat

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1. Don’t be afraid. God really IS love.

Mary and Jesus

2. So therefore, God uses young and old alike. He picked a teenage chick and an old dame to birth two children of promise.

3. Your partner will come around. Don’t expect people to understand the seed that’s been planted inside your soul. If they love you, they’ll find you–and end up listening to an angel of their better natures.

4. Outsiders are critical. That’s why we call them “outsiders.” People who are frightened of change are either overly curious, jealous or prejudiced. It’s not that you can’t please everybody. If you’re trying to please people, you won’t end up with anybody.

5. It never happens the way you think. Everyone would love to birth their idea to great applause, notoriety and success. Yet every great idea has to spend its time stuck out in a barn somewhere.

6. Be prepared to travel. When your new idea of blessing and what you’ve birthed through your talent and faith is not immediately received by the hometown folks and is even attacked, you might want to slide on your shoes and see how you will fare in another locale. Remember, God never told you that what’s in your heart will be received by those who are closest to your heart. God just told you it’s important.

7. Leave a little bit of your own personality imbedded in the miracle. Sometimes we think that Mary was just a birthing chamber for Jesus. But she was his mother. So even though he had his Father’s soul and wit, the young Nazarene had his mother’s humor and determination.

If you believe that Mary of Nazareth was a one-hit wonder which will never be duplicated again, you will probably be willing to sit back and watch our generation flounder without the needed infusion of renewal, renovation and revival.

But if you realize that she was just a young girl who was willing to let the Spirit touch her in a unique way and then see it through instead of giving up, you can take a little bit of her spirit with you every day.

Yes, I have a little bit of Jesus in me–because of Mary. So on this beautiful day, when we celebrate the birthing of the Prince of Peace, let’s remember that his mother made it all possible.

So have yourself … a Mary Christmas.

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

I Am Afraid… October 20, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

Fear is when being afraid insists on spending the night and remains in the morning for coffee, toast and jam.

I have no fear.

But I am afraid.

I am afraid that I will fail to fulfill my mission because of my weakness.

I am afraid the truth will be made so complicated by greedy technicians that beautiful souls will grow weary of seeking the prize.

I am afraid I will always be fat.

I am afraid my foibles are a detriment to my message.

I am afraid of America selling freedom to gain security.

I am afraid of religion.

I am afraid of politics.

I am especially afraid when the two of them intercourse.

I am afraid of unbelief being touted to the masses as intelligence.

I am afraid of my legs.

I am afraid of being forgotten.

I am afraid that my voice is too tiny to be heard above the clamor.

I am afraid of ring bologna.

I am afraid of my body.

I am afraid of drooling dogs.

I am afraid of stairs.

I am afraid of stares.

I am afraid of being there two minutes before I die.

I am afraid of conservatives and liberals–equally.

I am afraid of fear.

Fear hates love. May my love cast out my fear.

Yet … I am afraid.

May I use that moment of being afraid as an energy drink for my soul.

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

Trinity Means Three … July 9, 2012

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Situated almost directly between Chattanooga and Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, is a wonderfully blessed space in the road named Hixson, where I spent my Sunday with the inspiring folks of Trinity Lutheran Church.

There are those in this country of a more liberal bend who would refer to this particular region as “back-woods,” while who are more conservative in their preferences might call the area “the real America.” Since I do not prescribe to either camp, I will tell you that determining the quality of the people I meet is not based upon where I go, but instead, a choice of two approaches. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Dixie or New York City, you’re probably going to fall into one of these categories: (1) I love people and I will change myself until I do; (2) I just believe that some people are unlovable.

Now, if you happen to be in that second group, you’re likely to be suspicious, grumpy, pessimistic and may even sprout an occasional sprig of prejudice. If you’re in the first group of people,  you’re not better than anyone else–you’re just aware that you’re not, and are prepared to make the adjustment towards mercy, knowing that’s the only way to obtain it for yourself.

All that being said, let me tell you that I found the people of Hixson to be in Group 1. Actually, most of the world around me, in my opinion, is in that first group. There are those who find that overly optimistic. But after all, once someone is in Group 2, there’s not a whole lot I can do for them. They’ve probably already found me to be unlovable.

So may I say thank you to Pastor Gary, Pam, Marty and all the sweet souls at Trinity? And I know when you named your church Trinity, you were thinking of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, which certainly is a righteous tripling. But as a parting piece of grace and insight from this traveling troubadour, may I offer you another trinity? Yes–can I present to you three ideas which just might help to continue to enrich the fertile soil in which you plant your gospel seed?

1. Find yourself without fear. Don’t get fooled. You will never find God until you find yourself, discover your own weaknesses and approach them without fear or condemnation. Righteous people aren’t perfect. Honestly, they’re often not even what you would call “good.” They’re just unafraid to admit their lack–and therefore, they grow in their strengths. Be the first one in your neighborhood to notice what you don’t do very well and have the confidence in your talents in to share your shortcomings without fear.

2. Find others without being afraid. Once you’ve taken a journey through your own soul and survived the odyssey, extend the same mercy and tenderness to other folks that you just gave to yourself. It’s often the case that people are not mean–they’re just dissatisfied and they’re trying to create the rest of the world in their image. If you’re not afraid of who you are, you become valuable to both friends and strangers because you don’t have to be afraid of who they are. Sometimes our discoveries are alarming–but if we’ve allowed ourselves the salvation of being free of fear, we can escape all that apprehension and start to love people where they are and give them a chance to find their way. Here’s a truth–you will never find others until you first find yourself–without fear.

3. Find God in your lack of fear. I know there are those who will quote, with great reverence, that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” But sooner or later, we have to stop “beginning” wisdom and actually embrace it. I will tell you of a certainty that the wisdom of the Lord is the end of fear. As the Bible says quite beautifully, “perfect love casts out fear.” Once you find yourself without fear, it gives you the courage to find others without being afraid. Surviving that project, you are now ready to find God in your lack of fear.

Sooner or later, following Jesus of Nazareth has to be more than acquiring a bus ticket to heaven. Jesus did not envision being a caretaker for a bunch of sick souls whom he transports to eternity for rehab. He envisioned making strong people who were the “light of the world” and the “salt of the earth”–people who live without fear and therefore do not have to warm up their hearts to accept others, but already have a pre-heated oven of compassion, ready and waiting.

So I walked out of yesterday a blessed man and climbed into my van, having been in Hixson, Tennessee. Long ago I rejected the over-simplistic attitudes of the conservatives and liberals and have been on a quest to discover the soul of America, one person at a time. I leave behind a little piece of my heart for Trinity–and many of my thoughts, and I encourage them to take on a new trinity:

  • Find yourself without fear.
  • Find others without being afraid.
  • And therefore, find God in your lack of fear.

It truly is the essence of all that we really know about the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

   

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

Four births and born again … July 1st, 2012

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Perhaps inspired by the impending arrival of my grandson, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about being born. Honestly, each one of us needs a lot more than the earth to “make womb” for us. I think Jesus was right–we DO need to be born again. Otherwise, we have a nagging suspicion that plagues us throughout our lives–that we are merely pantomiming the wishes of our culture, passing through the Xerox machine of a genetic code. For a moment, forget about heaven. Earth-life has to be a lot more than just me trying to struggle, in quiet desperation, with some sort of destiny that has already been pre-determined.

After careful deliberation, I realized that each one of us needs four births to finally be born again. I saw it in my own life–or maybe better phrased, I see it in my own life.

I need an emotional birthing. I need to be able to say, “I am not alarmed by what I feel.” Otherwise, I will commit the first true sin of all human beings–I will learn to lie about my emotions. I will become comfortable masking my intentions in an attempt to make everything I do seem clean in the sight of others.

I have so many examples of this in my life, I barely know where to start. I once was alarmed that I got married too early. I was alarmed that I had no college education. I was a little alarmed that fame eluded me. I was alarmed that I didn’t seem to have the moxie and will-power to shed my excess pounds. I guess one day I got tired of being alarmed, and decided to instead be forthcoming and speak my heart aloud. Upon hearing my inadequacies floating in the air, they didn’t seem quite so alarming, and some of them seemed downright funny. I experienced an emotional birth.

Likewise, it took me a while to understand spirituality. I thought it was having a conviction about God or the Bible. Then one day I realized that the way to be born spiritually is to say to yourself, “I am not ashamed to believe.” It’s one thing to stand in a congregation of devotees and declare your faith and an entirely different matter to walk amongst the mockers and those who deem themselves to be logical and still continue to hold fast to a hope.

I have been around people who think I am stupid because I insist that I have a relationship with an unseen Father. One day I just stopped caring, and instead, reveled in the reassurance. It was the day I was birthed spiritually–and now I can say I am not ashamed to believe.

For many years I thought it was a sign of maturity to grab onto an idea and not relinquish it, even when new information began to contradict the original thought. When did stubbornness become a kissing cousin of intelligence?  Even in politics, they are so afraid of vacillation that they will follow policies which have historically proven to be erred, and in the present format are also weighed in the balances and found wanting.

One day I decided to rebirth my mind. I did so with a very simple phrase: “I am not afraid to change my thinking.” There are things that I now hold true that I did not agree with ten years ago. Matter of fact, you probably can go back into my jonathots and find contradictions. I don’t care. I refuse to have my brain encased in either dogma or concrete. I have received a mental birth because I am not afraid to change my thinking.

My most recent birth has occurred in the physical realm. Last summer I nearly gave up on the whole idea of being totally healthy, and even questioned any capability on my part to lose weight. It seemed that I had so many genetic markers against me, and a metabolism that hadn’t moved since the Kennedy administration. I felt justified to be discouraged. I felt as if I had lost out in the genetic lottery and it was only righteous for me to succumb to my circumstances. If I had continued that line of thinking, I not only would have failed to be birthed with a new body, but also would have been on the pathway to quietly terminating myself.

Something happened. Something previously immovable inside of me shifted slightly. All I know is that I have experienced a physical birth, and … “I am no longer aggravated to go through the physical steps to become more healthy.” Rather than a chore, it has become a game. Instead of being my curse, it has transformed into my cause. I am trying many things and experimenting with the vigor of Thomas Edison attempting to light up his bulb. I have been born physically.

  • I am not alarmed by what I feel–it is a birthing of heart.
  • I am not ashamed to believe–spirit born.
  • I am not afraid to change my thinking–mind renewed.And I am not aggravated to become more healthy–body rejuvenated.

The culmination of these four births is placing me in a status–or at least an emerging awareness–of being born again, which is the ultimate proclamation:

  • I am alive as me.

Sometimes it’s not enough to have a mother. You need a father, too. And sometimes a mother and father aren’t enough without sisters and brothers. And often, a mother, father, sisters and brothers can still leave you incomplete–until you allow yourself to be born again.

Four births–heart, spirit, mind and strength–lending themselves to the glorious proclamation:

I have been born again.

   

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

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