Dudley … June 15th, 2017

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DUDLEY

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Scratchy… December 30, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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bridge to Tx

It had been nearly four years since I had been visited by the common curse of a cold. Even though I am around thousands of people who tote germs like little six-year-olds carrying backpacks to the first day of school, I am blessed with an immune system which bunkers me in safely to health.

That is, until I spent four days living in the same house with my children and grandchildren over Christmas. I followed this toxic exposure with a 900-mile drive to Houston, Texas.

So sometime on Thursday, right after I ate my Subway sandwich, the left side of my throat began to itch and tickle, radiating up to my ear.

I knew what this meant. I attempted denial, but when the right side of my throat joined the party, I knew I was in the first throes of incubating a common one.

Here’s the problem: I needed to share on Sunday morning at Bay Harbour United Methodist Church in League City, Texas.

I wanted to do a good job. I know everybody says that, but I like to use my talents at full speed, full throttle and full passion. They are my arsenal–to apologize for a mug that couldn’t win a beauty contest versus a coffee cup.

I was about seventy per cent. So what was I going to do?

Obviously, play to my strengths. For instance, talking is easier than singing.

Also, address the three demons that attempt to invade our foxhole in the midst of battle:

  1. Excuses
  2. Fear
  3. Disappointment

Excuses are the pavement on the road to failure. Fear is the rope that strangles the life out of hope. And disappointment is the drug that puts our effort to sleep.

  • I didn’t make excuses. The audience never knew.
  • I wasn’t afraid. For after all, the worst thing that could happen was that I talked and played the piano, without singing. That’s just not that bad.
  • And I wasn’t disappointed because I got sick. Remembering how mortal we are is what helps us assist other humans.

As it turns out, I had a little more than I thought–maybe 78%.  It was a glorious morning.

I don’t like getting sick. I fight it. But if I’m going to lose my faith, energy and direction every time I sniffle, I will probably not be worth very much and will snuffle out my possibilities.

Excuses, fear and disappointment–they arrive like a scratchy throat, making you believe that they’re here to stay.

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

Resurrectional Vehicle … April 17, 2013

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Delighted man I was when I awoke this morning, looked at my calendar and realized I was going to be traveling to the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in San Antonio tonight to meet some inspiring folks.

It thrilled my soul because I love the word “resurrection”–and not simply because I am a believer in the emergence of Jesus of Nazareth from a tomb. It is also because resurrection sets in motion a manner of thinking that is necessary to maintain human health and well-being.

Candidly, to be successful on this planet we call “earth,” one must be able to distinguish between what is dead and what is living. It also helps if you don’t despair over the demise of certain things to the point of becoming immoveable. And it is beneficial as well if you don’t bury good things alive, suffocating them under your fear, tradition and culture.

So as I go tonight to experience the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, I will certainly and willingly impart to them my teaspoon of understanding about life and the power of coming back from the dead.

It is a four-step process–because sometimes you come across things in your life that are ailing and failing, and with a quick step and some good cheer, you:

1. Let it die. Here’s a little saying you might want to adopt for yourself: if it ain’t growin’, it’s dyin’. When I owned a house in Hendersonville, I had two projects I took on to train myself to be a domesticated land owner. First, I filled my walk-in closet with clothing so I would have choices on what to wear from day to day. Secondly, I went out into my front yard and decided to try out my green thumb by planting flowers and such.

First the closet. In no time at all, through the generosity of gifts from others and my own purchases, I had garments aplenty. One day I noticed that I was only wearing about five different outfits each week. The rest of my clothes hung in the closet, gathering dust and occasionally growling at me when I passed them by for my more preferred choices.

Now to the flower bed. I think it could be stated that my flower bed was dead. I don’t know what goes into pursuing botanical projects, but that gift seems to have eluded me. Soon I had quite an array of brown flowers.

So I went out, dug up my flowers and planted bushes (more durable) and I took all the clothes from my closet that I was not wearing and gave them to someone who might put them to work. It wasn’t growing; it was dying. So I let it die.

2. Bury it deep. We forget to make our changes obvious. For instance, I let everybody KNOW that I was abandoning becoming a clothes horse, and that I was no longer pursuing gardening. It’s important. Otherwise for the next several months, people will continue to give you seeds for your garden and clothes for your closet. Make it obvious by burying it deep.

3. Wait a spell. Jesus was in the grave for three days. Why? Because sometimes the trauma of letting something die and burying it needs to be separated from the exaltation of starting over again. I did not immediately leap into a new project to replace my closet and my flowers. I simply began to enjoy my life. Folks spend too much time on the clock and not enough time enjoying themselves, giving air to their lives to prepare for the next task.

4. And finally, roll the stone. That’s right. When it’s time to reappear with a new project after having waited a spell to recover from your last “killer event,” come out victorious. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every Sunday morning, the doors of the church burst open and people emerged with smiles on their faces, clapping their hands and hugging one another? A resurrection SHOULD look like we enjoyed it. Coming back from the “grave” circumstances we are in should put a smile on our faces.

So–being a great lover of resurrection and understanding the four steps of the “resurrectional vehicle,” I go to visit these dear hearts tonight. I will tell them not to be afraid to let some things die, bury them deep, wait a spell and then … roll the stone.

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

Messaging … February 6, 2013

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jon in green hand outRelax, it’s not your fault.”

This is the universal message being propelled through the media, entertainment and even the religious community. It has rendered our society immoveable and unshakeable.

We have a sudden return of the deadened philosophy of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” as a means of discovering satisfaction and reaping retribution on those we do believe are to blame. We are ignoring the lessons of the past in order to place ourselves back in a kindergarten-type understanding of real, adult problems.

So to be honest, spirituality, which is supposed to enlighten us to both our weaknesses and our strengths, is hampered from performing these duties because by the time the average parishioner arrives at a church service, he or she has been pummeled with a false absolution. “IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.”

I would like to know how you can empower people when you remove the energy derived from repentance. I would like to know how you plan to change the world when you’re spending all your time assessing blame. And I would like to know what good it will do to allow this to continue without having some voices of reason to pipe up in and object to the insanity.

Here are the three lies which are being promoted in our society:

1. Faith is good but you don’t want to believe too much–otherwise you’ll end up looking stupid and foolish.

2. Hope is an interesting consideration–but a bird in the hand is much more valuable than two in the bush.

3. Love is sweet–but sometimes it’s much more important to watch your backside and be prepared for people to cheat you.

So faith, hope and love, considered to be the greatest virtues of all time, have been diluted to caution, pseudo-intellectualism and retribution. Where will this take us? “Every man for himself” is a thought process that leaves us isolated, paranoid and ready to attack.

So what can we do? What can I, personally, achieve this day to change the messaging in my own life and communicate that I am not part of this temporary baffling?

1. Have faith, but keep it simple. I have boiled mine down to “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

2. Express your hope, but back it up with some legitimate talent. Don’t wish for things that you’re not willing to actively pursue as you polish your abilities.

3. Love people by giving them your heart, knowing that sometimes the human heart is faulty and needs change. To hide your heart from people is to set in motion a plan to hurt them.

The messaging is off. The result? Everything we have believed for centuries is being tainted by a desire to find the culprit to the crime instead of stopping crime. Until we wake up as a country and take responsibility for our part, the problems will grow and suffocate us in our silent presumed innocence.

We will be weakened, vindictive, angry and completely bewildered why nothing is working.

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

I’m Really Not Sure… October 15, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

I do believe that the Apostle Paul was mistaken.

He insisted that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. Instead, he contended that the earthly journey is more or less we humans being stuck in a comic battle between good and evil. You’re welcome to agree with him if you so desire. I don’t.

My discovery of life on terra firma is that we are dealing with flesh and blood issues. Bluntly…us. Appetites, genetics, weaknesses, insecurities, frustrations, indignities, victories, defeats… and of course, worst of all…pernicious apathy.

For about fifteen years I’ve been struggling with leg and knee pain. There are times when it’s been worse than others, but for years, I have been the chooser of the closest parking space at the shopping mall.

I am not lazy. I have crisscrossed the country at least a dozen times, shared thousands of shows in front of tens of thousands of people and marched through airports to get to those destinations–most of the time, in some sort of pain. It’s a flesh and blood issue–and it happens to be mine.

Since January and the passing of my sixtieth birthday, the problem has settled in as a permanent occupant of my daily schedule. In the past two weeks it has gotten even worse than that. Finally, I found myself basically unable to walk–cramped up and with the dark notion that I was finished and would need to seek other ways to express my mission, my message and my heart.

You see, that’s more of that flesh and blood problem. It doesn’t matter how many times we have seen miracles, God move, or the universe tip a little bit to the right to our advantage. For some reason, we all tend to go a little dark whenever anything lands in our toy box and we don’t know exactly how to play with it.

Matter of fact, I was ready to cancel all of my dates last week and “nurse myself back to good health.” Can I tell you something truthfully? I have never gotten over any ailment by lying around. Even when I have a cold, I am better off getting up, moving and redistributing the mucus than I am by letting it settle into my chest, as I pretend to recuperate. I have sprained my ankle, iced it and rested it–but the first time I stepped down on it, it still felt sprained. I don’t know how long it would take to get better laying down on the job.

So I woke up in the middle of the night–early Thursday morning, actually–and realized that my calling is not to sit in a motel room, prop my feet up and lament not being able to go out and share. I decided to rent a wheelchair. I had no idea what I was doing.

I really wasn’t sure.

Now, some people, when they’re not sure, feel they have walked into a deep, dark cave and they’re frightened of the attack of blood-sucking bats. I don’t feel that way. Matter of fact, sometimes I think it’s impossible to know what you really have until you lose what you don’t need.

When I went to the church in Fremont on Sunday morning and was rolled in in my wheelchair, I was convinced that everybody in the world was turning his head to peer at the freak. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. I have never been embraced, loved, assisted, confided in and included as part of a family the way I was yesterday. In both the church in Fremont and the church Sunday night, in Port Clinton, the folks rallied around me and helped me do whatever it is that I do–and never were they ashamed of my lacking.

I’m really not sure. You see what I mean? If I had not come to this crisis in my life, would I ever have set in motion a plan to try to rectify my chronic pain? Would I ever have gone on a food regimen again–now in my eighth day–which is already helping both my energy and my blood sugar? Would I ever have made myself vulnerable enough that my needfulness gave me the space for humanity to enter without apologizing for intruding? Would I ever have planned every step of my day so meticulously because I was learning my wheels?

I’m really not sure you can live a successful human life if hell is your fall guy and heaven is your only safe place. Sometimes the best way for God to love you is to allow you to reap the fruit of your labors–and see if you can’t grow out of your pain instead of just miraculously relieving it.

I’m driving to Indianapolis today. I feel absolutely great–except my legs just don’t want to balance and help me walk. I’m not sad; I am not looking for demons which have caused this interruption. And I certainly am not blaming God for failing to deliver my latest care package of grace.

What I am doing is stopping to realize that there is nothing happening to me right now that isn’t better than if I were still hobbling along, pretending I was all right, but wracked with pain.

  • How can God express His love if He’s not allowing circumstances to generate a better world for me?
  • How can God be God and not honor the principles of His own creation?
  • And how can God be God if the resolution to my situation is not improving my station?

It’s a powerful day, my friend.

I’m really not sure–and in the midst of that unsureness, I find the origins of my joy.

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

Come Along … October 11, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

My legs are not working very well.

It is a simple statement. Looking down at it typed on this computer screen, it seems rather insignificant. Like most truly profound realizations, it comes suddenly, sits on top of your life and demands attention. The question is, what is the nature of the effort I will give to such an interruption?

First of all, I am not surprised. I am often amused when people act shocked by events which certainly had many warnings. One of our greatest human hypocrisies is the instinct to be wounded by the knife that is often in our own hand.

I weighed twelve-and-a-half pounds when I was born. For a myriad of reasons, I have continued to escalate from that point. A conversation on the issue would include a discussion of my metabolism. Also in that exchange would be a lifestyle which certainly has enjoyed fits of festive excess. Matter of fact, it is rather unusual for a man of my girth to survive to the ripe old age of sixty years. I am here courtesy of three miraculous ingredients: vegetables, exercise and the grace of God.

Unlike many people of my circumference, I have always been a consumer of fruits and vegetables. I also have partaken of much physical activity and exercise, even up to a few days ago, when my legs decided to take a much-needed vacation without giving two weeks’ notice. But mainly, God has found it, in His infinite wisdom, to forgive my many indiscretions, accept my fits of repentance and allow me to be a productive citizen of both the kingdoms of earth and heaven. For this I am grateful.

I have on occasion in my life, taken advantage of the medical field to improve my situation. If you will allow me a bit of candor, it has been a mixed bag. There are things that science does well, and things that the knowledge of man does absolutely poorly. If your particular affliction lands on the list of well-known cures or acceptable remedies, you are blessed and usually can receive relief from a doctor or nurse. If you fall out of the parameters of present research, comprehension or understanding, you will have the sensation of being a guinea pig–inflicted instead of affected. You can feel free to disagree with me on this and your opinion is just as good as mine.

But as I look at the work that God has given me for the past forty-two years, reaching out to my fellow human beings with a message of hope, compassion and common sense, I am not inclined at this point to turn myself over to the Philistines so they can cut my hair and rob me of my strength.  My hair, in this case, is the talent God has given me, and my strength is the joy I have in sharing it and seeing how, in my own simple way, I am able to touch the lives of my equals.

So what am I to do with a pair of legs yearning for retirement, when the top half of my body is churning for the thrill of the pursuit and the ecstasy of victory?

I would like you to come along with me as I pursue a miracle–or discover the true heights and depths of my foolish quest.

Here is the miracle: can I learn the wisdom afforded me about my health, weight loss, exercise and even water retention, which will enable me to take this temporarily detained body of mine and move it back into a position of mobility?

Or: will I discover that I have crossed some line, where my lack of attention to my own physical well-being has left me destitute and without recourse?

You certainly can understand why I find it difficult to believe that my Friend, who art in heaven, would abandon his buddy, who is bound by earthly limitations. I have trusted Him all my life, and on this Thursday, October 11th, I will trust Him again.

So what does that mean? It means that I am heading off tonight, by faith, to Sycamore, Ohio, to share my hopes and dreams in front of a small gathering of people. I will be doing so in a unique way.

I will be sitting in a wheel chair that I have rented for the occasion.

Do I feel a sense of personal loss or vacancy over appearing debilitated or weakened? Of course. I am a man. (Ignore that little piece of macho.) I am a human–and therefore, I want to appear strong and in control. But the issue comes down to whether I wish to sacrifice my pride, or lose my mission.

Let’s talk about what I DON’T know. I don’t know anything about a wheel chair. I don’t know if I have enough leg strength to get in and out of it to perform my duties. I don’t know if people will accept me as I am, and realize that the most important thing about me is the message I bring. I don’t know if you can sit in a wheel chair and play a piano. I don’t know if any of this will work.

But faith is not the substance of things “checked out;” it is the substance of things hoped for. Faith is also not the evidence of tried and true practices, but instead, the fierce pursuit of things unseen.

For the next little while, I would like you to come along with me on this journey. I am sure some of you will desire to rebuke me. Others will pray for me. There may be a few who will just find this a piece of fascinating poetry and prose. It makes no difference.

What I can promise you is an odyssey–and that it will come to an end. Our story has this beginning, many conflicts, I am sure, and will culminate with a third-act conclusion.

So I am off tonight to Sycamore, God willing. And I never ask Him to be willing until I make sure of my own stockpile of desire.

  • I am embarrassed, but not defeated.
  • I feel lonely, but not alone.
  • I feel weak, but not destroyed.
  • I feel abandoned, but also reinforced.
  • I feel selfish, but also generous.

I feel it’s time to close this particular jonathots … with the tale incomplete.

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

One Per Customer … September 11, 2012

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It’s Superman’s fault.

I mean, if we have to blame somebody (which we surely must), he, after all, was a great promoter of the dual existence. Feeling that his Superman persona would not fit into every social situation, he created Clark Kent. And likewise understanding that Clark Kent was incapable of outrunning a bullet, he kept Superman around.

It taught us, even as little children, that we would need many characters to function in a complex society, which often demands more than we can provide with our singular, puny personality.

So we bought into it. No one talks about it very much. It’s a general understanding– similar to the unwritten law that underwear shouldn’t be worn for more than one day.

So we pick a profile to use when we’re with our families, another one on the job; some people even select an identity to don while driving their car. Don’t forget the pious face we keep in the jar to use for more spiritual occasions. And then, when it’s time to vote, we pull out our donkey or elephant costumes and try to stay within party lines. At the end of the day, ready to go to sleep, we’re not quite sure who is in bed with us.

After all, who are we? We wonder why we’re a little sad, preoccupied, uncertain of the future and unwilling to be as generous as we once thought we were going to be. Superman should have made up his mind–be Superman or be Clark Kent, who just had some really neat abilities, like helping his friends lift boxes on moving day.

The only true pressure in life is trying to be more than one person. You have to find your philosophy. It’s one per customer.

A philosophy is easy to recognize: it has one moving part, one concept, one function, one energy, one idea, one piece of holiness. Universally, it extends this particular motion throughout all the facets of our lives. Ten commandments are nine too many. The seven virtues of a successful person is a half a dozen over. Whenever we try to multiply our approaches, we divide our effectiveness. You have to find your philosophy and its one moving part, and remain faithful to it. Therein you find the key to fulfilling human life.

The average person has five philosophies at work at all times. No wonder we are busy, exhausted and cantankerous. Here are the five:

  1. It’s all about family.
  2. It’s all about financial security.
  3. It’s all about health.
  4. It’s all about God.
  5. It’s all about freedom.

You can see–these five are not going to peacefully co-exist within the skin of our human kin. They battle. When you think about family, security becomes upset because everything is too expensive. When you think about God, you feel that your freedom has been impinged by religious imprisoning. When you think about your health, you worry about your family, insurance, God–AND a loss of freedom. So these colliding ideas become the “five stooges” within us–running into each other, knocking each other over and popping to their feet, ready to fight. It’s just too much.

You have to develop a singular philosophy of life that covers family, finances, health, God, and freedom. Otherwise, you’ll get up in the morning, look in the mirror and wonder why that growth has suddenly appeared on your neck as you stumble down the stairs to breakfast to be bombarded by some family member who has also found a growth on her neck and wants to talk about it. Over breakfast, you’ll read the newspaper about the financial collapse, making you wonder if you should withdraw all your money, stick it in a sock and bury it underneath the dog house. Lying on a table nearby is the morning devotional you promised your church you would read everyday before work, which on this particular morning, has lost out to a second helping of bacon, which worries you because of its high cholesterol. Part of you enjoys the morning activity with your family, while another portion of you is eager to get off to work, to have that twenty-three-minute drive, with complete freedom of the use of the radio before you arrive at your cubicle, to be told what to do by someone else who is also worried about his family, security, health, God and freedom.

I discovered this dilemma in stages, but I finally came to the conclusion that if I was going to change hats every time a new situation came up, it was only going to make me look ridiculous, with constantly messed-up hair.

I have a philosophy. It has one moving part. It used to be “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But I found a weakness in that statement, dubbed The Golden Rule.  When I felt bad about myself, or was angry with the world, I would project that anger onto others and justify it by saying, “All humans are angry.” By no means am I criticizing the Golden Rule, but I am saying that everything spiritual matures and grows.

This year I have taken a step of faith and innocence, to make the only moving part of my singular philosophy to be, “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

It is liberating. I don’t have to try to be top dog, nor do I have to look to find out if there IS one. I don’t have to wait to be saluted, nor is it necessary for me to provide the salute. We are all the same in the mind of our Creator, and from that status of equality, we either improve or deteriorate our possibilities. If you run across people who have improved, you should leave them alone or give them applause. Don’t deter them. If you run across people who have deteriorated their equality to become the “poor lost pups” of our kennel, look for an opportunity to scratch them in the right places and give them a bone. They will usually let you know they’re interested in getting off of their leashes by wagging their tails.

During this election year, my heart is heavy as I watch normally intelligent and even caring people turn into political maniacs, trying to prove their point about issues that no one completely understands.

So do I love my family? I sure do, but NoOne is better than anyone else. I also believe in the family of man.

Do I need financial security? Absolutely–but NoOne is better than anyone else. I will need to work for what I get, just like my neighbor.

Do I have concerns about health? Of course, but NoOne is better than anyone else. Broccoli works in my body just like it does in yours.

How about my feelings towards God? That’s easy. He’s the One that came up with the idea that NoOne is better than anyone else, because we are told that He is no respecter of persons.

But what about my freedom? Again, NoOne is better than anyone else. If I am willing to grant freedom to other people, I can anticipate the same.

I do not know if you will take this essay seriously or not. (Perhaps it’s a bit optimistic for me to believe you’ve even gotten this far in reading it.) But you can improve your life one hundred per cent simply by abandoning your “Clark Kent costuming.” Bring your life down to one moving part–one philosophy–one idea. You can pick what it is. You don’t have to follow mine. But each one of us is granted a single unit.

Yes–one per customer.

It not only makes our lives sensible, but it frees us of the responsibility of learning a new script … every time the scene changes.

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

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