Last Night … July 25, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Not many locals showed up last night in Springville, Iowa, to see the traveling strangers come to town with their show.

It is an unusual season in our country, where sensationalism has replaced common sense, yet at the same time, we are weary of all the rag-tag attempts to dazzle.

“There are times in my life

Nothing comes repairs the breach…”

Those are the words I sang last night to begin the presentation.

“Let it blow…”

I don’t give the human race much of a chance if we don’t look for reasons for commonality.

When I got done sharing that little piece of tune, I talked to them about John Chapman, otherwise known as Johnny Appleseed. Even though I occasionally have someone tell me that Johnny Appleseed actually began his journey of sowing fruitful possibilities because he was trying to get away from his wife and kids, we can become so cynical that we don’t leave a doorway for blessing and truth to slip under the crack. Whatever his reason, Johnny Appleseed left the comfort of his home and security of his neighbors to do something with his life.

Not that different from Jesus, who told us to “be of good cheer.” Yes—I shared “good cheer” with the tiny handful who made their way out to last night’s sanctuary.

That’s our job—to be of good cheer.

So if your philosophy and theology do not deposit you in a position where you have enough air in your lungs to keep on believing and going forward, you probably have the wrong thinking stewing in your brain. Good cheer is just knowing that things work a certain way, and if you learn them, you can push with them instead of pulling against them.

Once we got done talking about that, I told them a story about a man named Russell. This gentleman made the mistake of thinking that life was a shipment he was waiting for instead of a blessing requiring a hunting trip. I think they were a bit surprised at the end of the story when I let them know that Russell was my dad.

Yes, it is possible to love those who birth you and still not wish to imitate their mistakes.

It was at this point that Jan stepped in, talking to them about the political upheaval in the country and how we faced it head on when we did a prayer breakfast with politicians in Washington, D.C., who tried to maintain their parties at the morning devotional—sitting in their respective areas of political persuasion. We demanded that they change seats and sit next to someone they normally would disagree with in Congress, but needed to commune with in the presence of God.

I wanted to make sure that the folks last night understood that Jesus didn’t come to earth to make us into religious people, but instead, came to be human with us. So I told them a story they already knew, but from a different perspective.

You see, Jesus didn’t expect his disciples to believe they could feed five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes. It’s why he broke the problem down into fifties and hundreds—so they could start small and build.

As each moment passed, all of us who came in not knowing much about each other were gradually swallowed up by a common sensation of well-being and brotherhood.

That’s what made it possible for me, at the end, to tell them the secret to the gospel:

NoOne is better than anyone else.

Don’t you just get tired of trying to prove that you’re superior to your neighbor? It’s exhausting. And the time could be more wisely spent finding ways to bless the world around you, receiving blowback your way.

That’s what happened last night.

I’m going back to the same place again tonight because that’s what we agreed to do. I have no idea if anybody will be there—but I learned a long time ago that everything which is truly important has to go through a season of alienation and rejection before it becomes popular.

Unfortunately, often when it does become popular, it loses some of the soul it had during the struggle.

So if you don’t mind, I’ll just enjoy where I am and giggle in my spirit, knowing that when I share my little piece of me, it doesn’t make people mad.

It seems to make ’em glad.

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

“Crown Thy Good…” July 4, 2012

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America, America,

God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good …

On this auspicious occasion of the 236th birthday of our nation, may I stop for a moment and find out what is good about us and also what crowning achievement we should place upon that particular piece of endeavor? America is not exceptional in every way–what is? But there are important ways that this country is unique and beneficial to the human family, which fosters not only a need for its existence, but also a true mission for its statement.

So please allow me, on this Independence Day, to tell you what I think is really good about this country–and what I think we could do to “crown” that particular piece of righteousness to make it even better. What is good about America?

1. There is an extraordinarily uncomfortable amount of liberty available. It is what makes us great. Theology and pornography have to occupy the same town. They are not allowed to expel each other from the region because of a preference for one over the other. They must coexist. What do people do with liberty? The Bible says that what everyone first does with liberty is “use it as an occasion for the flesh.” Bluntly, every human being first goes too far before doubling back to find a more realistic position. Great. America is tremendous because we have no moral police, no social schoolmarm to insist upon correct etiquette, and no border patrol for liberty. Whenever we try to legislate morality, we turn into a bunch of obnoxious Puritans who are soon apologizing for their short-sightedness.

2. America is good because we always keep the melting pot boiling. If you don’t keep the heat going on the stove, things stop melting and just begin to congeal in globs of fatty grease. What makes this country good is the fact that we insist on equality, conversation, respect and inclusion of all races, no matter how hot the controversy may get, keeping the pot melted and eventually, giving the appearance that we’re all really all the same. Whenever we try to break apart into sections of the country, racial voting blocks or ethnic preferences, we become the nastiest group of people who ever walked the face of the earth.

3. Another good thing about America is that when we are chasing the dream in the right way, we encourage excellence while simultaneously showing compassion to those who can’t measure up. I have no problem with being generous to weaker brothers and sisters, as long as we continue to admit what is really excellent, and refuse to drop the bar so as to include more of the populace. For example, I have no problem with you calling me obese– because I am. I don’t need you to raise the weight standards in order to make the terminology for my condition seem more pleasant. Excellence is excellence, and when it is not accomplished, we should give grace, while continuing to revere the standard.

4. And the final thing I think makes this country good is that at our heart, when we are free of social mediocrity, we do ask people to take personal responsibility for their lives. I do not care if you’re an atheist, gay, Republican, Democrat, man or woman. I want to know that if you run into the back of my car, you going to get out and hand me your insurance card, and own your mistake. If not, then you become a jerk who happens to be gay. Or a loser who is a woman. Or a cheater with male parts. Or a cop-out who is a Republican. Or a shirker who is a Democrat. Or an atheist–who is God-awful. Personal responsibility is what makes us valuable to ourselves. When we establish that worth, we are enlightening to others.

Now, these are the things that are good–but what crown would I place on them during this July 4th coronation? Here are the crowing achievements I think would not be terribly difficult, unrealistic or beyond the pale. As a matter of fact, to me, they just make sense:

1. Since we are a land of good liberty, let’s go ahead and denounce all aspects of our “gossip society.” Let’s stop living our lives through other people. Let’s stop targeting folks who are going through a hard time just so we can feel better about our own inadequacies. I have placed a moratorium on watching anything that attacks other people or gossips about them. If they are not interviewing the person directly involved in the situation or altercation, I will not  listen to other folks pontificate on the dilemma. If we are going to have a crown on our goodness, we have to stop gossiping.

2. Secondly, the crown I would add to the melting pot is to make sure that once and for all, we get rid of any word before claiming our brothers and sisters as Americans. I will never, ever again say “African American.” There isn’t a black person in this country who would last one single morning in Africa without being eaten by a lion. There isn’t one Asian in this country who would survive the hustle, bustle and crowded conditions of the east without ferociously complaining and running to buy a ticket back to Albuquerque. We are Americans–both generous and spoiled, both inventive and lazy. But one thing is certain–we are all the same.

3. The crowning achievement I would put on the encouragement of excellence is to begin to encourage innovation–with money. I don’t think we should ever fail to provide for the common need of those who are disabled or without resource. But I do think we need to make it clear that this is a country that rewards those who go the second mile. And by reward, I’m talking moolah. Instead of giving finance to those who have failed, let’s begin to give more capital to the true capitalists–those who have once again discovered America.

4. And to put a crown on personal responsibility–honor hard work. We live in a nation where the people who work the hardest make the least amount of money. I think we should continue to extol the value of education, but simply possessing a diploma does not guarantee anyone in a free market a ride to the penthouse. Work needs to be honored. As you sit on the highway, stalled by construction, angry at being delayed–make sure you take two minutes to thank God for those hardworking individuals who are out in the beating heat, trying to make your life ultimately easier. When we begin to honor work in this country instead of just flashing credentials, we will put a crown on responsibility and people will be proud once again to come home tired, with a paycheck that is growing instead of shrinking.

I am a patriot because I continue to fight for freedom instead of settling for the latest compromise. There is so much good in this country, but it is time for us to step up to the plate and crown that good … with brotherhood. And what would be the first step towards achieving brotherhood? I believe we could make an initial movement in that direction by stopping the emphasis on political parties and uplifting people with the courage to pursue any idea that includes everyone.

God bless America–but maybe we need to learn how to bless ourselves by crowning all of our good with a new burst of brotherhood.

   

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

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