Good News and Better News… June 5th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It was my distinct honor to join forces with Ms. Clazzy to share at the Village United Methodist Church. The congregation is pastored by a firebrand voice of our generation named Andrea.

As she prayed, spoke and exuded, there was a spirit of anticipation mingled with anxiety, letting me know that she was of a mind to see our world experience a true revival of sanity.

Yet, as is often the case, we human beings tend to get tripped up in the trappings. We stumble.

We become convinced that something which has lasted no more than a couple of decades was imparted by God Himself, and that we have the responsibility to follow it with divine accuracy.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I think Pastor Andrea fully understands that church is a decision to lose fear to choose cheer.

It’s what Jesus instructed people to do. When they came to him, trembling, frightened and glum, he repeatedly told them, “Be not afraid. Be of good cheer.”

Nothing of any quality happens in the human experience as long as we’re fearful and it deters our cheerful.

So how do we lose our fear?

How do we lose anything? We lose things because we accidentally forget them or we decide to forget them.

The same thing is true with fear. Although we’ve acquired it, it has proven to be ineffective for daily use. We can get sentimental about it, we can accidentally forget it, or we can decide to forget it.

To accidentally forget it, just get yourself involved in something that is earnestly interesting and proves itself to be enriching to your feelings.

To decide to forget it, find a good burial place. Have a ceremony. Invite others to be there when you walk away from what terrifies you.

There is so much maintenance required by fear that it smothers our love. Once our love is destroyed, we become timid animals living in the jungle.

Once you lose your fear, then you can choose cheer. And the best way to do that is liven up the efforts that you enjoy, and when given opportunities, pick the happy one.

Even if for a season you put issues on the back burner that other people think are very important, you should pick the happy ones. You’re trying to train your heart to rejoice again. To do that you have to rid yourself of unnecessary causes.

I can truthfully tell you, I was thoroughly impressed and blessed by being in the presence of such delightful saints on Sunday, and I can also honestly tell you that I hope Pastor Andrea will teach these people to lose fear and choose cheer.

The good news is that the loss of fear is a doorway to love.

The better news is, a life of good cheer allows us to share our love without any fear.

 

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The Alphabet of Us: E Is for Eliminate… January 5, 2015

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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 Building block E bigger

All human beings possess a heart, soul, mind and strength. Nothing of any true significance can be achieved unless this is understood.

Overestimation of ability is the sure-fire way of draining energy. Human beings have very little will-power. Nothing will be achieved without understanding it.

For every magical story you can relate about someone who overcame difficulties through resolve, I can provide a million testimonials of wishy-washy results.

It is in the exaggeration of our goals that we cripple ourselves with the burden of too much anticipation, which is often followed by too much disappointment.

I can not eliminate anything. The minute I believe I can, I will make bold statements which I will be unable to achieve, causing me to want to lie. And I will tell you right now–even though we seem to be a society that condones lying, there isn’t a human being who will actually put up with anyone telling them one.

So what are we looking for? If I smoke two packs of cigarettes a day, can I really throw them away, go cold turkey and survive? Am I a hero, or am I setting myself up for an incredible fall which will make me fearful of reaching the heights of such conviction again?

Here’s the axiom:

Work on working on the work of simple progress.

If I could put that into the hearts of every brother and sister I encounter, I could lift the burden of expectation and replace it with practical approaches to making things a little bit better.

For instance, when I rounded the corner this year and wanted to lose weight, I realized that I needed to adopt an improved philosophy. Here it is:

1. Less of what I am doing.

Yes, if I can just do less of over-eating, I will be much acclaimed, even in my own mind. If every fat person would simply eat a hundred fewer calories a day, they would lose a pound a month. Remarkable.

2. More of what I want to do.

Once I stop chasing the rabbit of promises, which is wearing me out because of the futility of my efforts, I can settle down and just begin to do more of what I want to do. If every person in America smoked one less cigarette, ate one more vegetable a day and walked up that one flight of stairs, our health care costs would drop drastically.

3. And finally, just learn to tell the truth about both.

In other words, “This is what I’m doing that’s making me miserable, and this is what I need to do to make me happier.”

As people, we have a childish inclination to justify all of our actions, as if they’re really our aspirations.

Learn how to be pissed off at what’s hurting you, and delighted with what helps.

The word “eliminate” is impossible for human beings.

  • It is not our function to eliminate poverty. Keep in mind, the impoverished person must be willing to cease his or her condition.
  • We do not have the gumption to eliminate our bad habits. We can lessen them–and ultimately might convince ourselves that we don’t need them.

Arrogance is anyone who believes they have the capacity for scaring away all their demons. It’s just not possible.

The demons know us well, and have found clever hiding places.

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Populie: Christmas is for Children … December 3, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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star over manger bigger

I read it over twice just to make sure.

But even with this double scrutiny, I was unable to find the mention of any children in the original Christmas story, except for one baby born in a manger.

The tale contains a king, three astrologers from Mesopotamia, shepherds, a confused purported virgin, a bewildered carpenter-in-training, a prophet and a prophetess, a greedy innkeeper, and many souls who were finding their situation quite taxing.

But there was no one under the age of fifteen who was mentioned except the little fella with straw for a pillow.

Yet today you would assume that Christmas was conceived in the minds of the Madison Avenue elite, who were desiring to come up with a holiday that focused on “tots before they were teens.”

Politics loves this populie, because it provides new stumping ground extolling the family and high-sounding ideals.

The entertainment industry certainly focuses on kids because it frees them from having to put a spiritual spin on December 25th, but instead, advertises Santa Claus, candy canes and overgrown elves.

And religion can barely contain itself, trying to yank that baby out of the wooden cradle and on to the cross as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, the significance of “peace on Earth, good will toward men” dissipates into the background in favor of sitting back in our easy chairs, shaking our heads in awe as the youngsters rip open their presents.

Attention one and all: Christmas is for us. It may be our only chance.

It offers three very important possibilities which tend to escape us by the middle of January, and certainly have run away in horror by April 15th, when the IRS drains our sensibilities.

1. We are all the children of God.

If Christmas is for children, it is only because we live in the household of “Our Father which art in heaven.” We have lost our innocence. We favor a jaded outlook. We have resigned our place in the human family, running away to live in an orphanage, simply to make ourselves seem abandoned.

2. Children need to be taught.

For a very brief moment, we begin to look at the Jesus-born-in-the-manger as the life coach he was intended to be instead of the human sacrifice we have thrust upon him. After all, the angels foretold of “peace on Earth, good will toward men,” not a sacrificial blood-bath that ends up with us forming religious institutions with dark, dank corridors.

3. Going forward means going back to pick up what we lost.

There is nothing more precious than being nine years old on Christmas morning. To reject that memory as being idealistic, foolish or silly is to lose one’s soul before dying.

It’s not so much that “Christmas should be in our hearts each and every day of the year” as it is that our hearts should never surrender Christmas and the memories that make us chill with anticipation.

Bluntly, if you’re not excited about what’s going to happen next, you need to change what’s next.

So be careful with the populie that says “Christmas is for children,” because you soon will find yourself angry at the holiday, and also at the little fellows and ladies who keep trying to hang the holly and trim the tree.

It is only true that Christmas is for children as long as we understand that to gain a true spiritual and emotional sensibility… we must all become as a little child.

 

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*****

Check out Mr. Kringle’s Tales…26 Stories’Til Christmas

The Best Christmas Stories You’ll Ever Read!

Click on Santa to browse "Mr. Kringle's Tales ... 26 Stories Til Christmas"

Click on Santa to browse “Mr. Kringle’s Tales … 26 Stories Til Christmas”

Why I Come … June 16, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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“What caused you to come to our little town?”Burlington

I hear this question everywhere I go.

I guess there’s some sort of assumption that I should be elsewhere or some place the inquirer deems to be more important. Yet I learned a long time ago–it’s not about where you go. It’s about what you do when you get there.

After all, we have a dual responsibility in life: to enter the doors that are open and to make sure when we finish, we leave behind blessing.

I have two reasons for coming and going in my life. They haven’t changed in forty years. Although they’re not always compatible with the inclinations society’s trend, I refuse to change them, because the quality they bring to my life and to those around me is undeniable.

1. I come so that people can have life and it abundantly.

Yes, I enjoy arriving in situations where people have given up on the excitement of just being alive and allowing a fresh stream of consciousness to re-baptize them with the joy of living.

“Abundant life” is when you’re no longer afraid of the change that certainly must come. You know you have the ability to love and be loved.

2. I come that your joy may be full.

Joy is underrated. It is a happiness we select because we know that temporary set-backs are always transformed by patience, perseverance and purpose.

God is in control. In other words, He has established a beautiful universe and a natural order, and if we learn it, it will feed us instead of attack us.

This is why I come–and you would think, with such a universal message of gentleness and encouragement, that I would be welcomed with open arms and a sense of anticipation everywhere I go.

But as long as there are individuals who gain strength by hurting others or limiting the capacity of their fellow-humans, I will have my enemies.

I know who they are, and I know where they are. But as Jesus requested, I love them too.

I have come to bring abundant life, with the aspiration that joy can be made full.Donate Button

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Arizona morning

After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

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

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

 

 

Seek a Salem … July 16, 2012

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Seven Mile Ferry — a well-traveled path with, I’m sure, a tale to be told. Yet I was not in the mood for the ramblings of some roadway. I had come to share, and hopefully to be shared with, by some of God’s good folk. My destination was Salem.

The word has two meanings for me. First, “Salem,” from the Hebrew, means peace. Of course, any good reader who has spent any time in the gospels will tell you there’s really no such thing as an actual location for peace. Matter of fact, there’s a warning that those who pursue such a utopia will often find “sudden destruction”–or a “sword.”  No, the Good Book tells us that peace requires a maker.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Which, by the way, is a far cry better than being referred to as the “Brats of Beelzebub…”)

The second image that pops into my mind when I think of “Salem” is the town in Massachusetts, which for one reason or another, decided to begin looking on its young lasses as witches. Although we might be tempted, after an evening of perusing reality television, to sympathize with these forefathers, it’s rather doubtful that any of these characters are possessed with much more than themselves. Yes, Salem, Massachusetts, went on a witch hunt–and even though the conclusions were rather dubious, there was an awful lot at stake, so they went ahead a burned a bunch of ’em anyway.

So I was curious, upon arriving at this new sanctuary of possibility, which Salem lay before me. Would it be a building filled with peace-makers or those who are just making pieces out of everything, breaking their world apart into black and white?

The difference is really quite simple. Those who have decided to make peace always arrive in life with anticipation. They have discovered the key to making the human journey pleasant and plausible lies in determining that God is ready to bless instead of curse or ignore. If you really believe that we have all fallen so short of the glory of God that He’s basically abandoned the human part of His creative mission and is searching for the nearest whack to destroy us, then you will find it very difficult to want to make peace. You will also find it unnecessary to have “ears to hear”–because one of the true signs of a peace-maker is that he or she has taken their anticipation and has put on ears because they believe there are blessings to be had.

On the other hand, those who make pieces out of life, looking to fragment everything into its parts for careful scrutiny, always lead with suspicion. Let’s be honest–if you’re convinced the world is evil and God is doing battle with iniquity, then the only conclusion you could possibly come to is that most people you meet are flirting with darkness, and it is your duty to expose their bleakness and proclaim them to be transgressors so as to do the will of God and protect yourself from destruction. It is a fascinating fact that those who have suspicion crawling up their spines only have ears to fear. It doesn’t matter what you tell them–they will translate it into some sort of horror or pending doom.

So you can imagine–I was curious upon arriving at this beautiful, well-constructed, country church, whether I would find Salem, the peace makers, or Salem, occupied by those trying to make pieces out of something truly holy.

Walking into the building, I was greeted. That’s always a good sign. A hand should always come our way before a stare. At least that’s my opinion. I was engulfed by a sea of hands, and proclamations from people’s lips that they had been looking forward to what God was going to be doing. The comical part of the preamble to the service was that these delightful human beings were so anxious to communicate their excitement that I got prayed for three times. Usually, in a United Methodist Church, if you get one prayer, you are fortunate. But I got a triple anointing. So that put a giddiness in my heart–that the message my Father gave to me to share with my brothers and sisters was actually going to be heard instead of being criticized by those wanting to find something absurd. Because as I told you, when there’s anticipation in the room, there are ears to hear. And as Jesus said, “when people have ears to hear, let them hear.”

Salem United Methodist Church has discovered a great truth–God doesn’t bless us. Blessing is everywhere and we either arrive to receive it or we stand firm in our stubbornness, to reject it. It really comes down to one question–is peace in my control? Or in the control of God and the devil?

If you think that the heavens or hell are manipulating what happens next in your life, you will very suspicious and have ears to fear. But if you know that we are the peace makers, the children of God, then you will show up in life with anticipation, with ears to hear. Ears to hear? Or ears to fear? It’s the difference between finding God or fearing life.

I had a beautiful morning. People were touched and likewise with me. But it all revolved around the fact that this little chapel out on Seven Mile Ferry Road decided to be filled with anticipation instead of suspicion. They made a decision not to hunt for the witch, but to be a congregation which hunts … for peace.

   

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