Good News and Better News… October 2nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3448)

She was a sweetheart.

During my two presentations at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Clermont, Florida, I got a chance to meet this delightful woman.

She bounced up to my book table and engaged in conversation. About halfway through our exchange, her face got a little more serious and she asked me, “How do we rate? I mean, you go to places all over America. How would you rate our church?”

I knew she wanted a serious answer, yet I wasn’t going to placate her nor was I going to try to place some burden on her heart by pointing out an inadequacy.

“You’re kind of right in the middle,” I said.

She started to smile, then squinted and replied, “Well, that’s not very good.”

After nearly forty-five years of traveling America and sharing in a vari=ety of venues, many of them churches, I will tell you what makes a good church. It begins and ends with the word “generous.”

One of the most chilling statements Jesus offered to his disciples, and to us who would follow his message, was “to he who much is given much is expected.” So it’s a little optimistic to think that you’ll receive eternal salvation while lounging on a heavenly hammock. So here are the three things that make a great church:

1. Generous space.

Sanctuaries are too cramped. They’re confining. This stifles the sensation of freedom. Since your church probably is not filling up the sanctuary for every service, take come pews out. Create room. Make people aware that they have the freedom to extend their legs and arms. Give children a place to crawl.

Clear everything unnecessary from the platform. There should be room for three or four people to stand side by side easily.

If you give air to the room you give air to the people to give air

2. Generous face.

If you’re not going to talk to someone, don’t peer from a distance. It’s creepy. And when you walk up, don’t stay too long, but do make eye contact while you’re there.

We met a fabulous brother named Joe at Shepherd of the Hills. He was not an “average Joe.” He was loving, giving, kind, and made us believe that we had a primal place in his present consciousness.

No one expects you to be a counselor or long-lost friend from high school, but grant folks the dignity to enter your generous space and receive your generous face.

3. Generous grace.

You have no right, privilege or scriptural authority to probe into the lifestyles of those who worship next to you. Share the Gospel of Jesus and let the Gospel do its work. The Holy Spirit is much more adept at convicting people than you are with your gossip. I don’t care what you hear about people. I don’t care what you think about people. At no time do you, I or anyone else have the permission to judge anyone.

It is possible for any church in America to become a Jesonian church–a Jesonian Catholic, a Jesonian Baptist, a Jesonian Methodist, a Jesonian Lutheran, a Jesonian Pentecostal–but it requires you to take on the heart of Jesus instead of pounding your favorite theological nails.

The good news is that Shepherd of the Hills Church has this delightful lady who is not willing to subsist in the middle.

And the better news is, if you make your church a generous space with a generous face, offering generous grace, you will grow.

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Good News and Better News… July 3rd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3356)

Freedom.

It is the best America has to offer.

It is the finest export to the world around us.

Because it hearkens to the freewill the Creator gave every human, it is the voice of God in a world of devilishness.

It is slightly weakened by the application of democracy. Although the voting concept seems intelligent, it still concludes that the majority rules. The assumption that the majority is always right–or ever right–is historically erroneous.

So freedom, which is a purity hatched in the heavens, is tainted by democracy, which allows for the sheer brute force of numbers.

For that reason, democracy does not work in every country. Freedom, which has a universally healing effect, can often be destroyed by inserting democracy into nations which are ill-suited for the process because they are surrounded by intimidating forces.

And then there’s politics. Politics is what democracy produces in an attempt to create balance, which ironically, actually imbalances everything. It no longer is an issue of what’s right or wrong or what might be a valid issue, but rather, what your political party supports and how you can also support it.

In no time at all, we lose the individuality of having one stance on a single issue and a different angle on another. Just the removal of politics would make democracy work better, and democracy would work beautifully if it kept its eye on freedom for all.

241 years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a piece of rebellion. It wasn’t a country and certainly wasn’t based solely on freedom, because many of the inhabitants of that nation were thought of as inferior.

It was a piece of rebellion.

It now becomes our job to turn it into freedom that can function as a democracy without the burden of politics.

The good news is that God loves freedom.

The better news is that if we will commit to good reason, we will never miss politics.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … June 28th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3351)

A June 28th Musing

Am I a true American

Or am I very white

Have I suffered for my freedom

Or are my prospects too bright?

Was I chained in a ship

Trembling in fear

Or bestowed with great advantage

All my options very clear

Did someone steal my land

And call me a savage beast

Have I ever found myself

Aligned with the very least?

Did I arrive on a slow boat

Way across the sea

To be mocked and mistreated

Was that ever me?

Is “all white” all right

Or the poison of bitter hate

Can we become color blind

Or is it far too late?

For the Declaration of Independence

Was written by pale men

Who claimed we were all equal

While buying more slaves again

America is a noble notion

Just needing a cleansing of soul

So I, white, and you of color

Can join to form the whole.

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … July 30th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3018)

Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: You didn’t ask me my opinions about the political conventions.

 

Dear Woman: Well, no, because I know you really don’t like politics.

 

Dear Man: That’s true, but there is one incident that grabbed my attention.

 

Dear Woman: What was that?

 

Dear Man: Thursday night, when the Muslim father who lost his son in the war in Afghanistan, Mr. Kahn, spoke to the gathering.

 

Dear Woman: Yeah, I saw that. Very moving.

 

Dear Man: I know that’s the popular view, but it bothered me.

 

Dear Woman: What troubled you?

 

Dear Man: He came on the stage with his wife. She did not speak for the whole duration of the event. She remained turned toward him in submission, wearing a hijab.

 

Dear Woman: You mean that head covering?

 

Dear Man: Yes, exactly.

 

Dear Woman: It’s just a Muslim thing.

 

Dear Man: I disagree. It’s not a Muslim thing. She stood in submission, did not speak, with her head covered, as he railed against Donald Trump, in support of Hillary Clinton for President. It was a massive contradiction.

 

Dear Woman: I disagree. You just need to be more tolerant. We need to give religious freedom to people–to have their traditions and honor their culture, otherwise our country becomes bigoted and self-centered.

 

Dear Man: I know the spiel. But when a man, who, by the way, was extremely intense, with angry gestures, stands beside a woman who is not speaking, who is looking on adoringly with her head covered…well, I get nervous. I feel it’s good to give spiritual leniency to people, to worship as they deem appropriate, but our country should not allow oppression to exist in the name of God. For instance, we certainly didn’t honor the traditions of the South and give them cultural “roominess” when slavery was at stake. I’m sure they could have made the point that no slaves were rebelling and that everything was working fine, but we still fought the Civil War to relieve the stupidity of a bad culture.

 

Dear Woman: I see what you mean, but I don’t think it applies in this situation. This is part of their religion

 

Dear Man: No. It’s not. It’s part of their tradition. Tradition is the way that people decide to conduct their religion. It has nothing to do with faith. It has nothing to do with a God who created all men equal, and that includes women. What happened on that stage was wrong. If we want to condone it because we’re afraid of speaking up to a religion’s tradition, and demanding equality, then let us call ourselves cowards. But if every Christian church in America suddenly decided that women should not be allowed to speak and had to wear head coverings, we would remove their tax exempt status. We can’t have two different standards. If he wants to support Hillary Clinton for President, he needs to let his wife be his equal.

 

Dear Woman: Maybe he does. Maybe it was just a decision on their part to have him talk because she was nervous.

 

Dear Man: Then in my opinion she shouldn’t come on stage. Standing next to him, turned in his direction, staring at him with her head covered, communicates subservience. Doesn’t the Democratic Party want equality? Or are they just looking for a bump in the polls from an angry Muslim man speaking against Donald Trump?

 

Dear Woman: You realize, nobody agrees with you. Everybody thinks that Mr. Kahn was one of the highlights of the convention. They think that allowing her to appear on stage in the head covering showed tolerance.

 

Dear Man: Tolerance becomes cowardice when everyone is not included. There were many people during the Civil Rights movement who were angry at Dr. King because he came into a situation that seemed to be peaceful, and stirred up trouble. But had he not pointed out the inequity of Jim Crow, the South more than likely would still be arguing about “colored restrooms” instead of transgender ones.

 

Dear Woman: I see your point, and I guess by your standards I’m a coward, but I think that sometimes you just have to leave well enough alone.

 

Dear Man: You see, my point is that “well enough” is never achieved by leaving women out of the equation.

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G-Poppers … July 22nd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3010)

Jon close up

G-Pop watches and listen intensely.

While confident of his intelligence, he still realizes that rich wisdom can be attained through great observation.

Once again the political parties meet to do battle, contending that the one left standing is superior simply because he or she has not been vanquished. Promises are made in the midst of an avalanche of accusations, tossed back and forth with a disregard that foretells ignorance of the beauty of consolation.

How many different things can we insist we’re going to accomplish, so as to make our opponent’s list seem puny? But once elected, every President of any party immediately discovers that life takes over–and the stumbling blocks that have been permanently established in the lethargy of legislation forbid much progress to pass through the gates. After all, in regards to Congress, any organization that operates by Parliamentary Procedure is in no hurry to achieve its aspirations.

So how should G-Pop’s children evaluate who to place in the position of prominence for our land?

They must look for the candidate–whether male or female–who:

1. Handles disappointment with grace.

Since we live in a democracy, nothing of original purity will ever pass muster without being manipulated. There will be disappointment. How that is handled will determine meaningful outcomes, especially if a split second of frustration causes our leader to take his or her eyes off the prize.

2. Discovers the better way to navigate reoccurring surprises.

After all, some of us fare pretty well if one blip comes on our radar screen, but when they start popping up all over, a disgruntled spirit can cause us to forsake our more clever and intuitive parts, and succumb to our more Neanderthal attitudes.

3. Has a great sense of humor.

What we “take personal” becomes personal–even if only in our minds. Once we feel we have been targeted, we tend to seek revenge. The President of the United States cannot have vendettas.

So even though a promotion of ideas is constantly flooding through stump speeches, once the election is completed, these wishes will have to take a back seat to the daily tribulation that the world threatens to afford.

Every once in a while, things calm down long enough that you might be able to fix a highway, start an after school program, or keep the country a little safer.

But most of the time, if you are President of the United States, you’re trying to maintain the purpose of our nation and the dignity of our freedom–in a world gone crazed.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … June 29th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2987)

Patchwork

Patchwork

Oh say, can you see

My country ’tis of thee

Come on, give peace a chance

Disco, tango, square dance

Black, white, red, yellow

Hostile, hippie, hyper, mellow

And the rocket’s red glare

Yet please don’t stop and stare

Brown, tan, beige or pink

Freedom to share what you think

I pledge allegiance to the flag

Redneck, negro, chick or fag

Check your gun with the attendant

So to honor the Second Amendment

All men are created equal

Say it again, we need the sequel

To the oceans, white with foam

Where the deer and antelope freely roam

Go to war, stop the war

Open the gates, slam the door

We don’t care where you piss

Just be kind and never miss

North, south, east and west

Take your pick, which one’s the best?

Yankee Doodle, make your strudel

Uncle Sam, carve the ham

MLK, what do you say?

Crazy Horse, with no remorse

Buy a slave, all the rave

All men free–better, you see

America is a melting pot

So humbly bring what you’ve got.

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … June 25th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2983)

Dear Man Dear Woman

Dear Man: So are you a Martian?

 

Dear Woman: What?

 

Dear Man: John Gray, in his book back in 1992, claimed that men were from Mars and women were from Venus. So I guess that would make you a Martian.

 

Dear Woman: And you a Venetian.

 

Dear Man: Isn’t that a set of blinds?

 

Dear Woman: Yes. Can the blinds lead the blinds?

 

Dear Man: You didn’t go there, did you?

 

Dear Woman: I did.

 

Dear Man: I think it’s dangerous to think that the two genders of one species are from two different planets, with no plan to build a space ship.

 

Dear Woman: It’s a cop-out. I’m sure this Gray fellow was nice and all, but he didn’t realize that fostering the ignorance of an ongoing farce is not realism–it’s pandering.

 

Dear Man: Yeah. I guess it would just be easier for me to think you were nuts and I was fruitful.

 

Dear Woman: And easier for me to believe that you are incapable of understanding me.

 

Dear Man: Here’s the truth–we both have landed on Earth. We can’t escape to another sphere of living without jeopardizing our relationship and probably even the balance of life itself.

 

Dear Woman: So rather than making up a conflict or feeding a present disagreement, I think it’s contingent on both you and me to try to get along on Earth.

 

Dear Man: Well said. Let me start off by telling you that the first thing all Earthlings have to realize in order to survive here–whether they’re male or female–is that truth gives you freedom. If you lie, you’re bound to spend all your time covering up the lie. The only way to get freedom–whether you have a vagina or a penis–is to tell the truth. Otherwise, you’re in bondage.

Dear Woman: Can I offer a second? Commonality creates allies. I will tell you–Mars and Venus thinking is just a clever way to cover the nastiness of gender bias, just as the pursuit of “culture” is the new Jim Crow.

 

Dear Man: What do you mean by that?

 

Dear Woman: I mean, commonality creates allies. When we insist we’re different, it separates us into camps, which invites bigotry.

 

Dear Man: I get that. So the more we find in common, the more we become allies. As allies, we don’t need to fight anymore just to prove we’re uniquely male or female. So can I give a third one?

 

Dear Woman: Fire away.

 

Dear Man: Respect preserves love. Once we convince ourselves there’s some sort of quiet mutual disrespect going on, love rots. Love cannot survive disrespect.

 

Dear Woman: Boy, is that true. If I think that you think I’m kind of stupid, I will find it difficult to love you.

 

Dear Man: And if I think you think I’m lesser, I won’t have any motivation to give you my love.

 

Dear Woman: So let me make a bold statement–John Gray and those who followed him may have felt they were being contemporary with their observations, but what they ended up doing was driving a wedge between the only forces that can unite to make the world better–men and women.

 

Dear Man: We live on Earth, not Venus or Mars. We are not separated by outer space. Truth gives us freedom, commonality creates allies and respect preserves our love.

 

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