PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … September 20th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Even Longer

Come, behold the fractured frame

A union of regal holy name

Souls bound in a love so true

One found one, translated two

Two became a mysterious single

As will and purpose gently mingle

But pain exposed the dangerous lie

While pardon, forgiveness and patience try

To have her perfect work

Faithfully pursue, never shirk

Yet trust is a stingy master

Running yon with each disaster

Abandoning the glory of former days

Demanding repentance, a changing of ways

To mesh as one the broken seal

Make the hearts regain the feel

Mending the rip in the fragile skin

Brought about by careless sin

And welcome the chance–be born again

Dissect the critics and welcome your twin

So the twain can emerge as one flesh

Baptized in their tears suddenly afresh

Ma’am to sir, he lied to her

Sir to ma’am, he gives a damn

For the new love will be stronger

Conceived to last even longer.

Dedicated to JA at OK

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Good News and Better News… July 17th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Church attendance is dropping.

The statement is so widely accepted that no one is objecting, nor considering the ramifications.

We are absolutely terrified if the ocelot become an endangered species, but barely flick an eyebrow over losing an intricate part of our society–the church.

Those who hate the church smile in a bit of wistful glee, and those who still attend look around at the empty room, shrug their shoulders and quietly head to the altar for communion.

If the American church dissipates to nothing, what are we losing?

We are forfeiting a place where once a week we can come and admit that we’re sinners. The humility does us good.

Also, it’s a location where we can rejoice over being forgiven.

Where else in America do you sit in a room and sing with other people?

How about the message? A lesson on the power of good.

It gives us the chance to be quiet. Everything roars around us–and we have a tendency to roar back.

When I was growing up, I was suddenly around kids from other school districts, who became my “church friends.”

It gives me a chance to think about possibilities other than myself.

While I’m trying to stay awake, I have the realization that I’m part of something.

I have to look for a shirt that matches my socks.

I find myself giving.

I also am put in the position to receive.

I’m actually leaving my home for something other than shopping, games, movies and dinner.

I am in a room full of people who will pray for me.

When church is done right, I can question. I can doubt. I can shout.

I can see, hear, feel and touch the gospel.

We certainly should be concerned about baby seals–they are a part of creation.

But if we allow the church to go the way of the dodo bird, we should stop wondering why things are not flying high and straight.

The good news is, there is still a church out there.

The better news is, that church is waiting for our unique input.

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Good News and Better News… November 7th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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good-news-trinity-mansfield-sign-pic-1Autumn reminds me of getting older. It occasionally offers memories of the warmth of earlier days, but things start falling off your limbs.

As I woke up and drove to Trinity United Methodist Church in Mansfield, Ohio, it was a beautiful, sunshine-blessed fall morning–invigorating to the body and soul. I think other people felt that as well, because Pastor Bob and the congregation shared a gentle and kind greeting.good-news-trinity-mansfield-clouds-pic-2

I was also blessed to have my nephew and sister-in-law show up for the gig, and we had a few minutes in my green room to catch up and rediscover why we like each other (even though we’re related).

Then it was time for the service. I’m always intrigued by the fact that we pursue the traditions of religion without considering whether they are adequate for the needs of humans. What is the purpose of God putting together a ceremony which does nothing to enrich the lives of the participants?

What do we need from church?

First and foremost–good cheer.

Fortunately for us, Jesus said “he came that our joy might be full.” For after all, we cannot survive another experience that leaves us contemplating without rejoicing.

The second thing church should give us is fellowship.

Once again, God looked ahead and saw our need. Jesus proclaimed, “By this you shall know my followers–that they have love for one another.”

After good cheer and fellowship, we all desperately need forgiveness.

Jesus warned us that “except we repent, we shall perish. But if we do repent, “God is faithful and just to forgive us.” This pardon makes us a little bit more willing to consider being gracious to others.

So you can see, what we need out of church is also what God expects out of church.

Passing off the traditions of men and calling them the commandments of God is what really pissed off Jesus.

So the good news is that if we offer hope and cheer, fellowship and forgiveness, we will not only be doing God’s will, but we will be presenting an atmosphere which is conducive to the growth of human beings.

The better news is that it is a lot more pleasant to do this than arguing over hymns, trying to stay awake during sermons, and bickering over the color of the carpet in the vestibule.

good-news-trinity-mansfield-jon-pic-3

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G-Poppers … November 4th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Pop is insulted.

After six months of playground buffoonery passing itself off as a Presidential election, he finds himself feeling violated by the very same people who would solicit his support.

One of the candidates insults G-Pop’s intelligence and the other one insults his faith.

As Secretary Clinton touts her qualifications for the job of being the leader of the free world, listing numerous occupations which have prepared her for the position, she simultaneously pulls up lame, pretending that the technology of an email server is beyond her grasp.

She also has a litany of profiles to explain how four Americans in Libya–a very hostile environment–were lost on her watch.

On top of that, she continues to make excuses for a husband who certainly did his best to denigrate the gravitas of the job as Commander-in-Chief.

It seems that Hillary is incapable of comprehending that credentials need to be backed up with actions.

On the other hand, G-Pop’s faith is insulted by the lifestyle and urges of Donald J. Trump. Donald has taken one of the primary concepts of the Declaration of Independence–“all men are created equal”–and has whittled away, redefining the meaning of these words by placing special significance of one group over another.

He simultaneously has taken the respect, honor and equality that Jesus saw for women, attempting to turn our country back into a 1950’s philosophy, where it is assumed that men will step in to cover the inadequacies of the “ditzy female.”

But worst of all, Mr.Trump pretends to take on the mantle of faith in Jesus Christ, when three of the greatest principles in the teachings of the Nazarene are repentance, tolerance and forgiveness. By his own admission, he does not apologize, he does not view all humans as equals, and he would much rather attack those who cross his path and challenge him.

These two people are insulting.

If you have intelligence and a measure of faith, you will find their applications disheartening.

So what should we do?

Is it worse to have someone who insults your intelligence, or an individual who insults your faith?

Or is it more important for us to realize that as expected, no true transformation, revival or inspiration will ever come out of Washington, D. C.?

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G-Poppers … September 30, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is not in the course of human events, a particularly rugged political campaign, or a social environment that has begun to ignore the importance of human interaction that creates our present quandary.

G-Pop believes we have begun to dilute the human glue that allows us to stick together: an adherence to values and a respect which prefers kindness to judgment, mercy to critique and truth to deception.

G-Pop contends that if we don’t respect this glue, we will begin to fly off in all directions.

Here is the human glue:

  1. I will try to tell the truth.
  2. When I fail, I will step forward and admit I’m wrong and tell you I’m sorry.
  3. Since I am often wrong, I need to both forgive and be forgiven.
  4. I will determine to do better.

The absence of this wonderful mucilage of human emotion causes us to attack one another, often with violent conclusions.

We can no longer sit by and act as if this present situation is typical. It is not. It is a deteriorated state of consciousness which fails to recognize the need for grace.

Without human glue, we collapse.

Yes.

We become unglued.

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G-Poppers … May 20th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Pop has certainly made a religion out of avoiding being religious or political.

It’s not that he lacks faith or devotion to America–just that he is leery of any club that insists on making all the rules.

So when G-Pop was waiting for his son to join him for dinner at a restaurant, as he sipped some water and tried to avoid the breadsticks they had brought to the table, he listened in to a nearby conversation among two men and a woman.

Remarkably, the trio was split among the three remaining candidates who have a chance to be the President of the United States.

  • The woman was for Donald.
  • The younger man was for Bernie.
  • And the older man was for Hillary.

G-Pop chose to quietly monitor their conversation because it was so fascinating.

The woman who was for Donald was attracted to him because he is an Alpha male, angry over all the unfairness of government and the lack of protection seemingly being offered the American people.

The younger man was also incensed by the greed of Wall Street, the unfairness of wages and income distribution, as the older man tried to make the case that Hillary was the safe choice and at least has some background in the internal workings of the executive branch of the government.

G-Pop was keeping score in his mind.

Let’s see now: Two “angrys” and a safe choice.

He tried to remember the last President of the United States who came into office angry or as the safe choice, who ended up doing much to benefit the common good.

So G-Pop took a moment to examine the basic premises of each candidate.

Donald: America is too nice, we need to get tougher and also stop trying to please the whole world. Matter of fact, he lives this out personally by sharing that he doesn’t particularly favor apologizing.

Bernie: On the other hand, he is angry because Wall Street billionaires are hoarding all the profit, leaving the working class nearly destitute.

Hillary: She thinks her greatest appeal lies in trying to get the American people to go back to the 1990’s, when her husband was President, to restore that age of alleged optimism, balanced budgets and job security.

Always remember, every temporary solution looks better than a permanent one. That’s what makes it temporary.

Donald doesn’t want to apologize, yet we have a fellow who’s been around for two thousand years who tells us that as we forgive others, we will be forgiven.

Bernie wants to equalize the finance in the world, when that great thinker from two thousand years ago told us that those who have will get more and those who haven’t may very well lose what they have. That’s why we should be sensitive to the least of our brethren. It never equalizes.

And as far as Hillary’s contention regarding going back to the 1990’s, the same teacher instructed us that you can’t put new wine into old wineskins. 2016 is not 1995. Matter of fact, there’s little similarity anywhere in the mix.

So as G-Pop waited for his son to arrive, he thought to himself, two angry people and a safe choice will not prepare our nation for the problems we will be facing, which will demand strength mingled with diplomacy, force tenderized by forgiveness and devotion tempered by an evolution toward needful change.

Obviously, the three people at the table nearby were unable to come to any conclusions.

But G-Pop wants his children to know that unless one of these three candidates steps out of his or her present format and starts forgiving, being more realistic about wealth distribution and admits that we can’t live off a Presidency that is twenty years gone, we will have more problems than just a close election.

We will end up with leftovers in a world that demands main courses.

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Ask Jonathots … May 19th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I heard an Olympic official on a national television news show say, “People will always cheat. It’s human nature.” Do you think this is true?

“To err is human and to forgive is divine.”

This is the classic axiom.

Unfortunately, the proverb has a missing piece. Actually, it should state: “To err is human, but to repent is human also.”

There are two little devils that chase the human heart, trying to turn us into scoundrels.

Ignorance and arrogance.

We only become hapless when we try to combine these two and justify one with the other.

For instance, I may say something stupid, which is completely forgivable unless I try to convince you that it wasn’t stupid at all–you either misunderstood me or you’re not hip to my particular perception of life.

Ignorance is forgivable.

But when it links up with arrogance, not even divinity can salvage such a stubborn creature.

So my problem with the statement provided in your question is that as long as we view cheating as a normal side road taken by humans which needs to be avoided and confessed, we are fine. But when we begin to believe it’s part of our character–an arrogant segment of us that cannot be removed–we not only lose our redemption, but we lose any portion of us to redeem.

So what is the correct profile?

  • Ignorance happens.
  • Ignorance is exposed.
  • Ignorance is confessed.
  • Forgiveness is granted.
  • Knowledge expands.

This is the process that makes a solid human being.

But if we express ignorance, have it exposed and we defend it with our arrogance or insist that what we have done is “no worse than anyone else,” then forgiveness is impossible and knowledge is stalled.

Repentance is not a noble action, but rather, a necessary position that all humans take to make sure that we progress in wisdom and understanding instead of finding ourselves falling back on the failing positions of former times.

So in conclusion, I would say that ignorance happens, and as long as arrogance doesn’t show up, repentance can open the door to forgiveness, which allows knowledge to rule the day.

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