Three Ways to Avoid a Squandered Life… August 14, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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kleenexI sat very still in my chair, staring at the scrap of paper in front of me, bewildered, if not a trifle bewitched.

It was a note from an aging friend which appeared to be spilled ink on paper, dabbled with a human finger in an attempt to form words.

“Pray for me. Hitting my head. Brain disease.”

I thought about the many hundreds of letters I had written to this individual and the hours I had spent loving, reasoning and perhaps even arguing with him about the ebb and flow of life. And now I was looking at this ripped sheet of paper, wondering what had brought him to this conclusion.

For I will tell you, it is too easy to blame people for their own path, and also much too simple to portray them as victims of clinical diseases which take the power of choice away from them. There are occasions in life which threaten to steer our carnal vessels in directions which prove to be disastrous.

Are there warning signs? Are there ways to avoid a squandered life?

1. Don’t allow yourself to feel entitled.

The minute we expect, we stop being able to accept. Lack of acceptance leaves us vulnerable to disappointment, which lends itself to despair.

2. Don’t give up on good work because of critics.

I wish I could tell you that every brilliant concept is embraced by even a single convert. It is not so. Often the greater the gift, the less it is received.

You must learn to be content with your own belief and purpose.

3. Don’t lose your faith in people.

If people don’t understand what you’re saying or doing, then don’t attack them for their ignorance. Use your creative genius to make what you do and feel more understandable.

Squandered: Wasted in a reckless or foolish manner.

I will pray for my friend. But prayer by itself is not what he needs.

What he requires is to be baptized in a fount of good cheer and faithful pursuit.

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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

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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

Paulless… February 1, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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El Paso SanctuarySaint Paul United Methodist Church in El Paso, Texas. My latest tour date.

Saint Paul.

I guess it’s one of those titles they give to you after you’re dead, and they’re trying to apologize for how badly they treated you. Sometimes they even name a frigid city in Minnesota after you.

The reason I like Paul is because he understood both ends of the spectrum of human life. Well … I should say he exhibited them, whether he understood it or not.

It would be unfortunate for our modern world if Earth had ended up “Paulless.” Honestly, Peter and the other eleven disciples were quite content, after the resurrection, to sit in their rocking chairs on Solomon’s Porch outside the Temple, and recall former days when water turned to wine.

It was Paul who was curious about reaching the rest of the world and not just those who liked to have a little “shew” with their bread. Matter of fact, I can guarantee you that Christianity would never have reached the white, bratwurst-eating tribes had it not been for Paul of Tarsus.

But the best thing about him is that he demonstrates that being inspired by God involves a combination of mistakes and discoveries.

  • Because the same Paul who succeeded in getting the gospel message to the Gentiles also spent way too much time arguing with the Jews, who had no intention of changing and ended up sending him to his demise.
  • Yes, Paul, who welcomed women into the ministry as equals, got into a bad mood one day and equated the female of the species as being deceived “weaker vessels” who needed to submit.
  • He taught us about the grace of God instead of a mean, Old Testament grouch, but also over-emphasized a plan of salvation instead of explaining the lifestyle of Jesus.
  • He had the eloquent moment in the book of Philippians, where he proclaimed with great joy, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” while also being tagged with writing complaints about how he was mistreated and not allowed to be an apostle.
  • With great humility he bowed his head and received the welcoming acceptance of Barnabas when the rest of the Christians were afraid of him because of his vendetta against the faith, only to turn around when Barnabas wanted to be forgiving toward John Mark, who had grown road weary, and condemned the boy as unworthy of his calling.

It’s all in there. It is unedited. It is why I know the Good Book is divinely inspired–for a God who plans on saving the world doesn’t need to embellish the story to make everything seem fine.

If the world was Paulless–well, the world probably wouldn’t have Jesus.

It also wouldn’t have the obvious example of a man who was ordained with greatness … and bewitched by moments of insecurity.

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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

Taxing the World… December 17, 2012

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Jon Signing

Let’s assume the story is true. For the sake of today’s essay, let’s agree to believe that the tale told by Matthew and Luke in their gospels is factual.

Caesar decided to tax the world. There’s always someone trying to do that. We live on a globe that is continually bombarded by frustrated individuals who feel that one more annoyance, one more trial, one more war, one more evil or one more excess isn’t going to make any difference one way or another. They are deliverers of straw for the backs of camels–never quite sure if this present shipment is going to break all of our backs.

They are just people who tax the world. They don’t bring anything to the party–they just fuss. They extol the virtue of “debate” and perfect it to the greatest levels of dissension, all in the name of a cause which rarely is developed because there is no time left over for progress. That part of the story makes sense to me–Caesar taxing the world.

Then there are people. Good-hearted, yet not good-natured folks, who end up spending all of their time bitching about the taxes. They try to free themselves of the bondage to the latest Caesar but because they are always complaining about the actions of the government or the mis-deeds of the disenfranchised, they openly admit they’re at the mercy of these merciless politicians and ne’er-do-wells. So Caesar bewitches and the mass of humanity…well, “we bitches.”

It is a nasty, immovable gridlock of meaningless conversation lending itself to deadly delay, opening the door for tragedy to slip into the back windows of our lives because we are too busy discerning the unchangeable. Yes, there are those who tax the world and there are those who bitch about the taxes.

So it was over two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, Judea. It seemed that the most important thing going on was the present affliction being levied on the masses by the Romans, who were trying to raise money to pay for a war in Britannia against the Angles and the Saxons.

And then there was a handful.

In the moment, they seemed meager–a carpenter and his pregnant, besmirched wife, arriving too late into town, not having made preparations for lodging and ending up stalled in the stable; shepherds who certainly wanted to complain about taxes, but found themselves interrupted by more angelic possibilities and needing to make a choice, and wise ones from the East, who were probably mocked by their neighbors as star-gazers with their heads in the clouds, who evidently were completely oblivious to Caesar’s latest imposition.wisemen under star

Yes, there were a few people who decided to birth a new idea.

It is a lesson for all of us. For I will tell you bluntly–CNN and FOX News don’t care one whittle that I write a daily column on the Internet, that I was able to reach tens of thousands of people this year through my travels or that I am recording a new album of music. They are following the latest story of “whoever is taxing the world.” They are also quite interested in those who want to bitch and complain about how over-taxed the world is by problems and difficulties. If you want to send in a tweet or email lamenting some evil in our world, you might get your twelve seconds of fame flashed across the bottom of the screen.

But just as it was in our original story back in Bethlehem, those who are trying to birth a new idea are relegated to obscurity and stuck in a barn somewhere.

But also, just like those so many centuries ago, you have to decide whether you want to be there for the birth, whether you want to worship or whether you want to be one of the wise people.

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