Good News and Better News… November 13th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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In the midst of a furor of a nightmare of screams, it is nearly implausible to discern the whispers: the soft, gentle pleadings of the Spirit within us, to find ourselves and pursue a precious path.

We become the victims–the auditory slaves of foolish men and women who have succeeded in providing us decibels without hope.

It’s loud.

It’s brash.

It’s bloody.

It’s irreverent.

It’s irrelevant.

And it’s often meaningless.

But the sheer brute blast of this storm of stupidity seems to be the cultural forecast, threatening to blow us all away.

Into such a climate Jesus of Nazareth also came.

Just like us, he was surrounded by mayhem–a nasty empire, brutal religion, vendettas, bigotry, prejudice, gender bias and ignorance that rebuffed knowledge.

He chose not to yell.

He found a space and made his place.

If you’re determined to be recognized, wealthy or even famous, you will be worthless to this time–because the natural flow of human degradation will determine whether you will be ushered in for consideration, and unless you are willing to be as crazy as the world around you, you will probably be considered unnecessary.

But…

You can find your space and make your place.

  • Jesus was profoundly simple.
  • Jesus was deemed uneducated because he chose this path.
  • Jesus was mocked as unaware because he would not join into the political fiasco and the religious ramblings.
  • He was simple.

He offered three ideas to humanity which still trigger our best efforts and initiate the only march to beauty that we have ever marshalled:

1. Consider.

Stop being sure. Don’t recite all the things you learned as a young’un. Don’t repeat the bigotry of your benefactors. Consider. Consider your life, consider an intelligent approach–even consider a lily.

2. Watch.

Sometimes he said to go ahead and while you’re doing that, pray. But always watch. Don’t be so quick to pull the trigger on your support. Listen for the buzz words that talk of healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and creativity.

Watch what is before your eyes carefully instead of merely lining up for the next I-Phone.

3. Cheerful.

“Be of good cheer” is the match. It lights a fire that warms instead of burns. For after all, joy is the best treatment for insanity.

These were the three messages of a simple man. They will never be outdated but unfortunately, they will also never be regaled as “trending.”

It will take you and me to close our ears to the screams, and listen to the whisper of “consider, watch and be of good cheer.”

The good news is that living such a life is far less exhausting.

The better news is, only this simple life is truly fulfilling.

 

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Good News and Better News… November 6th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Some years back, I finished writing my novel, “I’m…the legend of the son of man”–Jesus telling his own story.

To a large degree, in the publishing world, it’s “have book, pack bags.” In other words, “hit the road, Brother Jack”–and share with people what your volume has to say.

Fortunately for me, Janet Clazzy had recently moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and for some inexplicable reason, was interested in collaborating in music and a business partnership. She had only one request. Having been raised in the mainline denominational church, she thought it was time for someone to go to the United Methodists, the Lutherans, the Episcopalians, the Presbyterians and such, and share a candid message of invigorating hope.

My reply was, “We can be like evangelists to those denominations.”

She grimaced a bit as her eyes glossed over in disbelief. I understood her quandary. The word “evangelist” hardly has a powerful interpretation in the mind of the American people. There have been too many fakes, too much greed, not to mention scandal and immorality, for anyone to take the term seriously.

But I was referring to the position as outlined by the Apostle Paul to Timothy so many centuries ago. You see, Paul explained to the young minister that the day would come when there would be so many misinterpretations, confusions and false teaching that congregations would be sick of hearing all the mess–therefore it would be difficult for anyone to endure, or even recognize, sound doctrine.

After this, Paul makes an interesting insight. He tells Timothy to keep his head, be willing to endure some hardship and to do the work of an evangelist–because the evangelist is the bearer of glad tidings. He is a giver of peace and hope. He is an exhorter to higher standards. And because of his journeys, he offers the children of God an insight on what is going on in the world around them.

So we launched on our journey–that was 22 years ago.

Since then, Ms. Clazzy and I have crisscrossed the country ten times, ministering in thousands of churches and in front of hundreds of thousands of people.

Yet we have never been able to claim our title as “evangelists to the Methodist, Lutherans”–or any other array of denominations. Honestly, the word scares most of the pastors.

We thought about freshening up the term by using the word “messengers,” but thought it was too common.

Enthusiasts: We knew it was too weird.

Proclaimers: Of course, then everyone wants to know what you’re proclaiming.

Jubilators: That was the most bizarre of all, though I later used it as a title for one of my novels.

We realized it was our job, mission and goal–as one book turned into others and music compiled–to bring “times of refreshing” to the church.

So that we have done.

If you are brave, you can call us evangelists. If not, you can fall back on the hyper-safe “special guests.”

But our slogan is concise and has not changed over the years:

Travel light, bring the light.

Here’s the good news: it has worked beautifully, gloriously and fluidly for over two decades.

And the better news is, we’ll see you soon.

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Finding a Message in a World aTwitter: Epilogue — Separate… December 14, 2012

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Jon Signing

A very unusual word, simply because it changes its meaning based on how you pronounce it. If you pronounce “separate” as two syllables, it means to create a space apart from the teeming crowd. If you pronounce it as three syllables, the definition changes to become a decision to be away from others or other things. It is important to be separate (the two-syllable kind) but dangerous to separate (three syllable version).

As I near my birthday, I begin to think about my past year. Would it be all right with you if I tell you that I am thrilled with the results–without coming across as overbearing or arrogant? Because the source of my enthusiasm is not in my own accomplishments, but in the sense that I was able to be separate but not to separate.

It is the magical mystery of Jesus eating and drinking with sinners and through his presence of mind and focus of message, having the ability to turn those individuals away  from the revelry. That’s it.

The problem with organizations, religions, corporations and causes is that in an attempt to rally the troops under the banner of a single purpose, the agenda is often to make all participants feel that they are better than the world around them in some capacity, therefore needing to be evangelists to the ignorant masses.

You see, I have a message. I just don’t have a vendetta. I am separate without feeling the need to separate from my fellow-humans. I can sit in a room with people, completely enveloped in their present cultural predilections without feeling either left out or terribly critical of their choices.

What we discuss in this country is compromise, but what we need is purpose which is faithful enough to its own tenets to produce fruit, replenish the earth and include others. Unfortunately, at the seed of every movement is a love of a cause and a secret cult of hate for non-participants.

So the Republicans make fun of the Democrats for being aloof, snotty, bratty pseudo-intellectuals, while trying to present themselves as having a great love for this nation.

The Democrats portray the Republicans as bare-footed hillbillies with no sense of science, while simultaneously swearing that they are the possessors of a similar patriotic allegiance to our nation. Neither group is able to just put their hand to the plow and allow their philosophy to sprout branches and prove its worth. They want to argue their way into the marketplace instead of bringing wares worthy of purchase.

Don’t be like them.

I have found my message. In the process, I have discovered my traveling companions and my God. That particular combination enables me to make a difference–and it is this difference that I want people to see, not merely me parading around, insisting I’m different.

I live a separate life but I will never separate myself from my brothers and sisters. But if I don’t live that separate life, those who could be benefitted by my gifts will pass over me because I offer no different solutions that the ones they tout.

So there you go:

  • Find your message–people will follow.
  • Having discovered friends, worship a God who honors the message.
  • In doing so you will become happy–which, by the way, is the only sensible means to convey happiness.
  • And then, live a separate life without ever needing to separate.

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