G-Poppers … December 18th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2786)

Jon close up

G-Pop was born years ago on a day like this one, repeated annually.

Born, G-Pop decided to seize the opportunity to live, dwelling in a small village until limited talent afforded broader possibilities.

Trying to blend aspiration, inspiration and procreation, he birthed songs and sons, four boys in all, three surviving the process of growing, and yet a trio of others who arrived desiring a homestead, and seemingly have moved on, no worse the wear from his tutelage.

He traveled the country, interfacing with those who crossed his path and turned in his direction.

Pain and pleasure merged to form potential.

Success and failure united to construct a character.

Being neither political or bound by business constraints, G-Pop chased the whim of his heart and the vision he insisted was inspired by Spirit.

  • A man.
  • A human.
  • A salvaged sinner.
  • A saint, requiring props.

He had a belief in a God who believed in people–belief in people who allow room for an expansive God.

G-Pop lives on.

There are those who think he should settle into his place. Yet finding a place is an address, not a way to address our generation’s quandary.

G-Pop does not seek acceptance, just a reasonable doorway.

Mary had a baby and named him…

He became an angel to some, shepherded the souls sent his way, and works on becoming a wiser man … who can follow the stars in the sky.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … September 2nd, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2680)

PoHymn Sept 2

Making It Last

Nothing is beautiful if I am mad

Nothing is joyful if I am sad

Peace escapes my troubled soul

Half involved is never whole

If bigot is a tree, it is quite dead

If grouch is a me, ’tis truly a lumpy bed

Bringing hope to bear

Is choosing to be fair

And avoid the stony mind

To allow for thoughts so kind

I am the key to my distress

I am the door to happiness

So I don’t look for left or right

But dispel the darkness with my light

And give faith a chance to groove

My plans some time to finally prove

I am not a failure, just too fast

Enjoy the moment…and make it last

 

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The Alphabet of Us: C is for Cunning… December 22, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

(2451)

Baby block C bigger

All human beings possess a heart, soul, mind and strength. Nothing of any true significance can be achieved unless this is understood.

Three pushy forces bully us to conform to the pattern of what is now considered, in this short-sighted season, to be normal.

  • “I must be better”
  • “I must be popular”
  • “I must be smarter”

Human beings were never meant to be consistent. It is within the spectrum of our unpredictability that we create our learning curve and our charm. When we deny this vulnerability, we place ourselves in a position where we must defend our “better,” our “popular” and our “smarter.”

Unfortunately, this leads to lying. And even worse than lying is the misconception that we can actually pull it off. This is cunning.

Cunning is the contention that “because I am better, very popular and smarter, I can trick you into believing whatever I desire.” It is ugly, selfish–and worst of all, it is doomed.

To escape cunning you have to counteract the three pushy bullies and speak the truth about your own inconsistent journey.

1. I am not better. I need to fail. I need to admit I fail. Failure is my only hope for escaping the disaster at the end of repeated stupidity.

2. Although I love human beings, I don’t need to be popular if such notoriety comes along with sacrificing my character and my soul.

3. The only way to become smarter is to learn from people who know more. This requires that I admit that I am less intelligent.

At the root of every drama which ends in defeat is a character who contends that he or she is better than others, popular for a time and smarter, which enables them to use cunning to produce the backdrop for their demise.

You will never be destroyed by being weak.

You will be destroyed by acting strong and ending up weak.

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Survival Kit … September 20, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2010)

buckskinHonest to God–he was dressed in  buckskin.

He had long hair and a bushy-wushy beard, giving him the appearance of a bear that had been almost completely swallowed by a deer sporting “frillies” on its hide. He was explaining, on the National Geographic Channel, the three elements necessary to survive in the wilderness.

To my surprise, toothpaste and deodorant did not make the list. The essentials, by my mountain man’s standards, were a knife, a ball of string and matches.

Hmmm. If I had a knife, I would also need bandages and antibiotic cream. I would never be able to get the string off the ball, and in no time at all, my matches would be wet and useless.

Yes, I am willing to admit publicly that my survival time in the wilderness would be brief and distressed.

But I am cognizant that there is a survival kit for just being a good human.

I think the first thing you need is a sense of self–preferably not exaggerated, by the way, and certainly not depleted by a feeling of inadequacy. But if you can emotionally muster the courage to admit who you are and who you aren’t, you probably tackle a goodly percent of the difficulty involved in remaining sane.

Yes, I do think there’s a point where we all have to say, “I am not scared of me.”

If we are secretly frightened of our own motivations, iniquities and predilections, we will work much too hard to disguise our frailties. That is why, when I am in front of an audience, I make it clear to them who they’re gettin’.

A sense of self is one of the greatest scents we possess, to draw other humans to our trail.

The second thing in the survival kit for being a better person is a sense of humor. Do you understand the purpose?

It just lets folks know, “I am not scared to fail.”

It’s quite ridiculous to be frightened of something that is inevitable. As far as I know, failure is the short-cut to success if it’s used wisely, applied correctly and walked away from with good cheer.

A sense of humor is the greatest sign of mental health.

And the final thing that I feel needs to go into the knapsack of our journey on earth is a sense of God.

Now, my definition of “a sense of God” is different from most theologians. I don’t believe we discover God in the Bible, but actually use the Good Book to confirm our revelations.

I don’t think we retrieve God through prayer–that exercise works best when we’re already well-acquainted with the Person we’re contacting.

No–I think we get a sense of God when we can truthfully proclaim, “I am not scared of people.”

For to dislike people, disdain them, ignore them, judge them or always try to change them into your image is to aggravate the mind of God and cause His Spirit to depart from your midst.

For it says quite clearly that “whenever we’ve done it unto the least of these, my brethren, we’ve done it unto Him.” The parallel is clear: to do good unto God means to eliminate any bigotry we might have toward people.

So there you go.

Even though I am not clad in buckskin and gnawing on beef jerky, I am giving you my survival kit for passing through the wilderness we call life:

  • A sense of self: I am not scared of me.
  • A sense of humor: I am not scared of failure.
  • A sense of God: I am not scared of people.

It may not book you on the National Geographic Channel as a wilderness wrangler, but it sure will qualify you … as a great pathfinder.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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Free Indeed … September 5, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1997)

Zion“We’re all believers.”

Those words were spoken to me last night by four souls who had come out to hear our concert from surrounding towns. They went on to lament that the confusion of religion, the inflexibility of faith-based individuals and the entrenched nature of traditionalism is leaving us without a path to find communion with one another.

In my early years, I did some work in prisons. After one of my presentations, a guy in his early twenties came up to me and asked for a moment of my time. He explained that he was in jail because he had stolen a car. Since arriving, he had repented and was trying to educate himself. He said he had four more years inside, and that the greatest gift he had received since arriving was the extra privilege of being able to go to the lounge and watch television one extra hour a day.

You know what struck me? Here was a gentleman who was free of the guilt and pain of his childish error–but was still trapped because he was in prison.

If church is not making us free of self-imprisonment, insecurity and frustration, then just to have more privileges–even if one of them is salvation–does not remove the bars and take away the guards.

Jesus promised me that I could be “free indeed.”  What does that mean?

It means that even though people have a testimony and a religious conviction, they can still suffer from four terrifying evils that lurk at the corners of their souls:

  1. I’m afraid of failing.
  2. I demand praise.
  3. I’m trying to fit in.
  4. I need to be wanted.

Facts are, you will never be free as long as you’re afraid of the powerful gift of failure. It is a gift because it eliminates useless choices that will hinder our ultimate victory.

In like manner, it is difficult to gain independence as long as you’re stomping about or peeking around the corner looking for praise.

Likewise, if you feel the need to fit in, you will find that you constantly need to trim the corners of your life because some new trend will require you to be different.

And finally, the best way to be wanted is by taking care of somebody else’s need instead of your own.

I believe in spirituality and a lifestyle brought by Jesus. That kind of lifestyle creates a confidence that says:

  1. I welcome the ups and downs–I look at it as emotional exercise.
  2. I love the work–if you praise me for it, it’s just gravy. I’ve already got my mashed potatoes.
  3. I am supplied. I don’t need you to tell me what’s currently “in vogue” or what you deem old-fashioned.
  4. I bring something. I never arrive anticipating to eat off the communal buffet without contributing to the spread.

If what those four people said last night is true–that we’re all believers–then let’s start believing in being “free indeed.”

Free indeed happens when we realize that the kingdom of God is within us …  and any time we crawl on our knees to find it we create distance from our own solution.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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The Difference… July 7, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1936)

huntington pianoOften the difference between success and failure is the voice within that gains our full attention.

I was twelve years old. A traveling gospel quartet came to our church and sang, with a pot luck dinner following. Everybody went to the fellowship hall–except I grabbed three of my friends, went into a nearby Sunday School classroom which had an old Huntington upright piano, and I tried to get the four of us to sing like the quartet we had just observed.

After a while we became loud and boisterous, so one of the deacons popped his head in and rebuked us for failing to be part of the church family through enjoying an “afterglow” with the gospel singers. My three friends slunk away with the avenging deacon and I pretended to follow–but then slipped back to the room and just played the piano more quietly, so as not to be heard.

That night made a difference to me.

Several years later, a minister and counselor told me I should forget my girlfriend, who had gone away to college in Arizona. He said she obviously did not love me,  and was afraid I was going to make a fool of myself by continuing to contact her. Little did he know that I had already purchased a student/standby airplane ticket to Tucson, Arizona, He was also completely unaware that my girlfriend was pregnant with our child. That was forty-three years and four sons ago.

I chose a different path. It made all the difference.

Up until the time I was eighteen years old I had never even thought about composing a song. Matter of fact, some of my friends chided me because I was always singing the hits of my favorite groups over and over again. But one day, in the back room of a loan office, where there was a piano, I perched myself, and in less than three hours I wrote two songs of my own making.

That was many writing sessions ago, and hundreds of songs. But that day made the difference.

I borrowed twenty dollars one night to go to a contest in West Virginia with my singing group. Everybody said we wouldn’t have a chance. We went down there and won. They were wrong.

That trip made a difference.

I wiggled my way around to get my group, Soul Purpose, an appearance on a Nashville, Tennessee, television program called the Teddy Bart Show. No gospel group had ever been on, but we worked at it and worked at it until we finally got invited. Afterwards I received a phone call which led to a beautiful working relationship with Marijohn Wilkin, leading to my first national album.

The difference.

I have never achieved anything in my life by playing it safe. I honestly have never found any lasting peace or purpose by pursuing the consensus of those who always seek the higher ground for fear of a flood of creativity.

Of course, I have left out the tales of woe and pain caused by such a flamboyant philosophy. Not every escapade into the unknown was a striking of gold. But it didn’t keep me from going. It didn’t keep me from trying. And it didn’t keep me from believing that life is short–and the only way we elongate it is by playing it too safe and making it so boring that it’s interminable.

It’s the difference.

It’s the ability to hear the voice within you and the confidence to believe that somehow that messenger has been with God and has come to bring a special-delivery mission your way.

It is audacious, it is often over-bearing, it is occasionally lonely–and it is certainly bizarre to those who choose a safer path.

But it isthe difference.

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Launder Nut… May 17, 2013

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laundromatThe quickest way to experience failure is to complain about things that have to be done. Not only are you wasting your time by lamenting the activity, but in the process of shifting your focus to crabbiness, you are lengthening the process of the task.

First and foremost, I am not a graduate student of this philosophy, but rather, still in elementary school. In other words, I occasionally fuss about things that are inevitable. Somehow or another, I must believe that my rankling over some chore is going to cause God or the people around me to change my circumstances and allow me a free pass. Of course, it’s ridiculous and never happens.

I used to be that way about doing the laundry. Now, I’ve never been one of those men who thinks it is “women’s work.” Since no woman dirtied my clothing, there’s no reason to think I deserve a launder maid. But from time to time, I have grumped about the activity, thinking that made me more mature, fighting the “tide,” or that it let everyone know that I was sacrificially performing the duty without good “cheer.”

Then one day I asked myself three questions:

1. What did they used to do to wash clothes? For you see, what I do is throw them in a washer, pour in some detergent, and walk away to read a book. My ancestors–by the way, not TOO far back–had to go down to the stream with a bar of lye soap and beat their clothes with rocks to get all the soil out of the fabric. It’s difficult to believe that cleansing your threads could be an aerobic workout, but for my great-grandmother, it certainly was. Humbled by the answer to my first question, I asked a second.

2. What do I have to do? As I shared earlier, I have a washing machine and a dryer to assist me in my endeavor, plus any number of additional distractions to entertain me as I wait for the full baptism of my clothing. The answer to my question is, I can do whatever I want to do. The machines do everything else. The only part of the process that resembles ancient times is that the clothes do require folding. But I have learned to turn that into a game. I see how quickly I can do it, how efficiently, or, on a given week, I fold them in a different direction than I did in the previous one. I also allow myself points and pride for taking those inside-out garments and restoring them to their correct position. Which leads to my third and final question:

3. What do I get out of it? Aside from clean clothes, I get underwear that actually smell good. I like the smell. Sometimes when I’m folding the clothes, I sniff them, which to onlookers may have a perverted bend. But they smell good.

And because laundry is a job that most people abhor, when I return with clean clothes, I become the hero of the hour. As people put them away in their drawers, they thank me over and over again for the arduous activity I endured.

And last but not least, I have the confidence that I will not have to do it again for  several days. It is one of those few pursuits that is actually finished for a season–without constantly looming, threatening repetition.

What I’m trying to tell you is that the door to happiness is unlocked when we realize that we live in a “gilded age,” where the blessing of technology has alleviated nearly all of the suffering from the succotash. We also greatly benefit by being able to complete our journey and see the blessed results of our quest.

Complaining is what people do when they believe two very dumb ideas: (1) life is not fair; and (2) that anybody cares that I’m upset.

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*****

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

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