The Night Visitor… October 2, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2024)

shadow manHe comes very late at night, although I think he would insist it is actually early in the morning.

You see, that’s the problem. He not only has his own opinions, but definitions for terms that are separate from mine.

The creepy part is that he insists he IS me–and in my weakened state of sleepiness, I find it difficult to resist his will.

  • He has the same memories I do.
  • He has many similar beliefs.
  • He has encountered the emotional conflicts and victories which are part of my history.

But physically, he is smaller. Yes, he takes up less room. And he lets me know it.

He shares ideas with me which certainly make sense in the dim light of the evening, which don’t come to mind when I’m in the shining light of the day. He has four repetitive, nagging subjects:

  1. Why didn’t you act kinder?
  2. Do you really think you’re achieving your goal?
  3. Why do you think you can continue to be so fat and survive?
  4. Wouldn’t it be easy to change these things?

You see what I mean?

It’s an annoying mixture of reality, self-righteousness, valid points and impossibilities.

But when I’m lying there on my bed, it does make sense. I do feel the inadequacy and the conviction to improve my situation. But somehow or another, this vigorous being who visits by night is completely vanished by the morning light, leaving me with the emotions of upheaval without the step-by-step solutions to victory.

Yes, I am abandoned.

It doesn’t make me angry. It doesn’t make me sad. It just baffles me enough that I want to eat something. It triggers the worst part of my appetites, which are devouring my future birthdays.

I want to figure out how to turn the conversations with my night visitor into a true motivation, to trim up the areas of my life that have caused me to become lumbering and clumsy.

But how can I retain the impact of the midnight confession into breakfast time  and the construction of a realistic “things to do today” list?

The truthful answer is I don’t know.

I’m not sure if my visitor is an incriminator to demean me or an angelic presence trying to spur me on to more noble causes. I’m not positive that the encounters I have with him are beneficial or just aggravating enough to cause me to slip a little further down the rock-slide of bad habits.

But I guess it’s just like everything else–if we view it as good, we can somehow carve it into a position to strengthen us. If we view it as bad, it can be used to discourage us and leave us wanting.

There are parts of the philosophy of my night visitor that I desire to possess. Honestly, I can’t be as hard on myself at ten o’clock in the morning as he is at two o’clock in the morning.

But if I can take bits and pieces, maybe I can launch a great idea which could eventually cause the man that I am during the day to make peace with the visitor who comes by night.

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

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

Shell-rocked … July 27, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1956)

faithlutheranshellrock

  • The me you see
  • The me that’s me
  • The me I’m freed to be

 It’s three different people, you know. Maybe success in life is about getting that trio of personalities to blend into oneness—for if they stay separate, there can be a lot of frustration.

As I head off tomorrow morning to Faith Lutheran Church in Shell Rock, Iowa, I am completely aware that God was speaking the obvious when He said that “man looks on the outward appearance.”

Honestly, my dear friends, my outward appearance has never been my “best foot forward,” unless you are fond of stumbling:

  1. I am fat.
  2. I am certainly NOT tall, dark and handsome.
  3. The aging process has relieved me of my hair.
  4. And I don’t seem powerful because my knees are pretty bad and I utilize a wheelchair to cover long distances.

Now at first reading of this description, you might be sympathetic, or even feel that I need your pity. But that’s the me you see. That is not the me that’s me.

The me that’s me is a father who has raised six sons, traveled the country many times over, written symphonies, books, movies, and has performed in front of hundreds of thousands of people.

I learned early in my life that my best shot was to abandon beauty, my “good looks,” and instead, take a good look at myself and find the best way to be of benefit to others, and therefore find great prosperity in my soul.

new jon and janSo what does that mean?

It means that I’ve developed a sense of humor about how I look, a sense of passion about what I do and a deep abiding gratitude for who I’ve been freed to be.

For you see, that is the third process. God has come along and given me permission to be a new creature—born again, as it were. He has implanted in my spirit notions, ideas and promises that don’t always jibe with my reality, but still remain available if I’m willing to accept them by faith.

Take salvation, for example. I’m glad He handles that particular arena. If I were in charge of salvation, I would first of all have to always be a good person, saying all the right things, while being that guy who believes in life after death even in moments of doubtful consideration.

But I don’t have to worry about that.

The reason most people get shell-shocked on their way to Shell Rock is because they become anxious about what other people are going to think about them and they don’t have much confidence in God pulling off His part. They have bookends of insecurity, making them very nervous about their own package of talent.

I fully expect the people in Shell Rock to initially see me as a fat guy rolling along in a wheelchair. In fact, if it were a silent film, that would be it. But life isn’t a silent film:

  • We get the chance to have a voice.
  • We get the chance to express ourselves.
  • We get the chance to be loving.
  • We are afforded the opportunity to be generous.
  • We are provided moments when we can be confrontational in a way that benefits the common good.

And I am not about to ever forget that even though people may have an immediate visceral reaction to me and I may have gifts that can overcome that prejudice, it still holds no candle to how much I am loved by my Father.

If you’re going to be successful on Planet Earth, you have to realize that the me that people see can never, ever be perfected. No matter how many times you lift your face, tuck your belly or comb your hair, someone will have a problem with your appearance.

So spend more time with the “me that’s me,” and perfect the art of being yourself. And don’t be afraid to move towards excellence.

Because when it’s all done, even when people reject your offering as a whole, you can come home to the “me you’re freed to be” … in the arms of your Father in heaven.

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

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

Petering Out … April 26, 2013

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jon St. PeteLong before we abandon our faith, we lose our perspective. Our passion “peters out” because we forget how to use what we are.

It reminds me of a story of a guy named Peter. He was a fisherman–at least, that’s how the story goes. But considering he was a fisherman, this dude had more trouble with boats and water than any “landlubber” ever dreamed. Somewhere along the line he had convinced himself that his particular occupation, pursuit of life, and dreamscape was difficult.

Matter of fact, the first time he met Jesus, he was casting his net into the sea from the shore. Now, this is not exactly the most effective way to catch fish. Everyone knows that only the little guppies exist near the shoreline. But apparently, the previous night’s escapades in the boat were not successful, so in desperation, he just started throwing in a net from the sand. Or who knows? Maybe his ship was full of holes.

He was in a boat one night in the middle of a storm and his friend, Jesus, came walking on the water to join him and his buddies. For some unexplained reason, Peter decided he needed to walk on the water, too. It wasn’t necessary. Jesus didn’t come strolling to their aid to get everybody in the pool. But Peter was so insecure that he wanted to be better than everybody else around him in the storm, so he ended up nearly drowning in the process.

And after Jesus was killed and Peter felt great guilt over denying him to the officials, he stomped off in a huff to go back to fishing–even though his life had been permanently altered by the experience of being with his Nazarene friend.

He is an excellent example for us because at one moment, he’s being heralded as “a rock” and in the next moment he goes back to his former behavior and is dubbed “satan.”

What causes all of us to “peter out?” We make one of two mistakes, which actually end up being the same error:

1. “I’m so bad that no one could ever love me, so I will pretend that I am not worthy of being blessed.”

2. “I’m so good that everybody should love me, so what the hell is wrong with the world?”

What’s missing in both cases? An honest assessment of who we are.

Let me be the first: I am a fat, bald, aging man with bad knees who has been blessed with talent, which I have multiplied, and in the process of doing so, I have learned to be more tolerant of others and generous in my spirit with the world around me.

There you go. As long as I keep that in mind, I am balanced, humorous and useful.

Tonight I head to St. Peter Lutheran Church in Elgin, Texas. They named their church after that fisherman, who thought he could get a good catch by standing on the shore instead of getting in the boat.

Are we much different? No. But remember–God doesn’t love us because we’re going to be saved and escape humanity. God loves us because we’re humans and we can escape the fear of being so, and end up saved.

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

Balder … April 18, 2013

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hatI like hats.

I think I always have liked hats, even though I don’t remember wearing one until I was into my mid-thirties. Before that age, I took great pride in having hair. Matter of fact, in my twenties I grew it down to my shoulders and flipped it in the air when I sang, pretending I was Roger Daltry from the Who onstage at Woodstock, although obviously metabolically challenged.

But as I lost my hair I started wearing hats, the premise being that if you covered up the disappearing area of locks, people would not know that you were actually bald and you could still pull off being extraordinarily youthful and virile.

But I always ran into one problem: sooner or later you have to take your hat off.

Even though I would arrive at my engagements and set up for my show wearing a hat, it was generally considered inappropriate to sport one during the presentation. So actually, donning the beanie on top of my head for the first part of the event made the removal of the same more noticeable–and truthfully, I ended up looking … balder.

I know that sounds odd. But if people don’t know what’s under your hat, when you do finally expose it, it’s even more shocking. So about four or five years ago I stopped wearing hats so as not to send unnecessary electrical waves through the minds of those who meet me. Instead I establish my baldness from the beginning and never have to appear balder.

It’s a powerful idea–and can be applied in so very many ways.

About eight years ago I lost eighty-one pounds. I was VERY, VERY fat. I succeeded in shedding enough tonnage that I became just VERY fat. At that point there was one remaining goal–don’t get fatter. Traditionally, those who lose weight put all their weight back on. So even though I may be fat my whole life, I don’t have to get fatter. There is a certain regality to that which I shall rejoice in, even as I attempt to address losing additional ounces.

You want to know what the problem is with being angry? No one takes the advice of the Bible, which states, “Be angry and sin not.” So instead of getting angry and getting over it, we try to put a hat on it–a lid–and in the process, we become angrier.

Have you ever been hurt? If we’re not able to express the emotion of that pain, crying out some of the frustration, there is a great danger that people who are hurt become hurters.

We have a decision to make. Are we going to take what we are and share it from a pure heart, unashamed, or are we going to put a hat on it and pretend for a while that we really don’t have a problem?

Because I will tell you, I sin–but I am not a sinner. A sinner is someone who attempts to hide from what is done by sporting some fig leaves over the problem area, and end up looking more ridiculous.

  • I am bald–but I will not wear a hat, cover up, and end up looking balder.
  • I am fat, but plan on being conscientious enough not to become fatter.
  • I have been hurt, but I am going to work it out to keep myself from becoming a hurter.
  • I can’t lie to you–I do get angry. But I express it so I don’t become angrier.
  • And God and I both know that I sin. But I like to let my Daddy know when I break a vase in the house, so I don’t become a sinner, hiding out in my room and missing out on the blessings of the household.

So I am bald. But ironically enough, if I try to hide it under my hat, it really does become … a hairy situation.

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

Subway Stop… April 2, 2013

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SubwayAshford done.

It was an evening with a couple dozen strangers. We talked, laughed, got to know each other and I believe, departed as friends. That in itself is an inspirational miracle that boggles the mind and tingles the spirit.

Packed up, ready to go–8:33 P.M. At this point we need some nourishment–something called dinner. It’s tricky business. You don’t want to get food that has so much fat, sugar and grease that you wake up the next morning with a five-pound weight gain. But you also would like to have something that is both incredible and edible. So we “went to Jared’s.” No, not the diamond store–Subway. You remember Jared–the guy who lost all the weight just eating Subway? It is a remarkable joint to frequent if you are attempting to watch your calories and consume vegetables along with your breads and meats.

I stayed in the van and Jan ran in to make our selections. I snapped a picture of her while she was in there, as you can see in today’s artwork. While I was sitting there a car pulled up, rattling my windows with its speakers, sharing a massive overdose of rap music, proliferated with lots of harmonics, rhythm, and language which would make my mother leave the room in a huff.

A young man stepped out of his car, into the Subway and stood in line behind Jan. I had to watch this. Even though she was very busy making her order and interacting with the lady who was trying to “sandwich everything in,” Jan took a moment to strike up a conversation with the young man who had just entered the store. I couldn’t hear anything and it was like watching a silent movie, but in no time at all they were laughing and he was expressing great intrigue. I just sat there for a moment and thought, “How perfect.”

There is this thing we talk about called The Great Commission. Basically, it states,  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every living creature, teaching them to observe whatsoever I’ve commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

I had to smile. God never begins or ends at the door of the church. God is us. It’s why Jesus saidthe kingdom of God is within you.”

So on this beautiful night in Houston, we HAD “gone into the world.” We drove over to this town and broke our pattern of normalcy to try something new. “Go into the world” means that somehow or another you have to escape your confinements. If you believe that everything has to be “normal,” you will eventually become prejudiced and close somebody out. If you do this, God stops showing up for your morning meetings.

Then you’ve got to preach the gospel. We had done that. “Preaching the gospel” means finding your message, and making sure that when you share it with others, it’s GOOD NEWS. There’s a lot of stuff I could tell people which would shock them or make them angry, but that’s not the gospel. The gospel is good news. So if I can’t muster a bunch of good news to share with people, and all I can find in my soul is sadness, I probably shouldn’t preach. We shared good news.

But when it was over and we needed a place to get a bite to eat, The Great Commission continues–it’s no longer about preaching, it’s about teaching. How do you teach somebody? Are we talking about a blackboard? Or reciting information, hoping that someone is taking notes? No. Our entire teaching format is displaying to the world who we are. It is our presence. We are the “light of the world” and we are the “salt of the earth.” If we can’t be lit up and tasty, no one will care much about anything we have to preach.

When Jan returned to the van, she explained what the young man was interested in when he came into the shop. He dug her clothes and shoes. He thought she had style. So it made him curious about what brought her to town.

I guess if we can’t shine forth like a city set on a hill and have a countenance that reflects that we’ve been somewhere other than a lemon-tasting convention, we have little chance ot teaching anyone anything.

Yes–it’s our responsibility to make our lives a presence.

And finally, we need to walk with the realization that Jesus is with us. Not just us–we’re not his “favorite dudes.” But because we’ve gone into the world, escaping our “normal,” and we’ve preached the gospel by finding a message and making sure it’s good news, and we’re teaching people to observe what Jesus said by making our lives a presence, we can have the confidence that he’s with us.

Can I sum that up in two words? Stay sane.

The world wants you to go a little nuts. Don’t do it. Society would love to have you worry and become overwrought. Turn down the invitation. The television set screams of dangers. Change the channel. Stay sane.

  • Escape the norm
  • Find a message and make sure it’s good news
  • Make your life a presence
  • And stay sane.

That’s The Great Commission, folks. And my friend, Jan, acted it out last night, at a Subway stop.

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

I Am Afraid… October 20, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

Fear is when being afraid insists on spending the night and remains in the morning for coffee, toast and jam.

I have no fear.

But I am afraid.

I am afraid that I will fail to fulfill my mission because of my weakness.

I am afraid the truth will be made so complicated by greedy technicians that beautiful souls will grow weary of seeking the prize.

I am afraid I will always be fat.

I am afraid my foibles are a detriment to my message.

I am afraid of America selling freedom to gain security.

I am afraid of religion.

I am afraid of politics.

I am especially afraid when the two of them intercourse.

I am afraid of unbelief being touted to the masses as intelligence.

I am afraid of my legs.

I am afraid of being forgotten.

I am afraid that my voice is too tiny to be heard above the clamor.

I am afraid of ring bologna.

I am afraid of my body.

I am afraid of drooling dogs.

I am afraid of stairs.

I am afraid of stares.

I am afraid of being there two minutes before I die.

I am afraid of conservatives and liberals–equally.

I am afraid of fear.

Fear hates love. May my love cast out my fear.

Yet … I am afraid.

May I use that moment of being afraid as an energy drink for my soul.

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

Waiting for the Load… October 13, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

Swimming pools have water. May I follow that revelation with the admission that I enjoy water? Baptism, baths, splish or splash–the wet stuff is nice.

That’s why it’s difficult to believe that until I was twenty-seven years old, I never put on a suit, went to a swimming pool and jumped in the water with my friends. I was fat. I was that “adolescent obese,” where as a man, you have muscle and strength but you’re also covered with enough loose skin and blubber to make it appear, from a distance, that your sex is ambiguous. At least that’s the way I felt.

I actually sat by the pool with my companions, dressed in long pants, shirt and shoes and pretended I was having a good time while they all acted “cool in the pool.” They pleaded with me to come in but I always told them, “Next time.”

As you well know, next time never comes.

Matter of fact, as I look back on it, I’m not quite sure what finally prompted me to slide on a pair of short pants, take off my shirt and flop my way into the refreshing tide. I think I finally just got tired of being tired. I got weary of being the one who had explanations for all my insecurities, which were generally accepted by those around me.

I bring this up to you because the first time I did go in a pool without a shirt, wearing trunks, was probably one of the more horrible experiences of my life. I  succeeded in finding a time when there was no one at the pool and slid into the water without being eyeballed. But lo and behold, before I was able to make my departure, a kid’s party invaded the establishment, with balloons and about twenty of the brattiest children I have ever met. So I dunked myself under the water to hide my obvious thighs, but the time of the party extended beyond my available pool time. In other words, I had to get out of the pool in front of the kids.

I put it off and I put it off. Finally, it was beginning to look like I might be a little odd or checking out the children for hanging around so long, so I headed for the exit steps and ascended. As I came out of the pool, I noticed that the children, who had been screaming and playing behind me, suddenly fell silent. All at once, one of the boys started to laugh, which caused all the other children to burst into hooting and hollering.

I was humiliated and angry–and in my haste to try to grab my shirt, I tripped over a chair and fell against the fence. This only increased the enjoyment of my little rabble-rousers. I stomped away, saying some nasty little piece of nothing in their direction. It was months before I attempted to be courageous again.

But I learned that day. Well, maybe it was weeks after that I learned. But eventually, a lesson did land in my spirit. Here it is. No matter what we attempt, no matter how we try, no matter how much we plan–every day life is going to arrive with a load.

It isn’t there to aggravate us. It isn’t Satan tracking us down so he can poke us with his pointy tail. It isn’t because we are full of evil and depravity. And it isn’t because we “forgot to do something” and next time we need to be more careful. It’s just that God allows Mother Nature to mix things, up so all the big boys and girls don’t grab all the big marbles and go into the big house and make their big plans and look out of their big windows–and laugh at all the little people. In other words, all of us take a turn at losing our marbles.

This week, as I have launched on this faith-mission with my health, the realization about the “Load” has been prevalent in my mind and present in my reality. Take yesterday. I love Fridays on the road because I have an extra writing session–a letter I write to 350-plus pastors across the nation who have become my acquaintances and friends. It is also laundry day. Without fear of losing my macho portion, I love the smell of clean clothes. It is a day to plan for my weekend, when I will get to meet wonderful, dynamic human beings and share my dribble of talent and insight.  Yesterday was no different. I had all those blessings, but mingled in was the realization that I am struggling in my walk.

So what is the key to life when we’re all “waiting for the load”–that unexpected punch of possible problems that comes our way, ignoring both our wishes and our pre-packaged purpose? It’s a two-step process:

1. Plan simple so complications won’t frustrate you. If you look at what you decide to do on any given day and you’re already exasperated, take four things off the list. Because four things will get added on later without your permission, and if you have kept your list intact, you will not only be overwhelmed, you will become infuriated.

2. Budget in time for rest. You may not get it, but if you don’t budget it, you can guarantee yourself that you’ll never find a moment to take a breath during the day.

There’s the magic. I woke up yesterday morning knowing that I am still having pain in my legs, with some difficulty in standing to my feet without a grimace or two. So what became my load?

Well, because I have been working so hard to try to walk, I had to overcome a muscle ache in my right leg. But I did have a great bathroom stop which, for some reason or another, seemed to alleviate some of the discomfort.

I made my way down to the pool in the wheelchair and lowered myself into the water and it felt so good–but walking around in the pool was a bit painful and caused climbing the steps and getting back into the chair to have a bit of a Herculean effect.

It was completely balanced–but I did not begin the day setting any anticipations that did not seem reasonable. I was waiting for the load.

It is coming. There is no temptation that is not common to all of us. Please do not think you are going to escape making tough decisions in faith, simply because you have padded a bank account, paid into Social Security, done an oil change on your car or saw the doctor a month ago. There is one certainty for all of humanity–there will eventually be something that comes our way that we did not plan for that will jettison us from this earth.

So, what did I learn yesterday while I was “waiting for the load?” I once again praised my heavenly Father for such an articulate and meticulous organizational creation, available to us mortals if we will allow ourselves to be human instead of insisting that we’re gods.

Here is a four-stanza little verse that I pass on to you, which you may want to absorb into your everyday thinking:

No more than we can bear

Not less than we can share

Not easy to make us lazy

Not hard to make us crazy.

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

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