With All Your Getting … February 20, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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For God so loved the worldI am often puzzled over the hype and gravitas given to what is traditionally deemed to be the top three virtues of human endeavor: faith, hope and love.

I certainly agree that they do abide. They are present.

But honestly, faith and hope must have had pretty good agents to get them on this list. Because as valuable as it may be to hold faith in some creed, doctrine or philosophy, that faith has also been known to be misplaced, bringing about the death and destruction of human life. I dare say that misguided faith has killed many more people than vampires, let alone zombies.

Likewise, hope can be drenched in selfishness, while candy-coated with a thin shell of devotion, but end up being a mere wish list for selfish people. Or worse, a way for a politician or preacher to manipulate vulnerable human beings to enact his or her will.

Yes–faith: “I have something I believe.”

Good for you. But just because you believe it does not make it true, viable or enriching to others.

Hope: “I have something I want.”

When I look back at my personal history, I realize that if all my hopes had been granted, I would at least be a renegade, if not dead.

So love is the salvation of these two ambiguous fellow-travelers. Love: “I have something to give.”

Matter of fact, this may be what getting older is all about–sorting through our faith and throwing out the parts that are useless to humanity or God, and clearing out our closet of hopes and realizing that many of our wants are foolish, if not dangerous. So we gradually come to the maturity that allows us to focus on what we have to give.

God, Himself, made the journey. For after all, the Old Testament is full of faith and hope, as the Almighty stood back and asked people to believe in Ten Commandments, voices coming out of burning bushes and jaunts through the wilderness. Somewhere along the line, our Father which art in heaven decided to become a daddy.  He realized that the only purpose for faith and hope is to congeal them into love.

So by the time He got to the New Testament He had a different mantra: “For God so loved the world that He gave …”

There you go–love gives. Therefore I only maintain enough faith to make my love last longer. I pursue hope if it allows my love to continue to abide and interact with human beings. But my main focus is on love. What can I do this very morning to give, never feeling the loss, but knowing that this affection will return to me many-fold?

When we are young we pursue faith–we ardently believe in our own principles. We get a little older, we start hoping. After all, our faith did not deliver its full package of goods, so we need to release a new batch of wishes into the world.

But if we’re going to truly become spiritual and human, we will eventually understand that it’s all about love.

  • I am here to give something.
  • I am here to release.
  • I am here to impart.

And in the process, suddenly the faith and hope that we proclaimed is resurrected from its death and comes to life again, bringing us glorious options.

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

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

With All Your Getting … February 20, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2156)

I am often puzzled over the hype and gravitas given to what is traditionally deemed to be the top three virtues of human endeavor: faith, hope and love.

I certainly agree that they do abide. They are present.

But honestly, faith and hope must have had pretty good agents to get them on this list. Because as valuable as it may be to hold faith in some creed, doctrine or philosophy, that faith has also been known to be misplaced, bringing about the death and destruction of human life. I dare say that misguided faith has killed many more people than vampires, let alone zombies.

Likewise, hope can be drenched in selfishness, while candy-coated with a thin shell of devotion, but end up being a mere wish list for selfish people. Or worse, a way for a politician or preacher to manipulate vulnerable human beings to enact his or her will.

Yes–faith: “I have something I believe.”

Good for you. But just because you believe it does not make it true, viable or enriching to others.

Hope: “I have something I want.”

When I look back at my personal history, I realize that if all my hopes had been granted, I would at least be a renegade, if not dead.

So love is the salvation of these two ambiguous fellow-travelers. Love: “I have something to give.”

Matter of fact, this may be what getting older is all about–sorting through our faith and throwing out the parts that are useless to humanity or God, and clearing out our closet of hopes and realizing that many of our wants are foolish, if not dangerous. So we gradually come to the maturity that allows us to focus on what we have to give.

God, Himself, made the journey. For after all, the Old Testament is full of faith and hope, as the Almighty stood back and asked people to believe in Ten Commandments, voices coming out of burning bushes and jaunts through the wilderness. Somewhere along the line, our Father which art in heaven decided to become a daddy.  He realized that the only purpose for faith and hope is to congeal them into love.

So by the time He got to the New Testament He had a different mantra: “For God so loved the world that He gave …”

There you go–love gives. Therefore I only maintain enough faith to make my love last longer. I pursue hope if it allows my love to continue to abide and interact with human beings. But my main focus is on love. What can I do this very morning to give, never feeling the loss, but knowing that this affection will return to me many-fold?

When we are young we pursue faith–we ardently believe in our own principles. We get a little older, we start hoping. After all, our faith did not deliver its full package of goods, so we need to release a new batch of wishes into the world.

But if we’re going to truly become spiritual and human, we will eventually understand that it’s all about love.

  • I am here to give something.
  • I am here to release.
  • I am here to impart.

And in the process, suddenly the faith and hope that we proclaimed is resurrected from its death and comes to life again, bringing us glorious options.

Donate Button

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

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

Resurrectional Vehicle … April 17, 2013

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Delighted man I was when I awoke this morning, looked at my calendar and realized I was going to be traveling to the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in San Antonio tonight to meet some inspiring folks.

It thrilled my soul because I love the word “resurrection”–and not simply because I am a believer in the emergence of Jesus of Nazareth from a tomb. It is also because resurrection sets in motion a manner of thinking that is necessary to maintain human health and well-being.

Candidly, to be successful on this planet we call “earth,” one must be able to distinguish between what is dead and what is living. It also helps if you don’t despair over the demise of certain things to the point of becoming immoveable. And it is beneficial as well if you don’t bury good things alive, suffocating them under your fear, tradition and culture.

So as I go tonight to experience the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, I will certainly and willingly impart to them my teaspoon of understanding about life and the power of coming back from the dead.

It is a four-step process–because sometimes you come across things in your life that are ailing and failing, and with a quick step and some good cheer, you:

1. Let it die. Here’s a little saying you might want to adopt for yourself: if it ain’t growin’, it’s dyin’. When I owned a house in Hendersonville, I had two projects I took on to train myself to be a domesticated land owner. First, I filled my walk-in closet with clothing so I would have choices on what to wear from day to day. Secondly, I went out into my front yard and decided to try out my green thumb by planting flowers and such.

First the closet. In no time at all, through the generosity of gifts from others and my own purchases, I had garments aplenty. One day I noticed that I was only wearing about five different outfits each week. The rest of my clothes hung in the closet, gathering dust and occasionally growling at me when I passed them by for my more preferred choices.

Now to the flower bed. I think it could be stated that my flower bed was dead. I don’t know what goes into pursuing botanical projects, but that gift seems to have eluded me. Soon I had quite an array of brown flowers.

So I went out, dug up my flowers and planted bushes (more durable) and I took all the clothes from my closet that I was not wearing and gave them to someone who might put them to work. It wasn’t growing; it was dying. So I let it die.

2. Bury it deep. We forget to make our changes obvious. For instance, I let everybody KNOW that I was abandoning becoming a clothes horse, and that I was no longer pursuing gardening. It’s important. Otherwise for the next several months, people will continue to give you seeds for your garden and clothes for your closet. Make it obvious by burying it deep.

3. Wait a spell. Jesus was in the grave for three days. Why? Because sometimes the trauma of letting something die and burying it needs to be separated from the exaltation of starting over again. I did not immediately leap into a new project to replace my closet and my flowers. I simply began to enjoy my life. Folks spend too much time on the clock and not enough time enjoying themselves, giving air to their lives to prepare for the next task.

4. And finally, roll the stone. That’s right. When it’s time to reappear with a new project after having waited a spell to recover from your last “killer event,” come out victorious. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every Sunday morning, the doors of the church burst open and people emerged with smiles on their faces, clapping their hands and hugging one another? A resurrection SHOULD look like we enjoyed it. Coming back from the “grave” circumstances we are in should put a smile on our faces.

So–being a great lover of resurrection and understanding the four steps of the “resurrectional vehicle,” I go to visit these dear hearts tonight. I will tell them not to be afraid to let some things die, bury them deep, wait a spell and then … roll the stone.

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

Triggered… April 11, 2013

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gunI probably should never have done the gig.

I was twenty-four years old, and through a combination of my pride and pressure from a new friend, I agreed to do a concert in the park for the homeless in downtown Baltimore as an outreach for his ministry to the poor. He had jokingly suggested that our group perform, figuring that we were too “prissy” to do such an event. I leaped in and volunteered our services.

So we dressed up in our duds, deciding that we were not going to give these folks any less of a show than anyone else. We set up in the park and drove to situate our van in an alley near a meat market, where the proprietor had graciously offered us a space.

Just as soon as we stepped out of our van and were heading toward the park, a young man emerged from behind a dumpster, brandishing a knife and demanding our money. He couldn’t have been any more than sixteen years old, a hundred and nothing pounds, with eyes bloodshot and obviously an overabundance of nervous tics.

Fortunately, I had told both girls in my group to be sure to leave their money behind, so we wouldn’t get started giving out dollar bills to the homeless, ending up with them lining up for donations instead of to hear our creations. I stuck twelve dollars in my shoe to buy hotdogs after the concert.

As I stared at the young man with his shaky hands and squeaky voice, I felt no fear whatsoever. It’s not that I’m extremely brave–it’s just that he was so lacking in intimidation, even though I knew he was still dangerous because he was wielding the knife.

I motioned for the girls to get behind me, and for some reason, that action totally confused him. Before I could explain to him that we had no money, he looked to his right and left, shuffled his feet and suddenly ran away. When I arrived at the park, my friend who was in charge of the outreach said that I should have had a gun.

You see, I’ve heard this all my life. “You’re traveling on the road. You need a gun to protect you.”

So I asked him–where would I put it? He looked at me confused, as if he didn’t understand my meaning. Here’s my meaning: that day, in the back alley in Baltimore, if I had put a gun in my glove compartment, it would have been of no use to me. If I had it under my seat, it likewise would have made no difference, unless I planned to run away from my perpetrator to dive for my van. The only way a gun would have been of any help would be to carry it. So it begs the question–if we’re going to insist that guns are valuable for personal security, are we also prepared for everybody to walk around wearing holsters, with their pistols at their side? Because short of that, a gun locked in a box in your house, or secured in your closet, will do very little to help you during a home invasion, when people bust through your door and order you to lay down on the floor.

Here’s what I know about guns: guns shoot and guns kill. Guns don’t protect–because unless you lead with the fact that you’re “packing heat,” your gun will be far from you in your hour of need.

What I used that day to avoid being stabbed by a twitchy addict was calmness, level-headed thinking and maintaining eye contact. Honestly, it was better than a knife because I would have had no knowledge of how to involve myself in such a struggle. And to make a citizen’s arrest, pulling a gun on a person with a knife, would certainly be an over-reaction.

I think guns for recreational use–hunting or for display in a collection–are somewhat intriguing. But a gun will not help you in the middle of an attack from someone who has decided to do harm.

In that situation, your best trigger is an intelligent spirit.

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

Whosoever… June 18, 2012

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“In a perfect world …”

I hate that phrase. It has to be one of the major cop-outs that has sprung into the lexicon of our generation as a universal excuse for falling short of pursuing excellence or often even achieving adequacy. Here’s my opinion. In a perfect world, we would stop saying, “In a perfect world.”

We keep stockpiling great ideas into an arsenal for storage which we call “the ideal.” I’ve even seen things go into this building to be put on mothballs that used to be functioning parts of society’s thinking.

The most recent one to be stuck in the closet is “love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus used it as a symbol of defining the faith he was establishing among his followers, and now we look upon it as something that is impossible to achieve or the ideal that should be done, which we fail at, and therefore required repentance.

Somewhere along the line, we need to recognize that ideals cannot be abandoned without a death toll in the human spirit. I think that’s the problem with the word itself–most of us read the word “ideal” and break it up into two words: “I deal.”

  • “This is the way I deal with that situation.”
  • “This is the way I deal with people who are different.”
  • “This is the way I deal with frustration.”
  • “This is the way I deal with immorality.”
  • “This is the way I deal with telling the truth.”
  • “This is the way I deal with being friendly and open to others.”

When you redefine truth, you always come up with a lie. It’s just the way things are.

Let me give you an example. Yesterday I had the honor of sharing at a church that has three services. Now, they do not have three services because each one is so large that the capacity of the building would not hold them. No, all three services could fit into their sanctuary. There’s another reason that three services have been constructed. Some people in the congregation would say it’s because each group has a different taste in worship–but honestly, that isn’t really the case. Matter of fact, many churches which once had traditional and contemporary services are now blending them in style–but keeping them separate in time slots. So what is the reason for a church to have three services, when combining all three would not fill the room? It’s just the way we deal with our own prejudices.

Yes, there is a silent prejudice in America that cannot be spoken, cannot be shared, cannot be discussed and certainly cannot even be acknowledged. We no longer go around throwing stones or lynching people, but instead, use the sophisticated action of the delineation of our tastes in certain matters to create boundaries between each other. Candidly, there are just people in one service who do not care to be with people in another service because…

Well, I don’t know all the reasons. Honestly, maybe they don’t know all the reasons. Maybe it’s political. I often realize that the services I minister to on any given Sunday are divided right along political lines. The Republicans come at 8:30 and the Democrats at 10:30. Now, it’s not advertised that way, nor presented philosophically. It’s just understood. There are some people who don’t care to be with other people because of what they would view as an “intelligence gap.” It’s too cruel to call people “dumb,” so we substitute. “Simple.” “Country.” “Southern gospel.” “Working class.” “Blue collar.”  All words of prejudice, which trigger in the minds of those who silently hold those principles to be true, that these folks are not completely suitable for interaction.

It was the problem in the south in the 1940’s and ’50’s. Black and white people greeted each other congenially in the streets. They worked together. At first sight, you would have thought there was no difficulty between the races in Dixie whatsoever. The problem came when people of color would accidentally cross a line where prejudice had been drawn, and for some reason they forgot, or just didn’t know, and they suddenly became “uppity.” And then, what was once a very relaxed atmosphere between the races exploded into ferocious anger. Most black people in the south had no idea what the boundaries of “uppity” really were because it would change from time to time, based upon the discretion of the domineering white race.

Here’s what I know–we need some place in America where “whosoever” actually means “whosoever.” We need a place where silent prejudice is confronted as being a bit of silliness and foolish thinking. Honestly, not every person I meet on any given Sunday is particularly to my liking. I probably would not want to spend a week in the Poconos camping with them. But I can share a pew. I can share my heart for an hour. I can break down my bigotry and allow myself to believe that God loves them just as much as He loves me–and therefore God wants me to love them as much as I say I love Him.

Without this, the church is just another locale for silent prejudice, where we segregate off from one another, insisting that it’s just a matter of “preference.”

No one wants to be confrontational on this issue. I certainly don’t want to be known as the poster child for pointing out the silent prejudice existing in the American church. The anger that would be unleashed on such a crude whistle-blower would be almost beyond comprehension. I’m just telling you that I will no longer participate in such an irrelevant and irreverent maneuver.

I need to learn to not only preach, “NoOne is better than anyone else,” but also bathe that philosophy in the acid test of my dealings with humanity every day. I personally was at all three services on Sunday. I experienced the three different congregations. And I will tell you this–the only difference among them was in the level of tolerance they had for anything different from themselves–because if they didn’t like people in their own congregation, they certainly didn’t express any favor towards me. After all, I was a stranger. And if they had a heart to love others, I was blessedly included.

So it doesn’t come down to a choice between hymns and choruses, or organ and guitar. It is really an issue of whether you’re going to pursue the ideal, allow your own prejudice to be exposed, or whether you’re going to create a false world of “I deal,” where all of your prejudices are allowed to stay in full bloom and fill up the garden, forbidding the introduction of other different plants.

Yes, the first thing I would do to change the existing religious system is expose the silent prejudice that blocks us from allowing the “whosoever” ideal of Christ to be enacted. It means that in one accord we would have to admit that we still bring our own fussiness into the mix instead of allowing ourselves an opportunity to interact with people who are different from us.

After all, it’s only for an hour. It won’t kill ya’. You don’t have to go out to Sunday lunch with ’em. But if the church cannot establish itself as a “whosoever” district, we have nothing better to offer than the local bar, which divides itself into beer drinkers, whiskey connoisseurs, and wine sippers.

The first problem in America is silent prejudice. It allows us to maintain the insanity of our grandparents’ bigotry, while appearing to still be intelligent and open-minded.

I have told you many times, I still see color. I was raised that way. But I have learned to pretend that I don’t. I’ve learned how to pretend that it’s righteous that I don’t. And in the process of pretending, I have become a pretty good actor.

“Whosoever” means everybody. And don’t you agree–there should be one place in the world where you can go, where whosoever is not just an ideal, but a reality.

   

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

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