Confessing… May 16th, 2015

   Jonathots Daily Blog

(2582)

II.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

832 miles.

It was the entire round trip from our home to a tiny village in Tennessee, which had opened a coffee-house and kindly invited our fledgling music group to come and share.

They promised to give us dinner and to pass the hat for whatever audience might make its way to the 500-square-foot enclosure.

We jumped at the chance.

We were tired of rehearsing, and considered ourselves quite prepared for public consumption. We scraped together the money to get gasoline, a bag full of snacks and we took off.

It was exhausting, exhilarating, haphazard, crazy, silly, inspiring and probably dangerous.

We didn’t care about the peril. I was just 20 years old and had not yet received my shipment of good sense.

The drive down wore us out and after we finished our little show, the 18 souls who had gathered to hear us collected an offering of $31.22. We thought we had discovered Solomon’s gold.

So when we hopped back in the car to head toward home–with no plan whatsoever on how to actually get there–the first 100 miles zoomed by, as we buzzed with tales of our escapade.

But then, as if struck by a “sleep angel,” we all grew suddenly weary and were in grave danger of running off the road. So we decided to do something none of us had ever done before.

We stopped and took out a motel.

The young lady from our troupe who purchased the accommodations came out and explained that she bought the room for just one person, because if she had included all four of us, there wouldn’t have been enough money.

I had the opportunity at that point to object–or at least feign a concern–but I didn’t.

I felt if we got by with it, it must have been “God’s will.”

So half an hour later, when we were lounging around, getting ready to doze off, there was a sharp knock at the door. It was the innkeeper.

Three of us leaped up and hid in the shower stall behind the curtain while our single, legal member answered the door.

The innkeeper pushed his way in, walked into the bathroom, pulled back the disguise and there we were. He was infuriated.

He demanded that we immediately leave, refunding a fair portion of our money, pushing us out the door and into our car–where we departed, cursing him for what we considered to be his evil spirit.

Somehow or another we made it home.

Candidly, it never occurred to any of us that we were wrong. And if there was a bit of guilty conscience, it was swept away by what we considered to be the owner’s volatile personality.

I thought about that incident today.

I wondered if there was any of that 20-year-old boy still left in me, who thought that “the ends justified the means.”

I do know this–whenever we look for an easier or cheaper way, we open the door to a cheater’s path.

Is there any of that in me?

Is there any part of the grown man I am who would trust my own deceptive tongue instead of risking doing it the right way?

motel we count heads

 

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Confessing … May 9th, 2015

 

  Jonathots Daily Blog

(2576)

I.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

Some years ago, my two sons joined a junior high soccer team at their school–a program which was a perennial loser.

It turns out that my fellows were quite good and joined others in rejuvenating the team to victory.

It was very exciting. I don’t believe I ever missed a game.

On one Thursday afternoon, I was sitting in the stands with family members and a bunch of other excited parents as our home team literally obliterated the other visiting squad, 12-1.

The boys were so thrilled.

Everybody was jumping up and down, shouting and hollering, with all sorts of victory catcalls–until the opposing coach walked over and strongly requested to be able to address both teams with some of his reservations.

The young men who had been so jubilant suddenly found themselves sitting in the middle of the field on the ground, being lectured on good sportsmanship by the guy who just lost the game.

It lit my fuse. I lost my cool.

I walked out on the field, yanked my boys from the circle and headed them toward the car. The preaching coach asked me what my problem was.

I turned around and said, “You’re the one who needs the lecture…on how to be a better loser.”

There was a cheer from some of the nearby parents, so I felt justified.

On the way home I railed against the coach in front of my children, being further energized by my own sense of self-righteousness.

But I was wrong.

You see, sometimes I feel justified about being wrong because I’m convinced I’m not as wrong as someone else. I’m only responsible for my wrong–not the wrongdoings of the entire planet.

I spent the next week in turmoil, my conscience challenging my irrational behavior, until I finally apologized to my children, my family and also went to the nearby school and offered my repentance to the coach.

It felt good to confess.

But even as I tell the story today, I am curious if there is any part of me that still welcomes that infuriated, pompous ass who spewed his anger on the field that day.

I don’t really grow until I take what I’ve done wrong and murder it off every day when it tries to resurrect.

Am I capable of becoming incensed over the foolishness I see around me? I’m on the hunt to find it–because joining the insanity does not aid the treatment.

We have enough people in the asylum.

What we lack are caregivers.

soccer devil

 

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Untotaled: Stepping 41 (July 14th, 1967) Needing Change… November 22, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2421)

(Transcript)

It had never happened before.

There was going to be a carnival set up at the Westerville Shopping Center, right across the street from Redman’s Hardware.

Even though that in itself was cool, even cooler was that this cavalcade of amusements was advertising unlimited rides and midway games for five dollars for the whole day.

It was great.

The only trouble was, Randy and I didn’t have five dollars apiece, so I was ready to do my usual small-town plan of giving up and spending my carnival time complaining about missing the parade.

Randy, on the other hand, had an idea.

He went down to our local phone booth, sitting on the north corner of the Town Commons, and stuffed a bunch of Kleenex into the change return, so that when people missed a call or had money coming back their way, it would get caught and would not return to them.

I thought it was the dumbest idea I’d ever heard.

I wasn’t so concerned that it was dishonest as that I didn’t think we would ever get ten dollars out of such an adventure, with the money coming out in increments of ten cents a throw.

But Rand did it anyway, and three days later, when he pulled out the Kleenex, we ended up with a haul of $10.75.

Apparently a very popular phone booth.

We could not have been more giddy. We went to the carnival and had a fabulous time, never once feeling guilty about how we acquired the funds.

No, for me it was four days later.

I was sitting in my mother and father’s loan company, and I peered out the window and saw there was a policeman inspecting the phone booth.

It scared the crap out of me.

I had to do something–not out of guilt over my misstep, but rather, because I didn’t want to go to Juvenile Hall, where I heard they only served partially cooked pot pies.

So when my parents weren’t looking, I snuck into the safe of the loan company and grabbed a roll of dimes. I quietly stepped over to the phone booth, trying to pretend like I was going to make a call, and as calmly as possible, stuffed that whole role of dimes back into the slot, one at a time, to do recompense for my sin.

Once again, it never occurred to me that I stole from my parents to cover my previous thievery.

It was nearly three weeks later, when my uncle gave me five dollars for school supplies, that my conscience finally showed up.

I determined to go to the bank, purchase a roll of dimes and slip them back into the safe, no one the wiser.

Unfortunately, my plan was foiled by the fact that my parents hung around all day long, never giving me the chance to do penance.

I decided to try again the next day, but on the way home I passed by the local five and dime, and they were advertising candy bars–six for 20 cents.

Well, the only 20 cents I had was in the roll of dimes, and I thought, what the hell? What difference would two dimes make?

The next day I forgot to return my dimes to the loan company, but I did stop off at the Dairy Queen to get a hot dog and a coke, which took another seven dimes.

Long story short, within a week I spent all the dimes I had planned to return.

I didn’t feel bad–I felt stupid.

I did make one determination, and that was to never steal from the phone booth again. And when Randy tempted me, I changed the subject and refrained from further iniquity.

From then on, I went on a personal journey in search of my own integrity.

It was ten years later, long after my dad had died.

I was visiting my mother at her home, and I walked up to her and gently placed a roll of dimes into her hand. She looked up at me, quizzically.

I patted her on the shoulder and said, “It’s a really, really long story…”

 

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Populie: Lying is Human … September 10, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2348)

two faces

I have had a cold where my nose ran incessantly.

Also, a toothache which persisted until I went to the dentist.

In addition, I have had a bout with diarrhea which perched me on the porcelain all day long.

In each of these cases, I found myself at the mercy of a situation beyond my control. I would characterize that experience as unpleasant. Yet for some reason, in the pursuit of avoiding personal introspection and repentance, we keep unnecessary, nasty vices inside us and rationalize them as part of being a human being.

Lying is one of them.

Even though religion tells us that we’re all basically evil and therefore prone to tell untruths and to deceive, and entertainment finds lying cute–especially between men and women–and politicians revel in the notion that a certain amount of lying is required to push forth the truth, we must comprehend that lying is a conscious decision made by each of us, even though we know the truth is readily available.

Lying is not spontaneous.

Lying is not something that overcomes us.

It is a choice we make–a fork in the road–and each and every time we do it, it is obvious and a spark of conscience flies off inside us, reminding us that what we just said is completely inaccurate.

But you see, here’s the kicker: even though we portray in all of our religion, entertainment and politics that lying is human, none of us will accept it when others lie to us.

We become enraged, self-righteous and swear to never trust them again.

Such hypocrisy.

And if you’re looking for a warning sign to foretell your failure and the demise of your character, hypocrisy is always the chief demon.

So let me tell you three things to help you understand why lying is not human, but rather, one of the more inhuman things we do to one another:

1. Doing what you hate is hating what you’re doing.

I have never known a liar who, in moments of reflection, does not suffer from self-loathing. Because we hate lying, we eventually have to hate ourselves. So all conversations about self-esteem are useless until we cleanse ourselves from the unrighteousness of lying.

2. If words permit lies, people just stop talking.

It’s why married couples stop yapping to each other. Because lies, cheating and missteps have been tolerated in order to maintain an unsettled peace, people stop talking.

3. When we finally accept that lying is a hypocritical option, then we discover that the three statements that slay the dragon of the forked tongue are:

A. “I was wrong.”

B. “I will do this.”

C. “I don’t know.”

When you’re willing to be honest about your mistakes, forthcoming about what you will and won’t do, and completely candid about what you know and what is beyond your comprehension, you become invaluable because people can trust what you say.

Human beings were created in Eden. Liars were kicked out.

While we are concerned about sins of the flesh, the real downfall in the human family is deception in the heart.

Lying is not human. It is a decision by people who could do better to do worse … and be mean to one another.

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Turning Kids into Humans–Part 3 (Age 1-3) Events … September 1, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2339)

HumanatingAmazingly, almost sixty to seventy percent of what we learn how to do and apply every day is discovered between the ages of one and three–forming sounds, tactile skills, crawling, walking, making words, constructing sentences, pooping and peeing in a pot and even many of the basic human-family attributes of conscience and manners.

Needless to say, it’s a very important transition.

And it certainly can’t be shoved to the side with an exasperated excuse about “the terrible twos” or “they’re just too young to understand.”

Since we’re trying to initiate a human being into the landscape of Earth instead of just a monkey with too much money, we need to focus on what generates empathy and gratitude into the bosom of the tiny tyke.

It is not sufficient to instruct your little one in the essential nature of empathy (feeling for other people) and gratitude (appreciation for what has been offered) by merely dealing with the activities that transpire in a normal day. Yes, by the time little Johnny is stealing the toy from Kathy during playtime or he has stuffed half a candy bar in his mouth as you plead with him to say thank you, the moment will have passed and you will be left exasperated, swearing to never bring it up again.

It’s why I believe that anointed, intelligent parents plan events which are teaching tools for taking the heart, soul, mind and strength of a toddler into arenas where he or she can discover humanity.

What do I mean?

Make sure you place your child in a position where he or she is around other children who are weaker, in need, impoverished or even infirmed–so that the child you love so dearly can learn to love so dearly.

  • Create an event.
  • Manufacture an opportunity.
  • Make your offspring see that it’s eternally significant to feel for other people.

Likewise, sit down and generate predicaments and possibilities for your child to be grateful.

That does entail a very intricate procedure–it means that sometimes you’ll have to say no, so when a yes does come, it is greeted with glee and appreciation.

If you are under some sort of misguided notion that you want to give everything to your child that he or she desires, you will destroy them for future interactions, making them poor candidates for relationships.

Each and every week, you should have two events planned to spotlight the need for empathy a pair to stimulate gratitude–because if you’re merely relying on the course of human events to teach these valuable lessons, you will lose the potential of your best classroom.

You are the adult. You are the brains of this operation.

So use those brains to take little Johnny or Kathy down to the homeless shelter to see other children who are living without–and bring them a blessing.

It is the old-fashioned common sense of kindness.

And the only reason it’s old-fashioned … is because people have stopped doing it.

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

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Three Ways to Overcome the Blahs … July 10, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2287) 

blahThe “blahs” are when the blues collide with the “bah” from your “humbug.”

This occurs if we decide that the present circumstances seem to lack promise, so we are pre-prepared for sadness and defeat.

In my opinion, it is the struggle of the conscience, procrastination and disappointment–our conscience being the part of us that wants to do right; procrastination, the urge to put it off until tomorrow; and disappointment, the bad mood we find ourselves in because of the results so far.

Yes, when these three are conflicted, emotions dull, the spirit goes to sleep, the brain goes on automatic pilot and the body becomes overly demanding and aggressive.

Therefore, we over-react, over-compensate and over-eat.

So what can we do?

Well, it’s a good idea to minister to these three parts of you, since they’re not going to go away.

The best way to convince your conscience that you intend on participating in a righteous path is to:

1. Tell the truth.

Yes, first be honest with yourself. Sometimes simply stating aloud what is troubling you is enough to break the dreariness of the blahs.

In handling procrastination, my best suggestion is:

2. Do something dreamy today.

Yes, instead of ignoring what you’ve always said you wanted to do, find a simple representation of your goals and aspirations and put it into practice immediately.

If you’re a fisherman and you can’t go out fishing, simply go to the store and purchase a new lure for your tackle box.

If you’re a person who wants to be a seamstress and you don’t have time to sew right now, buy a beautiful bolt of cloth as a reminder.

Yes, bring to remembrance why you do what you do, for procrastination is not a terminal disease that infects us, but rather, a blemish on our skin that needs treatment and will go away if we don’t insist that it’s here to stay.

You have a dream. Find a piece of it and enact it.

And finally, when disappointment threatens to close down all motivation:

3. Go out and give something away that you’re not using.

It seems a little contradictory that the best way to handle feeling cheated is to become generous, but actually, since receiving must always begin with giving, you will be astonished at how quickly your disappointment leaves when you bring joy to another person over something you’re not putting to use anyway.

  • Tell the truth.
  • Do something dreamy.
  • And give something away.

You’ll be astonished at how your “humbug” will no longer feel any “bah” … and your blues will brighten into a new day.

 

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Arizona morning

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12:37 A.M. … June 30, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2278)

bird at nightI awoke suddenly. Or is it better phrased, “I suddenly awoke?” Either way, it’s a little erroneous, isn’t it? It’s a little unlikely to gradually awake. We may decide to react to our new station of alertness at a snail’s pace, but once consciousness arrives, it’s here.

Setting all of that aside, though, let me explain why I was suddenly fully aware in the middle of the night.

I had to pee. A decision was necessary. Should I get up, walk to the bathroom and do my duty? Or roll over and dream of peeing–which is always fairly dangerous.

I chose to put my feet on the ground and make the journey. Returning from the excursion, I laid down and immediately realized it would be a while before sleep overtook me. So I decided to enjoy the solitude and the silence.

And it was very quiet.

Except for one single bird perched outside my window, singing at the top of its little lungs. It was so bizarre. It wasn’t a duet or a barbershop foursome and certainly not a chancel choir, just a single soloist pounding away, a tune which I could only assume was an aviary version of “We Are the Champions.”

What was this bird doing up so late? Or was he just confused and starting early?

Unfortunately, once I became obsessed with listening to the bird, it was the only thing I could hear. And then my brain latched onto it, refusing to relieve me of the tedium and repetition of the refrain.

At length I had an idea. Since it was just me, alone in the room, and no one else would need to know, I got this energizing, private, whimsical idea of asking God to share His presence and proof of His existence by silencing the bird.

I know it sounds stupid, but keep in mind–it was the middle of the night. After all, I can understand why God wouldn’t want to speak to me as I walk through the mall, to the shock and awe of other patrons. But why not reinforce my faith by nudging a tiny miracle in my direction–quieting this “gale” in the middle of the night, giving me a chill down my spine over the beauty of heavenly possibilities?

So I prayed. I asked God to still my little singing friend.

Nothing changed.

I am a little bit ashamed to admit that I was disappointed. And then the true voice within me spoke–that internal sense of communication that tries to create lines of conversation between my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength.

  • Abraham Lincoln referred to it as “the angels of our better nature.”
  • Jefferson knew it as the “truths that are self-evident.”
  • Beethoven probably acknowledged it as the muse that created the music.
  • And Moses believed it to be a burning bush that was not consumed.

Saint or sinner, we all hear a piping within our breast, which sounds a lot like our own voice, but often offers contrary opinions to our will.

So this little conscience of mine asked me why I was so disappointed. My response was that I wasn’t asking for much.

“Exactly,” came the reply. “Think of it from my perspective. I am the Lord your God, the source for all of your belief, and you want me to covenant with you, creating an intimate back-and-forth whispering campaign, and you don’t ask me for world peace or the location of the Holy Grail or even the healing of the body of a friend–your cosmic wish is for Me to silence the good intentions and joy of a little bird.”

I mused for a moment and then smiled. I chuckled, realizing that I could not be trusted with such intimate sharing.

Monday morning smack-down.

 

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Arizona morning

After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

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.

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