Graceful Effort … May 1, 2013

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birdsI love believing. It’s so much more fulfilling than being cynical, doubting the power of virtue and the possibilities that lie within the human family.

On the other hand, I don’t always LIKE being a believer. What I mean is, the stigma placed upon spirituality by relegating it to the status of mere “religion” often annoys me to the point of pulling out my hair (thus explaining my baldness).

What is the difference between believing and being the common believer who follows the rhetoric of religion? I think it lies somewhere in discovering the balance between grace and works.

If you’re on of those believers who thinks that God has a wonderful plan for your life,” or that everything is written in the stars, or that the future is pre-determined and you’re just finding your place in the great scheme of destiny, you usually find yourself in a bit of despair, inept and impatient with your lot.

If you happen to be one of those individuals who is minus a spiritual direction and believe that you forge your own path with no help from a divine friend, you can also become disheartened and angry at the complexity of what you hoped would be simple.

I think it would do us good to become bird brains. For some reason or another in our pursuit of human superiority, we have deemed the bird to be stupid, when the Bible actually tells us that the birds have it figured out better than us. For instance, I woke up this morning to the sounds of chattering, singing, flying feathered folks right outside my window. I didn’t pick up any aggravation in their song; no disgruntled soul complaining about the early hour or off-key brothers and sisters. They just seemed to get it.

“We’re birds. We sing. It’s morning. Sing loudly. Sun came up. Go get worms. Bring them back to the nest. And fly around … until something kills you.”

But in our pursuit of some deep hidden meaning to life, we refuse to accept the fact that even though Jesus said we are worth “many sparrow,” he DID compare us to sparrows. You may want to believe that you, personally, are of more value than all the sparrows in the world, but in heaven your actual rate of exchange is merely MANY sparrows.

So what is the perfect balance between grace and works?

Graceful effort: pursuing what life has set in front of you, working on the excellence of your humanity, perfecting your craft, keeping a good sense of humor, while all the time understanding that this humility permits God to extend His grace to you.

God does not give grace to the prideful–and it is certainly prideful to proclaim our sanctity and purity without producing any evidence of works and effort.

So what creates humility?

  1. “Like the sparrow, I will sing my song.”
  2. “Like the sparrow, I will hunt my worms, knowing that they feed me.”
  3. “Like the sparrow, I will build a nest and find my peace within it.”
  4. “Like the sparrow, I will know that life is brief and my time, limited.”
  5. “Like the sparrow, I will leave the rest to God’s grace.”

No sparrow ever dies in its nest of natural causes. Sparrows don’t get Alzheimer’s. They live their life full-throttle until their lives are no more. Often it’s a tragic end–but quick. Knowing this, they never miss a morning to sing.

Graceful effort: when I realize that life has conditions, direction and purpose, and rather than fighting it, I eagerly join in with my portion. In doing so, I humbly offer my melody to my Creator

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

*****

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Bob and Rita… April 7, 2013

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I invited Bob and Rita to lunch. They did not know each other and probably would never have met without my invitation. For you see, Rita was an atheist and Bob was a believer.

Matter of fact, we had hardly gotten through ordering our Coca-colas and picking up the menus before Bob was trying to talk about God and Rita was prepared to do battle over His nonexistence.

Both of them became perturbed with me because I had set up this bizarre luncheon. They asked me why I put together such an event when I knew that Bob was a believer and Rita wasn’t. I explained to them that I felt they had more in common than they thought. That perplexed them.

I shared that even though Bob was a believer and very religious, and Rita was an atheist and very anti-religion, they both seemed to have achieved the same level of misery–and since I had heard somewhere along the line that misery loves company, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to put together these two friends over a grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup.

They didn’t think I was funny. Both of them denied that they were miserable, so I asked them why they impersonated the condition. Bob explained that the world was a sad place, filled with lost people and that if Jesus didn’t return to earth soon, we were all going to destroy one another and the devil was going to claim millions of souls.

Rita cited that the world was a dangerous place because of religious people who were out to espouse their doctrines, using violence if necessary, and that we all would be better off if there was no God and we just got along the best we could with who we were.

I listened to them for about half an hour, and finally picked up the check and headed to the counter to pay the bill, thanking them for an insightful experience. They disagreed.

I walked out that day knowing this:

I want to have enough Rita in me that I don’t fall victim to religious fanatics who want to preach a God who really hates people so that they can act out their vengeance through His book.

And I want to have enough Bob in me that I know there really is a God–He just isn’t locked up in a sanctuary somewhere.

I smiled and thought to myself, That really is what it means to be a good human being. Just enough Rita in you to refuse to blame God for all the problems, but instead, try to do your part. And just enough Bob that you know you don’t have to do it alone, feeling left out, rejected and wondering if anything at all has meaning.

I’m sure both Bob and Rita would be very disappointed with my conclusion, but unlike Bob and Rita, my conclusion makes me happy.

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

Do-cision … August 19, 2012

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“It is appointed unto a man once to die, and then the judgment…”

On this the atheist and the believer agree. Someday, in some way, we all will have a final evaluation based upon what we do. So perhaps we should take another look at the process by which we, as human beings, decide to do things.

If you will allow me a bit of simplicity, I think the approach to achievement falls under two different categories: do-cision and diss-cision. In other words, there are those who do and others who have developed a complicated process of determining the best way to “diss,” or say no, to opportunity.

Here is an interesting little piece of insight: there is plenty of money, plenty of business, plenty of jobs and plenty of commerce available at this time in our country to pull us out of this economic decline. The truth of the matter is, those individuals who have the most power to contribute and assist in a recovery are frightened, nervous and basically refuse to do anything but “wait out” the circumstances and hoard what they’ve got. It is a regressive attitude in the realm of business, which has changed us from being a country of do-cision to diss-cision.

Somehow or another, we’ve convinced ourselves that turning down possibility makes us appear to be more mature, studious and grown-up. We don’t want to come across as careless and fly-by-night, so it’s just safer, generally speaking, to diss every idea that comes our way and when it ends up failing due to lack of support, pointing to the evidence that we chose well by being one of the contributors to snuffing out what could have been a great inspiration.

Here is my blatant statement: You’ve got to end up saying yes to more things in your life than no.

If you don’t, you will end up with a personality which is possessed with caution, riddled with insecurity and devoid of the excitement which allows for joy to find a home. The power in life is not in making correct decisions. The real energy in living a human existence is in knowing that correct decisions can only be made while we’re doing something with a little bit of faith and evolving with what we are learning as we go.

So for me it’s become quite elementary. I ask myself seven questions when I realize that some sort of fresh innovation has been offered to me. I thought you might find them interesting. Because for certain, when I pass away, I want my family and friends to be able to say that Jonathan Richard Cring was involved in do-cision instead of spending all of his time shaking his head with diss-cision. So here are my seven:

1.  Will what I’m about to do hurt anyone or anything? (Of course, sometimes we don’t know. Our best guess is often all we have.)

2.  Am I willing to adjust to the changes necessary to make an idea work without being stubborn?

3.  Does it resemble something that I believe in?

4.  Can I fail at this particular adventure without sprouting some shame?

5.  Does it appear to be pretty good timing?

6.  Would I back it if I weren’t fronting it?

7.  And finally, will I be proud to have been a part?

There you go. Now, some of the answers may be yes and some no, and you may have to split the difference. But we do need to avoid two nasty axioms which are presently smothering our society: “Better safe than sorry” and “I think I will err on the side of caution.” That particular duet of shivering emotional jello is keeping many people from trying the things that will at least take them down the right road towards success.

We have to do-cide if we’re going to mess with it or if we’re going to leave the mess alone. Historically, leaving messes alone only makes the messes stinkier and draw flies. It is a time for do-cision–to crawl out of the cardboard box where we are hiding in diss-cision.

The Bible makes it clear–to have it in your power to do good and refuse to do it is sin. So while we debate various sins of the flesh and what we might deem to be obvious evil, the greatest dangers are those Godsent miracles that come our way, which we ignore and refuse to pursue. Yes, I will tell you bluntly–your Judgment Day and my Judgment Day will be much more centered around what we fail to do instead of what we actually launched out into the deep and tried.

Do-cision–an attitude that is predisposed to chase a dream instead of sitting around with aged hands, sipping tea … wishing we had.

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

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