G-Poppers … March 2nd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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They were bombed. Yes, completely bombed out of their minds.

G-Pop is talking about Nikita Khrushchev and Mao Zedong, the first secretary of the Communist Party in Russia and the Chairman of the Communist Party in China, respectively.

They were bombed in the sense that they were intoxicated on the power they felt by possessing an arsenal of nuclear weapons. So inebriated were they on their own power that they frequently threatened the world with destruction.

Fortunately, the world was granted a country called the United States, which possessed a President who refused to take the bait and openly, or at least quietly, lobbied against nuclear proliferation.

Beginning with Eisenhower, then Kennedy, Johnson and even Richard Nixon–all were convinced it was essential that the world be disarmed from the threat of atomic annihilation. It continued with Jimmy Carter and even Ronald Reagan, who tried to negotiate treaties while simultaneously being an usher at the falling of the House of Lenin.

Vladimir Putin of Russia and Kim Jung Un of North Korea are also bombed. They have picked up on the infection of egotistical, maniacal manipulation through the news cycle by threatening humanity with demise.

Here is where G-Pop is concerned: we seem to have lost the American president who stands in the way of these bombed individuals. Unfortunately, some chest-thumping and threats are now coming from the red, white and blue.

We have three leaders in the world who are bombed. At no time in our history has such a precarious imbalance loomed over the precious lives of our children.

It does not do any good to claim to be a Christian nation if we continue to politically and diplomatically live under the pretext of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

Sanity must prevail, and we can’t wait for a redemption story to come from the Kremlin or North Korea. It is up to our President to follow the examples of his predecessors and control the danger which might accidentally be unleashed just to prove a point.

G-Pop wants his children to know that much of this Earth is negotiated by balancing. It’s not an issue of compromise, but rather, a deterrent to insanity through seeking the counsel of better “angles.”

We are in trouble.

It’s not because Putin is in Russia or Kim Jung Un is in North Korea. It’s because we’ve lost our perspective as a nation on how foolish it is to intimidate–and how such maneuvers can create alarming predicaments which might force us to back up our claims.

Where is the voice of reason?

Where is the realization that military might is best used in exercises instead of filling body bags?

G-Pop is praying for restraint.

G-Pop, who had a grandson born just today, is attempting to encourage “turn the other cheek,” which allows us to keep our good face alive and well.

 

 

 

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Ask Jonathots … January 21st, 2016

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When is it right to fight–to stand up for yourself? Everyone I know and everywhere I look, people say you have to “fight back” and “defend yourself.” So what does it mean to “turn the other cheek” or even “thou shall not kill?” And how is it we are a “Christian nation” when fighting and killing and wars are constant?

Let’s begin with the concept of a “Christian nation.”

Jesus never envisioned his work as a country. He said his “kingdom is not of this world.” So the Christian message was intended to be an individual experience. Then these converts were challenged to become “the light of the world,” and affect the climate of society.

So to tout ourselves as a Christian nation, we have blended in the concepts of the Old Testament so that we can obtain a nationalistic flavor. And when you include the Old Testament, you get “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” and vendettas against enemies.

So I don’t know if it’s possible to approach this as a Christian nation without including ideas which Jesus said had been cast aside in favor of more loving and noble adventures.

If we were a Christian nation, our agenda would be simple: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

In other words, take care of those around us and develop a healthy, prejudice-free environment where people can prosper, and in so doing, gain personal peace of mind and solvency.

Then that “city on a hill” could be a testimony to the world and they could begin to measure their philosophies against our philosophy, and decide where they might want to revise their thinking.

Of course, in the process, we must realize that enemies still come along due to jealousy and revenge, but when this happens, we can stand guard without totally destroying those who attack us.

This is exemplified in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus takes eleven men into this secluded place for a time of prayer, asking them if they had the means to defend themselves, and when they said, “We have two swords,” he replied, “It is enough.”

So if we could put together a military without trying to overwhelm our enemies with our prowess, then we would be in a position to take the rest of our money and use it to improve the lives of our citizens instead of constructing an arsenal of intimidation.

You will be told by most people that this idea is childish and stupid. This is why Jesus never intended to take over countries and rule them.

The Christian message is intended to be placed in existing cultures, and through its charity, affect the climate that surrounds it.

So I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this question. Yet I will tell you that the fighting and killing that goes on in our world cannot be attributed to the message of Jesus of Nazareth, because he never intended to possess turf.

And if you ever have to add Old Testament to New Testament to justify your actions, then you are not living under the total spiritual impact of the Kingdom of God.

So I walk in a simple situation:

  • If the United States is attacked, we should defend ourselves.
  • We should also protect the innocent of the world as much as possible without entering into old grudges that are thousands of years in the making.
  • And we should take most of our financial power to build up the lives of our people so that we can offer a testimony of peace and prosperity to the world around us.

Whatever it would take to do this is what would be sufficient. Because when eleven men told Jesus they had two swords, he said it was enough.

It certainly is not enough to attack, but it did end up being enough to allow them to escape.

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Fault Line … May 8, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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fault lineA fault line is what triggers earthquakes.

Living on a fault line is accepting the possibility of a disruption.

The same thing is true in human beings with the issue of fault. A majority of the upheavals which occur between human beings is based upon fierce disagreements over the fault involved. So because of this, people establish their opinions along a fault line, which best represents their willingness to interact.

1. Everything is my fault.

This is way too vulnerable. It often puts us in the position of being considered the underdog and the dumping ground for other people’s deception.

2. Most things are my fault.

Once again, this is much too difficult to define, still leaving us over-exposed to those folks who refuse to consider their own part in any failure.

3. Some things are my fault.

Always too much to explain. By the time we finish clarifying our part in the fiasco, we’ve bored the listener.

4. Nothing is my fault.

This certainly reeks of arrogance and eventually drives away all of our cohorts from working with us because they have to carry the burden of our lack.

5. I don’t believe in fault.

It may be a noble gesture, but you are surrounded by a world which points fingers–and has plenty of digits available.

Personal success is wrapped up in our level of personal responsibility.

This is the truth that Jesus says will make us free–free because we are no longer dependent on other people’s participation.

We look for our part in the project and continue to pursue it with diligence and joy instead of probing for someone to blame or the nearest scapegoat.

Let me give you an example.

Seven years ago a friend of mine died. He was a victim of cancer.

He smoked, drank a little bit, was angry much of the time, single and frustrated with the status, and full of animosity toward those around him because his life had not worked out the way he had hoped.

When he passed away, rather than pointing at him in his coffin and proclaiming that “he had made his own bed” and would now sleep eternally in it, I instead took a look at what responsibility I had in his demise.

It was a beautiful, healing journey. Candidly, most of my discoveries were positive. I had been generous; I had been kind. I had influenced without becoming an interloper.

But in the process of reviewing the case concerning this friend, I did discover some truth. I could have stepped in earlier and encouraged–or even insisted–that he go to the doctor, which could have made a difference in his prognosis.

I didn’t feel guilt about it. I didn’t assume that it was my fault–but I realized that if I ever had the opportunity again with another human being, I would step into the gap a bit sooner and offer positive solutions.

It was so cleansing.

I didn’t have to take on fault, nor did I have to absolve myself of guilt.

I found personal responsibility.

In a generation which is trying to escape our part in the disaster, we are also running away from the truth that can make us free.

Not everything is my fault–but it is also not the case that nothing is my fault.

The fault line, which spurs our hearts to personal discovery, is there to bring the “truth which can make us free.”

Personal responsibility is the only doorway that allows us the dignity of finishing our day with a smile instead of a nervous apprehension about tomorrow.

 

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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

 

 

Scratchy… December 30, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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bridge to Tx

It had been nearly four years since I had been visited by the common curse of a cold. Even though I am around thousands of people who tote germs like little six-year-olds carrying backpacks to the first day of school, I am blessed with an immune system which bunkers me in safely to health.

That is, until I spent four days living in the same house with my children and grandchildren over Christmas. I followed this toxic exposure with a 900-mile drive to Houston, Texas.

So sometime on Thursday, right after I ate my Subway sandwich, the left side of my throat began to itch and tickle, radiating up to my ear.

I knew what this meant. I attempted denial, but when the right side of my throat joined the party, I knew I was in the first throes of incubating a common one.

Here’s the problem: I needed to share on Sunday morning at Bay Harbour United Methodist Church in League City, Texas.

I wanted to do a good job. I know everybody says that, but I like to use my talents at full speed, full throttle and full passion. They are my arsenal–to apologize for a mug that couldn’t win a beauty contest versus a coffee cup.

I was about seventy per cent. So what was I going to do?

Obviously, play to my strengths. For instance, talking is easier than singing.

Also, address the three demons that attempt to invade our foxhole in the midst of battle:

  1. Excuses
  2. Fear
  3. Disappointment

Excuses are the pavement on the road to failure. Fear is the rope that strangles the life out of hope. And disappointment is the drug that puts our effort to sleep.

  • I didn’t make excuses. The audience never knew.
  • I wasn’t afraid. For after all, the worst thing that could happen was that I talked and played the piano, without singing. That’s just not that bad.
  • And I wasn’t disappointed because I got sick. Remembering how mortal we are is what helps us assist other humans.

As it turns out, I had a little more than I thought–maybe 78%.  It was a glorious morning.

I don’t like getting sick. I fight it. But if I’m going to lose my faith, energy and direction every time I sniffle, I will probably not be worth very much and will snuffle out my possibilities.

Excuses, fear and disappointment–they arrive like a scratchy throat, making you believe that they’re here to stay.

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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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

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Whosoever… June 18, 2012

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“In a perfect world …”

I hate that phrase. It has to be one of the major cop-outs that has sprung into the lexicon of our generation as a universal excuse for falling short of pursuing excellence or often even achieving adequacy. Here’s my opinion. In a perfect world, we would stop saying, “In a perfect world.”

We keep stockpiling great ideas into an arsenal for storage which we call “the ideal.” I’ve even seen things go into this building to be put on mothballs that used to be functioning parts of society’s thinking.

The most recent one to be stuck in the closet is “love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus used it as a symbol of defining the faith he was establishing among his followers, and now we look upon it as something that is impossible to achieve or the ideal that should be done, which we fail at, and therefore required repentance.

Somewhere along the line, we need to recognize that ideals cannot be abandoned without a death toll in the human spirit. I think that’s the problem with the word itself–most of us read the word “ideal” and break it up into two words: “I deal.”

  • “This is the way I deal with that situation.”
  • “This is the way I deal with people who are different.”
  • “This is the way I deal with frustration.”
  • “This is the way I deal with immorality.”
  • “This is the way I deal with telling the truth.”
  • “This is the way I deal with being friendly and open to others.”

When you redefine truth, you always come up with a lie. It’s just the way things are.

Let me give you an example. Yesterday I had the honor of sharing at a church that has three services. Now, they do not have three services because each one is so large that the capacity of the building would not hold them. No, all three services could fit into their sanctuary. There’s another reason that three services have been constructed. Some people in the congregation would say it’s because each group has a different taste in worship–but honestly, that isn’t really the case. Matter of fact, many churches which once had traditional and contemporary services are now blending them in style–but keeping them separate in time slots. So what is the reason for a church to have three services, when combining all three would not fill the room? It’s just the way we deal with our own prejudices.

Yes, there is a silent prejudice in America that cannot be spoken, cannot be shared, cannot be discussed and certainly cannot even be acknowledged. We no longer go around throwing stones or lynching people, but instead, use the sophisticated action of the delineation of our tastes in certain matters to create boundaries between each other. Candidly, there are just people in one service who do not care to be with people in another service because…

Well, I don’t know all the reasons. Honestly, maybe they don’t know all the reasons. Maybe it’s political. I often realize that the services I minister to on any given Sunday are divided right along political lines. The Republicans come at 8:30 and the Democrats at 10:30. Now, it’s not advertised that way, nor presented philosophically. It’s just understood. There are some people who don’t care to be with other people because of what they would view as an “intelligence gap.” It’s too cruel to call people “dumb,” so we substitute. “Simple.” “Country.” “Southern gospel.” “Working class.” “Blue collar.”  All words of prejudice, which trigger in the minds of those who silently hold those principles to be true, that these folks are not completely suitable for interaction.

It was the problem in the south in the 1940’s and ’50’s. Black and white people greeted each other congenially in the streets. They worked together. At first sight, you would have thought there was no difficulty between the races in Dixie whatsoever. The problem came when people of color would accidentally cross a line where prejudice had been drawn, and for some reason they forgot, or just didn’t know, and they suddenly became “uppity.” And then, what was once a very relaxed atmosphere between the races exploded into ferocious anger. Most black people in the south had no idea what the boundaries of “uppity” really were because it would change from time to time, based upon the discretion of the domineering white race.

Here’s what I know–we need some place in America where “whosoever” actually means “whosoever.” We need a place where silent prejudice is confronted as being a bit of silliness and foolish thinking. Honestly, not every person I meet on any given Sunday is particularly to my liking. I probably would not want to spend a week in the Poconos camping with them. But I can share a pew. I can share my heart for an hour. I can break down my bigotry and allow myself to believe that God loves them just as much as He loves me–and therefore God wants me to love them as much as I say I love Him.

Without this, the church is just another locale for silent prejudice, where we segregate off from one another, insisting that it’s just a matter of “preference.”

No one wants to be confrontational on this issue. I certainly don’t want to be known as the poster child for pointing out the silent prejudice existing in the American church. The anger that would be unleashed on such a crude whistle-blower would be almost beyond comprehension. I’m just telling you that I will no longer participate in such an irrelevant and irreverent maneuver.

I need to learn to not only preach, “NoOne is better than anyone else,” but also bathe that philosophy in the acid test of my dealings with humanity every day. I personally was at all three services on Sunday. I experienced the three different congregations. And I will tell you this–the only difference among them was in the level of tolerance they had for anything different from themselves–because if they didn’t like people in their own congregation, they certainly didn’t express any favor towards me. After all, I was a stranger. And if they had a heart to love others, I was blessedly included.

So it doesn’t come down to a choice between hymns and choruses, or organ and guitar. It is really an issue of whether you’re going to pursue the ideal, allow your own prejudice to be exposed, or whether you’re going to create a false world of “I deal,” where all of your prejudices are allowed to stay in full bloom and fill up the garden, forbidding the introduction of other different plants.

Yes, the first thing I would do to change the existing religious system is expose the silent prejudice that blocks us from allowing the “whosoever” ideal of Christ to be enacted. It means that in one accord we would have to admit that we still bring our own fussiness into the mix instead of allowing ourselves an opportunity to interact with people who are different from us.

After all, it’s only for an hour. It won’t kill ya’. You don’t have to go out to Sunday lunch with ’em. But if the church cannot establish itself as a “whosoever” district, we have nothing better to offer than the local bar, which divides itself into beer drinkers, whiskey connoisseurs, and wine sippers.

The first problem in America is silent prejudice. It allows us to maintain the insanity of our grandparents’ bigotry, while appearing to still be intelligent and open-minded.

I have told you many times, I still see color. I was raised that way. But I have learned to pretend that I don’t. I’ve learned how to pretend that it’s righteous that I don’t. And in the process of pretending, I have become a pretty good actor.

“Whosoever” means everybody. And don’t you agree–there should be one place in the world where you can go, where whosoever is not just an ideal, but a reality.

   

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