Good News and Better News… September 11th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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For the first time in a ten-year stint of writing this column–every single day–yesterday I missed posting.

It wasn’t because I was lazy (though I’m quite acquainted with lethargy.)

It certainly wasn’t because I ran out of ideas. My mind dances its way to the next folly and adventure.

It was because of Hurricane Irma.

Everyone will have a story about the storm, but I will tell you. this is one atmospheric disturbance that absolutely despised Internet. She was like an old grandma walking into your room, finding out that once again you were checking out naughty websites, and it was her duty to unplug you.

So I gave in.

There’s the thought. At what point do we give in? At what juncture does “inconvenience” become “impossible?”

Is there a station in our lives when we’re just being bratty and don’t want to do anything, or is Mother Nature literally “shuttin’ down the show?”

I know there are people who are critical of our generation. I’m sure it goes back to prehistoric times, when the grandparents of the present cave-dwellers complained that their children no longer liked to scrawl pictures on the walls.

Yet, I don’t think the folks living on Earth right now are bad people. With all the cosmic clowns dancing across the Big Top of the present circus, we still have not found anyone as rotten as Attila the Hun or Adolph Hitler.

It is a time to rejoice–not because everything is good, but rather, because the tragedies and disasters that have made their way into our lives have not crumpled us.

We have not given up.

We bought sandbags, purchased too many supplies and hunkered down–to survive the best punch that nature could give us.

We are pretty amazing, in our awkward and redundant way.

So I stopped being a fussy big-butt yesterday and allowed myself to just be another creature of nature, learning to submit to the climate that the heavenly Father had provided.

After all, there’s no such thing as a pleasant complainer and no one has ever given a reward to the “righteous bitcher.”

So the good news is that with the grace of God, a little help from our friends, and the support of the Great Cloud, I will post this to you today.

And the better news is, trials remind us of how good a fan feels.Donate Button

 

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Populie: Stand Up for Yourself … June 18, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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 fightingTo gain any understanding of human relationships, we must learn the difference between bullying and physical abuse.

There is no doubt that if a we are physically attacked, a certain amount of defense is necessary to protect ourselves. Yet to channel that aggression into our everyday lives simply because we are dealing with critics, bullies and self-centered opponents is to open the door to cynicism and allow ourselves to become defensive and jaded.

There is a popular belief that we are required to defend ourselves against personal assault. The populie is that we should stand up for ourselves in all circumstances and never allow anyone to put us down.

Religion loves this simply because it allows them to drain creaky energy from the Old Testament, which permits a much more vindictive attitude towards those who are their enemies. (Allow me to warn you–every time you use the Old Testament to support your spiritual and emotional choices, you are denying the purpose for the lifestyle of Jesus.)

Politics loves “stand up for yourself” because it opens the door to deniability. In other words, even though you’ve done stupid or careless things, as long as you can deny them and act offended by the assertion, you can outlast your critics. This is the way politics works.

And of course, entertainment wants to put the hero in the corner with his or her back against the wall, and then have them fight their way to acceptance or freedom, to the applause and cheers of those who bought a ticket and a bucket of popcorn.

But if everybody in the world retaliates when challenged, then we will spend all of our time putting out brush fires of arguments instead of discovering the truth about ourselves and better ways to live.

Candidly, I almost didn’t write this essay because I knew my approach on this issue would be unpopular and even considered unnatural. But the greatest thing you can do when accused, verbally attacked, questioned or placed in a corner is to refuse to participate in the exercise because it only leads to a back-and-forth, meaningless futility. I attack you, you attack me, we attack each other, and then everyone around us is forced to take sides.

Writing a daily column on the Internet constantly puts me at risk of being questioned or even ambushed by people who choose to be critical of the work of others instead of venturing an effort of their own. I have developed a three-step process for everything I do in my life:

1. I said it.

In other words, as long as you’re quoting me correctly, I don’t have any problem with your disagreement and I refuse to question how you approach your comment. You are entitled to be upset with my words, my life and my choices. The power I have is in standing behind my words, my lifestyle and my choices.

I am not sure I know the value of an apology that begins with, “If I offended you … ”

When I offend you, I will apologize dearly, but if my mere beliefs and presence is a source of annoyance to you, I will continue my life and pray that you get over it.

2. I did it.

I am hungry and thirsty to see and hear human beings admit what they’ve done without clarification, excuse or defensiveness. I will tell you right now, if Richard Nixon had admitted what he knew about the Watergate break-in, been honest about his involvement and shared it immediately, he would never have been forced to resign.

I don’t know when we started thinking that diversion, lying, cheating and misrepresentation can ever win the day. Not only will the truth make you free, but if you reject the freedom, your sins will find you out.

3. This is who I am.

It doesn’t mean I’m not working on getting better; it doesn’t mean I’m always right. Certainly there are things I could learn from you. Yet I got over the need to pretend when I stopped being a child.

This is who I am.

I know there is such a thing as bullying, but if our children had more confidence about what they say, do and who they are, the silence they offer to the aggressive individuals around them would soon rob the varmints of the pleasure of riling them up.

Yes, we empower our enemies when we take their insults seriously.

So when we turn the other cheek, we are not being noble; rather, it is a sophisticated form of stubbornness … refusing to be curtailed by the whim and wishes of others.

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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

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

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Click here to listen to Spirited music

 

 

The Big Tow… December 27, 2012

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Yesterday at 2:46 PM I walked out of my motel and into the parking lot to discover that my van had been towed away. Let me share the three steps that led to this dispersion:

1. The motel was painting the floor where I usually go to my room via the wheelchair ramp.

2. I had to find a parking place in the back near another ramp.

3. As it turns out, my selection of parking places was their tow-away zone, and rather than calling me on the phone and asking me to move my vehicle, they apparently took some glee in punishing me.

Let me make a long story short. Both Jan and I went to the front desk and explained our situation as calmly as we could, considering the fact that we were battling a bit of anger, and they corrected the mistake, took us to pick up the van and it ended up costing us nothing but a bit of time.

But it did get me thinking. (I guess if you’re going to write a daily column on the Internet, you should think occasionally. Otherwise you get boring not only to yourself, but also end up disappointing your readers.)

You see, what happened here was that a simple error was overly punished because no grace was given. We talk about grace a lot in religious institutions, and I have never been satisfied with anyone’s definition of this magnificent virtue. The classic definition for grace is unmerited favor.” Whether a church is liberal or conservative, they all contend that human beings are a lost cause and God tolerates us by offering us salvation because we’re helpless.

I don’t think that’s what grace is. If those people at the front desk of my motel had just picked up the phone and given me the opportunity to change my own circumstances by moving my van, I would have been more than happy to do so. But to trap me in my accidental mistake and to follow through with swift judgment, with little regard for my feelings, does not make me very appreciative, even when the outcome is to my favor.

See what I mean? Telling me that God thinks I am a miserable, despicable individual who Jesus came to die for on a cross, and that without accepting his gift of blood atonement, I am destined for a hell-of-an-ending to my journey doesn’t make me particularly glad that I believe in God.

If that is the way you view our heavenly Father, you are welcome to continue to pursue that theology. I find it repulsive. I, being a father, certainly would not treat my children in that way–and I expect God to exceed my efforts.

Here’s what I think about grace, in the form of what I needed from the front desk people at my motel:

1. This person with the big black van is a guest of ours. I don’t know why he ended up parking back there–maybe he was ignorant of the rule. Let’s give him a chance to make it right.

2. Let’s not assume our guest is helpless, and let’s not believe he’s hopeless. Let’s take a moment and just believe that he made a bad choice.

3. Give him an opportunity to do better work.

You see, I don’t think God believes I am a depraved sinner. Why? Because God, for a while, wore a human body when his name was Jesus, so He knows what it’s like. He understands that it often is not an issue of temptation, but rather, too quickly choosing convenience over being smart. He doesn’t want to trap us in our moments of dumbness. He believes there is better in us. If He doesn’t, He’s a lousy Father.

Grace is giving people a chance to realize their error and do it again before any punishment has a chance to arrive. Therefore my life isn’t over when God saves my soul. I’m just given a clean sheet of paper to do better scribbling.

Because the people at the front desk decided to be judgmental instead of generous, they ended up paying for a tow that they thought would be levied on me. Such is the end of all vindictiveness.

Let’s learn grace. Grace is when we believe that people still have a chance to do good… because they came from good stock.

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