1 Thing You Can Do This Week To Communicate Yourself More Clearly to Others


Pick Your Eye Placement

The human eyes, being the windows to our soul, are perhaps our most powerful way of passing along our inner thoughts and unfortunately, our internal prejudices.

Bluntly, eye contact is powerfully overwhelming. Sometimes it’s just not needed. Often it can be intrusive. Matter of fact, animals in the jungle do not make eye contact with each other unless they’re ready to square off and fight.

Therefore, deciding what to do with your eyes in any particular  situation grants you the peace of mind of knowing that you’re not passing along false information to other people because they misinterpret your gaze.

This is the power of the cell phone. When you’re going into an environment where you do not know anyone, you’re not aware of how things will turn out, or striking up conversations with the people next to you may be perceived as wacky, look down at your phone. Pen a note. Peruse a book.

If you want to convey that you’re deep in thought, stare straight ahead.

If your selection is to scan the room as if you’re keeping yourself open to possible introduction, then turn your head from right to left and go back and forth like you’re slowly mowing a lawn.

Yet, when you’re in a new situation, avoid eye contact. Since nobody knows you, it will generally be considered to be criticism.

As De Niro once said, “Are you lookin’ at me? Are you lookin’ at me?”

Save your eyeballs for better use—intimacy.

Where you place your eyes determines what you are communicating to the surrounding atmosphere.

Just keep in mind—until your presence is welcome, your eyes can be viewed as being too aggressive.


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3 Things… June 21st, 2018

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To Consider Before You Apologize

1. Be prepared for the apology to be rejected.

 

2. Allow the offended party to be unforgiving without your comment

 

3. Let the apology stand. Avoid further conversation. It is poison. Step away. Let time heal.

 

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3 Things… May 24th, 2018

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That Take Time But Are Well Worth It

1. Having a conversation with a younger person that is not about school

2. A leisurely drive to your destination

3. Thank you notes

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Good News and Better News… October 2nd, 2017

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She was a sweetheart.

During my two presentations at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Clermont, Florida, I got a chance to meet this delightful woman.

She bounced up to my book table and engaged in conversation. About halfway through our exchange, her face got a little more serious and she asked me, “How do we rate? I mean, you go to places all over America. How would you rate our church?”

I knew she wanted a serious answer, yet I wasn’t going to placate her nor was I going to try to place some burden on her heart by pointing out an inadequacy.

“You’re kind of right in the middle,” I said.

She started to smile, then squinted and replied, “Well, that’s not very good.”

After nearly forty-five years of traveling America and sharing in a vari=ety of venues, many of them churches, I will tell you what makes a good church. It begins and ends with the word “generous.”

One of the most chilling statements Jesus offered to his disciples, and to us who would follow his message, was “to he who much is given much is expected.” So it’s a little optimistic to think that you’ll receive eternal salvation while lounging on a heavenly hammock. So here are the three things that make a great church:

1. Generous space.

Sanctuaries are too cramped. They’re confining. This stifles the sensation of freedom. Since your church probably is not filling up the sanctuary for every service, take come pews out. Create room. Make people aware that they have the freedom to extend their legs and arms. Give children a place to crawl.

Clear everything unnecessary from the platform. There should be room for three or four people to stand side by side easily.

If you give air to the room you give air to the people to give air

2. Generous face.

If you’re not going to talk to someone, don’t peer from a distance. It’s creepy. And when you walk up, don’t stay too long, but do make eye contact while you’re there.

We met a fabulous brother named Joe at Shepherd of the Hills. He was not an “average Joe.” He was loving, giving, kind, and made us believe that we had a primal place in his present consciousness.

No one expects you to be a counselor or long-lost friend from high school, but grant folks the dignity to enter your generous space and receive your generous face.

3. Generous grace.

You have no right, privilege or scriptural authority to probe into the lifestyles of those who worship next to you. Share the Gospel of Jesus and let the Gospel do its work. The Holy Spirit is much more adept at convicting people than you are with your gossip. I don’t care what you hear about people. I don’t care what you think about people. At no time do you, I or anyone else have the permission to judge anyone.

It is possible for any church in America to become a Jesonian church–a Jesonian Catholic, a Jesonian Baptist, a Jesonian Methodist, a Jesonian Lutheran, a Jesonian Pentecostal–but it requires you to take on the heart of Jesus instead of pounding your favorite theological nails.

The good news is that Shepherd of the Hills Church has this delightful lady who is not willing to subsist in the middle.

And the better news is, if you make your church a generous space with a generous face, offering generous grace, you will grow.

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Catchy (Sitting 11) Just One More Thing … August 20th, 2017

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Meanwhile, Michael Hinston was adapting to Washington like a hippopotamus training for a marathon.

He had hoped to be a duck in water, but nothing seemed to be floating. He surmised that Washington, D.C. was like a job fair, where people milled around trying to convince one another about their ingenious inventions.

Michael was either too pushy or not pushy enough. He often found himself not invited because he was a freshman congressman. It was assumed he was stupid because he was a first-timer and also because he was from the state of Ohio. It was also concluded that he was corrupt because he came from the twelfth district of Ohio.

This brought him back to the $50,000 check from Caine Industrial. He was simultaneously tantalized and horrified by possessing the piece of paper, so paranoid that he went out and bought a steel strong box with a lock and placed the check within, hiding the container up in his attic.

He had managed to lease a respectable three-bedroom condo in Alexandria for his family. (First-term congressmen never buy houses, since the job has to be reclaimed every two years.)

So feeling despondent, disrespected, immature and inadequate, he was sitting in his tiny office on Capitol Hill when there was a knock at the door. He opened it to eyeball a small man–no more than five feet, seven inches tall and weighing not an ounce over 150 pounds. The gentleman had a handlebar mustache and auburn hair streaked with gray. He introduced himself.

“My name is Milford Hayes and I am the chief attorney for the internal affairs of Denison Caine of Caine Industrial.

Michael flinched. The name “Caine Industrial” matched the logo on the forbidden check.

Awkwardly, Michael invited him in. Mr. Milford Hayes sat down in a chair, rising once or twice as he tried to find a comfortable spot.

He began to speak. A well-rehearsed sililoquoy.

“Let me not waste your time. I know you are busy acclimating to your surroundings. From this point on as I speak, do not respond. If you respond, since I am not your attorney, I could be summoned to testify against you. Now, don’t let that scare you. There’s no reason to think there would be an investigation, but it is my job to be careful.

“You know of Mr. Denison Caine, but you may not be aware that he is a great patriot, and his love for this country is beyond all bounds. As a lover of this country, he has felt the need to locate men of vision–sometimes even a little lady–who will see what needs to be done and take the authority they find themselves in, to become–how shall I phrase it?–‘doers of the Word and not hearers only.'”

Michael tried to interrupt and Milford lifted a hand to stop him, continuing. “I know, I know. You have much to say–many questions. Perhaps many thoughts. Please remain silent. Silence is your best profile for this meeting, because if I don’t hear it from your mouth it was never said. Anything coming from my mouth does not incriminate you. Perhaps I should not use the word ‘incriminate.’ I can see fear on your face. It’s just, Congressman, that these are desperate times, and it is a season in our country when industrious souls need to snatch the power from those who would use it to run us into the ground. That is Mr. Caine and we believe that to be you.

“The fifty thousand dollars you received in the mail is a gift. A housewarming, if you will–warming you to your home in Alexandria at 444 Apollo Street…”

The Congressman shifted in his chair nervously.

“…and also a warming to your House seat here in Congress. Take it. Use it. Find a better school for your children. Think about a boat. Don’t spend it too quickly, drawing attention to yourself, and don’t run it through your personal bank account. Trickle it off-shore, invest in a dummy company. Well, you can talk to your personal attorney about such matters. It is a good-faith statement from Mr. Caine, that he believes you have a heart for this nation and that you will join him in returning our Union to its proper standards.

“So in the future, little packages will arrive. Oh–may I add, in pairs. In the first package will be a letter from Mr. Caine, as from an average citizen, making a suggestion on a piece of legislation. About a week later, a second package will arrive, with cash. I know your instincts are to believe this is illegal, bribery or undue influence. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Caine just has ideas that are forward thinking, which he wishes to see implemented, and he knows it is impossible in today’s society, to progress a movement from a position of poverty.

“All we ask of you is to consider the idea, and if it suddenly appears as legislation in the House, to vote for it. That’s it. Then you simply take your cash and put it in your special hideaway. Enjoy your family and help us bless this country.”

There was finally a pause, yet Michael still felt compelled to request permission to speak, intimidated by Hayes’ mannerisms. Milford was a soft-spoken man with a little Dixie in his lip-service–a gentle touch, similar to a baker carefully removing a cookie from its display, fearing it might crumble.

Congressman Hinston took a deep breath and asked, “Do I have a choice? I mean, I’ve listened to your speech and it seems extremely contradictory to my standards and to what I understand to be the moral and ethical way to handle the responsibility of a seat in Congress.”

Milford interrupted. “Interesting question. First and foremost, let us understand, we all have a choice. Why, just this morning I was down at my hotel to order breakfast and they gave me a menu. So many choices. May I say, too many choices. Since I was not familiar with the establishment and did not know what was good to eat, I pulled a ten dollar bill out of my wallet and handed it to my server. I said to him, ‘Young fellow, since I don’t have time to make a mistake, I need you to tell me what’s the best thing on this menu to order.’ Well, well, Michael Hinston, he was not only grateful for his reward, but also deeply flattered that a gentleman of my, shall we say, bearing, was seeking his counsel on culinary matters. Oh, by the way, he said the Eggs Benedict were absolutely terrific, but to make sure they gave me the Hollandaise sauce and not the cheaper cheese blend they often offer.”

Michael just shook his head. The attorney was certainly having fun. Milford continued.

“So we do have choices. But we should realize that when we make them, it always eliminates possibilities. Do you see what I mean? Opening a door discloses a room but to become part of that room, we must close the door to our previous place of occupancy. Perhaps my speech is too flowery. Let me be more concise. You get the money if you do what Mr. Caine believes to be righteous. If you don’t want the money, Mr. Caine will make sure that your stay in the capitol is brief.”

Michael wanted to object. For years and years he had been angry about being pushed around. People had always told him what to do. He often found himself intimidated into following the crowd, only to regret that the choice had not been his, and yet the failure was shared.

He wanted tobe strong. He wanted to be principled. He wanted to know that if his wife, children, Abraham Lincoln and God were standing in the room they would all nod their approval over his decision.

But Michael Hinston was not strong. He was scared. So he did what all frightened men do when confronted by evil. He remained silent.

Milford, sensing he had captured his prey, had a closing thought.

“Oh, just one more thing. Mr. Denison Caine always hated Arthur Harts. You know, billionaire fussiness and all. We noticed through our study of your history that you are friends with a gentleman named…”

Milford reached into his jacket, took out a pad and flipped pages, pointing a long, bony finger at some writing on the sheet.

“…Matthew Ransley. Old college buddy, I think.”

Michael was shocked. “Yeah, I know Matthew. What’s he got to do with any of this?”

“Well,” Milford continued, “Mr. Caine knows you are familiar with Matthew, and it seems that he’s taking on this ridiculous project Harts left in his will, about making Jesus popular. And making a long story short, Mr. Caine wants it to fail.”

Michael spoke up with uncharacteristic boldness. “Does he hate Jesus?”

Milford smiled. “No. He seems to be at peace with Jesus. He hates Arthur Harts, and he wants to make sure that Harts fails even after death. Since you know Matthew, we thought you might agree to assist while simultaneously keeping us updated on the doings, and ultimately…how do they phrase this? Ah. Throw a wrench into the gears. But more about that later. Right now, you just enjoy your family, maybe that new boat, and settle into town, realizing that this could become a wonderful, life-long work. Word has it a Senate seat might even come up for grabs in the next six to twelve years. Wouldn’t you be good at that? We’ll be in touch.”

Milford stood to his feet to leave. “Oh, by the way, do you like my new suit? I just purchased it. I’ve never been a great fan of tweed, but the combination of colors intrigued me. It has a hint of the orange-brownish of fall, but that ever-so-light green of springtime. It makes me feel like a man for all seasons.”

Milford smiled and walked to the door, speaking over his shoulder. “I can find my way out.”

He turned one final time, saying in his molasses tone, “Such a pleasure to meet you, Congressman Hinston.”

He stepped out the door, leaving Michael alone.

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G-Poppers … May 26th, 2017

 

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Jon close up

It was time for G-Pop to check out at Wal-Mart.

He found himself in line with a cashier he had seen a couple of times before–a gregarious woman in her mid-fifties who loved to chat. G-Pop loves to listen.

The previous time he’d had interchange with her, she had explained about her faith, her church and she even reached across the counter to touch his hand and say that she was praying for his knees.

Sweet.

On this day, she was equally as engaging, but with a different focus. She shared with G-Pop that she had gone through a season of studying the Bible, and also was deeply involved with her church.

But this past Sunday, she skipped the gathering to go to a fitness center. She cited that she had been given a trial membership, and said that spending the morning working out and sweating had energized her like nothing else had in a long time. She was thinking about going back.

G-Pop smiled.

He realized that most church-going people would frown at her, asking why she was leaving the church in order to utilize a treadmill. Why? Because there is an abiding sensibility that going to church is something we do for God, to prove our love and devotion–that we owe him at least that hour for granting us the courtesy of life and hopefully some divine protection from the elements.

Truthfully, in our world, religion is beginning to blend into a malaise of what G-Pop calls Judeo-Buddhism–a bizarre combination of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” with “don’t worry about your eyes and your teeth.”

As Buddhism is an attempt to alleviate the tensions of our passions and feelings, Christianity, on the other hand, is meant to enhance them. That’s why Jesus talked about the “abundance of the heart.”

G-Pop was not critical of this woman, simply because she is absolutely correct: we should all pursue the APPEAL OF WHAT WE FEEL.

If God did not want human beings to be creatures of emotion, He should have created us differently. If He wanted us to merely go to some stone building and worship Him in silence, reverence or even jubilant choruses like a pack of Druids, then He should never have included desire, passion, giddiness and endorphins into the mix. The fact is, human beings, if sane, will ultimately gyrate to an opportunity which has the most feelings.

This woman was not wrong. She was just honest.

Ask fifty percent of people, and they would tell you that they fight to stay awake in church. G-Pop wonders if that’s really a sign of reverence. Snoozing is usually associated with losing.

And what we’ve lost is the Jesus sense of worship. He described worship as a heart-felt expression that pours from every fiber of our beings, leaving us with full joy.

Yes, G-Pop is saying that if we cannot offer the thrill, the energy and the excellence of a morning of aerobic exercise, then we will lose people to their God-given emotions.

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To our friends at Roseland: click the piano for information on Cring & Clazzy

G-Poppers … December 9th, 2016

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Facebook is actually rather faceless.

Church has become more worship than fellowship.

Politics is about winning instead of communicating.

Concerts are darkened halls, where only the stage is lit up.

G-Pop contends that we’ve lost something. Maybe we’ve sacrificed it. Maybe it was taken away from us to promote corporate profit. Who knows?

But somewhere along the line, the ability to sit down with another human being, share a sandwich and let the small talk grow until it’s big has been lost.

During G-Pop’s holiday time, he has sought out occasions to be with individuals or tiny handfuls of people who use the instigation of a little bit of food to create great thought. The process is so precious and free of complexity that we’ve abandoned it in this era of prideful over-dramatic expressions.

Here’s how it works:

1. Convene.

Find a location that doesn’t need your attention, which can be a catalyst for dialogue.

2. Converse.

Yes, talk. It doesn’t have to be deep, but it will become meaningful because we quickly run out of foolishness and begin to favor some heart.

3. Connect.

Find reasons to listen which will lead to opportunities to agree. Take the agreement and build on it.

It’s time to realize that stuffing twenty thousand people in a building is not a movement–it’s a rally.

G-Pop wants you to know that a movement occurs when a convening of souls leads to a great conversation, which is truly satisfied as we connect.

 

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