Jonathots … January 8th, 2019

 


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handbook for touching

 And when I touch you

I feel happy inside

It’s such a feeling

That my love

I can’t hide

55 years ago, two young men from England wrote a song which is hands down the best hands-on song ever written about holding hands.

It was called “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”

Although most parents felt it was an innocuous request, there is actually very little in life that is more sensual than holding hands. It has caused many a young man to break out in a sweat, wondering when it was appropriate to reach over and join palms and fingers with his date, only to discover that she, too, was sweating and extremely anxious.

Holding hands is when my “toucher” touches your “toucher,” ending up with a touching experience.

There is nothing quite like it. It is underestimated.

In great drama, when empathy, sympathy, compassion, tenderness or romance is being expressed, often the beginning of the scene is notated: “And he took her hand…”

That feeling of flesh upon flesh, knowing that it is a willful action, is intoxicating.

It’s why we sit by a fire in a forest singing songs, and when it becomes particularly meaningful, we join hands.

It’s often the way we choose to pray.

It is the bedside manner of a good doctor, conveying to a patient his confidence that “everything is going to be all right.”

In a world where we’ve become more and more concerned about germs and spreading viruses, we find ourselves doing less and less hand-holding. Matter of fact, there are those who make fun of it, suggesting that it’s anemic—a mere “hand-holding exchange.”

But 55 years ago, John and Paul were right when they clearly stated that when we touch someone, we do feel happy inside.

 

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Cracked 5 … March 13th, 2018


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Ways to Gain Back the Hour You Recently Lost From Springing Ahead for Daylight Savings Time

A. Don’t watch the anemic reboot of “American Idol”

 

B. Change your “hour of prayer” to a thirty-second summary

 

C. Drive faster

 

D. Skip foreplay

 

E. Be one hour late for everything until fall

 

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Jesonian … January 13th, 2018

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Every single week.

As I journey across the country and stop off to do my presentation, I am always greeted by people who want to know my political persuasion. When I reply, “Apolitical,” they smile and begin to probe me so they might unearth my hidden beliefs, and thereby categorize me with either a big “R” or a big “D”–Republican or Democrat. How disappointed they usually end up being when I do not attack President Trump or swear my allegiance in that direction.

Many years ago, I discovered four verses from the Good Book which are so full of common sense and understanding of the human condition that I have embedded them into my own thinking, declaring this passage to be my touchstone.

When Jesus was explaining the Pharisees to the disciples, he said, “They hold Moses’ seat.”

In my lifetime, twelve men have held the position of President of the United States. Jesus’ approach on the matter? Honor the men because they’re in the position–and he goes on to say that we need to be careful to do what they say.

You see, this is where it gets tricky.

Many of my friends who are Democrats feel it’s necessary to resist President Trump, and likewise, my Republican friends demand some blind acceptance.

Jesus’ take? “Be careful.”

For instance, every time I step into my van to drive, I realize I am losing my freedom, suddenly at the mercy of the policemen in the local village who might have a speed trap. If picked up, I lose my ability to be autonomous.

“Be careful.”

Jesus says to “be careful to do what they say,” but then he adds, “But don’t do what they do.”

Not one of the twelve Presidents I’ve encountered in my lifetime would I choose to imitate in personal profile. Fortunately, since we don’t live in a dictatorship, I don’t have to do that. As long as I maintain a respectful cooperation with present laws, America gives me the right to pursue my single-minded goals while following my own philosophy.

With that in mind, I will also tell you that every week I meet a new pastor. He or she has a job. They also have a calling. What they discover is that the job often interferes with the calling, and the calling certainly complicates the job.

So they often end up pastoring a church instead of the church. They learn the mannerisms of their congregations–the quirks, limitations, aggravations and the preferences–and then try to build an institution saluting the lifestyle of Jesus inclusive of these guidelines. It often leaves them exhausted, and sometimes faithless–because believe it or not, people don’t always agree with Jesus, even while they’re praising him. People don’t always concur because they’re too busy being Republicans or Democrats.

So unfortunately, the job of the local pastor becomes that of an arbiter instead of a proclaimer.

They can even forget to give respect to the congregation, but don’t follow their ways. It is the mission of the pastor to shepherd the people to greener pastures. That begins by removing the “R’s” and the “D’s” and the denominational allegiance, and finding the simplicity of the message of Jesus, and keeping it as healthy and pure as possible.

It will take such men and women to bring about a revival.

But in Matthew 23:1-4, Jesus pronounces that it is completely plausible to respect the position of someone without following the leadership.

I do it every week. It doesn’t make me anemic. It doesn’t make me hypocritical. It simply means there are temporary solutions which are offered and can be implemented as long as the greater good is held in supremacy.

To be Jesonian is to follow the heart of Jesus. Part of the heart of Jesus is respecting those who have “gained a seat” in our society.

But most of the heart of Jesus is clinging to your autonomy so that the choices you make in your life are yours and yours alone.

 

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Catchy (Sitting One)This Old Man … June 11th, 2017

Preface

Welcome to the first installment of our next story, “Catchy.” I will continue to pursue it until it has finished or I run out of ideas, which I hope will be simultaneous. Enjoy.

Sitting One — This Old Man

Arthur Harts was an old man, and being an old man, he had long since forgotten a conviction he held to be true when much younger: old folks should just be ready to die at any time.

He was a billionaire oil tycoon who at one time possessed a reputation of being a playboy, but through the years, due primarily to an aging body, had transformed himself into a philanthropist, and eventually, a somewhat religious fellow.

Eight years ago he had run for President of the United States on what he dubbed the “5000 Plan”–a contention that every man and woman in America should be given $5,000 to begin a business of their own, to stimulate the economy with new products and ideas, and foster what he called “inventionism” amongst the common folk. Amazing as it may seem, those same simple sorts chose not to vote for Mr. Harts, opting to punch the time clock.

So Arthur had spent recent months funding ventures to reach those same individuals with a quasi-spiritual message–combining, as he phrased it, “an ongoing spirit of revision with a heapin’ helpin’ of self-esteem.”

But Arthur was old, and as often happens with those who persist in adding years to their time, his energy waned, his health failed, and well, one night he died in his sleep: the poetic end to a life spent in peaceful pursuit.

Now when a poor man dies, all relatives and friends tend to scatter, not wishing to acquire any of his personal indebtedness. It is much different with a rich man—especially a billionaire. There was a widespread interest in the will and testament of Arthur Harts, including friends, relatives and the collective masses he once stumped for votes and sought to redeem.

So one morning, in a large room with a large mahogany table, a large group of lawyers got together and read a very large document that explained how this man of large influence wished to distribute his large sums of money.

Item #44-A of the testament—a recent codicil–was most intriguing to everyone. It read as follows:

“I, Arthur Harts, being of sound mind (and if I weren’t, there’s not much you can do about it now) wish to leave two hundred and fifty million dollars to a well-recognized, well-selected and well-intentioned advertising company to propel and promote one great idea: find a way to make Jesus popular again. I, Arthur Harts, am not speaking of some anemic attempt to promote a church or religious institution, but rather, in some way to convey to the people of this earth the intensity and intelligence of the person who once walked with us, bearing the name Jesus of Nazareth. There were few more popular than he was when donning a loincloth. So I see no reason why, if he were promoted correctly in our multi-media society, he shouldn’t be just as popular today.”

As the team of bewildered barristers finished reading the passage, there was a hush. Perplexity. How were they supposed to fulfill this bizarre request from this eccentric billionaire?

Perhaps some attempt would have been made to interpret the passage in a different way by evenly distributing the money to the larger denominations of the Christian faith, but time and chance stepped in and the unusual request was leaked to the press. So it would be impossible to ignore Mr. Harts’ wishes, implausible as they may seem.

This is where our story begins–a quandary wrapped in a mystery drenched in an impossibility, garnished with just a little weirdness.

 

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Jesonian… April 8th, 2017

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The Disagreeable Disciple

Disciple: I love you, my Lord.

Master: Well, thank you. So let’s get to work.

Disciple: I’m all ears.

Master: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Disciple: I pick up that the key word there is “neighbor,” which connotes they’re neighborly. If you mean being kind to neighborly people, then I get it.

Master: Your neighbor is everybody.

Disciple: I understand your heart, but that seems a little unrealistic.

Master: Judge not lest you be judged.

Disciple: I hear you. Gossip is a horrible thing. But there are things that need to be spoken against. Things that you, yourself, certainly don’t condone. So I believe there’s a difference between speaking up against evil and judging people.

Master: What if I told you that I don’t make that distinction?

Disciple: Interesting.

Master: When you pray, enter your closet, and when you shut the door, pray to your Father in secret.

Disciple: At our latest prayer seminar, we were discussing the power of thousands and thousands of people praying together over a common theme. Sometimes my personal prayers seem so anemic–lonely, if you will.

Master: And the Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.

Disciple: Once again, interesting.

Master: In the Kingdom of God there is neither male nor female.

Disciple: Yet you want is to keep our social roles, am I correct? Women as mothers, men as fathers. Also good to study the different personality traits and emotional leanings. Is this true?

Master: Kingdom of God. Neither male nor female.

Disciple: Much to think about.

Master: And whenever you’ve done it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.

Disciple: Now I know we’re on page! We have a food pantry at the church and we take care of hungry kids in after-school programs. We’re tracking this one down.

Master: By least, I don’t mean social order or poverty. I mean the ones you personally consider the least among humanity. The prisoners, the terminally ill, the outcasts, the individuals who don’t necessarily conform to your moral code.

Disciple: Sounds like you’re suggesting we condone sin.

Master: No, I’m telling you that you’ll be judged by how you treat the people you have deemed to be least.

Disciple: Wow, you’re sure giving me a lot to ponder. But you have to be pleased when you see your people gather to worship you every week in church.

Master: In vain do they worship me, because they teach their traditions as if they are commandments of God instead of mere preferences of this generation.

Disciple: But you do like praise and worship?

Master: Worship should be in spirit and truth–a mingling of our hopes with the impact of reality.

Disciple: You know, I haven’t thought about these things from this perspective for a long time.

Master: I’ve never thought about them from any other perspective.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 8) Fruity Labors … June 19th, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

Meningsbee sat in his car panting, with sweat dribbling down his face.

What just happened?

His mind raced to retrieve some sanity.

He had gone to the grocery store to pick up some fruit, and was standing in the produce section, trying to decide between blueberries or blackberries, when he was tapped on the shoulder. He turned around to discover that he was surrounded by three irate women in their seventies.

There was no escape.

Woman One piped up. “What gives you the right to come to our town, break apart families and remove our sense of community?”

Without affording Meningsbee a chance to respond, Woman Two inserted her piece. “What was so wrong with our little Garsonville church? I think we were a loving sort until you showed up.”

Likewise, Woman Three intoned her complaint. “We dedicated that organ in the church to my grandmother, and now I’m not even able to go.”

Meningsbee tried to figure out a way to respond without becoming defensive, but the women continued to bombard him with their frustrations, refusing to allow him to leave. It caused such a commotion that the store manager called the local police, who uncharacteristically arrived within three minutes.

The constable felt it was his job to get to the bottom of the story, so he listened patiently as the women outlined their grievances.

When Meningsbee was asked to describe his take on the situation, he chose to remain silent, realizing that he was not only outnumbered, but also that his rendition might seem anemic compared to their enraged profile.

Unfortunately, a local reporter for the newspaper was in the store at the time, and she felt it was her responsibility to interview the participants, with Meningsbee politely declining.

He just quickly grabbed some fruit, went through the checkout and exited the store. Now he sat alone, bruised and a bit infuriated at being ambushed.

Yet the situation did not go away.

Two days later when the newspaper came out, there was an article about the incident and a background about the ongoing struggle between the Garsonville Church and the new Garsonville Christian Church, meeting at the Holiday Inn Express.

The closing line of the piece was provided by one of the women, who shared, “If the people who are still at the Garsonville Church really love us and respect us as neighbors, they will at least come out to our new gathering and give it a chance.”

Even as Reverend Meningsbee was in the midst of reading the article, the phone rang. It was the first of thirty-five or forty calls he received from parishioners, saying that they were torn and conflicted, and felt it would maybe be good for them to show their respect by going to the Garsonville Christian Church this week.

Meningsbee didn’t know what to say. Honestly, he wanted to cry. He never intended to split up families nor bring conflict–just share Jesus.

Upon arriving at the church on Sunday morning, Meningsbee discovered there were only twelve in attendance–and eight of them were the visitors who had come over the past several weeks.

Because he didn’t want to deal with unresolved hurt, he shared his heart with those who were present, and explained what he believed to be his mission and desire.

He dismissed the service and headed for his car. All the other attendees left the parking lot and he sat alone. He couldn’t help but feel cheated–and maybe even, in a strange sense, jealous.

After all, his congregation was somewhere else, listening to someone else–being torn between their new discovery of faith and their loyalty to tradition.

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Ask Jonathots … April 21st, 2016

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My three grown children were raised in the church, but not a single one of them goes to church now, although they all claim they are believers in God. Sometimes it bothers me and sometimes I think it doesn’t matter. What do you think?

I think the first question we have to determine is–what is church?

There was a major shift in our society in the 1980’s, when the church house changed from being a center of fellowship, awareness, social interaction, self-improvement and community concern to being an organization focused on the worship and discovery of God.

The whole concept of this transition seems so noble to theologians and ardent zealots of our time that we have failed to return to church being a center for emotional, cultural and spiritual expansion.

Like any functioning business or social awakening, when the purpose of that institution is defunct, it ends up dying.

So the church of your memory no longer exists.

It has been hollowed out of its message and purpose in favor of traditions, hyper-spirituality and seminars on self-worth and prosperity.

So the question you have to ask yourself is this:

Are my children better off by joining in to the efforts of a religious system that has abandoned its calling, or are they better off without it?

Now, your summary would be that the church, even though weakened by its introspection, is better than nothing.

Their conclusion would probably be that “no church” gives them a free Sunday to enjoy their friends and family.

So here’s the question: can we all begin to go to church–not with the idea of swallowing the provided pill–but instead, transforming it back to the vibrant, living organism that Jesus intended it to be?

After all, Christianity is not a religion–it is a lifestyle. And if the church is not promoting the lifestyle of Jesus, it is watering down the message to include pop psychology and Judaism, which are not fulfilling to a New Testament life.

So if I were you, I would sit down with my children and tell them of the regrets, misgivings and frustration you have with the present religious system, but also inform them of the hope you have to see it transform itself back into the heart of Jesus.

Because here’s the truth–even if the church remained as anemic as it is today, it is still necessary to be a buffer against the insanity of selfishness and rage.

Challenge your children to become the church by changing the church.

After all, they want to change the politics.

They want to get rid of Wall Street’s greed.

Why not step into a situation where they really could affect a lasting change … and turn the American church back into a place where Jesus would be proud to be a member?Donate Button

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