Parallel Universe … October 21, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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oxen“What are the cool kids doing?”

I thought that question would be a phenomenon of high school and would disappear, or at least dissipate, in importance when I entered the unknown realm of “Grown-ups-ville.” Now that I’ve occupied that territory as a resident for several decades, I will tell you that we are still oppressed, possessed and obsessed by “what the cool kids do.”

Perhaps the most annoying factor in this scenario is the process by which we determine who the cool kids ARE. Normally three ingredients:

  1. Popularity
  2. Money
  3. What they get by with

So much to my chagrin, as I travel across the country, I see perfectly wonderful, kind people under the spell of a temporary haze of confusion by a political arena that is back-biting and ferocious and a spirituality which only offers flavors in bubblegum and castor oil.

It is most unfortunate.

It is rather doubtful if we will be able to deter people from chasing the ways of the cool kids. Our only hope would be to change the roster of that particular group of people.

Yes, to a certain degree we are all victims of this quandary, in which we have a tendency to imitate the people in our society who have power, money and who get away with things, performing it in our own little homespun three-act play.

So churches, organizations and even families are plagued with much more bickering, fussiness and dogmatic attitudes because we are told by our media pundits that this is the “way of the world” and is the best avenue for getting what you want.

It will take some awfully brave people to counteract this misery. Therefore I woke up this morning and asked myself: who do I want to be?

I guess I would like to have the strength of an ox.

I chose the ox NOT because of the age-old reputation, but because the creature is deliberate, mighty and uncomplaining. For I’m sure that an ox has aches and pains, but nothing will deter it from its labor.

For me, I want the mind of Jesus.

Why? It blends wit and tenderness, which will win the day if given the opportunity to perform.

I guess I would like to have the spirit of Abraham Lincoln.

For as you study his life, you realize he was a gentle soul with an iron will, a sense of humor and more questions than answers about his faith. There’s a healthiness to that which keeps your spirituality moving forward instead of settling into your favorite pew.

And emotionally, I would like to be the perfect merger of a child and a soldier:

The simplicity of a child’s curiosity and honest about my own needs, and the bravery of a soldier, who realizes that sometimes my wants are negated by reality, and I need to march on.

Where I see these attributes in my society, I will praise them. Where I don’t, I will avoid them.

  • I want to be a strong ox
  • with the mind of the son of God
  • and the spirit of an emancipator
  • while sporting the simplicity of a child and the courage of a soldier.

This creates my parallel universe to our present earth-bound logic.

If you’re looking, that is where you’ll find me.

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The Other Half of the Battle … April 25, 2013

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GI JoeBecause I had seven sons come through my household, I ended up becoming a regular watcher of the cartoon show, GI Joe. Although the program had the drawback of presenting testosterone-driven solutions via muscling your way to often-violent conclusions, in the commercial breaks, they offered practical little scenarios, where children could learn the value of good manners, eating vegetables or helping little old ladies across the street. At the end of the lesson, one of the steroid-juiced characters would intone in a deep voice, “And now you know. And knowing is half the battle.”

So if knowing is half the battle, what’s the other half? If we go ahead and concede the notion that knowledge takes us halfway towards maturity, success and progress, what is needed to complete the journey?

Truthfully, I was unable to ascertain the answer by watching any additional episodes of GI Joe, but I offer to you that the other half of the battle, after we have admitted the power of knowing and learning, is allowing ourselves the  opportunity for trying.

Yes, I will say it aloud: most people fail because they discuss and acquire information, but then freeze up, frightened to attempt a new idea because they are greatly terrified by the prospects of failure.

Failure is our friend. Failure confirms two wonderful facts: (1) we are trying; and (2) our latest attempt did not work.

As long as something exists in theory or is stuck in committee or is being overly debated, we never have the satisfaction of sensing that we are trying and we are never given the reassurance in our souls of discovering that something does or does not work.

Our government, our churches, our corporations and our entertainment in this country are presently frozen–in a state of limbo–because we continue to accumulate knowledge without ever trying anything.

Trying is the other half of the equation, which is initiated by knowing.

  • “I know things are changing. I will try to adjust to the change.”
  • “I know that all human beings are valuable. I will try to treat others like I do myself.”
  • “I know that hard work is required. I will try to learn to have fun with my labor.”
  • “I know that God is love. I will try to be move loving.”

When we pursue spirituality or even intelligence without adding the dimension of experimenting–trying the principles we believe in–we end up with a form of Godliness that denies the power that is available. And what is the power?

“Try it–you’ll like it.”

That is when we all learn. That is how we grow.

I know there is a God because when I apply who He is, what He is, and what I’ve learned about Him, and try it works.

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Troublemaker… March 29, 2013

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jesus at UN

Love your enemies.

What is he talking about? There are dangerous people in the world who have to be monitored and even confronted in order to maintain a civil society. You cannot initiate a diplomacy of “love” to countries like North Korea and Iran. They will view it as weakness and use it as leverage against you in the next confrontation. You certainly cannot tolerate someone tooling around, asking us to love our enemies. The trouble he will end up making could cost us our freedom and our way of life.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Impractical. If we actually treated other nations and people with the same integrity we bestow upon our own citizens, we would be affording them undue respect, since they don’t have the same morals and guidelines that we offer to our people. It would lead to a demise in nationalism and a lack of pride. What we need to do is continue our practice of giving “most favored nation” status to the cultures that agree with us and are willing to be like us in most ways.

Don’t judge or you will be judged.

Another portion of idealism. If there is no way for us to feel superior in some aspect of our lives, how are we to gain the confidence to be leaders instead of just an elongated trail of followers? A certain amount of pride is necessary to maintain purpose, right? If people are not better than other people, how can we enforce integrity and morality, granting us a universal sense of well-being? It’s not so much that we’re judging people in order to alienate them, but instead, enlightening them to the error of their ways.

You are the salt of the earth.

Once again, it may be nice to present the concept of an even playing field, and even to insist that “all men are created equal,” but when you give too much power to the weaker members of our population, they will use it for an occasion to welcome anarchy. Encouragement is one thing–but to unleash the idea that everyone can become equally spiritual or equally human is to produce a chaotic environment, where “lessers” mingle with “greaters” and we are never able to determine true excellence. It is possible to understand that people are ignorant–without hating them.

The kingdom of God is within you.

If we’re going to teach people that true spirituality spawns from their own inner faith, inner soul and inner emotions, then we are weakening the foundations of organized religion, granting us the civilization of understanding God. After all, statistics show that people prefer a worship experience that is full of liturgy and pre-fabricated messages, which can be spoken by the entire assembly to instill faith and unity. If we allow people to have their own experience with God within themselves, we are eliminating the demand for religion and replacing it with abstract searching. Where would this leave our churches?

As you can see, the basic teachings of Jesus, which he intoned two thousand years ago, still cause the hierarchy of society to tremble–or laugh–depending on their particular mood. Conventional wisdom trembles at the notion of human beings being blessed with the individuality of discovery, without being constrained by ritual and commandments. And it laughs at the respect given to folks by the Nazarene–to be able to find the face of God and righteousness on their own.

Perhaps the progression of years would keep us from publicly humiliating, mutilating and executing Jesus for such actions taken in our American culture. We are beyond such barbarism.

We would just let the 24-hour-news cycle assassinate his character.

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

Twenty Seconds… March 7, 2013

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watchBad language–a phrase usually associated with four-letter words, by people who act like they’ve been splashed with acid upon hearing such foulness. Truth of the matter is, there’s lots of bad language. It is also not limited to four-letter words.

Any words that are hurtful, boring and confusing are nasty and anti-human.

Any phrasing of the language that aspires to hurt people, leaves them bored or at the end of the discourse, produces more confusion than understanding is detrimental. So you can see, bad language is not limited to street talk or R-rated movies or blue comics.

I’ve heard bad language in classrooms, as teachers have espoused information which has left their students uninspired, with no desire whatsoever to pursue knowledge.

I’ve heard bad language in churches, as repetition and repudiation have caused people to recoil in fear instead of embracing a loving heavenly Father.

I’ve watched television shows espousing themselves clever by portraying what they determined to be “reality” which left the viewers hurting and sometimes even bored in their confusion.

I will repeat it again: any words that hurt humans, bore them, or confuse them are bad language.

  • If you can’t take the hurt out of your words, to make what you have to say is interesting and to connect the dots to produce comprehension, then it’s like you’re cussing a blue streak.
  • If you’re spending your time studying prophesy, don’t be surprised if people perceive you as Harry Potter or a hobbit.
  • If you think that a string of four-letter words linked together actually form a sentence, you may need to go back and study subjects, verbs and objects.
  • And if you think you’re going to get more than twenty seconds to make your heart’s desire clear to others, you are sadly mistaken–and on the verge of hurting, boring or confusing your hearer.

Often people ask, “Well, what do you believe?”

I would suggest that you have a twenty-second, thirty-word answer. For instance, the Bible is full of them. John 3:16 is less than thirty words. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”–the summation of the whole Bible–is much less than thirty words.

So when the question is posed to me, “what do you believe?” I know I have less than twenty-seconds of attention span. So here’s my answer:

“I believe in a God who wants heaven to begin here on earth by including everyone as brothers and sisters and knowing that ‘NoOne is better than anyone else’.”

That’s mine. It’s not hurtful, not long enough to be boring and not confusing. Matter of fact, I’ve found it to be a conversation STARTER instead of killer.

Sometimes the spotlight will hit you for twenty seconds. You will need to escape bad language which is hurtful, boring and confusing.

What are your thirty words?

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

Shuffled … October 28, 2012

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Human beings love to be wanted.

I am a human being. I am not exempt from the desire.

Yet about two or maybe three times a year, a church will cancel us because some big-wig from their district office, or a presbyter, or just a guy or gal in charge, steps in and invites themselves to the church on the particular Sunday when we were supposed to be there, and we end up dumped in the weeds.

It happened this Sunday.

Fortunately, the quality pastor of the church in Columbus, Ohio, who found herself double-booked and needing to get rid of us, was kind enough point the direction towards some other possibilities, and were were able to find a lovely lady to schedule us into a replacement engagement.

I am grateful for that. I don’t like to miss an opportunity to be in a position to share my heart every chance I get. But I am also a human being and not particularly fond of being shuffled around. You do have to fight off the instinct to feel that you were unwanted by one place and only being taken by another as a favor.

This is why years ago I had to deal with the primary ego question involved in trying to do something different. That question is simple: Can I understand that people don’t want you until you make it clear that they require you?

It’s true. Even in marriage, the affection seems to die out if the passion for being together dissipates–because we just don’t make ourselves valuable enough to each other. Love is not a promise of faithfulness; love is a reaction to faithfulness and the glory of an exciting journey. We may not always like that, but it’s true.

As I thought about being “shuffled around” by two Ohio churches, I was reminded of the story of Jesus going to a Samaritan village, and due to the good testimony of a woman at a well, who had an exciting encounter with him, he was able to have quite a revival in that particular community. Yet when he came back to Samaria later on–to the very same region where he had been so beneficial and successful–the story tells us that the town fathers came out and asked him to leave.

You see, the beauty of my story is that the church in Columbus that cancelled me has never experienced my particular message and gifts, so I don’t have to take it personally. It isn’t like the story with Jesus, where the people had already been blessed by him, but on a second go-around, decided to pass.

Ouch.

Here’s what I know about being shuffled around. If you keep your cool, don’t get offended, work on your talent and what you have to share, more often than not, the place you end up seems to be better than where you were originally intending to go. I don’t know why it works out that way–maybe it’s just the way God rewards those who don’t get fussy about being stood up. But in a way, life is a lot like a game of poker. Between every hand, the deck is shuffled. Otherwise, you just keep dealing the same cards.

The question I ask myself tonight before I go and spend a wonderful morning with these new friends is: can I allow myself to be shuffled and dealt out in a new direction without feeling that I am a second-class citizen?

I really do think so.

I think the most intelligent thing we can do is realize that we become valuable to people when we bring something of value to them, and until then, we are just strangers.

So here I go, to Somerset, Ohio, being shuffled.

I guess what I’m hoping for … is a full house.

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

The Book of Us … March 18, 2012

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“The word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.”

It is part of a verse from the Gospel of John, describing the mission, purpose and life of Jesus. But I must tell you, as dynamic as Jesus’ life was and as valuable as it is for us to study it and appreciate his deeds and desires, it has been a long time since he was human.

We often hear the phrase, “birds of a feather flock together”–usually used as a pretense for keeping the races separate. But if you apply it to the fact that human beings crave human contact, then I think we might be onto something. Candidly–Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, Moses or any human being who used to walk on this planet, gain credibility when we are transported into their time and visualize them as living beings who had contemporary problems requiring practical solutions. Even though we sometimes object, people need people, and require “people stories” about “people solutions,” handled in a “people way.”

It is the weakness of religion that it requires of its adherents that they pursue God without finding that divinity in themselves or the lives of those around them. Incarnateto place something in the flesh to give it proof of existence.

I guess you can feel free to study the life of Joshua or the deeds of Elijah or the predilections of John the Baptist one more time if you are so inclined, but human beings are much more likely to be moved by the stories of those who are still living and breathing than they are by the tales of those who have already passed on to their reward. How can we make spirituality emotional enough that we actually think about it and when we do contemplate its workings, apply some facets of that experience to our everyday lives?

Rather than offering another series on the end of the world, the tabernacle of Moses or a deep, introspective look at prayer, the church would do better to publish The Book of Us. Every six months, merely put together a small booklet of stories from people in the congregation who have discovered that the word is still living. Simple. Easy to understand. Vulnerable. Human.

The stories should be three-act vignettes.

  •  Act I–this is who I am.
  • Act II–this is how I screwed up.
  • Act III–this is how God helped me find a way out of my mess.

This type of story reaches humanity. It is when the Bible becomes of use to the congregant–on those rare occasions when we actually allow Jesus or one of those fellows or gals who walk the pages, to emerge from the holy of holies to display their spots and blemishes, but also to proclaim the victory they received through their faith in God. But don’t you think it would be so much easier if the person who told the story was still alive to confirm it–an ongoing example of transformation?

It wouldn’t be hard to do. Why do all the heroes of belief have to be in the Bible? Why can’t they be our next-door neighbor, who like us, has frailties, but also like us, can be uplifted through love and understanding? If we do not find ways to make truth incarnate–in other words, evident in flesh and blood–all the greatest concepts of true Godliness and righteousness could be lost to the ages.

Yes, if every church in America would put out a small booklet every six months called The Book of Us, with a handful of wonderful stories telling the immediate evidence of God’s presence, then people would have a reason to believe that the mercy of the Almighty is not merely extended to the prophets.

Each one of us profits from the experience.

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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.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

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.

Deciding… January 5, 2012

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Fear is the womb that births all indecision.

What makes us afraid?

It is the monsters we chased from our childhood closets, which now have mysteriously found “home” in our adult minds. Most people think the important thing is deciding to do right. Actually, the more valuable choice is landing on the right way to decide. 

I think there are six things that prompt us to “decide,” and the quality of your decisions will be based on which one of these frightens you–or excites you.

1. What’s up? There are many folks who make all of their major directional changes based on the climate of society, the mood of their surroundings or the popular choices of the day. They are literally “blown by the wind.” They move from one thing to another based upon the fad of the moment. They are at the mercy of trends. Of course, we know what the problem is with such a profile. What is presently in vogue will, within a matter of days or weeks, be considered foolish. So if you’re making your decision based on “what’s up,” half the time you’ll be hidden within a  host of adherents and the other half of the time, you’ll be considered out-dated and meaningless.

2. What’s proper? Propriety always harkens to a former time. Former times tend to bring habits to the forefront that are repetitive but not necessarily good. Bad habits breed repression. Repression welcomes sin–and sin ushers in a premature death. Making your personal choices based upon what is proper also puts you at the mercy of the opinion of the strongest and loudest screamer instead of the still, small voice of reason.

3. What’s hard? This is a tricky one–because some people avoid hard things and other people welcome them, feeling they’re very mature because they’re taking on difficult tasks. Can we make something clear? A thing is not better just because it’s harder to do. “Hard” is just a level of fussiness which exists, awaiting an intelligent mind to simplify it. Doing things the hard way is basically admitting you’re stupid–because if any “smarts” existed, a more proficient and easier path would be found.

4. What’s God’s will? This is the one that really makes me laugh. There are people who believe that through prayer, Bible reading or meditation, they are able to make decisions in their lives based upon their discernment of God’s will. This is scary. When I look back over the history of the Crusades and other causes launched in the name of God, a shudder goes down my spine at the notion of anyone believing they are tapping the present daily schedule of the Almighty to find the best approach in any given matter. Actually, God’s will is very simple.  It is: love your neighbor as yourself. And since love and fear cannot coexist and being uncertain of who your neighbor is might stall the process, and an unwillingness to embrace one’s own abilities and emotions could be a deterrent to the conclusion, those very religiously based individuals certainly will find God’s will a bit beyond their groping.

So there are the first four. As you probably can tell, I don’t favor any of them.

  • I will not decide anything based on the vox populi.
  • I certainly cannot condone moving forward on an idea solely determined by its propriety.
  • I am not inclined to pursue a project on the basis of how hard it is–either as a punishment to myself or a proof of my prowess.
  • And honestly, being a mere mortal, accessing God’s will in every matter really is just a case of playing “hot potato.” Because every time I try to toss it off to God, He throws it back my way.

That leaves the final two–and as you probably have guessed, this pair tends to be my favorite.

5. What’s next? Let’s be honest. There is a natural order to things which we sometimes deny because we have pet concepts we want to push to the forefront and often they tend to be out of the flow. On any given day, I know exactly what needs to be done first, second and third, but I may not want to do those things so I pretend they’re unimportant. Life pretty well gives you a “things to do today list,” which you can either ignore or put off–but it doesn’t mean they won’t reappear the following morning. There’s a power in knowing what’s next. Here’s my criterion for what’s next: Of what I presently can do or am willing to do, what is going to create the greater happiness? I will never choose to be unhappy. Even if I am inflicted by disease, my particular attitude will be to move towards happiness and contentment. If you want to know what’s next, find out what’s going to make you happy. If you remove happiness from your life because you think it is unnecessary or unachievable, you are at the mercy of society, propriety, difficulty or a misinterpretation of God’s will. Not a good place to be.

So even when I look at what’s next, I also ask myself, “Is this going to make me and other folks happy?” If the answer is “no,” I am suspicious that this intruder has jumped in line and is not really the next thing I’m supposed to deal with.

6.  And finally, what’s fun? In some ways, we were smarter when wearing short pants. When we were children, we pursued things that were fun and ended up at the end of the day well-exercised, giddy, exhausted and with many friends. What scares away excitement, giddiness and people? Any assertion that fun is not necessary. Because if you’re choosing “what’s next” based on being happy, then deciding what’s fun is just the procedure of making your happiness obvious. If you ask most people if they’re happy, they will say “yes” —  as they frown at you. I just happen to believe that happiness is better expressed through visibly having fun.

As we travel across the country, people will often explain to us that they have to make a decision on whether to have Spirited come into their church. I listen to the tone of their voices.

For some, it’s about, “What’s up?” In other words, “Is this in the flow of our people and will they think it’s a good thing?”

With others, it’s, “What’s proper? Is Spirited going to come in and suggest things we are not presently doing–that might be different?” It’s amazing to me that people expect to have revival in their churches without doing anything new.

Some people want to know if hosting Spirited is going to be hard. They’re afraid there might be a level of difficulty that may surpass their abilities, or that we might make it so easy that they will feel no sense of achievement.

And of course, there are those who think it has to be God’s will. You know, folks, I don’t think I could have traveled for forty years if I didn’t have God as my main investor.

Here’s what I think the basis of every decision should be: What’s next? Is it going to make myself and other folks happier? And: What’s fun? Is that happiness going to be obvious and make us grow into becoming more fruitful individuals?

The first four on our list are decisions based on fear. The last two are decisions of grown-up people who have chased away all the demons — and no longer believe in the Bogey Man.

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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

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