Jesonian… January 14th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Seven hours and thirteen minutes of sleep.

Three meals–well, kind of.

 

A couple of snacks.

A wash-up–bath or shower–cleaned my teeth.

 

Two good ideas that went bad.

One bad idea that surprisingly became good.

 

Got verbally attacked.

Tempted to retaliate.

 

Ate something that gave me gas.

Oops–diarrhea.

 

Someone betrayed my confidence.

Awaiting a delivery–very late.

 

A headache after lunch. Am I imagining it?

A little sore throat. Probably.

 

An unexplained, very temporary depression.

Inspired by the sight of a beautiful lake.

 

Paid bills. Short on money. Or am I really?

Grateful for opportunity.

 

Birthday for old friend.

Tired as the day goes on.

 

Don’t want to think about tomorrow.

Not supposed to…

 

This is a summary of my day.

Jesus, too.

I’m not saying Jesus had the same day that I did. But somewhere along the line, he had the same elements in his day that I do all the time. You see, God believed He was being very intelligent when He sent Jesus to Earth to be totally human.

We, on the other hand, have spent 2,000 years trying to prove he was perfect, even though we don’t like perfect people–they turn us off.

Perfect people are too damn perfect.

Even though the Bible tells us he was tempted in every way, just like us, touched by our infirmities, and learned obedience through the things he suffered rather than having it absorbed from heaven, we continue to be uncomfortable with the idea that he shared our “goofyness.”

Matter of fact, insisting that Jesus had diarrhea would cause some of the more holy saints to stomp out of the room, considering you a heretic or at least gauche.

But here’s the question: why would we care about anybody who didn’t care enough about us to be one of us?

So we portray Jesus as half-God, half-man, like some sort of Greek mythology, or all-God and all-man.

We lose the effect of the Gospel because we’re afraid to show that Jesus had days just like ours.

If we can’t relate the Gospel to the 21st century, we need to stop expecting 21st century people to find the Gospel relatable.

 

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Ask Jonathots … January 28th, 2016

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One of my friends believes that sexual repression is the reason for almost all problems, from behavioral to criminal. How important is sexuality? Is there such a thing as a religious calling, or, as my friend says, is that the sole reason for the sexual scandal in the Catholic Church?

Sex is an appetite.

It’s very important to realize this.

It is neither holy, nor is it hedonistic.

If monkeys can do it, it’s probably not super-spiritual, and if the end process of the procedure is procreation–the birthing of other human beings–it’s probably not evil.

You have to find the balance. What is the balance?

For instance, another bodily function is a bowel movement. Constipation makes us sick. But diarrhea is also a sign that we’re ill. What we want are healthy bowel movements.

And what we also want is a healthy sex life.

Since sex is not terribly difficult to do, it’s probably unrealistic to think that people are going to avoid it until they get married at age twenty-six.

Yet because it has so many physical ramifications, disease possibilities, and the potential of pregnancy, it should probably not be open season beginning at the age of twelve.

There are three reasons that people say they have sex:

  • They love each other
  • They want each other
  • They desire a child

Of course, there are variations on those–and different intensity levels. But as you can see, those three do not naturally connect.

In other words, love for someone can be manufactured because we are physically stimulated.

Wanting someone can be extremely temporary, until the orgasm is achieved.

And having a baby is an eighteen-minute production for an eighteen-year problem.

So the church tends to teach that the best practice is to refrain from sex until marriage, even though there are no people sitting in the pew who feel that is actually possible–or followed the practice themselves.

The world, on the other hand, or the secular community, thinks that free sexual expression is essential as a choice of adulthood, but offers no comfort for those who are heartbroken or stricken by disease because of promiscuity, or left with horrible choices due to unwanted pregnancy.

We are in the process of finding a balance.

To me, the best way to achieve this is to make it clear to young people–and older folks, for that matter–what sex is.

1. Sex is pleasure.

The fact that a creative God also uses it as a means of procreating our species is just smart due to the fact that if making babies took great effort, we would soon be extinct.

Trying to make sex anything other than pleasure is putting a golden crown on a pig.

2. As pleasure, it is a lesson in discovering how to mutually respect the person we are sharing the experience with at all times.

The idea that women are growing up believing that sex is for men and that they are not necessarily supposed to have an orgasm is one of the greatest abuses to the female.

3. Sex is emotional.

Here’s the trick and here’s the problem: as human beings, we seem to be incapable of separating the physical act of pleasure from the emotional tie of friendship or love. This introduces jealousy. This promotes some revenge. It causes sex to become a tool of pain rather than the promoter of pleasure.

4. Sex is attached to our passion.

Just because you said you loved someone ten years ago doesn’t mean you want to crawl in bed with them and have a crazy night of love-making. If the emotional, mental and spiritual energy does not continue, then the horniness quickly wears off. So we develop silly words like “soul mate” to describe the latest person who excites us.

Human sexuality is tainted both by repression and too much expression.

It is a physical act with emotional overtones, stimulated by mental commitment and spiritual energy.

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Untotaled: Stepping 36 (June 12th, 1967) Trimmings… October 18, 2014

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All of our neighbors had already mowed their lawns twice.

I kept insisting that our grass was not in need of such a precaution or I was able to check the weather forecast and cite that there was rain coming and therefore dangerous to be out in the storm.

For you see, in my house it was my job to be the caretaker of “the green.”

I hated it.

I avoided it.

I even pretended I was sick to escape the arduous chore of pushing our power mower around the yard to guarantee my one dollar a week allowance.

Part of it was teenage rebellion. There is certainly a misunderstanding about the condition. Teenage rebellion is not a choice, like whether to wear a hat to the beach. It’s more like an emotional diarrhea, which attacks you when you least expect it, causing you to run out of the room screaming. And in addition, I was a fat boy, and the idea of walking around, back and forth, to simply receive the payoff which pleases your family for only about eight days, was not enough to motivate me to fire up the old “growler”–to give the yard a haircut.

I even listened to people’s suggestions on how to cut the lawn and make it enjoyable. I was never able to recapture their ecstasy.

But worst of all, my dad expected me to use the hand-trimmers after I finished mowing, and caretake the areas that were not able to be reached by the blades.

I refused.

Matter of fact, I can’t remember doing it more than two or three times–because it demanded two actions that every fat boy dreads.

Bend over or kneel down.

(My body type was more suited for standing, sitting or reclining.)

After a while, my dad was content when I actually did mow the lawn before a machete was needed–so much so that he completely dropped the trimming issue. He got tired of hearing me claim that the blades were too rusty to cut through the overgrowth.

Because my dad did not force me, it was a good ten years before I learned the importance of straining my will to do a little bit more than my whim dictated.

So when I raised sons, I learned that there are three purposes for discipline:

  1. To get your kid to confront his or her weakness.
  2. In the process, to address their fear.
  3. And maybe most important of all, to trap them into doing something they really don’t want to do.

If you consider this discipline to be cruel or unusual, you will probably give your children a pardon which will later haunt them as they continue the crime of laziness.

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Populie: Lying is Human … September 10, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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

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

 

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.

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Take a Second to Give Me a Minute for My Hour of Need… April 20, 2012

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He was thirty-two years old with a birthday coming up soon. He got up early in the morning, not because he was that type of person, but because experience had taught him that life starts early and people who are working are going to be moving around. He was interested in people. He had learned to be a “people person,” even though, like every other human being, a bit of trepidation always gnawed at the corner of his mind about interaction with others.

He came to the marketplace to eat his breakfast, sit around with folks and talk before the work day beckoned everyone to tuck away in their nooks and crannies. He had just finished telling a particularly good joke about seeing a blind man leading a blind man when the pleasant conversation was interrupted by the arrival of constables and lawyers, thrusting to the forefront a frightened woman, who was obviously there against her will, at their behest.

The scene had changed. The authoritarian horde had kidnapped the moment with an agenda and they were about to transform a quiet morning of conversation into a deadly discussion of law and judgment. It seems the woman had committed a capital crime–adultery. They reiterated to the young thirty-two-year-old that such a transgression was punishable by death. They were curious about his verdict on the matter and insisted on hearing his immediate reaction to this horrific situation, demanding that he give a judgment on her fate. (By the way, his name was Jesus, and I guess what I’m trying to tell you is that they were looking for “the passion of the Christ,” expressed in a Mel Gibson tirade.) What should he do?

He had learned one valuable lesson–that a gut reaction is never right. (Let’s be honest. Even in the natural world, an immediate gut reaction is either vomit or diarrhea. Even the human stomach needs time to digest.) Anyone who wants you to give a response in this second has become your adversary. Don’t hate them–give them the greatest blessing you can. Ignore them. There is no such thing as a good split-second decision. Every preempted human reaction is always a revenge from our last disappointment. In other words, if you ask me to give an answer right now, my response will be colored by the residue from a previous encounter. You deserve better than that–and more importantly, so do I.

So even though the lawyers and constables were pushing Jesus for an “off-the-top-of-his-head” answer, he refrained. Instead, he turned his back on them, stooped down and fiddled in the dirt with his finger. What was he doing?

Taking a minute.

Everything accomplished in a second would be much better thought out if we took a minute. It’s what the Bible means by “lean not to your own understanding.” It’s talking about those jumping-to-conclusion-decisions that we make and later regret.

He fiddled in the dirt … he was thinking.

In the process of thinking, he also drew attention away from that frightened woman and cooled the heat of the atmosphere to a temperature for reason instead of rage.

Take a second to give yourself a minute. If it really demands that much hurry, it may just be out of your hands anyway.

Of course, these frenetic accusers continued to push him, trying to acquire a quick resolution that they knew would more than likely be flawed. He just kept fiddling in the dirt.

You see, in your minute of contemplation there is no real reason to rise to the occasion until God, your brain, your experience, the spirit or just good, old-fashioned common sense gives you a bit of holy inspiration for the hour. What did Jesus come to during that minute of fiddling?

1. These constables and lawyers had no power to put anybody to death. They were under the thumb and watchful eye of Big Government, which controlled their every move. They were speaking of deadly practices in theory. Not that this made it any less nasty–just not quite so lethal.

2. Since it was early in the morning, had they really “caught” some woman committing adultery? Before bacon and eggs? Or was she really caught the night before and detained as they drafted a plan to try to cause him to stumble? Or was she just a plant–an actress hired to play the part of an adultress? Any way you looked at it, it was fishy.

3. Where was the man? After all, it does take two to tango–and also to do this thing deemed worthy of death. And the law they were quoting did require that both parties be put to death. So why did they decide to just bring the woman and not the pair?

You see, all of these questions had time to percolate  in his brain–because he didn’t react in a second, but instead, took a minute. I imagine some of the ideas that popped into his head both made him smile at how stupid they were and also caused him to be angry because these officious fools were willing to gamble the life of a woman to make a point.

Well, here’s what he came up with. Since the problem was theirs and not hers, he suddenly got a burst of inspiration. Put it back on them.

So because he didn’t react in a second and took a minute to reason out what was going on, he was given inspiration for the hour.

He eased to his feet, turned to the red-faced, huffing crowd, and said, “If you want to kill her, you should only do so if you know that you haven’t done anything equally as bad–that would make your life worthless and therefore make you the next candidate to be put to death.”

He didn’t wait for a debate. He turned back around, stooped down  and fiddled in the dirt again. His message was clear: if you don’t have any sin, then fo ahead and rock her world. If you do, you might want to avoid getting stoned. 

What a brilliant turn-around–one that no human being could come up with in a second, but required a minute of thought for an hour of inspiration.

Because Jesus decided not to be frantic, giving an immediate gut reaction, a woman left the marketplace that day in peace instead of pieces. Let us remember his strategy:

A. In that second–when everyone wants you to give an answer–don’t react. (If you’re the pilot of an airplane and it is suddenly unresponsive, don’t start steering until you find out which direction is salvation.)

B. Take a minute to fiddle in the dirt–to understand the problem and tap your better resources. (Turn into a host of your own solution. Yes, be Ryan Seacrest on American Idol, juggling judges and contestants with smooth transitions instead of jerky movements)

C. Wait for God and wisdom to give you inspiration in your hour of need. (If you move out on your instincts, the depression you have from previous disappointments could cloud your judgment. You need God to clear away your own overcast before you’re prepared to clear the skies.)

It’s a life-saving decision. It only requires that we don’t trust the festering in our hearts, but instead, get a good bucket of Godly provision.

**************

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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.

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