3 Things … December 6th, 2018


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Pairs of feet, hands, eyes and ears

That Are Much More Important Than Other Things

 

1. Mercy: “I will attempt to feel what you feel.”

 

2. Justice: “I will try to be equal in how I treat others.”

 

3. Judgment: “I will evaluate myself so other folks don’t have to.”

 

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Cring & Clazzy … November 6th, 2018

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It appears that somewhere between the heart and the spirit, there is a desert. So dry is this place that people convince themselves it is impossible to cross the expanse from what we feel to what we believe. Some folks just feel, and others are convinced that believing is enough.

No sermon will ever make the journey.

No education is capable of spanning the region.

And no amount of prayer will ever take our feelings to what we believe.

There is only one passageway, and one alone.

It is the electricity and energy that transforms our feelings into a union with our beliefs.

It is called music.

And there is nothing to compare.


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Good News and Better News… September 4th, 2017

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Is peace merely the absence of war or a majestic anointing to dissuade all conflict?

This question crossed my mind Sunday morning when Janet and I had the privilege of sharing our program at Peace Lutheran Church in Palm Bay, Florida, under the able leadership of Pastor Paul. Although the folks were hesitant at first to open their hearts to “us strangers,” in no time at all the glory of Spirit filled the room with reconciliation, realization and renewal.

It was good. It felt good.

Which brings me to my point this morning. Even though we may exalt ourselves for being extremely intellectual or even spiritual, we actually spend most of our lives being prompted by our feelings. Some would insist that this predilection is our weakness, but I have discovered that our emotions are what endear us to the Creator.

So when anyone steps into Peace Lutheran Church, they are taking the pulse of the heartbeat in the place.

Is it a sanctuary for redemption minus the fussiness propagated by our society? Is it warm with human smiles–aglow with care, and just lit up by the notion that “all things work together for the good for those who love the Lord?”

Only after we feel good about a place do we actually look around to see.

We notice faces. We observe actions. God forgive us, we become spies at our present location. Are we critical? Unfortunately, yes.

This is why there must be a belief system on Earth that understands that we’re constantly letting our light shine before all men. There is no backstage for the journey of faith, nor are we given a dressing room. There is no time to learn lines because all the daily setups are improvisational.

  • The world is looking.
  • The world is critical.
  • The world must see evidence for what it feels.

And finally, if we like what we feel and we’re pretty satisfied with what we see, we’re ready to hear.

As we know, faith comes by hearing, so it is the responsibility of every believer to bring peace to our quadrant by providing a faith that can be seen and felt.

That was our message yesterday. We must stop insisting that merely opening the doors to a house of worship promotes brotherly love, good will or recognition of our Creator.

No–if people don’t feel it they will never see it.

And if they don’t see it, they won’t hear it.

So the good news is that by the time I left Peace Lutheran I felt them and I saw the love of God. They let me eyeball their soul.

And the better news is, I can now trust what I hear from them.

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Quatrain of Comedy … July 29, 2014

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Jan laughing

Make me laugh

Make me giggle

Make me smile

Make me feel

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Arizona morning

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.

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Published in: on July 29, 2014 at 12:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Fullness: Real … January 27, 2013

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keep it real

Words come and go.

I remember when saying “groovy” really was groovy. Being declared “hip” was not a replacement for anything. And “far out” was actually the next-door neighbor to “cool.”

So if I can shake your memory to a time when the phrase “keep it real” was considered to be the groovy, hip, far-out, cool phrase of the day–I’m sorry to see that one go.

It wasn’t “BE real” or even “GET real,” but rather, doffed its tiny beanie of popularity to the fact that we have a job–to KEEP it real. It is really quite natural to do so if you understand all of your parts and instead of using them against one another, you form them into a team. After all, teaching human beings that we have a warring nature which is always trying to bring us down and keep us from our better selves may be the fad of the day, but it traps us in our inadequacies and fears instead of throwing us a rope to pull ourselves out of the pit of hell.

Let’s just take what we’ve learned over the past few days. (If you haven’t learned anything, let’s just take what I’ve said.) It begins with emotions–allowing ourselves to feel. We get the ball rolling by giving ourselves a permission slip to be touched by infirmities–both your own and others and admitting that we get tempted like everybody else. Is there anything more annoying than the wanker who always says, “I never feel that way…” or “Chocolate chip cookies? Ooh. They’re too sweet.” (Somehow or another, I think God just forgives us for silently plotting his death.) Everything begins with “feel.”

It is only then that we are prepared to kneel without being forced to do so or repeating what everybody is doing in a line at the altar. We kneel to worship. What do we worship? Spirit and truth. Candidly, there is much to consider spiritually which I will NEVER pursue because I just don’t find it of any earthly use. This may limit my after-life education, but I guess I don’t mind picking up a few extra classes in heaven, since I have all of eternity to complete my degree. Things that touch our soul should have spirit and truth. If they’re spiritual they’re going to be truthful; and if they’re truthful, you will find some spirituality in them.

So after we spend some time feeling and kneeling, we’re ready to move up to the penthouse, the human brain, and set in motion some healing. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that my upbringing, schooling and adolescence left behind some pretty huge mind-scars. I did get my mind blown several times–and not in a good way. I need some healing–or I will start thinking I know everything I need to know and cease to learn what will actually make me smarter and easier to get along with.

Unfortunately, as we discussed, our thinkers are not learning and our learners are not thinking. You get healed when you realize that the gray matter located in your cranium is not only supposed to think, pumping out what it knows, but also start learning what is being pumped out by what other people think.

What a great journey so far–we let ourselves feel instead of hiding behind bad moods, calling them “a poor night’s sleep.” We let ourselves kneel by taking spirit and truth into our lives as worship instead of grabbing off the fast food menu of religion with a crust of bread and a sip of wine. This allows us to renew our minds and gives that magnificent human computer the opportunity to think and learn, which heals us.

Then we’re ready to go out and deal with the world and DO AS: do the things we dream to do but perform them as if we were our own customer–give quality to our actions equivalent to our own standards. Then, instead of complaining about our lot, we deal with it. We realize that preparing is much more important than planning.

Having the right attitude when you show up makes it so much easier to change when your goals are rejected at the door. Suddenly we develop a reputation for being real. We start hearing folks say, “You’re just so real…” They tender stories us about individuals they know who are “so fake.” And all we’ve done to get this magnitude of appreciation is ask our little shift of workers, which show up at our human factory every day, to unite together in a common cause instead of pretending that each one of them owns the company.

  • Feel
  • Kneel
  • Heal
  • Deal
  • And then, keep it real

You’ve reached the fullness.

There you go. Try it out and if it doesn’t work for you, realize that I’m just me. There is no money-back guarantee–because you didn’t give me any money. But if it does work, share it with somebody else and let’s see if we can’t free ourselves from the blandness that just seems to welcome insanity.

P.S.  Happy fourteenth birthday to my granddaughter, Isabella.

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Do As: Heal … January 26, 2013

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Spirited set

6:52 P.M. last night–eight minutes until show time in Lake Worth, Florida. Above you see a shot of the stage, which I am about to enter. What do I know?

First, if you don’t mind, let’s look at what I don’t know:

  1. I don’t know if anyone will be out there, in the audience. I mean, the event has been advertised. We tried to stimulate interest with an intriguing press release. But the slightest little thing can come along and keep people from showing up to ANYTHING–even free turkey sandwiches passed out on the street.
  2. I don’t know whether these folks are going to like me or not. I am not famous, so they feel complete freedom to reject me at will. “Reject” is a little strong, but you get the idea.
  3. The best thing I possess is who I am, free of lies.
  4. And finally, I don’t know if everything is going to work. The presumption of the status of all things being tuned and ready has often left me embarrassed, with my pants down emotionally.

So what do I feel eight minutes before the show? Invigorated, excited, careful, curious and humble. And here are the two things I know:  first, I need to walk out there and do what I do as well as I possibly can, without offering lame reasons for why I am not ready. Secondly, in pursuing what I do, if I am intelligent, I will perform my duties and mission as if I were doing it for myself. Yes, I always look out at the audience, viewing a sea of faces which all resemble me. I am not about to give folks less than what I would require for myself.

That’s why it’s important that I begin the process with feel–understanding that if I am not touched by the infirmities of life, admitting that I am tempted like everybody else, I can become a first-class jerk with no heart for mankind, just spouting a bunch a rules and pretending that I’m God‘s hall monitor.

Once I have purified feeling, I am ready to worship in spirit and truth–to symbolically kneel before my gathered host, letting them know that I honor the heavens so much that I’m trying to build a branch office here on earth.

Whenever I am in front of an audience, it’s helpful to be prepared not only to think, but to learn from them. In the process, healing occurs. Sometimes the healing is in them; occasionally it’s in me. But if I insist that I am the thinker and they’re the learners, they will quickly be repelled by my approach and protect themselves from the onslaught of my domineering attitude.

I am inclined to DO AS–to deal with what is going to happen and use it to my advantage instead of recoiling in fear because some unknown factor has surprised me. Yes, I will tell you good folks a simple truth: preparing is better than planning. Yes, preparing your heart, spirit and mind to feel, kneel and heal is ten times more effective than thinking you have covered every eventuality and closed the doors of difficulty.

Right now the stage is empty. In a minute, it will be occupied by the human-flesh spaces known as Jonathan Richard Cring and Janet Clazzy. We owe it to ourselves and those we are about to meet to feel, kneel, heal and finally–deal with what is available.

Are we ready? Have we made a plan? More importantly, are we prepared to be ourselves without shame?

Deal–the process by which we arrive in life with a pure heart, a truthful spirit, a healed mind, without any hidden agenda to control but instead, are grateful just for the opportunity to be alive and breathing deeply.

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Somer-salt … October 29, 2012

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Today‘s story is in two parts, so please grant me the courtesy of staying around for both tellings.

Yesterday morning I was introduced, and our dear sponsor invited the congregation to make us welcome. What followed was silence. Now, I don’t consider myself an authority on human customs across the globe, but I am pretty sure that silence, as a form of greeting and welcome, is universally considered to be hostile. I paused for a moment before striking the keys of my piano to begin my opening song. Was I going to say something? Was I going to request that they give me the basic courtesy of the gentle acceptance normally given to any stranger? Or would such a demand come across as crass and pushy? I opted to go ahead and just share my song.

The reason I made that choice? This was NOT a normal situation.

I was in a church.

And for some inexplicable reason, we have convinced ourselves that God expects us to act anti-human when praying in His presence. I don’t know how this got started. It would seem to me logically, that since God is our Creator, He would not only anticipate our need for enthusiasm, but encourage it. Yet I am often led to believe that applause in a church is not only optional, but often inappropriate. This belief has flourished even though the Bible screams at us, “Clap your hands all ye people! Shout unto God with a voice of triumph!”

What cranky grandmas got together with a bunch of malevolent old widowers to conjure the rule that being in the presence of God demands silence, reverence and apparently, giving tribute to eighteenth-century classical music? I don’t know. But it does not make better people–and if it doesn’t make better people, it can’t be God.

For instance, that’s why I stay out of politics. I have never seen anyone become more generous and creative by running for office. But I have also never had the experience of observing human souls who have been cleansed of their sins by baptism free themselves of being introverted and frightened of being successful.

Here’s the way I read it: we are to love God with our heart, soul, mind and strength. I looked out at those faces who refused to welcome me with even a tiny round of applause and saw beautiful, gorgeous, delightful fellow-travelers who, for some reason or another, got “stuck in neutral” through perching in a pew.

This leads me to the second part of my story. The problem is not the people. The problem is what we ask the people to be.

Human beings were never meant to be dry,  somber and withholding. If you don’t believe me, just go to a football stadium. They don’t sit there and sip coffee, staring at the field, barely acknowledging the activity before their eyes. We LIKE to clap. We LIKE to cheer. We LIKE to be happy. It’s our nature.

Here is the formula for having a successful venture when it comes to dealing with human beings. I don’t know–maybe your organization is trying to gear its approach to melancholy, intergalactic aliens. I would have no idea what these creatures from outer space would require to make them tick. But human beings are heart, soul, mind and strength. Therefore may I present a list? We need:

  1. To feel more.
  2. To believe something.
  3. To think deeper
  4. To live bigger.

If we do these things, we can escape the limitations of the culture of our upbringing, and at the same time, enhance it–by feeling more, believing something, thinking deeper and living bigger.

I have grown weary of hearing people say that “certain parts of the country have certain personalities” and will not adjust to any unfamiliar offering. It just ain’t so.

I was in Somerset, Ohio, a village of fifteen hundred people. Yes, I am sure they have ways of doing things. Undoubtedly, they pride themselves on NOT being part of the big city down the road. But church is not about duplicating the mindset of the community around you, while ignoring your own personal needs to excel and be joyous.

Jesus says we are the salt of the earth. Could anything be any simpler than that? Try to cook a meal without salt. You may have just discovered the menu of the cafeteria from hell. Salt is flavor; we are salt. We are the good taste to those around us. So we are supposed to teach people who love God to be salt. It doesn’t mean they walk away from their loved ones or even some of their choices. It means they feel more, they believe something, they think deeper and they live bigger. They choose Jesus over their culture. They always select love over fear and they produce joy as a remedy for disappointment.

Can I give you the good news? I did my little “dog and pony show,” opened up my heart to these beautiful brothers and sisters, and guess what? They greeted me with their own personal victory, humanity and sense of well-being. They were lovely. They escaped religion to find God.

This is what we all have to do. You have to escape politics to find justice. You have to run away from big corporations to generate quality products. You have to refuse to succumb to committees to promote progress. And you have to ignore religion if you want to be close to Jesus.

I love Somerset. I just want to see them become Somer-salt–to live in their town but be just enough flavor to make people thirsty to drink at the waters of life. One fine gentleman came up to my table and said, “We had church today.”

We certainly did. I will never forget you folks, because you stepped out of your predictable approach and allowed yourselves to be human in the presence of God. You learned the power of true worship:

  • Feel more
  • Believe something
  • Think deeper
  • Live bigger

And if you do this, you will become the salt of Somerset. Your vision for your new community center will be more than a building, but also a great big hug for your neighbors, telling them how much you love them. And you won’t EVER sit in silence again, pretending that’s a way to welcome strangers.

I take great comfort in the fact that God made humans. And since He did, I don’t have to spend all of my time apologizing for being one.

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