Drawing Attention … September 5th, 2018

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Jesonian … April 28th, 2018

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“Accept Christ.”

A vast majority of the evangelical churches in America hold this decision sacred. They contend that people must discover their sinful nature, repent, be baptized, and receive Christ as salvation.

So strong is the inclination to evangelize that the fundamentalist church is successful only at birthing children into the Kingdom–and then abandoning them to cultural, lifestyle and family traditions.

Most churches do not talk about Jesus. He is relegated to prayers, salvation and communion–as “the Christ.”

There is the Christ who offers eternal salvation, and then there is Jesus, who grants us a lifestyle which enables us to see God’s will “done on Earth as it is in heaven.”

The religious system must be addressed and corrected over major errors–three doctrines of Jesus that he fostered while on Earth, which the religious hierarchy has set aside in favor of following “the Christ:”

1. There must be racial equality through racial interaction.

Jesus broke all the boundaries of prejudice and bigotry by including Samaritans with Jews and Gentiles with Hebrews. This is not optional. As long as we have a “black church” and a “white church,” we are propagating the principles of Dixie, which launched us into the Civil War.

Purposeful efforts must be made to integrate the church.

The black church and white church need to mingle, no matter how much they think they are culturally different. They must become spiritually one.

2. Gender bias is unacceptable.

Jesus included women in his ministry as evangelists, financiers and confidantes. The church refuses to accept women as equals and continues to propagate a religious misogyny which is completely contrary to the teachings of Jesus.

Women should preach, women should teach, women should do everything that men do without restriction.

3. Free will must be established.

The church is becoming more and more Calvinistic–believing in pre-destination. In so doing, we lose the gospel of Jesus. After all, there’s no need for me to love my neighbor as myself if everything is pre-determined. There’s no purpose in being concerned about what I sow if what I reap has already been factored in. The removal of free will in deference to God being in charge of everything–in control of all decisions–has rendered the church an insipid bunch of Bible-readers who are more afraid of the devil than they are their own inconsistent behavior.

Nothing will be accomplished in the Christ-centered church until the Jesus-focused people get rid of racial barriers, gender bias and a belief in destiny, which precludes us from making our own choices.

It’s wonderful to believe in Christ if you follow Jesus.

It’s not wonderful to believe in Christ if most of the time you use your life on Earth to ignore Jesus and follow the tenets of your community.

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G-Poppers … February 2nd, 2018

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President Trump is not a moron. He is also not a genius.

Although there are proponents who would suggest that he falls into one or the other of these categories, the truth of the matter is that Donald Trump is President of the United States. He achieved this by campaigning and receiving the lion’s share of the electoral votes.

G-Pop wants to make this clear.

G-Pop is the veteran of many presidents and can tell you that most of them were accused of moral indiscretion, the majority considered crazy, and all of them touted to be dictators who over-extended their power.

It is important to understand the nature, the function and the mission of the job.

Most of the time the President of the United States is not negotiating with foreign powers nor plotting global wars.

He is the closest thing to a daddy that 320 million immigrants have.

As our daddy, it is his job to provide a sense of security and a voice of kindness. That’s it.

G-Pop’s not even sure if it’s a political position. Approaching it from that angle only seems to render the job mean-spirited, stalling action and legislation.

He is our father, who art in Washington–and maybe someday, our mother who art at the White House.

Questioning the morality, sanity, motives, hidden meetings or deceptions of our President is just political maneuvering to gain control of our country.

What the position really requires is kindness.

No one understood that better than Abraham Lincoln. Although President Lincoln had good reason to be furious over the attitudes of the Southern states, his second inaugural speech characterized his tenderness toward his children in Dixie by saying, “With malice toward none, with charity for all…”

Yet every President G-Pop knows has selected to be vindictive against his enemies, contending that if you don’t punch back, they’ll just punch harder. But Abraham Lincoln, in four short years, saved the Union, freed the slaves and was able to end a horrible conflict.

Did he do it by being mean?

Did he do it by being angry and sending out nasty notes to his enemies?

Did he do it by sleeping with his interns?

Did he do it by torturing the prisoners of the Confederate Army?

No, he did it as kindly as a man can do when waging a war against insanity.

Kindness is when we look in the mirror and practice the words we’re going to say to another to get a sense of how it might feel.

You don’t have to be a moron or a genius to be President.

But G-Pop wants you to know that it’s the mission of our President to allow kindness to flow to the north, south and east…from the West Wing.

 

 

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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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Ask Jonathots … February 4th, 2016

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I grew up in Buffalo, New York, and am considering going to Auburn for college because of a great scholarship offer in my field, which is art. I’m concerned about the cultural difference. I know you travel the country all the time–what are the differences between the different areas of the country–especially the North and the South–if any? Am I making a mistake?

One of the odd coincidences that occurs when you’re traveling on the road with people is that because you’re eating a similar diet, your bathroom habits become almost identical. (I know this is a strange way to begin my answer, but please bear with me as I try to make a point.)

If four people are consuming the same food, it’s reasonable to assume, with slight variations, that their daily routine will parallel.

So even though the media in this country, in pursuit of developing story lines, insists that various areas have differing views and approaches, the truth of the matter is, we’re all subject to the same diet of television, news and movies.

For instance, there wasn’t a Star Wars made for the South and another one for the North. There are not sitcoms viewed in Dixie and others favored in Brooklyn.

When you travel into the South, you will find minor cultural preferences, but overall, the people are citizens of the United States, and therefore, indulge in the same philosophies, laws and approaches of everyone else.

So I think it’s safe to say that if you’ve been blessed with a scholarship to Auburn, you should not only go, but travel there with the confidence that you’re going to run across outstanding American citizens who may have some attributes that are slightly unique, but possess a full awareness of what’s going on in the world around them.

Church attendance differs from one area of our nation to another, and to a certain degree, appreciation for lifestyles and culinary dishes may vary slightly.

But overall America is exactly what it advertises–a great melting pot.

The prejudice, bigotry and ill-founded conclusions which are drawn are put together by those who need to make a deadline for the news and stir up tales that create conflict so people will tune in.

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Untotaled: Stepping 10–December 31st, 1965 (The Watch Night) … April 19, 2014

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(Transcript)

There is certainly not much to do on New Year’s Eve in a little village of fifteen hundred people.

Some of the folks of our town would actually make the trip down to Columbus to take in a show and imbibe some alcohol, feeling as if they had flown to the moon and could disguise their drunken condition without fear of community scrutiny.

But most of the citizens of our little burg were devoid of entertainment or ideas for ringing in the New Year.

So our local church planned a Watch Night service, so as to prohibit–or at least impair–the possibility of the young kids falling victim to the beckonings of “demon rum.”

Watch Night services were a tradition of Dixie which had been transplanted to the Buckeye State via those who floated north. It was in four parts:

  • First there was eating–the best potluck of the year. Everyone tried to outdo one another both in culinary skills and appetites.
  • Then there were a couple of hours of gospel singing, featuring local talent (or at least local persons).
  • This trailed off into some preaching, warning all present of the dangers of increasing sin in our nation and the hopes that revival would break out in the coming 365 days provided..
  • And finally, the twelve o’clock hour offered the opportunity for hugs and handshakes.

This year I was thrilled. My group, The Gospels, a quartet of young teens, was going to participate in the singing portion of the evening. We had lobbied the previous year, and even auditioned for the church elders, were weighed in the balances and found wanting. This year, apparently we were in tune.

The ironic part of being welcomed into the songfest was that our group was about to break up. Actually I was breaking it up by kicking the Connelly brothers out of our team and replacing them with two of my friends who I liked better. This caused quite a stir in the church. Matter of fact, I was called in for a conference with the pastor’s wife, as she tried to explain that human beings had feelings and the Connelly brothers deserved better treatment.

I listened politely and then did what I always did. Ignored her. You see, the Connelly brothers didn’t mind. They sang their hearts out that night.

I don’t know if we sounded good or not, but we sure had fun. It was one of those times when I felt really grown-up, in charge and important. That’s hard to come by in a tiny town.

I thought a lot about what the pastor’s wife said on how to treat people and how to conduct your affairs in a way that would not upset anyone else. I came to the conclusion that this was going to be difficult.

I think many people thought I was a real dick when I was a teenager. But without being a little bit of a dick as a teenager, you can grow up to be a dickless adult.

So I decided to try to continually improve what I do and what I work with without upsetting people too much.

Yes, that should keep me really busy.Donate Button

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“My God-given American right…” July 3, 2012

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I read it off a bumper sticker on the back of a puke-green, mud-splattered pick-up truck. So you know it has to be true. Yes, I am back in Dixie, where all chicken is fried, all biscuits are covered with gravy and all truths are simple.

I love the south–at least, many things about it. There is a quiet hospitality available at the root of its motivation. But I’ve always been uncomfortable with any group of people who too closely mingle God and country. Historically, it’s proven to be a nasty mixture–whether it was the Roman Empire trying to make Caesar divine, or Hitler manifesting a super-race. Whenever nationalism and spirituality tango, the result is a tangled mess.

But the bumper sticker did get me thinking. Are there any “God-given, American rights?” Are there any standards, beliefs and guarantees granted to each of us simply because we were created by God and born in the United States?

I came up with a list of seven. I believe that if you listen to them carefully and follow them fervently, you will discover that a universal unction of benefit will be provided your way. They don’t really have much to do with our Bill of Rights, which tends to create more debate than progress, but rather, are the careful blending of the heart of God with the will of our nation.

1. You have the God-given American right to get as much liberty as you’re willing to give. Liberty is a slippery slope. You are completely free to seek it–as long as you’re willing to grant it to others. The minute you limit the possibility of another citizen, that measure will be measured back to you.

2. You have the God-given American right to prosper as you work and multiply your talents. There is no reason to believe that laziness or a sense of entitlement will provide for your common needs. There is also no scenario where continuing to do the same things repetitively will increase your coffers. You must work, keeping an eye on ways to expand.

3. You have a God-given American right to be loved exactly at the level with which you love. The minute we begin to believe that certain people are attractive, colorized correctly or financially solvent enough to receive more attention, our whole system of government and belief fall apart.

4. You have the God-given American right to be given to–at the rate you give. One of the “rules of the jungle” in human behavior is the precept that selfish people eventually get starved out. We tend to give to people who give. At first it may not seem that way. There may be the deceptive appearance that greedy people actually achieve success more quickly. But that’s only because those who are plotting revenge against them need time to perfect their plan.

5. You have the God-given American right to receive blessing if you’re willing to survive hassle. Blessing is not a portion provided for those who whine, complain or pout. Blessing is built into the natural order, to be the prize given to those individuals who stop resisting change, find a way to conquer the hassles that come along and introduce inventive ideas.

6. You have the God-given American right to be included as long as you believe that “NoOne is better than anyone else.” Even though the principle is a bit simplistic, and I suppose, deemed arguable by disagreeable people, any other approach creates too many prejudices that shut the door to others–thus eventually shutting the door to ourselves.

7. And finally, you have the God-given American right to respect your heavenly Father, honor Mother Earth, and live at peace with your sisters and brothers. Fussy children spend most of their available hours in “time out.” Yes, life has time out. When you’re not willing to give place to God, honor to Mother Earth and respect to your brothers and sisters, you will spend a lot of your earth journey missing out on opportunity, eating your peas and carrots without dessert.

So there you go. On this day before the 236th birthday of our country, you have my particular list of our God-given American rights. Forgive me if I left out some favorites–like brattiness, indifference, provincialism, regionalism, nationalism, political parties or religious intolerance. The truth is, certain trends may be given a podium and an ear for a season, but history tells us that they eventually will be snuffed out by the desire of the people and the intelligent will of God.

So take heart. Receiving our God-given American rights takes a little more than dropping a buck on the desk at a convenience store and picking up a bumper sticker and slapping it on the back of your favorite ride. It means being prepared to give everybody else what you want.

It means being human … and allowing others to do the same.

   

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