All Wrapped Up… December 28, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2104)Bible wrapped

The gospel works.

That’s why we call it “good news.”

On the other hand, our culture is not nearly as efficient. It is often a cult of cop-out convenience.

I don’t wish to become brash or harsh, but I do want to say that there is an ongoing danger of people wrapping the culture of our country in the pretty paper of the Bible, tying it up with the bow of “God and country.”

Let’s make some distinctions:

1. The gospel teaches “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Our culture, on the other hand, promotes the idea, “do unto yourself while including others.”

2. The gospel teaches that “NoOne is better than anyone else.” Meanwhile, back at our culture, it is promoted that we are all unique, and therefore different.

3. The gospel: “give and it will be given unto you.” The culture: “get what you can and give to others as you can.”

4. “Don’t judge others.” There’s the gospel. In the culture, we preach, “Don’t allow yourself to be judge.”

5. Continuing on with the gospel: “to he who is given much, much is expected.” We have a three-word cultural mantra: “cut yourself slack.”

6. And finally, the gospel teaches that “whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” Yet the popular philosophy in our culture is, “After we reap, we will get around to sowing” with a sidebar of, “It’s not my fault.”

So in an attempt to hold people in a church, we create a surrogate–impregnating faith with our culture.

  • Our sermons are laced with grace, absent any responsibility or guilt.
  • We teach that God has “a wonderful plan for our lives” in order to stay hip with all the fantasy and Hobbit movies.
  • We insist that “God will supply all our need” without warning people that He does expect us to show up and be involved.
  • We pretend we can love the sinner and still hate the sin.
  • We literally screech that God’s salvation and grace is free to all, leaving us with believers who are bound to a culture, habits and lifestyles that are not fulfilling.

I don’t see anything wrong with wrapping the gospel up in what is culturally pleasing. You can use all the technology, all the music stylings and all available data to sparkle the message in a contemporary way. But when you start preaching the culture in the name of the gospel, you are flirting with disaster.

So how do you know when you’re in the presence of the gospel?

You’ll hear a message that teaches us to believe in God … while taking personal responsibility for your hunk of the kingdom.

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

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

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

WINona … October 5, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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lightAfter my show in Circleville, Ohio, a woman asked me where I was heading. I told her I was going to Winona. She frowned and inserted, “Winona? Are you kidding? They don’t even have a stop light.” (I was completely unaware that having a stop light was the new criterion for village viability.)

But I guess everybody has standards for what they think is normal in their surroundings. I personally like the fact that Winona has “WIN” as the first three letters of its name. I know it’s a little silly, but I believe a bit of mirth is necessary in our lives to keep us from becoming dark “doodis” or “doodats.”

And that got me thinking about the word “win.” I think we have the mistaken idea in our society that some people are born winners and the rest are innately losers. I don’t agree. I think there are easy things we can do which cause us to chalk our efforts into the win column more than in the loss. Actually, these steps are so simple that people might consider them to be trivial. But it might be a mistake to call something ridiculous until you put it into practice and find out how the wheel rolls.Winona UMC

What will I tell the good folks of Winona this weekend, encouraging them to win instead of lose?

1. Stop blaming other people. One sure way to lose control in your life is to insist that someone else holds the key to your success, which they have swallowed and you are now waiting for it to come out their back side. I am tired of finger-pointing, folks with their noses out of joint, and stiff-necked grown-ups who just don’t take personal responsibility for their own actions. Do you want to do something really exciting? Blow everybody’s mind and take the blame for something you DIDN’T do. It gives you the power to change the circumstances while feeling free from the guilt.

2. Do one thing better. Don’t try to change your whole life. Just find one thing that comes up every day and do it with a bit more flair, finesse, attention and care. It will be noticeable. Acting like you are trapped in your own haplessness with no remedy guarantees that you will stay a failure and have those around you testify to your inefficiency. How can you advertise being a loser? Act disappointed, depressed and dismal. All of your friends and enemies will fill in the blanks.

3. And finally, to chalk one up for a win: Be of good cheer. All losers have three things in common. They’re grumpy, they’re glum and they’re gloomy.

Just removing these three things from your life and replacing them with a bit of humor and perspective sets you apart from the masses, which are determined to paint all dark brown rooms black.

That’s what I will share with the good folks of Winona. I will tell them to cease to be ashamed of their lack of a stop light and instead:

  • Stop blaming other people
  • Do one thing better
  • And be of good cheer.

In that way they will be able to live up to the first three letters in their name.

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

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

The Ashford Reality… April 1, 2013

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AshfordOnce again, I cheated my alarm clock out of the privilege of awakening me. Ever since I was in my early twenties, I have always been able to think about the time I wanted to arise right before dozing off, and literally like clockwork, wake up  near the exact hour. I doubt this gift, so I always set an alarm clock, which usually ends up going off when I’m in the bathroom, unable to reach it.

Thus I began my day early.

I am taking a road trip today back over to Houston, Texas, to share tonight in Ashford. After all these years–nearly forty–I am still an excited little boy at the prospect of journeying somewhere to share my talents to fine human souls. Over the years, pieces of my ego have been trimmed and discarded, and lessons have been learned about better approaches to achieve more satisfying results–but the enthusiasm remains.

I guess I’m kind of an odd bird. I have never been comfortable being a miserable anything. When I hear my fellow-believers talk about the pain and suffering of Christianity, I am bewildered. My understanding of the message is one of abundant life, in which our joy is full and we are given the responsibility of being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, as God’s grace affords us the opportunity of being a city placed on a hill.

So it was in that spirit that I set my goals for my journey to Ashford.

First of all, I just want to tell those delightful friends, “I love you.” It’s not that I want to be mushy or silly–rather, life is about finding a reason to love others. If we don’t, we start acting like we are abandoned on a desert island called earth, and our entire mission is to hoard coconuts, because there is no chance of ever being saved. I refuse to feel that way. Saying “I love you” is just as much or more for me than it is for the hearer. The absence of love is always the introduction of ignorance.

The second thing I want to impart to the fine folks of Ashford is, “You are loved.” Not just by me, but also by the last group of folks I just left, who have opened up their hearts and sent along a sensation of inclusion.  I also want them to know that God loves them. Even though we have made the mistake of attempting to turn God into a person, and therefore cursing Him with virtues ranging from cranky and cantankerous to being a hippie and free love advocate, God is actually a spirit. He is a spirit of light and He is a spirit of love, and whenever you find those two at work, He is there in the midst.

I guess in constructing my Ashford reality for today, I will tell the folks that love is needed for change. Change without love is like a car trying to run without oil, as the gears grind, heat up and smoke, destroying the engine. Love is the oil of change. If it doesn’t motivate the change, then we resort to things like intimidation, anger, frustration and guilt. Nasty stuff. Love gives us a reason to change because we know that even if we falter in the process of revising ourselves, love persists.

And finally, tonight in Ashford I will tell them that change is coming. We can no longer preach a God who is disgusted with human beings. We can no longer have two political parties which are locked in a Hatfield-and-McCoy feud. We can no longer feel superior to one another and think that we can achieve equality and justice. We can no longer have men and women fighting each other in situation comedies and think that one of the genders can solve the problems of earth without the other. We can no longer insist that who we are is sufficient without a little bit of repentance and a whole lot of God’s bolstering.

So there you go. You can see why I’m excited. I get to go on a road trip to bring a blessing to people I do not yet know. I get to say:

  • I love you
  • You are loved
  • love is needed for change
  • and change is coming.

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

The Dental of Mental … May 4, 2012

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“Let me sink my teeth into it.”

It was a popular phrase long before the current craze of vampire movies. Deciding what to “bite off” and putting some energy into it is a valuable process in our lives. How should we determine it? What should we bite into?

There are three basic reasons that people bite things off, making the new taste their project. Sometimes they bite things off because everyone around them, including their families, tells us that it’s perfect, encouraging them to “take it on,” even making it clear that if they don’t, they have passed on a golden opportunity. Can I tell you that guilt is one of the worst motivators for human beings? And it is usually followed by a sense of dread, interpreted as “being responsible.” Biting off something because someone else wants you to do it will always leave a bad taste in your mouth.

The second motivation that often taunts us is that we “need” to do something.Whenever it appears that I need to do something, I purposefully delay, to make sure that my choice is not generated in frustration or futility, but rather, by my own inclination. Because the only reason to bite anything off is because I WANT it.Yes, the only question that needs to be asked by anyone at any time before biting into a new piece of life is,Do I want it?”

It doesn’t mean that everything we bite off is good for us, or even necessary–because there are only two things that human beings require to maintain their sanity: (1) The choice was my own; and (2) if I find out it was a stupid one, please permit me a road to retreat and repent

The “dental of mental health” is to choose to bite off only what you want, not what others tell you is required or what you believe you need. Everyone knows–once you bite something off, you’ll have to chew it, and chewing is the process by which we prepare food to leave the delicious world of our taste buds and enter the unknown of digestion.  So as we consider what we want, the only question we really need to pose to ourselves is, “Can I chew it?” In other words, “Can I be patient?”

Chewing is being patient. It is also making sure that we drain the last bits of flavor out of what we’ve bitten before discarding it for more practical use.If we can’t enjoy the process of chewing, then we’ll probably end up trying to swallow everything whole, which will certainly cause us to choke in our hour of need. Can I be patient? Patience is one of those words that’s thrown around without definition, so let me give you two applications:

  1. It tastes good enough that I don’t mind keeping it in my mouth for a while. Don’t think you’ll chew very long on something bitter.
  2. I don’t mind being patient and chewing on it, because I know when it finally reaches my body, it’ll be good for me.

The main piece of success in my life is that I have learned to enjoy the chewing process. If you need instant gratification or immediate appreciation, you will never draw all the taste out of every experience, but will either become reluctant to bite anything off in the first place, or end up gulping, swallowing life whole, without tasting.

Can I be patient? Because after all, when the chewing’s done in the “dental of mental,” it comes time to swallow. What I have bitten off has now been chewed and no longer resembles anything of what I once took on. Swallowing is asking yourself the question, “Am I ready to evolve?”

Some folks believe that if their plans change, they have lost the integrity of the experience. Yet, plans changing IS the experience. Swallowing is what transfers food into energy.Change is what transforms “choice” into fruitfulness.Without change, we arrogantly begin to believe that everything we put into our mouths should remain there instead of being absorbed. How many evolutions will I have to absorb to get the full benefit of what I’ve bitten off and chewed? Well, let me swallow the next one and we’ll see how it goes. Am I ready to evolve?

Which leads to the final step in the dental of mental–digestion. Will what I have bitten off, chewed and swallowed produce the nutrient of even greater desire? There is nothing more discouraging than beginning a project and finishing it by saying, “I will never do that again.” Most people are not lazy–or vacant of purpose. They are afraid to bite things off because the last time the chewing and swallowing produced indigestion. It was dissatisfying and left them with a severe case of heartburn.

Yes. The heart, rather than being rejuvenated through the experience, is aggravated and disappointed.

So–will what I want be patiently evolved in me to end up producing even greater desire to do more? Because that is the essence of mental health. At the end of our experience, we should be fatigued, not exhausted. We should feel exhilaration, not exasperation. And we should want rest–in order to pursue again–instead of escape, to avoid contact.

If you don’t do what you want, you end up being on somebody else’s mission, which means that even if it’s successful, you lose the credit.

The dental of mental health: biting, chewing, swallowing, digesting.

  • Do I want it?
  • Can I be patient?
  • Am I willing to evolve?
  • Does it appear that it will produce even greater desire?

Don’t cheat yourself out of great mental health. Even though the world around you insists that you need to accomplish their desires, never sink your teeth into anything that you don’t really want.

  

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

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