G-Poppers … February 23rd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Pop looked on with a bit of sadness as social media lit up with posts about evangelist Billy Graham.

Many of them were cruel. Matter of fact, an inordinate number were laced with vindictive language and resentment against the deceased Reverend.

He lived for ninety-nine years, so trying to abridge his life into one space of time is completely impossible. So the last generation only has insights on the occasional press release which came from his home in North Carolina and the actions of his son, Franklin Graham.

G-Pop feels the same way about Billy Graham as he does about Michael Jackson. G-Pop is not sure either one of them would appreciate the comparison, but every person’s life, including Michael and Billy, comes down to two questions.

What did he or she do?

What did he or she miss?

Can it be as simple as the good doings outweighing the bad, which means someone ends up righteous?

Yes. Any other standard would be prejudicial.

What did Billy Graham do? He preached the Gospel to the whole world. Granted, it was a particular gospel–focused mainly on repenting of sin, accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior and being baptized. Therefore he missed the greater glories of the Gospel of Jesus:

  • Abundant life
  • Mercy to others in order to obtain mercy
  • Refusing to judge fellow humans
  • Wise to stay away from politics.

Michael Jackson arguably wrote the most unique blend of R & B and pop music ever penned. The tunes were filled with humanity, generosity, giving, joy and tolerance. We also have to note that he missed the opportunity to learn to love himself or accept who he was, and in the process may have accidentally damaged the lives of some young people because he was abused as a child.

Billy Graham stayed married to the same woman and was never involved in a sexual scandal throughout his entire ministry.

Yet he missed the opportunity to link arms with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and failed to encourage the South to join the North, East and West to accept civil rights in this country.

He missed the moment when the gay community sought equality as citizens, and instead evaluated them by his moral code and traditions, dating back thousands of years.

Michael Jackson was generous, childlike and desperately tried to address world hunger while simultaneously destroying himself through drug abuse.

It would be terrible if Dr. Billy Graham were to be known as “Billy Graham Cracker.”

Just as horrible would be “Michael Jackson, child molester.”

G-Pop thinks both of these men established that they had hearts to do more good than bad. The weakness of each one showed up at poor times in their personal histories, but with confidence, G-Pop will continue to respect their journeys.

So every time G-Pop hears the old hymn, “Just as I am without one plea,” he will think of the love, efforts and mission of Billy Graham of North Carolina.

And when G-Pop hears Beat It, Billy Jean and Man in the Mirror, his eyes will tear up over the memory of one of the greatest talents that ever inhabited the Earth.

If G-Pop expects this same quarter when he dies–to be evaluated by what he’s done, minus what he missed, hoping for a positive total–then he must first extend that grace to others.

We must first extend that grace to others.

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G-Poppers … September 8th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop sat back with the rest of the American population and watched the national media turn the 2016 Presidential election into a cavalcade of bizarre claims and accusations.

It has not stopped.

We are still in the midst of an entertainment-driven news force which delves into critical issues by exposing the scandals that surround them. We have become a nation that reveres the messenger. We are intrigued with personalities. We are possessed by finding heroes who can just as easily be transformed into villains.

G-Pop would like to encourage his children to regain sanity by placing matters in the right order:

First is the message.

  • What is being said to us?
  • What is being communicated?
  • What is at the heart of the movement?

Secondly, messaging.

  • What style, restrictions and kindnesses are being recognized by an organization, a party or a church in promoting its cause?

Number three, the messenger.

  • Who is the face on the body?

For instance, Islam asserts that it is a religion of peace.

So if Islam is peace, what is the messaging? Are the talking points of the Islamic faith peppered with peace, brotherhood and kindness?

And who is the messenger? Is it some Mullah from a small mosque in Kansas who’s feeding the hungry in his community, or is it a well-advertised murderer from ISIS?

Another case in point: we are told that the message of the Republican Party is small government.

The messaging is the ridicule of anyone who would suggest anything other than that, casting aside other issues that don’t fall into the purview of that spotlight.

Who is the messenger? Well, President Trump is the messenger of the Republican Party.

What is the message of the Democrat Party? “Government is here to assist.”

What is the messaging? “The one percent is out to destroy the ninety-nine percent.”

Who is the messenger? It would appear that Bernie Sanders has become the messenger of the Democrat Party.

What is the message of the American Christian Church? “We are still here, we care and we’re important.”

What is the messaging? As in the case of Islam, it ranges from the promise of peace to extreme forms of bigotry and intolerance.

Who is the messenger? Well, it isn’t Jesus. There is a struggle in the church right now to fill the shoes vacated by Billy Graham.

So what is the true message of Christianity? “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

What should the messaging be? “Take responsibility for your own life and never judge others.”

Who is the messenger? Well, I do believe Jesus could get behind that message and messaging.

Be aware. Cease to be enamored with messengers and track back to the message. Then consider the messaging that’s being used, and finally, look at the messenger.

Is he or she an adequate, intelligent representation of the message?

If we do this, we have a chance to make a decision about our lives based upon the quality of the vision instead of blindly following the loudest, the meanest, the wealthiest or the brashest braggart in the room.Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

 

 

Double A’s and an F … February 17, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Bill MaherYou can’t be a good believer unless you first discover what kind of atheist you would be. And while you’re at it, it’s a good idea to figure out how you would choose to live if you were an agnostic. Two A’s and an F — atheist, agnostic and faith.face of Ricky Gervais

Since none of us know for sure what’s going to happen after we suck our last, it’s a good idea to put greater value on your human life than you do your eternal life.

I know this statement would upset about ninety percent of the Christian community, but it doesn’t make it any less important to share.

Billy GrahamI am a person of faith–not because I’m afraid of what might happen if I weren’t.

I don’t pursue devotion to God because I’m superstitious or want to cover all of my bases.

No, it’s because I have decided what life I would choose to honor if I were an atheist. So if there were no God, what would my three essentials be, determining my essence? I would have to:

  1. Learn to love people.
  2. Learn to respect my life and the value it has, both in limited time and in the distribution of the wealth of my gifts.
  3. Be merciful.

Likewise, if I believe there is some sort of God, but think He or She has taken a permanent vacation, rendering me an agnostic, what kind of journey would I choose?

  1. Learn to deal with people knowing that they never go away.
  2. Take care of myself, but also not come across as unfeeling to the needs of others.
  3. Learn the art of forgiveness.

So in like manner, if I’m going to be a believer in an Eternal Creator, what are the three things that define my trinity of precepts?

  1. I’m told that if I don’t love people, then my love for God is built on a false premise.
  2. I’m instructed that if I give, it shall be given unto me.
  3. I get mercy, released for my inadequacies, by the amount of mercy I give to others, and I am judged in like manner.

You see, when you look at it from that perspective, whether you’re Bill Maher, an atheist, or Ricky Gervais, who considers himself to bounce between agnostic and atheist, or Billy Graham, who is the face of the faith crowd–when it comes to human life, you’re left with the same basic alternatives.

I guess as long as you can escape the ridiculous traditions of religion, it might be nice to believe in God just in case the heaven thing turns out not to be hype.

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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

Alabama Allegations… September 26, 2012

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Alabama is not my “sweet home,” but I have always enjoyed my numerous visits to the state.

It is located on about the third notch of the Bible Belt (even though with me being blubbery, I prefer an elastic waist). As is often the case in many of the communities in our southern regions, people in Alabama go to church a lot, respecting God and country with tremendous personal fervor. So when I arrived with my proclamation that “NoOne is better than anyone else,” I found myself greeted with a small smile, only partially disguising a wince. My Alabamian brothers and sisters immediately offered two allegations to potentially contradict my theorem:

Allegation One: “Jonathan, isn’t the Jewish nation the chosen people? Doesn’t that make them better?”

I would like to introduce each and every one of you–and also re-acquaint myself–with the power of reading the Bible to discover a consensus. Facts are, it is easy to find a single verse in the Bible to back up almost any notion, perversion, lifestyle or inclination. But when you pursue further, you will discover that many other verses not only temper that particular assertion, but sometimes update or flat-out contradict it.

Since we are Christians and not followers of Moses, we have to go to the words of Jesus to find what he thought about this concept of the Children of Israel being “chosen.” Matter of fact, I will guarantee you on this fine morning that the main reason he hung between earth and sky, suspended by nails, was that they did not favor his opinion on their manifest destiny. He told the Jews bluntly that they took “great pride in being the children of Abraham” but that God had every capability of taking a common rock laying beside the road and turning it into a “child of Abraham.” You can imagine, considering the nationalistic pride frothing at the time, that this particular teaching was met with quite a bit of resistance.

We are also clearly informed that God is “no respecter of persons,” so even though there are those who would love to propagate the notion that Israel and the Jews are a chosen people, favored by God, and therefore they are unique by birthright, the general consensus of the Bible, which we call the Word, is that God has opened His door to include everyone equally.

So as not to get a bunch of emails from people suggesting that I am anti-Semitic, I will tell you that I believe that Israel has every right to exist, be respected and honored for her traditions. It’s just that since  the time that Jesus walked the earth, Jewish people are not preferred above Arabs or anyone else.

Allegation Two: “Jonathan, you certainly believe that Billy Graham is better than Charles Manson, right?”

You see, this is the idea that we are unique by salvation. I can always tell when people are desperate to win an argument. They either bring up their pet dog, Hitler or Charles Manson. They mention their pet dog because they want to create sympathy; Hitler, to prove how bad people are, and Charles Manson when they want to convince you that some people are beyond hope.

So let me tell you what I told these fine folks from Alabama. Actually, thief that I am, I borrowed the sentiment from Jesus. Talking one day to a group of gossiping Galileans, he asked them if they thought that the people who had recently been killed by Pilate were worse sinners than those who didn’t die. And after all, we do the same thing. If someone survives a hurricane, we insist that “God was with them,” which, whether we like it or not, connotes that the people who perished were at least secretly somewhat dastardly.

Jesus’ response to his own question about this “worse sinner” possibility was, “Except you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

You see, folks, it’s basically a PR situation–life comes along and the first thing you need to do is participate. It is true that there are greater benefits if you indulge in earthly activities by following the rules, but when you don’t, you get a second crack, which is called repentance. If you repent, you are blessed with a clean slate to participate again with a little bit more wisdom.

It doesn’t matter whether you are Billy Graham or Charles Manson–the same rules apply. Participate and repent. If you don’t choose to participate, don’t expect anything to happen. If you do participate, make a mistake and stubbornly refuse to repent, don’t expect to be able to participate anymore. It’s really that simple.

Many people were shocked when Charles Manson was the murderous propagator of so many slain, innocent people. I, too, was appalled, but I awaited the great miracle of repentance. It never came. So righteously, Charlie-boy doesn’t get to participate anymore.

But honestly, folks, if we found out something bad about Billy Graham tomorrow, most Christians would abandon him. I, instead, would wait for the repentance. And once my dear brother repented, I would welcome him back into the family of man, to participate.

Do I believe that Billy Graham is better than Charles Manson? Not by creation. He gains footing on earth’s soil because he repents–and if he didn’t repent, like Mr. Manson, he would find himself perishing one miserable day at a time, in a tiny jail cell.

So participate, and if you don’t, please understand that nothing will happen. After you participate, take note of the quality of your efforts and repent where stupidity has clearly been pointed out to you. It gives you license to participate again. There is no such thing as “worse sinners.” Just terrible repenters.

So this ended my little excursion into Alabama, where people tried to establish that we are unique by birthright, or, as in the case of Billy Graham, unique by salvation. But after I had a friendly conversation with these lovely folks, I made it clear to them that God is no respecter of persons, and that the key to human life is participating and repenting.

I moved on down the road and landed in Missouri, which they refer to as the “Show Me” State. I was certainly not going to escape their scrutiny with my new-fangled phrase.

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Who Is the King of Glory? … June 4, 2012

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I read it on Facebook.

It was a posting by a dear young lady who shared a verse from the Bible, but at the end of the statement, she added, “I know it sounds religious, but in the moment it was very meaningful to me.”

It gave me pause. Why did she feel the need to apologize for the impact of a moment of inspiration? Actually, it is one of the greatest dividing lines in our society—people over the age of thirty-five are fairly comfortable sharing their faith or elements of their beliefs. People under thirty-five are reticent and have great trepidation—that espousing acknowledgments of God makes them look out of the flow, or dare I say—even ignorant?

Part of this is due to the influx of pseudo-intellectualism in our country, which attempts to make all believers in a Divine Being appear to be barefooted hillbillies who have never cracked a book in their lives. But honestly, most of it is due to a phenomenon that occurred just about thirty-five years ago. Take the journey back in time with me.

Thirty-six years ago, God was pretty cool. For after all, Jesus Christ was a Superstar. “God,” Himself, could put a wonderful “Spell” on you. The Doobie Brothers told us that Jesus Is Just Alright with Me. Even old-time evangelist Billy Graham grew his hair out a little longer and every once in a while added a little “mod” to his God.

And then something happened. I would call it a reverse revival—a decision to go backwards in the faith to try to find the future of God’s will. Religious leaders addressed the tragedy of AIDS by referring to it as a gay plague, sent by Divine judgment to destroy the homosexual community. Of course, they were proven wrong when the virus was no respecter of persons, wiling to inflict and infect everyone. These same religionists found themselves on the wrong side of the issue of apartheid in South Africa, when the system was corrupt and needed to be overthrown. Rather than sitting down and having an intelligent discussion about birth control and the value of human life, they instead picketed–and often harmed those who worked at clinics that offered the option of abortion.

They took a belief in God from its simplicity of personal faith and made it into a machine gun that sprayed bullets of condemnation into the unsuspecting masses. And then, on September 11th, 2001, when religious charlatans flew airplanes into buildings, killing innocent people, it became obvious that there was a danger in accepting any form of Godliness into your life without flirting with insanity.

So who IS this King of Glory? Who is this God, if He exists? If He’s a Creator, does He comprehend His creation? Does He understand us? Or has He taken a sabbatical and left His shop in the hands of less-than-competent micro-managers?

There are three things that every human being requires, and if the experience they are pursuing does not offer these possibilities, then the endeavor fails to provide satisfaction.

First, we all need to be saved.  If we don’t confess our shortcomings and sins, we begin to develop an elaborate web of lies to deny our weaknesses instead of admitting them so they can be addressed and ministered to. God must save us or He’s really not God.

Secondly, we also need to be richer. Now, understand, I am NOT saying “rich.” Just a few dollars above our own indebtedness. Just enough money so that generosity seems to be in order instead of a desperate act of sacrifice. We need a God who teaches us how to use our talents more effectively so that they multiply and provide us with greater capacity for solvency and success.

And finally, every human being needs to be wiser. Wisdom is the ability to take our experiences and turn them into ideas that allow us to learn from what happens instead of always getting burned. All of us need to be wiser. All of us need to understand that the greatest wisdom is acknowledging that “NoOne is better than anyone else.” If we stop trying to prove that we’re better, we can actually make our own situation … better.

Somewhere along the line, religion has failed to deliver anything from this trio of demands except salvation. So unless you are terribly desperate to confirm your heavenly passage to eternity every single week, the need to attend a local house of worship is often dimmed by the offering of a bright, sunny day.

God seems to be outdated to His own agenda.

Some of the poorest people in the world spend the most time praising the Almighty—and certainly many of the selfish, more short-sighted causes are pursued by those who pray without ceasing. The end result is that those who have been born since Jesus Christ stopped being a “Superstar” now are a bit afraid to embrace the heavenly Father for fear of being smacked in the head instead of receiving a pat of approval.

Ironically, I spent yesterday morning sharing at the King of Glory Lutheran Church in suburban Denver, Colorado. At 9:00 A.M., I stared out at a sea of faces and they back at me. We were trangers. We were cautious with each other. We wondered if any good thing could come out of us—to enrich the life of the other.

Blessedly, when I left the stage at 9:51, I had made a bunch of friends. I put the King of Glory to work. I presented God as a forgiving, divine, almighty Being who is prepared to forgive us and save our souls. I shared that He was an intelligent presence who expects us to take personal responsibility for our lives and improve our financial status by using our own talents and abilities, so that we don’t need to beg for bread but can give bread to the beggar.  And together we talked about how to be wiser, rejecting the stupidity of striving to constantly be superior to other people, but instead, taking what we know and use it effectively in our next project.

The King of Glory made sense. He was not only powerful to save; He was also prepared to enrich and to grant us wisdom without making fun of us for our lack.

I wish I could take a whole generation that has been scared away from intimacy with the Creator on a journey to discover the true height and depth of His love. But religion is powerful. Religion is predictable—and therefore inhaled by those who have grown comfortable with stale air. Religion is political, and therefore prepared to insult and attack in order to maintain its position.

So I quietly will go about my business loving those God sends my way as simply and as gently as I can. I will tell them who this King of Glory truly is:

He is a friend who wants to save them, help them find ways to be richer, and impart to them a great journey… into wisdom.

   

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