Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Sitting Thirty-Three

Wednesday night in the desert, although the unforgiving wasteland knows no season or hour.

Iz and Pal sat and watched as the sun set behind the hill. A burgeoning, chilly breeze whizzed its way past their ears, tingling their spines, causing them to draw closer to one another. It was the night before the day when everything…

Well, it seemed that everything would happen.

Wednesday had been a glorious day, chock-full of soccer, food and laughter, wrestling with each other, and questions designed to “stump your friend.” It was an ongoing Olympian marathon, trying to outdo the other fellow—gleefully making fun of each other—short of humiliation.

They had come to terms with one realization. This would be their last night in the desert, one way or another. Tomorrow they would either be overtaken by the brute force of the interfering mob, forced to return to their homes, or they would select their final option of dying together in the sand.

Emotions were colliding—joy desperately trying to keep its head up as sadness was tugging away.

Iz suggested they take this last night to eat up all the remaining food. He posed a provocative question. “Is it possible to eat until you puke?” he asked Pal, sporting a grin, but trying to maintain a certain decorum of scientific intrigue.

Pal did not know.

So the two boys were on a mission. They ate and they ate. It was not long until they were full, stuffed to the top of their eyebrows. Further eating was becoming painful. Actually, the sight of food began to make them sick. But still—they pressed on.

They devoured.

At length their throats were reluctant to swallow so they drank until their bodies sloshed. Managing some huge burps, they tried to eat some more. There were cramps, and attempts at laughter, which quickly turned into moans of pain from stomachs that were bloated from overuse.

Food supplies were lessening, and they were down to cans of provisions which were unidentifiable or deemed distasteful. At this point, Iz dug into the pile, pulled out a can of sardines, peeled back the tin lid and held up one of the yellow, drippy fishies. Reading the can, Iz proclaimed, “This one is in mustard sauce!”

That’s all Pal required. The thought of a fish swimming around in mustard was enough to cause him to unleash the burden lurking in his entrails. He threw up, laughed, coughed, threw up again, giggled—and went for a third round as Iz dangled the nasty little fish in front of his nose.

Yet it was when Iz actually ate the sardine that Pal exploded with what would be his final deluge of urping. This prompted Iz—overcome by both the scene and the smell of the fish—to join in the party, uncapping his own barrage of bellowing bounty from below.

It was a sight that would cause a mother to weep, a priest to fast and pray, and anyone feeling the least little bit queasy to join up and join in.

But to Iz and Pal, the brothers in the desert, it was the greatest fun in the world.

Regaining their composure, they shoveled sand over the remains and lay down on the desert, trying to recover from the ache of regurgitation. Breathing heavily, staring at the night sky, they still managed an occasional giggle.

This was their moment. They were desperately grasping onto it with all their might.

 

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Quatrain of April Fool … April 1, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

(2192)

April Fool's

Thinking of a trick

To make me laugh

At your embarrassed expense

What giddy springtime fun!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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I “Loke” You … November 20, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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I heart youOf course, it will never catch on.

Even though my made-up word, “loke,” is the perfect blending of like and love, and in so being, expresses the balance necessary for human relationships, we will keep the two words, like and love, as distant fourth cousins.

But after many years of travel, sharing, writing and counseling, I will tell you that like and love are the best way to build a life with another human being without feeling compelled or forced.

You may say to yourself, there are people you like and people you love, but if you analyze it, you might discover that the very best interactions you have with others are when these two words merge and become as one.

Let’s look at the word like. What does it mean?

  1. I have confidence in your abilities.
  2. I enjoy being with you.
  3. We have fun.

Now, no one would believe that those three elements are enough for building a marriage or lasting partnership. But they certainly make life more pleasant. After all, lacking confidence in another human being, failing to enjoy their presence and not having mutually satisfying experiences brings “duty” to the forefront and pushes “party” to the rear.

How about love?

  1. I have made a decision to commit to being with you.
  2. Because of that, I have forgiveness ready and at hand.
  3. You make me want to be loyal.

Love is a sealant to commitment. It creates confidence that even when things aren’t likable, they don’t have to end. It is God finding a way to forgive, even when the sin or iniquity may seem to be insurmountable.

So when I hear people say they love me, or that God loves me, I understand they’re saying they have decided to make a commitment, forgive me when necessary and be loyal. But honestly, what I want to hear is the word like included in that proclamation:  I want you to have confidence in my abilities, enjoy being with me and come to have fun.

The marriages that work are those that blend like and love to create my manufactured “loke.” The relationships that merely endure focus on the love and tend to give up on likability.

I would encourage you to learn how to “loke” people.

Because even though I’m glad that God loves me … I really want Him to like me.

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

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Fun Must Be Done… January 7, 2013

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kids textingAs I emerged from the sanctuary yesterday morning at Hope Lutheran Church in Port St. Lucie, Florida, I noticed a young man sitting behind a table in the lobby, busy working his phone, punching buttons furiously, almost to the point of breaking a sweat.

Now, there was a time in my life that I would have been upset that this eleven-year-old specimen of humanity was perched outside of the hearing of my show, involved in his social media. But yesterday, what crossed my mind was, “How can I come up with an app for his phone using my philosophy that will be interesting enough to this young fellow that he will savor it with the same intensity he is presently using with his preoccupation?”

We spend too much time trying to turn people into grown-ups, hoping they will share our misery and therefore, lighten the human load. I told you–it’s all about becoming like little children, and it is no different when we approach work.

Here are the three things I know about children–and since I’m trying to become one this year, it would be a good idea for me to study these carefully: (1) Children need purpose. (2) Children find purpose in work. (3) Work must be fun.

Here is the interesting fact: we never outgrow those three principles. We just attempt to ignore them by masking them with a frown.

I need purpose. In other words, I need at least two reasons for doing anything. If you give me just one, I will end up grumpy. But if there are two reasons to stop off at the shopping center to get something, then it has the potential to be an adventure instead of an inconvenience. Don’t tell me to love my neighbor as myself–I will act like I’m some sort of noble knight on a quest for the king. Explain to me that humanity is out there, ready to make my life easier. They make my purpose more purposeful. Intelligently teach me that people have the capacity for lightening my load.

We find our purpose in our work. If you are miserable on your job, you are not only losing precious moments of human enjoyment, but more than likely–through stress, apathy and complaining–you are shortening your life. Nothing is worth that.

My job was created by me to answer a calling I felt in my heart, and is constantly being retooled to be simpler and more enjoyable all the time. I will not do any work unless you can show me a way to accomplish it with fun.

Feel free to call that “childish” as you grumble your way through your daily activities. But know this–there is always a more pleasant way to accomplish any task that leaves us feeling satisfied and tired instead of exasperated and exhausted.

Here is my suggestion: link all the aspirations of what you do with your heart’s desire.

For instance, my heart’s desire is to be creative and bless as many people as I can while living comfortably. I have conjured a lifestyle that affords me that privilege. It’s why I am deliriously happy.

Now, instead of saying, “It must be nice…” start duplicating that in your own life. Don’t change your flat tire until you realize that after it’s changed, your vehicle will roll again and you can go out and reward yourself with a lovely treat.

Link your work with your heart’s desire to establish your purpose, and then find a way to make it fun.

It’s what children do. You don’t have to buy them toys–give them four rocks, six sticks a broken cardboard box and five minutes. They will create a fort and begin to launch into a fantasy of frivolity.

I want to be that child. Don’t tell me how difficult it is to be an adult–I will laugh at you. In my heart, I will mock your silliness, hoping that you will outgrow the notion that life is meant to be arduous and difficult.

  • We are children.
  • Children need purpose.
  • Purpose is found in work
  • And work must be fun.

Without this, Congress makes passing a bill to bless our country with financial gain and prosperity look as if they’re climbing Mt. Everest with a broken leg.

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I Decided to Read It… November 30, 2012

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Having some time on my hands, I stopped off in the parking lot of a Food Lion Grocery Store and chose to enjoy doing a little reading.

While sitting there helplessly in my van, I was approached by two fellows walking through the parking lot, peering for potential prospects. I thought they would want some money, so I reached for my wallet, rolled down my window and discovered that instead of being homeless, they were out trying to find the “churchless.”

They explained that they were concerned for my soul. It was interesting that they didn’t even inquire how my soul was doing. Apparently they could tell by looking at me that I was  lost. They handed me some literature–without a smile–and invited me out to their church, which had some Old Testament name which included a salute to a minor prophet. They went on their way.

Normally, I stuff such information into a glove compartment to rediscover it six months later during a thorough cleaning of the van. But I decided to read it. There were seven things that this particular gospel tract wanted me to know.

  1. I am a sinner.
  2. I am presently going to hell.
  3. Jesus came to die for my sins.
  4. Without his blood, I am disgusting in God’s eyes.
  5. But if I accept Jesus, I can receive eternal life.
  6. Then I should go to church and worship God.
  7. And give my tithe to the church as evidence of my faith.

Forgive me. I was unimpressed.

The offer was not very satisfying–mainly because it wasn’t on point with any of my dreams and desires. So I came up with my own format for a gospel tract. See if you like it.

  1. I want to do better. (I don’t think I’m alone here…)
  2. I want to prosper. (I know I’m not alone there…)
  3. I want to give everybody a chance. (I may have just lost a few travelers…)
  4. I really want to learn what’s right. (Several more deserters…)
  5. I want to honor God by loving people. (May be getting down to a party of five but still get the egg roll….)
  6. I want to start heaven now and let God surprise me with His rendition. (Renewed interest from the gallery…)
  7. I want to have fun doing it. (I just got my crowd back!)

I don’t begrudge anyone their faith. It’s just that I believe faith shouldn’t look like you just came from the dentist and discovered that Walgreen’s is completely out of the pain medication you were prescribed.

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

F plus A equals A+… October 9, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

My granddaughter asked an intelligent question.

Now, I’m not trying to connote that it’s unusual for my granddaughter to be intelligent. It’s just that at thirteen years of age, she discovered a dilemma which plagues the adult world and causes us, as alleged grown-ups, to become very irritable and unproductive.

She was recently elected treasurer of her class and is also deeply involved in musical theater with her school. Matter of fact, she is attempting to write a script for a musical, and began to collaborate with several other individuals, who somewhere along the line, lost the “good will for the hunting.”

She asked me, “What do you do when people flake out on you and don’t want to finish a project?”

Isn’t that a great question? Little did she know that she just posed an inquiry that probably has Republicans, Democrats and the entire economic world embroiled in controversy and quandary. What do you do to make people do the people things that make life more tolerable for all people?

Well, the first thing I would tell my dear granddaughter is that when you believe a lie, and you notice that everyone else believes the same lie, it takes a lot of guts to be the first one to call it a lie.

And here’s the main lie in our society: life is tough. I don’t know if we feel more mature or responsible by grunting and groaning through our activities, displaying the same disconsolate countenance that our parents had, and their parents before them; I don’t know if we consider it to be more interesting to folks if we are struggling through our endeavors. I am not sure. But somewhere along the line, the belief that some pain is necessary to receive some gain has not only been ingrained in our thinking, but has become the motto of our pursuits. It just doesn’t work.

Teachers try to make students more responsible for their grades by telling them about their “permanent record,” college possibilities or potential future earnings if they get an A instead of a C, and even though we know this is unimpressive to the adolescent mind, we still continue to talk about “stepping up to the plate” instead of focusing on the things that are of true interest to human beings.

I am about to make a bold statement. There are only two things that edify people universally–and if you subtract them from your club, your church, your political party, your school or even your home, you will creep along at an ever-increasing level of misery.

All human beings require fun and appreciation.

If you do not afford this double blessing to people at all times, be prepared for them to become disinterested, start making excuses and eventually be absent.

I can certainly see it in the religious system, where I find myself working from time to time. Some ingenious theologian came up with the idea that the best way to motivate people to godliness was to encourage study, prayer, faithful church attendance and giving. On top of that, we are also asking these people to offer their services in a volunteer capacity to the kingdom of God without ever stroking their egos and telling them what a good job they are doing, but instead, demanding that they don the false humility of being undeserved of any attention. Then we wonder why people are leaving the church by the truckloads.

It certainly wasn’t the way God put things together. Whether you believe all of the Bible or not, you can relate to the story of Eden, where God creates man and woman and gives them two potentials–fellowship with each other and being in charge of caretaking their own property.

Yes, the original plan by God for human beings was for us to indulge in sex and gardening.

Once again–fun and to be appreciated, because there you have a partner for pleasure and rich soil for seed planting, which produces not only your food, but the sense of accomplishment that you have spawned a growing thing.

He suggested they culminate this daily sex and gardening therapy by joining Him in the cool of the evening for a nice walk and talk about the day. I suppose if you’re a religious fanatic, you could say that we forfeited that privilege through sin, never to attain it again until we reach heaven. But Jesus said that “God’s will should be done on earth as it is in heaven,” so it might be a good idea to get back to that sex and gardening approach by applying, in our lives, the activities of fun and appreciation.

I will not work with human beings if fun and a mutual appreciation is not thrust to the forefront. It is a waste of time. Trying to make people guilty, fearful, angry, nervous or pious in order to extract effort does not only produce weak results, but turns them fussy and old too soon.

So here’s what I tell my granddaughter, and I also tell you. If you’re trying to do something with other people:

  1. Don’t ever plan an activity without refreshments.
  2. Never discuss future work until you have thoroughly celebrated the accomplishment of the present labor.
  3. Show them that what has been done so far is really good.
  4. As much as possible, make all planned activities into a game.
  5. Plan laughter. Yes, purposefully include intervals where something funny is going to be shared or done.
  6. Appreciate effort, acknowledge improvement and therefore, stimulate the slackers to jealousy. (Everyone wants a moment of focus.)
  7. And finally, when the fake grown-ups come in and try to turn your activity into something painful, let them have their moment and then simply step up and return to the joy of the Lord.

There you go. That’s why F (Fun) plus A (Appreciation) equals A+. And what is A+? Accomplishment.

We are suffering in America because accomplishment is considered to be unusual instead of essential. We have tried to replace fun with entertainment. Appreciation has been bumped to the side in favor of pep talks and self-help books on our ultimate goodness and worth. It’s not the same.

So if God was smart enough to devise an original plan that was filled with sex and gardening, it might be a good idea for you and I to realize that fun and appreciation are the nourishment of all human progress.

So in answering my granddaughter, I thought I would pass along the same information to you. You can either act self-righteous and consider my advice to be trivial and childish, or you can give it a whirl, and see if fun plus appreciation don’t grant you accomplishment.

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A Moving Experience… August 30, 2012

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I didn’t expect to stay this long.

When I arrived in Michigan twenty-four days ago, I had a full calendar of events taking me all over the central and eastern parts of the state. I devised a plan. I was going to move to a new headquarters every Monday, nearer to my business and engagements. But when I arrived in Lansing I found lodging so well-suited to our needs that I took a closer look at my plan and realized that I was already centrally located, and could just drive out to fulfill my obligations. So I settled into this one place for the past twenty-four days, which gave me my requirements, and I jettisoned myself around the Wolverine State via my van.

But today is moving day. It is time to move closer to Detroit where I can finish up my tour of this delightful location with these blessed people.

Moving day used to be a problem. You can imagine–if you had to lift your life out of your home every seven days, put it in a van and travel down the road to a new abode to set up camp, it could be a maneuver filled with indecision, frustration, labor and strife. Let’s look at those four things: indecision, frustration, labor and strife. Anyone over the age of ten will quickly inform you that all of those things are unpleasant, if not useless. But still we pursue them. Doggone it, sometimes we even feel grown-up, mature and sacrificial because we suffer through them.

I don’t agree. I sat down one day and looked at the things that made moving difficult, and rather than accepting them as my lot, I changed them. It really all boiled down to having just too many things to carry. So I made two important steps: I got rid of what I did not need and I incorporated the rest into fewer containers.

For instance, we were carrying around five clothes bags for our stage outfits. Clothes bags are not suitable for long-term travel. They are difficult to get into and they don’t exactly keep your clothing wrinkle-free. We got rid of the bags and substituted a lovely clothes trunk with wheels. We fold them up nicely, and when it is time to use them, we remove them and iron them as required. We also had our food and utensils spread through too many bags. I simplified that by moving into one case on wheels, also. So eventually, what used to take three or four hours to pack up can now be achieved in about forty minutes.

It removes the dread from my head. And when you take the dread from your head and instead, move towards solutions, you clean up mental pollution. You stop being afraid. It’s powerful.

So I woke up this morning looking forward to a move. Of course, something will come up that I am not expecting, but as long as it’s not mingled with my own inefficient disorganization, it probably won’t take me down.

I bring this up today not because I think you are horribly interested in my packing patterns. It is because I would like to introduce you to a simple four-step process for anything you will ever do in your life.

1. Have fun. If you think that such advice is cute and trivial, then you don’t understand anything about what makes our journey on Planet Earth successful. If you don’t find a way to make things fun, you will remove the joy from your existence–and the Bible makes it clear that “the joy of the Lord is our strength.” (No wonder most people look like they’re exhausted and it’s only eight-thirty in the morning…)

2. Make a plan. It doesn’t mean you’ll get to use it. It just relieves your brain of the tension of believing that everything is hanging out in the air without any resolution. Jesus said you should “count the cost.” Sit down and figure out what you can do, what you can’t do, what might come up, what has come up in the past–and blend it all together into a concise idea that you can pursue … while having fun.

3. Keep it easy. The minute you begin to complicate your life, you are mingling your arrogance about your talent with the unpredictability of Mother Nature. Jesus said that his yoke, which is basically his way of doing things, is easy–and his burden is light. The contortions that religionists put their congregations through in the pursuit of divine favor may truly be the only thing worthy of hell. Keep it easy. Don’t flatter yourself by thinking that you can handle it if it becomes hard. You can’t.

4. And finally, don’t worry. I was trying to think of a mental process or reaction that was more worthless than worry. I decided that a tie for first place might be wishing. But I still think worry would beat it out. Worry is the fussiness of simultaneously believing that life “should be easier” while trying to make it harder. Talk about double-minded! Jesus said,“Take no thought for tomorrow.” Don’t worry. And don’t come back with some cute little phrase like, “That’s easy for you to say. You don’t have my problems.” I not only have had your problems, I’ve had mine. The Bible tells us there is no temptation that is not common to all men. Worry is what we decide to do when we really don’t want to do anything about something that demands effort.

So there you go. As I move out of my Lansing location and travel to Detroit today, I am fully implementing this quartet of possibilities.

  • I will have fun.
  • Because I have made a plan.
  • And even though that plan may change, I am still going to keep it easy.
  • And I refuse to complicate the myriad of twists and turns of life by worrying.

This applies to everything. It would even apply to solving the economic problems in this country–that is, if we had Republicans and Democrats who could have fun with each other, make a plan, keep it easy and not worry.

A moving experience–it happens every time I go from Point A to Point B without becoming frightened about Point Z, looming in the distance.

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