Good News and Better News … April 2nd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Little Jonathan, Jonny, Precious, Jon, Big Jon, Rock, singer, artist, Jonathan Richard, lover, boyfriend, daddy, Papa, father, traveler, performer, controversial, G-Pop, blogger, songwriter, friend.

These are all names associated with me over the years. What a list.

I am not that significant. But I also must tell you that Alexander the Great was not that great, and Ming the Merciful was often fussy.

Names are bandied about to explain what we feel rather than to clarify what someone or something is. This came to my mind last night when I watched the NBC version of “Jesus Christ, Superstar.”

Not only did he need to be “Jesus,” but someone required him to take on the name “Christ.” And not only “Christ” but now, by reputation, he has become a “Superstar.”

A list of such names and adjectives is accumulated in Isaiah from the Good Book.

  • Wonderful
  • Counselor
  • Mighty God
  • Everlasting Father
  • Prince of Peace

I suppose most people would proclaim that Jesus was all of those. But I’m sorry. “Wonderful” just does not do it for me. Sitting around and praising a deity for his goodness does very little to enhance my life.

Some folks would find it essential to establish that he is a “Mighty God,” but I think mastering the rising of the sun and the setting of the same makes that pretty clear.

“Everlasting Father?” I actually need a father here. I don’t know if I need one for eternity.

“Prince of Peace?” That’s cool, but the Prince of Peace also required that I be a peace-maker.

As I look at all the superlatives used to describe the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the one that stands out to me from the list is “Counselor.”

Jesus is my counselor. He has kept me out of jail. He has assisted me in maintaining my fibers of sanity. He has led me in understanding how to become more valuable to the human beings around me. He has informed me on discovering when a door is closed and when it is open.

He taught me to ask and seek and knock instead of complaining about the menu that life has thrust at me.

Because I have accepted him as my counselor, wonderful things have happened. I have been able, through my testimony, to confirm that he is a “Mighty God” and an “Everlasting Father.” And peace? He has been a Prince.

But more importantly, he is my counselor because he is my confidante, and for those who pursue the path of atheism, he is my invisible friend, whom I frequently talk to. And if he doesn’t exist, he’s still a great therapy session. After all, not everyone can afford two hundred dollars an hour for a professional.

I do believe that what you call Jesus does determine the level of religiosity which plagues your soul–because every drop of traditional religion that inhabits us also inhibits us.

So the good news is that Jesus, being versatile, has many names, and just like you and me, has taken on a variety of personas.

And the better news is, you can feel free to call him anything you want.

 

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Good News and Better News… May 22nd, 2017

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There’s a question hanging in the air, waiting for a brain to slurp it up and a tongue to dribble it off. If it isn’t expressed, we will continue to live in a world of assumptions.

I am not speaking of answers. I’m talking about beliefs people hold because of the dark side of their experiences and the edge of prejudice maintained from their upbringing.

Ask the question. If possible, ask it without being disgusted. Inquire with a thirst for knowledge instead of attempting to trick someone into saying something you can leap upon in anger.

The church has lost its questioning. Out of fear of making waves, we have decided to just never get in the boat. We stand on the shore and curse the ocean because it seems unchangeable. Yet there is an energy in the air. While people are despairing, sparring and spitting, the Holy Spirit is quietly seeking out those who will question and wait for the answers.

It sounds simple enough.

It even seems to have a spirituality unto itself. After all, Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given.” He never said, “Assume and you will be proven.” Jesus believed you could seek and find, and even, with a bit of perseverance, knock and have the door opened.

What Jesus never intended for his church was a gathering of smug converts who assume that getting their butts in the door was the last thing necessary to fulfill the quorum for the pearly gates.

Here’s the truth: you can join the church if you are a questioner. Even if it aggravates the worship committee, you can continue to pose questions in pursuit of finding a better way of doing things.

Likewise, you are certainly welcome in the church if you have answers as long as they are well-salted with humility and lit up with evidence.

But nowhere at any time did Jesus welcome the complainer. The complaint will be the death of the American church if we don’t call it out and exorcise that demon from the sanctuary.

How can you tell when someone’s complaining?

1. There’s an absence of a question.

They may speak to you for ten minutes about the problem, but never formulate an inquiry.

2. There is a complete denial of an answer.

They begin to enjoy hearing the sound of their own voice lamenting the difficulty–and if anyone suggests a solution, they will bury the notion as “impossible” so as to maintain their frustration.

3. They’ve rejected good cheer in favor of a bad sneer.

They think it’s ridiculous to maintain joy in the midst of difficulty and transition.

Beware complainers who pretend they have answers or insist they are just questioning.

The good news is that questions are always welcome in the Kingdom of God.

The better news is that answers will come if we don’t grump our way to fatalism.

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Good News and Better News … January 4th. 2016

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lightsabers

“May the force be with you.”

‘Tis a current sentiment merged with a movie event.

Once again, a hope desiring to see the Heavens save the Earth–a flurry of beliefs in a blizzard of supplications producing an avalanche of conflict.

Yes, while the Jews honor tradition and the Muslims bow to Mecca, the Middle East burns–violently.

Simultaneously, the Baptists preach against, the Lutherans for and the Unitarians insist they never preach.

The Golden Rule becomes just a coined phrase.

We do not need the force to awaken; creation has already given us a Natural Order ripe with a crop of solutions, if we can find laborers to harvest them:

  • Remember, there is no destiny–just a destination.
  • Get along with each other or join the dinosaurs.
  • We are the ones who must awaken and use the force.

Yesterday, this was amazingly acted out to my ears as a young couple in the motel room next door yelled out the problem. It went something like this:

1. “We ain’t got enough and it’s your fault.” (Trying to find blame just lengthens the game.)

2. “You always…” (Humans are never consistent, even in the bad department.)

3. “If I can’t be successful, I at least want to win the argument.” (Keep in mind, all of nothing ends up being the same amount as half of nothing.)

4. “I’m leaving until you come to your senses.” (Unfortunately, reasoning is a profile better performed by at least two.)

The good news, my friends, is that the force has never slept, therefore, need not be awakened. Everything is available if we are willing to ask, seek or knock.

How about some better news?

That would be this: we actually need each other to find all these cures.

By the way, that young couple from the room next door got over their huffing and puffing, and started talking instead of blowing their house down.

May all of us little piggies do the same.

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Jesonian: Uncertainty… September 13th, 2015

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ask t-shirt

Abundant life.

It’s one of those promises which hides in the Holy Scriptures, taunting us with its ambiguity.

Some people would insist that the abundant life promised by Jesus is the confirmation that every believer should have earthly prosperity to match their spiritual bank account.

Other folks assert that abundant life is the series of trials and tribulations the believer endures as confirmation of God’s grace and willingness to see us through our darkest hours.

But since it was also Jesus who told us that “it rains on the just and the unjust,” and “the sun shines on the good and the bad,” it is highly unlikely that either of these interpretations offers a bucket to carry water from the fountain of life.

Actually, the only thing that Jesus proposes over and over again is the fact that the world is filled with tribulation. In other words, built into the system of Planet Earth is an ongoing bounty of uncertainty. This is why he tells us that we cannot change the length of our lives, nor do we have any power to ultimately control the world around us.

What Jesus came to do was give us the wisdom to know how to live in the environment provided. In other words, insights on how to prepare for uncertainty.

So you can see, the natural inclination is to remove all stress and tension from our lives. But unfortunately this makes us vulnerable and places at the mercy of luck.

  • Luck is what happens when we let Mother Nature choose for us.
  • Faith is what happens when we choose for ourselves.

So how do we do this?

1. Stop complaining about the uncertainty.

Worry is certainly not going to get us to an emotional status, where we are prepared to address the next difficulty by grabbing onto the available assets.

2. Ask.

Let’s be honest. Jesus would not tell us to ask if we were constantly certain about knowing. If you are bound and determined to be prepared for every situation, you will find yourself at the blade of uncertainty.

Sometimes we just don’t know, so we have to ask. Being unashamed to ask is admitting that uncertainty is a part of life, and the only way to overcome it is to get more information.

3. Seek.

Once again, we wouldn’t need to seek if we were certain that what we had was enough. We often need to admit that we are short before our short-sightedness destroys our vision.

There are things we have to seek because the uncertainty of life is always willing to mock what we have brought to the table.

4. Knock.

And of course, there would be no need to knock on doors if we were living in a household which was supplied with everything we need.

No matter how much you plan, there’s always something that comes up you didn’t expect, which requires that you transform yourself from being a mere consumer into a sales person.

Yes, we often need to knock on doors to find out exactly what can be acquired to meet the need that has been brought on by uncertainty.

There is one sure way to fail: put our faith in what we are, what we have or even what we believe.

Uncertainty is prepared to make us look foolish.

To avoid foolishness, we must admit that wisdom is an ongoing journey… and not a default position.

 

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G-Poppers … July 10th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop sat and listened intently.

It was very moving.

The President of the United States was singing “Amazing Grace.”

Of course, some people would consider it a ploy. Others would insist it disrupted the separation of church and state.

Yet insane moments demand vulnerable souls to question the heavens about earthly things.

Amazing Grace. G-Pop considered the phrase to be two unique words.

Unfortunately, the human race often falls into two camps.

1. The religious: “This is who I am and I’m so ashamed, so I need God to forgive me or I am damned.”

2. The secular: “This is who I am so get used to it and damn any God who has a problem with it.”

It’s too bad.

In both cases, we start with an insecurity which we maintain, either out of fear or stubbornness.

G-Pop realized that he thought of amazing grace much differently. Two words.

Amazing–G-Pop believed that to be the definition of life.

He contended that humans have a simple responsibility:

  • Learn amazing things
  • Find amazing opportunities
  • Do amazing deeds

After the amazing part has been pursued and we ask, seek and knock–then we can lift our heads to the sky, smile and leave the rest to God’s grace.

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We Are (The Jesonian Creed)… February 3, 2014

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We are blessed. holding hands

We are mourners, but comforted.

We are hungry and thirsty for better things, and end up filled.

We are merciful and in so doing, get our needful share.

We are pure in heart, which enables us to see God.

We are peacemakers and blessed to be called the children of God.

We are the salt of the earth.

We are the light of the world.

We are a city set on a hill for all to see.

We are not alone.

We are not even lonely.

We are loved.

We are possessed by love.

We are part of an ever-growing family.

We are perfect, even as our Father is perfect.

We are able to pray and be heard.

We can forgive and be forgiven.

We are given daily bread.

We can lay up treasure in heaven.

We are in no need of worrying.

We can seek first the kingdom of God and have everything added unto us.

We can stop judging, unafraid of being judged.

We are able to ask and be given.

We are able to seek and find.

We are able to knock and have the doors flung open.

We are given good gifts.

We can bear fruit.

We are able to bless the least of these.

We are known by God.

And we are built upon the rock, and even though the storms will come and the rains will pelt and beat upon us, we are not going to fall.

(Adapted from Matthew 5, 6 and 7)

 

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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.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Why Jesus? … March 9, 2012

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Last week I received an email from a dear, longtime friend. He respectfully and cautiously shared some of his misgivings with me–perhaps better stated, a few of his questions and concerns. This is the substance of his message.

“You know, Jonathan, you’ve always been a great friend and source of spiritual comfort and wisdom to me. I admire you greatly. I guess I’m a bit perplexed that with all the good example and love you gave to your sons–the three that were born with your genetics and the three others that you adopted–that it seems that most of them have not latched onto the faith that you taught so faithfully. They seem to range from agnosticism to a bit of spiritual confusion to merely adapting the philosophy of Jesus without embracing the power. I do not say this critically. I just wonder whether you could enlighten me on how such a thing occurs when there was such a vast array of possibility provided.”

He closed his message with further apologies and even in the end, regretted that he had broached the subject in the first place. I totally understood both his hesitancy and his misgivings. Let me make something clear:  the human beings who came thorough my home are not my children. I do not own them. I do not try to possess either their souls or determine their futures. I try to give them a living example of a flawed human being, flailing a bit in the matters of humanity and faith, who attempts to be vulnerable and honest about inadequacies and also to jubilantly celebrate victories.

But you see, they grow up. And unfortunately, I have to share a Jesus Christ with others who wish to use him to promote either their liberal or their conservative agendas. So the crucifixion and mutilation of Jesus of Nazareth continues to occur every single week, as those who desire fame and gain manipulate his image to achieve their often less-than-noble purposes.

My children look at me and my simple efforts and feel that I am the underdog to the religious tycoons around me who seem to wield the most power, rendering my ideas discarded or anemic. In other words, they think I have some good insights, but Christianity really belongs to the religious system.

They are wrong.

Anyone who thinks that the temporary situation of any given moment actually has anything to do with the reality of truth or even the conclusion of passing time is not only short-sighted, but will end up on the losing team. So on behalf of my friend who wrote me, as a further confirmation to my six sons, whom I was blessed to have come through my life, and also to you lovely readers–let me tell you why I, a very common, simple, nonreligious man, still hold fast to the heart and message of Jesus.

Yes. Why Jesus?

1. The Golden Rule. Although I have scoured many different ideologies and religions, there is no one who is as intent as Jesus on pushing forward the primary notion that we need to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” There are inkles here and there, but Jesus was adamant that the human condition was completely dependent on this principle being enacted. He’s right. Retaliation begets war. Revenge is a trap. Frustration is a cave, wherein our emotions suffocate from lack of fresh air. If we do not find a way to impart to others the same courtesy we grant to ourselves, we join in complicating the human race into a constant threat of a spontaneous fist fight. Jesus insisted on the Golden Rule–and it is the primary reason I insist on Jesus.

2. Jesus likes people. I realized a long time ago that “liking” demands two functions: (a) “I see who you are and I appreciate it.” (b) “I see who you are and I don’t appreciate it but I will cut you slack to determine if your path is smarter than I think it is.” A Messiah who is always certain of the conclusion is not only self-righteous, but obnoxious. This is the reason that even though Jesus was certainly aware of the weaknesses of Judas, he still allowed him room to act out his own decisions. The reason I despise religion is because it produces commandments without adequate suggestions on how to achieve them. Jesus likes people. That means he has many ideas and precepts he would love to share with us, but when we vary from the purity of his path, he still says, “Leave them alone. Those who are not against us are for us.” This enables me to embrace my more conservative friends who follow the Master as well as the more liberal ones, without feeling the need to manipulate either one of them to my point of view. After all, my approach only has value when it bears fruit and includes others.

3. The third thing that draws me to be an adherent and disciple of Jesus is his “ask, seek and knock” philosophy. Most religion falls into two unsatisfying categories, the first being that we are to find peace in our hearts in the passivity of prayer, fasting or meditation. When these fail to give us the confidence we desire in our human lives, we are to dispel our doubts and chase away the demons that are trying to perplex us and tempt us from being faithful to our practices. The second approach of other religions is the notion that human beings possess within themselves the ways and means to overcome their difficulties through will power or the enlightenment of the mind. Supposedly, we are set ablaze from within and need no further external torch to inflame us with potential. I find both approaches to not only be lacking but often deadly in how misleading they are to the human family. Here’s the truth: if we don’t ask and keep on asking, we won’t receive. This demands two attributes: I need to know what I want, clarifying it in my own being, and then actually have faith that it can be achieved because God has no reason whatsoever to deny me access.

We also need to seek and keep on seeking until we find. The removal of human effort and involvement from the plan of salvation is similar to placing someone on a life support system and insisting they are aware because their heart is beating. Many people have spiritual dependence but no passion to seek out the better answers and solutions for their lives. They’re waiting for God to move them into a new home and they haven’t even packed up their boxes.

And finally Jesus makes it clear that we are to knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened. The absence of perseverance from the average religious individual renders him or her a candidate for despondency instead of training to be a victor. There are times that tenacity demands an evolution in our thinking, causing us to come up with better ideas, more intense approaches, and certainly a repetition of faithful pursuit to gain our prize. If Jesus had told me that all things could be accomplished by prayer without me asking, seeking and knocking, I would say that he was not present at creation–to understand humanity–and that he had lived a human life without being honest with his followers about how it truly works.

4. And finally, I want to follow Jesus because he believes that God is the Father of all living things. God is our Father. He is not just the God of Abraham or the God of Mohammed; He is not just one of the thousand gods of the Hindu religion. He is a Father to all living souls, deeply involved,while simultaneously maintaining the profile of being no respecter of persons. If I really believed that God favored Jews, Arabs, Americans, Russians, Scandinavians or Africans more than others, I would have to conclude that His existence was prejudicial to the human family. Jesus was determined to establish one fact: God is a Father, and he, Jesus, came for one sole purpose–to show us the Father.

I will grant you that the mainstream of religious thinking would disagree with many of my contentions, and my children certainly hear religion shouting louder on television than they do the whisper of their dad’s musings and stories. But eventually, to be spiritual, you must come out and be separate from the world. And that includes the sphere of religion.

Do I believe my children will do so? I have given them the freedom that was given to me by my friend, Jesus, to make their choices on their own. But in the process of making those choices, I hope they will turn down the entertainment, the news broadcasts and the general din of our society and consider my humble four-fold presentation.

  • Jesus believe in the golden rule.
  • Jesus likes people
  • Jesus taught us that we would be involved in our own salvation by asking, seeking and knocking.
  • And Jesus believes that God is our Father.

Honestly, my friends, that should be sufficient. And in the case of faith …  the less you carry, the more you possess.

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Got a question for Jonathan? Or would you like to receive a personal weekly email? Just click my email address below and let me know what’s on your mind! jonathancring@gmail.com

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Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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