Good News and Better News … September 26th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is a medium-sized green table with retractable legs which we purchased at Wal-Mart about four years ago for $49.95.

tape-repairWe use it as a dining table in our motel room and it has faithfully served us many a meal, and even been put into service as a desk top for studious planning sessions. After all these years, it is a little beaten up, scarred and certainly worse the wear.

I could buy another table. I’m not cheap–it’s just that this table has not yet refused to stand up to its responsibilities. It continues to completely open itself up, offering its potential, although a bit bedraggled.

When I arrived at the Belleville United Methodist Church in Belleville, Michigan, and met so many intriguing individuals–including Pastor Jim–I was struck by the fact that most of us human beings are like my green table. We’ve been through some spills. We’ve been spread out, damaged and find ourselves in need of attention.

You can see in the picture where I have taken some duck tape to cover a multitude of errors.

Now here’s my thought–if we’re going to be a good church and reach people, the first thing we need to do is admit that we’ve been repaired. Yes, we’ve got the duck tape of salvation to prove it. We’re not pretty, but we’re still able to stand up.little-mirror-2

We also need to look in the mirror, not just for the purpose of good grooming, but to make note of our flaws before they become so obvious that we’re dubbed “ugly.”

So I carry a little mirror. I don’t like big mirrors–they display too much of me. But a little mirror lets me know that my face is still worth showing to the onlooker.

And I guess I want those people in Belleville to know that like a used Kleenex, I have already been put to the task, but well-used-3I’m still not ready to be thrown away.

Sometimes we look at older congregational members, and because they retired from their companies, we assume they’ve retired from life. Not so. None of us gets off that easy. Until we crawl into some sort of box and jettison off to heaven, we need to keep growing.

Yes, I’ve been used, but not abused, and I’m still worthy to be used some more.

And as you can see in the fourth picture, my table has some fresh tears. I haven’t gotten around to putting duck tape on them yet, but I’ll have to do so soon to keep them from spreading.

In other words, just like my table, I still have wounds. Sometimes I’m too touchy, so I keep coming back to church with my brothers and sisters because I need fixin’.

Many Americans don’t like to admit weakness. But the most powerful statement in life is, “I’m not good enough to be called good yet.” fresh-tear-4

In other words, don’t give up on me, don’t tell me I’m used up, but please remind me to look in my mirror and view my flaws.

The good news is, if visitors came to church and found human beings instead of folks trying to imitate what they think is righteous, they might just want to come back again.

The better news is, it’s much easier to live out life as a human instead of pretending you’re an angel.

 

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Ask Jonathots… September 8th, 2016

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I had to do a short talk in speech class and wanted to chat about my church experience, but I felt I had to offer a disclaimer about Christianity: “I’m a Christian, but I don’t hate you.” I would love to stop having to do that. How?

Every single week, Americans go and spend money at Wal-Mart, even though it is pretty well known that their products are manufactured through cheap labor, often with the mistreatment of the employees. Should we stop shopping at Wal-Mart because the company has chosen practices that disregard the workers in other countries?

You can feel free to do so, but Wal-Mart is not going to be affected by your decision.

Or you can come to the conclusion that the only responsibility you have is to make sure that your life, your aspirations and your interactions with other human beings are free of intimidation and unfairness.

You’re not responsible for Wal-Mart.

You are responsible for you.

It’s very important that each believer in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth understand that the religious system that represents him is guilty of excess, greed, indifference and at times the subjugation of the poor. The system has drug its feet on issues of human rights and racial and gender equality.

Yet to stop attending a church, turning it over to the indifferent, is failing to capture an opportunity to quietly change the atmosphere.

If enough people show up at the religious system and refuse to merely act in ritual and repetition, then eventually, because the religious system likes to collect offerings, it will have to change in order to accommodate the new spirit.

For instance, I only buy groceries at Wal-Mart. Why? Because most of the products that come into the grocery department are not grown in sweat shops. It is a small consideration but still a difference.

And I don’t refuse to go to the church because it is filled with hypocrisy and vanity, but instead, I go to encourage my brothers and sisters and fellow-humans to be of good cheer, lighten their load and give a damn.

So I suppose if I were standing in front of your speech class, I would say:

“I’m a follower of Jesus. He thinks we should love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus was fine until the committee showed up–just like the United States was a great idea until politics corrupted it. But I neither give up on Jesus nor the United States just because those who scream the loudest are ignorant. I am a follower of Jesus. I don’t make a very good Christian, because I’m just not religious.”

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Ask Jonathots … June 2nd, 2016

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I keep hearing from pundits that “Americans are angry.” Do you think this is true? If so, what do you think is the source of this frustration?

Every coin has two sides. The problem with America today is a two-sided coin.

This is the source of what most people are referring to as “anger,” which really is nothing more than a tantrum.

Here’s the two-sided coin:

  1. “It’s not my fault.”
  2. “God will take care of it.”

Both of these statements are inherently flawed, and therefore often lead to unsatisfactory conclusions, which can cause people to develop a childish rant.

Let’s start with the first one.

The problems in our lives to some degree always involve our own lacking, procrastination, indifference, laziness or bigotry. If you can convince someone that “it’s not their fault,” then they can start looking for an enemy.

On the other hand, the second assertion–that God will take care of everything–has generated false hope. God did not create anything that does not have to participate in life. Humans are no different.

So it’s not so much that people are angry, but rather, that they’re experiencing the symptoms of seven-year-old tantrums, brought on by the fear of being held responsible or the errant promise of God taking care of everything. When these fail, frustration sets in.

So what can be done about this?

First, we have to stop legitimizing childish behavior. We have to take authority over our lives by admitting our part in the problem.

Then I think we need to teach those who seek a spiritual aspect that God is always prepared to give us wisdom, but rarely offers free checks in the mail.

Just enacting these two simple ideas would remove most of the attitude in this country which we have dubbed “anger,” and would replace it with a new feeling of good cheer, because we would be empowered to negotiate in our own lives instead of always looking for someone to blame or some heavenly being to take over our mess.

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G-Poppers … February 12th, 2016

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 G-Pop remembers when he bought a dog for his youngest son.

A trip to the rescue shelter, a scanning of canine candidates, and a selection of the family mutt–an animal with so many donors that breed identification was laughable.

The whole process, counting food and bowl, was $45. For that sum, a family friend was acquired, absent any pedigree.

Yet buried in the genetics of this pup was a little bit of hound.

The young son discovered this one night when he imitated a dog howling, and the mixed-up barker launched a woeful moaning into the air.

The dog resisted his inclination. He tried to refrain from being “nothin’ but a hound dog, cryin’ all the time.”

But eventually, the sound of hound came forth.

He was embarrassed.

Matter of fact, after the outburst, he drug himself from the room to reflect on his folly.

Just for the record, we are all mutts, too.

All us Americans.

We have so many breeds within that it would be impossible to find purity in any of us. And we’ve certainly got some hound.

Yes–there is much that hounds us:

  • We are hounded by our selfishness.
  • We are hounded by our fears.
  • Certainly hounded by our sense of entitlement.
  • And also, by our prejudices.

So politicians, ministers and corporations try to get us to release our disconsolate, mournful bay.

They tempt us to be mean and grouchy.

They lure us to our worst place, where we wallow in dissatisfaction, “the hound of hell.”

So then we whine. I do think we’re embarrassed by it–we want to run and hide because of our weaker nature taking over.

But shame on those who draw out the parts that hound us.

Our dog was noble, loyal and loving.

But sometimes, to establish our pleasure–and dominance–we made him howl like a hound.

G-Pop thinks it’s time for us to stop barking at the moon.

Matter of fact, maybe it’s time for all of us to find our better pooch.

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Ask Jonathots … November 26th, 2015

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Considering the many shootings around the nation and terrorist attacks around the world and the tragedies we hear on the news every single day, exactly what should Americans be thankful for this year? I know this sounds cynical, but how and why are we supposed to be happy in the face of so much grief?

Fear arrives when we forget what we truly can affect.

In other words, if you were diagnosed with cancer, your first question should be, “What can I do?”

But if you decide to say, “How long do I have to live?” you welcome the realm of fear.

The nightly news, in an attempt to keep their stories interesting, embellishes on the facts. In doing so, they make the stories so formidable that no one can get a handle on them or feel that they can make a contribution toward a solution.

Feeling powerless is what produces fear. To remove fear, you have to institute some power in your life.

So what we Americans can do on this Thanksgiving is confirm those things that still have power–to make lives better, to enrich our families, to enjoy a meal, to prepare for Christmas shopping, and to set in motion the kind of direction that frees us from fear, and therefore welcome love.

Specifically, here are three ideas to take into today’s holiday to help you confirm that the world is filled with tribulation, but Jesus has overcome the world:

1. There are no terrorists in your family.

I know it sounds silly, but considering the fact that we all come from diverse places and are pursuing various occupations, your family may have eccentricities, but none of them are ready to strap on a suicide bomb.

2. There are more good people in the world than bad people.

Start counting heads.

After your Thanksgiving meal today, drive by local churches and relief centers where fine human beings are serving meals to those less fortunate, while laughing, eating and fellowshipping with them.

3. Since the terrorists have the goal of creating terror, the best way to foil their efforts is to “be of good cheer.”

How can you be of good cheer?

First, celebrate having gotten this far in your life without being shot. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? And then realize that the chance of being attacked by a terrorist is less likely than being hit by lightning (and most of us know how to avoid being hit by lightning.)

Good cheer is the awareness that we are not cast down on this earth to be under the manipulation of maniacs, but instead, we are given the opportunity to help the disturbed around us–so there will be fewer maniacs.

A diet of news reports is like eating pizza seven days in a row–you don’t have to ask yourself why you feel sluggish and constipated.

 

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What I NEED for Christmas Is … December 12, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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1. To see the appetite for life reborn in my brothers and sisters of our country.

2. Humility becoming the hip choice.

3. To be a Democrat in my heart and soul and a Republican in my mind and body.

4. Forty-eight people in charge of moving and shaking who still believe we can make a difference.

5. An angry divorce between spirituality and religion, with Jesus being awarded custody of the children.

6. Fifty pounds from my body melted into the cosmos.

7. Telling the truth becoming an accepted, popular fad

8. Americans sharing America with the world.

9. Amazing energy granted to me so I can act out my dreams.

10. NoOne is better than anyone else.

Make room with the “Inn” crowd

I can see the Star

I don’t need a Santa Claus

Let me slide in … and bring my own sack of toys

 

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

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In Secret … December 9, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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desk clerkIt happens every once in a while.

As we tour across the country, it becomes necessary to have a single overnight stay in some town for the sole purpose of resting, relaxing and getting ready for the next day’s drive. We refer to it as a “sleep stop.” There are three goals:

  1. Find a comfortable motel
  2. Carry in as little as necessary, since you’re not setting up for an entire week.
  3. Make it as reasonable a location as feasible so as not to bust the piggy bank.

So when we arrived in Knoxville, Tennessee, at our sleep stop, Jan was confronted by the innkeeper, who explained that the room would be more expensive than originally stated. Jan, being an excellent business woman, lodged a complaint and asked the lady at the front desk to honor her original quote.

It wasn’t a big deal–no large argument. But a negotiation ensued, and as with most compromises, both parties were dissatisfied.

So as we were unloading into our room, I handed Jan the money to cover the extra price our host felt was needed for our occupancy. It wasn’t necessary. The room was already ours, legitimately.

But it wasn’t ours righteously.

Let me tell you, my friends, there are three ways to believe.

There is the belief we proclaim to others. This is what we call “church”–quoting the Good Book and tried and true hymns, to inform our neighbors that we are good folk and excellent Americans.

Secondly, there’s the belief we apply. This is a convoluted mixture of what God says, what we think, what Mom and Dad taught us, and the pressure put on us by society to conform to the present norm.

But last, there is the belief we allow to reach into our “secret place.” This is the room within the house of our faith, where we spend most of our time, closet our fears, and determine our future–based upon our own thoughts and feelings, many of which we would never be able to share with others.

I have learned over the years that Christianity does not work unless it reaches into this private compartment.

For some of the rudest and meanest people I have ever met have just come from church, proclaiming the goodness of God.

Likewise, many of the more confused, frustrated and mentally unstable individuals I’ve encountered over the years seem to have a terrific testimony about their relationship with the Almighty.

But I’ve never met anyone who allows their philosophy to reach their “secret place” who isn’t humbly satisfied with the experience.

I didn’t need to give that lady at the front desk any more money to satisfy her requirements.

I needed to give her the money to satisfy the yearning … in my secret soul.

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

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

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