I Pretend… May 22, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is not that everything in my life is good. It is just that I cannot be healthy musing over the bad.Jon close up

So I pretend:

I pretend that my words are valuable and gain a listen.

I pretend that the smile I flash to a stranger cracks through the stony countenance I view.

I pretend that my children and friends welcome my thoughts and weekly emails.

I pretend that my mission is God-induced and not merely self-motivated.

I pretend that the church down the road wants me to come and inspire.

I pretend that my legs can carry me on, to complete my task.

I pretend that I am not alone.

I pretend that the Golden Rule still has the same rate of exchange.

I pretend that my creative offerings bless instead of bore.

I pretend that my plain features and overweight body do nothing to deter my outreach.

I pretend that God’s will can be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I pretend that a heaven awaits that I have never seen.

I pretend that good wins over evil.

I pretend that my whispers might one day be shouted from the housetops.

I pretend I matter.

I pretend you matter.

I pretend that anything matters.

I pretend because that’s what faith is.

It is pretending we see things that should be done before they can be.

I pretend…that I’m not pretending.

 

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Arizona morning

After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

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

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Quatrain of the New Year… December 31, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2107)

head reverse

Don’t look back
Don’t look forward
Don’t look down
Things look good

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

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Published in: on December 31, 2013 at 2:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New-fashioned … August 7, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1968)

bicycleGood always wins.

It takes time.

By saying it takes time, I don’t mean there are intervals in history when it appears like evil will actually EVER take the day. There are always inklings of hope–and evidence of faith–which can bolster our love of truth–unless we begin to allow ourselves to be pushed down the broad path of stupidity towards the cliff of insanity.

Of course, you do risk being called “old-fashioned.”

If you cling to that which is praise-worthy, valuable, human-friendly and tender, there are those who will insist you’re out of step with social progress–thus completely devoid of cultural savvy.

Even though life is somewhat like a book, most people forget the plot of the previous chapter as they read the present offering. So to them, it doesn’t seem to be an ongoing tale, but rather, a series of text messages distributed from the mob mentality.

Why can’t good things be considered new-fashioned instead of old-fashioned? What is the difference between good and evil?

Evil kills, steals and destroys.

Good stubbornly refuses to participate.

  • I will not join into the meanness of my society, even though it is considered hip and cool to be vengeful.
  • I will not agree that abortion is an inevitable choice, simply because for this passage of time, we extol personal freedom over personal responsibility.
  • I will not be agreeable toward the nagging battle between men and women simply because some comedian wants to “make hay” off of barnyard jokes.
  • I don’t follow or support war in any of its forms because as Benjamin Franklin said, “there’s no such thing as a good war or a bad peace.”
  • I can’t go along with capital punishment because God did not kill Cain, who was the first murderer, but instead, sent him away for rehabilitation.
  • I will not be party to bigotry, even when it’s portrayed as “cultural preference” or “discovering of our heritage.”

There are so many things in our world that kill, steal and destroy which are being touted as foregone conclusions–just part of the course of the human race.

Good is NOT old-fashioned. It demands that we use restraint.

It requires a person who is straight to understand why someone else might find other people preferable. But it also demands that the gay community realize that 95% of the population cannot possibly fathom their preference.

Good is not when we scream our desire, hoping to gain the podium. Good is when we look at the history of mankind and choose the principles that propel us forward instead of dragging us back to the cave.

I guess to some people, I’m old-fashioned. And if by old-fashioned you mean that I’m clinging to the premise of goodness instead of allowing myself to surrender to a nation which now accepts pornography as some sort of “rite of passage,” then yes. For after all, pornography is not a choice. It’s the denial of a choice for others. It is raping a woman of her privilege to freely love without being intimidated to do so.

So if you must call me old-fashioned, feel free. Actually, I feel I’m on the cutting edge of new-fashioned, when the human race will once again move towards the sanity of life and love instead of death and destruction.

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Fulfil or Destroy… May 13, 2013

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Good requires nothing of evil. On the other hand, evil desperately needs good to give up and lose heart. It puts evil in a disadvantageous position–always sniffing around great ideals to see if anyone is despairing.

So what is evil?

I will tell you this–it has a beginning, a middle and an end. If you allow it to start, it is very difficult to stop it.

The beginning of all evil is cynicism–mainly the contention that people are just no damn good. It doesn’t matter if it’s said by a jaded comedian or a preacher trying to save the lost. Anytime we attack human beings, trying to prove how stupid they are, how immoral they are, how destitute they are, how ignorant they are or how useless they are, we are setting a master plan in motion–to degrade us to evil.

Perhaps this is the only thing that religion and secularism have shared in common throughout history. They have both concluded that mankind is perniciously flawed, incapable of progress. Even though it contradicts the gospel of Jesus, which insists that the Kingdom of God is within us, it gains a tremendous following because we get to attack others while insisting that we’re not “quite as bad” as they are.

From that beginning comes a middle and the middle of all evil is always politics. And what is politics?

Well, since people are stupid and incapable of doing what’s right, somebody must step in and control them, bringing about more orderly results. Of course, this appears to be a powerful position, so cynical men who are on their way to evil vie for it. They argue, debate and bring everything to a standstill, making it seem even more likely that we’re all doomed to be dumbfounded.

Politics is not limited to government. There’s politics in religion, politics in romance, politics in education. Any time we believe that we can control our future by carefully plotting strategy and discussing it in a committee, we are on the verge of some sort of evil plotting.

So as you see, the beginning of evil is cynicism. The middle of evil is the muddle of politics. And the end is a resignation towards terminating the world.

Yes, all of our prophets, whether they be of global warming or the second coming of Christ, are yanking us towards an emotional quagmire of hopelessness. So what’s the point of pursuing excellence?

This is not limited to Bible-thumpers. Every movie in Hollywood made about the future contains some form of anarchy or cannibalism. It is evil. It is the opposite of what God intended when He placed a garden east of Eden and told us that we could tend it and be successful.

One day Jesus told his disciples, “I have not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

Jesus was probably the greatest revolutionary that ever lived. He turned the world upside down–but not by using cynicism, politics or preaching doom and gloom. He told people they were the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He told them to be perfect, even as their Father in heaven was perfect. And he told them to love their neighbor as themselves.

So be careful as you pursue your little tirade of righteousness–that you don’t accidentally slip into the TRUE axis of evil. You can always identify it: it begins with cynicism, in the middle transforms into politics and in the end is darned tootin’ sure that the world is going to blow up.

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Advent-ure … December 2, 2012

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The Advent season–to welcome newness.

I’m for that. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what we can give to Jesus for his birthday. I came up with ten gifts.

1. Why don’t we stop the war between men and women? Jesus included both and treated the sexes equally.

2. How about avoiding vain repetition in our church services? I have nothing against symbolism, unless somewhere along the line we lose the reality that makes the symbol have meaning.

3. We could teach heart, soul, mind and strength. That’s what Jesus thought. He was of the belief that human beings are heart creatures and if you don’t touch their emotions, you don’t stand a chance of touching anything else.

4. How about encouraging talent instead of insisting that everybody has some without requiring excellence to follow?

5. NoOne is better than anyone else. Jesus would just love it if we started teaching and believing that. When inferiority does battle with superiority, ignorance wins.

6. Why don’t we blend spirit and truth? Why does there have to be a segmenting between the conversations we have about God and those we have about our lives?

7. Here’s a good idea: let’s stop talking so much about evil. It makes us begin to believe that good is an underdog.

8. Be of good cheer. Even if we sometimes have to pretend that we’re seeking satisfaction and joy, it’s better than insisting that everything is boring and self-defeating.

9. How about if we promote a “yes” and “no” philosophy? Indecision is the best way to welcome inefficiency into our lives. Once we’re inefficient, we get too discouraged to do much of anything.

10. And finally, why don’t we try to simplify the faith instead of making everything so doggone complicated? God is love. If there’s more to it than that, I’ll probably need another lifetime to figure it out. But for this particular span of life I’ve been given, I think I’ll just stay with that if you don’t mind.

I believe if we followed those ten ideas and gave them to Jesus on his birthday, we not only would have a better church, but we would also certainly be on our way to having a better world–and then this year would be a true advent-for-sure.

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Wicked Imaginations … September 12, 2012

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She had heard it was a cut-throat business. It didn’t matter. Sandra Collier was determined to be a writer.

She’d possessed the aspiration ever since she was a small child and read her first Dr. Seuss book. She gained impetus pouring through the pages of Black Beauty, Red Badge of Courage, Moby Dick and even to some extent, the works of Faulkner. She loved to put pen to paper and ideas to stories.

She had one. A story, that is. She’d even taken it further than that–she had turned it into a manuscript, perhaps a novella. It was the tale of a young girl seeking love, who gave up on her hometown possibilities and flew to Paris to find romance and adventure, falling in love with a man who ended up being from her home town and grew up just two blocks away.

She let all of her friends and family read the story and everyone raved about the beauty, tenderness and joy of the unfoldings. There was one professor at a local community college who told her that the idea and concept seemed “generic.” Or maybe he said “derivative.” But she chalked his comments up to the disgruntled mumblings of a frustrated artist who ended up in academia.

Sandra Collier was determined to be a famous writer. So she sent her manuscript off to five different publishers, and approximately six weeks later received five rejection slips, only two containing personal notes, which cited that her offering was naive, childish and non-marketable. She was discouraged. Even though she didn’t expect immediate acceptance, she required it.

In one note, the publisher suggested that she pursue finding an agent to help her proliferate her talent in the New York publishing field, so she decided to take the advice, and in the process came across an agent who expressed some interest in her story. He invited her to come to his cabin in the woods in the upper peninsula of Michigan, to discuss possibilities on presenting her “prose to the pros.”

She was a bit hesitant. Her mother warned her of “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Not certain what that meant in the modern-day world of business, Sandra decided she was old enough to handle herself and set off to meet with her new comrade in arms.

Things went well. He made suggestions and they punched the story up a little bit while having great conversations about angles, advertising and even photo shoots. She was enamored. She began to feel like the heroine in her own story, who had gone off seeking romance–and found it.

So after a couple of days, when the agent made a slight advance her way, she put up no resistance. A love affair ensued.

Even though Sandra was not inexperienced, she was certainly ill-prepared. She fell head over heels, deep with infatuation for this knight in shining armor who was going to help her become the fair maiden of the book selling world. They left each other with a tender kiss and a promise that soon he would contact her with the first fruits of his labors in seeking out publication.

Two months passed. She placed calls. At first he cautioned her to be patient, but eventually he stopped returning her overtures. It was on the third Tuesday of the third month that she received a note in the mail. It was from him.  She was so excited. She opened up and read the words:

“Good-bye. Now that you’re disappointed, go write something true.”

Sandra couldn’t believe it. Literally, she felt that somebody was playing a joke on her, so she tried to call him. The number was changed and unlisted.

Sandra stopped pursuing writing. She decided that it was a childish dream of such unrealistic proportions that she was embarrassed to even admit she had ever pursued it. She met a man, she got married, she had two children. She took a job. Every once in a while, people would bring up a movie or book they had seen or read. She made a practice of leaving the room, refusing to participate in such creative nonsense.

She felt she was healed from her previous novice error. She felt mature. She felt wise. She thought the true essence of gaining knowledge was admitting that dreams were best kept in our nighttime beds. She was an advocate of realism. She was a person who refused to take risks and embrace any new idea that might offer the option of disappointment. She took the profile of a human being who had swallowed up life as it is, while rejecting happiness. After all, she mused, happiness is what we decide it should be.

Sandra Collier never became a writer. The world will survive. The problem is that Sandra never became happy.

In our time there is much talk about good and evil–a back and forth, see-saw discussion, rife with contradictions, accusations and half-truths. But identifying evil is not as difficult as it is made out to be in the movies, with priests chasing the demon-possessed through the darkened halls of castles. Evil is much simpler. Evil has only one goal–to convince disbelievers of its importance and equality, because it is much more realistic. Once the populace has nodded and assented, evil triumphs.

It is the essence of the fourth thing that God hates–a heart that devises wicked imaginations. When we feel that life has only having dismal possibilities, dark corners ormorose conclusions, we become useless to ourselves and a stumbling block to anyone who would love to progress a great idea.

God hates this particular surrender to the inevitability of failure, because it is a proclamation thatI am better than happy.” Evil is the proud stomping ground for the earth native who wants to pound the drum and scream that life is devoid of meaning. Evil is giving up before we even have considered whether any option might be fruitful. Evil is allowing our hearts to be filled with despair, and therefore our jaded consciousness determining our passion.

In the quest for realism, we have locked ourselves into a tomb of doom, where we nervously scratch our arms, stare off into the distance and lament the fate of humanity.

Sandra gave up. She didn’t kill herself, she didn’t become an alcoholic, she didn’t put the heroin needle in her arm, and she didn’t climb into a 1962 Chevy Impala and go around the country indiscriminately killing people. She didn’t even curse God.

She continued to be a mother, a wife, a church-goer, a worker and a member of her community–who just didn’t believe anymore. She became a victim, with a heart continually devising wicked imaginations. She believed she was better than happy. And because of that, she never found the stamina to succeed.

For it is the joy of the Lord that is our primal source of strength.

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“Crown Thy Good…” July 4, 2012

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America, America,

God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good …

On this auspicious occasion of the 236th birthday of our nation, may I stop for a moment and find out what is good about us and also what crowning achievement we should place upon that particular piece of endeavor? America is not exceptional in every way–what is? But there are important ways that this country is unique and beneficial to the human family, which fosters not only a need for its existence, but also a true mission for its statement.

So please allow me, on this Independence Day, to tell you what I think is really good about this country–and what I think we could do to “crown” that particular piece of righteousness to make it even better. What is good about America?

1. There is an extraordinarily uncomfortable amount of liberty available. It is what makes us great. Theology and pornography have to occupy the same town. They are not allowed to expel each other from the region because of a preference for one over the other. They must coexist. What do people do with liberty? The Bible says that what everyone first does with liberty is “use it as an occasion for the flesh.” Bluntly, every human being first goes too far before doubling back to find a more realistic position. Great. America is tremendous because we have no moral police, no social schoolmarm to insist upon correct etiquette, and no border patrol for liberty. Whenever we try to legislate morality, we turn into a bunch of obnoxious Puritans who are soon apologizing for their short-sightedness.

2. America is good because we always keep the melting pot boiling. If you don’t keep the heat going on the stove, things stop melting and just begin to congeal in globs of fatty grease. What makes this country good is the fact that we insist on equality, conversation, respect and inclusion of all races, no matter how hot the controversy may get, keeping the pot melted and eventually, giving the appearance that we’re all really all the same. Whenever we try to break apart into sections of the country, racial voting blocks or ethnic preferences, we become the nastiest group of people who ever walked the face of the earth.

3. Another good thing about America is that when we are chasing the dream in the right way, we encourage excellence while simultaneously showing compassion to those who can’t measure up. I have no problem with being generous to weaker brothers and sisters, as long as we continue to admit what is really excellent, and refuse to drop the bar so as to include more of the populace. For example, I have no problem with you calling me obese– because I am. I don’t need you to raise the weight standards in order to make the terminology for my condition seem more pleasant. Excellence is excellence, and when it is not accomplished, we should give grace, while continuing to revere the standard.

4. And the final thing I think makes this country good is that at our heart, when we are free of social mediocrity, we do ask people to take personal responsibility for their lives. I do not care if you’re an atheist, gay, Republican, Democrat, man or woman. I want to know that if you run into the back of my car, you going to get out and hand me your insurance card, and own your mistake. If not, then you become a jerk who happens to be gay. Or a loser who is a woman. Or a cheater with male parts. Or a cop-out who is a Republican. Or a shirker who is a Democrat. Or an atheist–who is God-awful. Personal responsibility is what makes us valuable to ourselves. When we establish that worth, we are enlightening to others.

Now, these are the things that are good–but what crown would I place on them during this July 4th coronation? Here are the crowing achievements I think would not be terribly difficult, unrealistic or beyond the pale. As a matter of fact, to me, they just make sense:

1. Since we are a land of good liberty, let’s go ahead and denounce all aspects of our “gossip society.” Let’s stop living our lives through other people. Let’s stop targeting folks who are going through a hard time just so we can feel better about our own inadequacies. I have placed a moratorium on watching anything that attacks other people or gossips about them. If they are not interviewing the person directly involved in the situation or altercation, I will not  listen to other folks pontificate on the dilemma. If we are going to have a crown on our goodness, we have to stop gossiping.

2. Secondly, the crown I would add to the melting pot is to make sure that once and for all, we get rid of any word before claiming our brothers and sisters as Americans. I will never, ever again say “African American.” There isn’t a black person in this country who would last one single morning in Africa without being eaten by a lion. There isn’t one Asian in this country who would survive the hustle, bustle and crowded conditions of the east without ferociously complaining and running to buy a ticket back to Albuquerque. We are Americans–both generous and spoiled, both inventive and lazy. But one thing is certain–we are all the same.

3. The crowning achievement I would put on the encouragement of excellence is to begin to encourage innovation–with money. I don’t think we should ever fail to provide for the common need of those who are disabled or without resource. But I do think we need to make it clear that this is a country that rewards those who go the second mile. And by reward, I’m talking moolah. Instead of giving finance to those who have failed, let’s begin to give more capital to the true capitalists–those who have once again discovered America.

4. And to put a crown on personal responsibility–honor hard work. We live in a nation where the people who work the hardest make the least amount of money. I think we should continue to extol the value of education, but simply possessing a diploma does not guarantee anyone in a free market a ride to the penthouse. Work needs to be honored. As you sit on the highway, stalled by construction, angry at being delayed–make sure you take two minutes to thank God for those hardworking individuals who are out in the beating heat, trying to make your life ultimately easier. When we begin to honor work in this country instead of just flashing credentials, we will put a crown on responsibility and people will be proud once again to come home tired, with a paycheck that is growing instead of shrinking.

I am a patriot because I continue to fight for freedom instead of settling for the latest compromise. There is so much good in this country, but it is time for us to step up to the plate and crown that good … with brotherhood. And what would be the first step towards achieving brotherhood? I believe we could make an initial movement in that direction by stopping the emphasis on political parties and uplifting people with the courage to pursue any idea that includes everyone.

God bless America–but maybe we need to learn how to bless ourselves by crowning all of our good with a new burst of brotherhood.

   

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