Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … November 26th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Woman: I’m pregnant.

 

Man: What do you mean?

 

Woman: You don’t know what pregnant is?

 

Man: Yes, I know what pregnant is, I just don’t know why you would think you’re pregnant.

 

Woman: I was told I was.

 

Man: It’s not possible.

 

Woman: What do you mean, it’s not possible?

 

Man: I mean, I’m engaged to you and I know that I haven’t had sex with you, so the possibility of you being pregnant is zilch.

 

Woman: Listen, and listen carefully. I would like you to listen even if you don’t believe what I’m saying. And listen with the mind that the last thing in the world I would want to do is lie to you.

 

Man: You’re creeping me out. What are you trying to say?

 

Woman: I’m trying to say that I have been visited.

 

Man: You’ve had another man?

 

Woman: No, of course not. We’re going to be married. I… Well, I don’t know. Do you believe in angels?

 

Man: Are you asking me if I believe in angels or if I think there really are angels? Because it’s a different answer.

 

Woman: Are you saying you believe in things you don’t think are real?

 

Man: Hell, yes. There are two kinds of belief. There’s the belief that if I put seed in the ground, it will grow and I’ve got a good chance of a harvest. Then there’s belief in angels, which I’ve never seen, have no evidence of and just decide to go along with because the God who makes the seed grow insists they are real.

 

Woman: That’s interesting. Because the God who makes that seed grow has placed a seed in me that’s growing.

 

Man: Woman, you’ve lost me.

 

Woman: I hope not. I hope you can just listen a little bit more and understand. Because even if I’m crazy and this is all in my brain and I am stark raving nuts, I’m going to need you to hang around and take care of me. But if what I’m telling you turns out to be real, I’m going to need you to hang around to be part of it.

 

Man: Cut to the chase. What are we talking about?

 

Woman: An angel has told me that God is placing a baby inside me who is going to be the Messiah.

 

Man: What? Why you?

 

Woman: Thank you very much for that vote of confidence. I don’t know why me. Maybe it’s because everybody else turned Him down. Or maybe He knew that I was willing to at least consider it was possible.

 

Man: Let me go over what I’m hearing. You’re telling me that an actual angel spoke to you, telling you that God was going to give you a baby even though you haven’t been with a man…

 

Woman: Apparently that’s important–the fact that it isn’t coming from one fellow. The baby isn’t coming from one nation, or this baby isn’t the actual “seed of David,” but instead is a child of all the Earth…

 

Man: But you see, that’s where you’re wrong. The prophecies say that the baby will come through the loins of the seed of David, birthed from a Jew. Why would God have all these men in the Old Testament and then suddenly turn to a woman to deliver His messenger?

 

Woman: Actually, he’s supposed to be called Jesus.

 

Man: I am so freaking disappointed in you. If you made a mistake and slept with someone…I don’t know. Maybe I could forgive you. But at least I would not feel insulted that you thought you could deceive me with this tale of angels.

 

Woman: I completely understand your point. I knew when I came to tell you the story, I had to be prepared for the fact that it’s so unbelievable that you would not be able to comprehend it. I don’t know why the angel didn’t tell us together… but I think God just got tired of men dominating women, and He decided to do something with a woman, minus the man.

 

Man: There’s no history of it.

 

Woman: There’s never been a Messiah before.

 

Man: So what am I supposed to do?

 

Woman: You’re supposed to listen to me–which you’ve done–and decide for yourself if I’m a cheater, a deceiver, crazy, or blessed.

 

Man: No man could do that. No man could sort through this mess.

 

Woman: Maybe you’ll need an angel, too…

 

Man: Well, until my angel shows up, let me tell you that loving someone is not something that comes quickly and goes away just as quickly. Standing here, I feel bruised, upset, cheated… but in love. I need my thoughts to myself. I don’t want to say something stupid and hurt you, but I also don’t want to say something silly and find out you’re laughing at me.

 

Woman: I understand all of that. Parts of it hurt. Parts of it are reassuring. But I know this–even if I’m crazy, it’s my crazy. And I can’t turn my back on it. I promised I would be willing to see it through.

 

Man: Maybe we should sleep on it.

 

Woman: Maybe we should.

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Balder … April 18, 2013

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hatI like hats.

I think I always have liked hats, even though I don’t remember wearing one until I was into my mid-thirties. Before that age, I took great pride in having hair. Matter of fact, in my twenties I grew it down to my shoulders and flipped it in the air when I sang, pretending I was Roger Daltry from the Who onstage at Woodstock, although obviously metabolically challenged.

But as I lost my hair I started wearing hats, the premise being that if you covered up the disappearing area of locks, people would not know that you were actually bald and you could still pull off being extraordinarily youthful and virile.

But I always ran into one problem: sooner or later you have to take your hat off.

Even though I would arrive at my engagements and set up for my show wearing a hat, it was generally considered inappropriate to sport one during the presentation. So actually, donning the beanie on top of my head for the first part of the event made the removal of the same more noticeable–and truthfully, I ended up looking … balder.

I know that sounds odd. But if people don’t know what’s under your hat, when you do finally expose it, it’s even more shocking. So about four or five years ago I stopped wearing hats so as not to send unnecessary electrical waves through the minds of those who meet me. Instead I establish my baldness from the beginning and never have to appear balder.

It’s a powerful idea–and can be applied in so very many ways.

About eight years ago I lost eighty-one pounds. I was VERY, VERY fat. I succeeded in shedding enough tonnage that I became just VERY fat. At that point there was one remaining goal–don’t get fatter. Traditionally, those who lose weight put all their weight back on. So even though I may be fat my whole life, I don’t have to get fatter. There is a certain regality to that which I shall rejoice in, even as I attempt to address losing additional ounces.

You want to know what the problem is with being angry? No one takes the advice of the Bible, which states, “Be angry and sin not.” So instead of getting angry and getting over it, we try to put a hat on it–a lid–and in the process, we become angrier.

Have you ever been hurt? If we’re not able to express the emotion of that pain, crying out some of the frustration, there is a great danger that people who are hurt become hurters.

We have a decision to make. Are we going to take what we are and share it from a pure heart, unashamed, or are we going to put a hat on it and pretend for a while that we really don’t have a problem?

Because I will tell you, I sin–but I am not a sinner. A sinner is someone who attempts to hide from what is done by sporting some fig leaves over the problem area, and end up looking more ridiculous.

  • I am bald–but I will not wear a hat, cover up, and end up looking balder.
  • I am fat, but plan on being conscientious enough not to become fatter.
  • I have been hurt, but I am going to work it out to keep myself from becoming a hurter.
  • I can’t lie to you–I do get angry. But I express it so I don’t become angrier.
  • And God and I both know that I sin. But I like to let my Daddy know when I break a vase in the house, so I don’t become a sinner, hiding out in my room and missing out on the blessings of the household.

So I am bald. But ironically enough, if I try to hide it under my hat, it really does become … a hairy situation.

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Exceed — October 13, 2011

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Sometimes I really miss elements of kindergarten.  That’s why I enjoy my granddaughter, Lily–so I can sit down and color with her, appearing to be a caring grandfather–when really I am vicariously returning to being a little kid.

Likewise, I used to love “Connect the Dots.” It had two aspects that pleased me. First was using my intelligence to trace a line from number one to number two and on to number three–and then to do it as fast as I could, to compete against my friends and  be the first one to reveal the hidden dinosaur from amongst the numbers. 

Candidly, I think we would be better off as adults if we did a lot more “connecting the dots.” For instance, instead of reading the Bible as a duty or as great literature, as if it were spawned from the pen of Shakespeare (even though we don’t have a Stratford-on-Avon-idea of what it means), we choose to understand that one thought follows another and therefore might be trying to show us a picture.

Case in point: the Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes, which I have shown you is really a challenge to reveal our own hearts and get simple. Once we’ve arrived at simplicity, we have unlocked the key–more or less split the atom–of what causes us to be powerful. So what do we do with the power? Do we flaunt it? Do we use it to subjugate other human beings? Do we walk around with our noses in the air, acting self-righteous? These are options that the religious community has used over the years to turn their salvation experience into a club for beating others instead of a gentle rope, cast to save the lost and dying. What should I do with the fact that I am the salt of the earth and the light of the world?

Honor reality. There is a reality going on in the world that can not be ignored, prayed away or simply negotiated from being bothersome. I remember the first thing I did after the 9/11 tragedy was to grab a Koran. If these people–or at least, the more militant among them–wanted to be my enemy, then my best defense was to learn as much as possible about their belief system.

Jesus phrased it well in the Sermon on the Mount when he said he didn’t come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them. It reminds me of writing a play. Words on paper are quite interesting and even have potential, but you really don’t know how good the writing is or how fulfilling the story can be until the actors put it in context by performing the material.  That’s what Jesus meant. While the theologians of his day were debating the finer points of doctrine, Jesus brought a visual aid and lived it out in front of the people. He fulfilled it.

This is missing in spirituality today.  In an attempt to package God into a more palatable form for the masses, who do not want to consider difficulty or to be challenged to change, we have removed all sense of responsibility for living out truth as a visual example in front of mankind and thus fulfilling righteousness. Honestly? I just don’t learn until I see it in motion.

I often sit in churches and listen to the readings from the Bible and it seems to me that even those who speak the words from the lectern get lost in the middle of the sentence, failing to garner any true meaning. We have a responsibility to fulfill the law and prophets. And then, Jesus goes on to say that we also have a great opportunity to exceed the righteousness of those who already think they know God, but have offered very little comfort to our suffering world.

Yes.  Jesus said “except your righteousness exceed that of the scribes and pharisees, you will not enter the Kingdom of God.”  Because … where IS the kingdom of God? Jesus said it was within us. So if what is within us is not becoming obvious in the real world, then we have done nothing more than those who have already failed to practice what they preach.

So how do we exceed--to succeed? I am so happy to report that this is one of the easiest concepts I will ever share with you. Here goes:  whenever you are given a task, ask two quick questions: (1)  now, what is it exactly that you want me to do? and (2) when do you need it?

If you want to fulfill truth and exceed the righteousness you see around you, just do a little more than Number 1 and do it a little sooner than Number 2.  You’ve already been told what the expectation is–and if you decide to do just a little bit more and do it a little sooner, you will stand out in this mediocre world as salt and light.

For example, a friend of mine has asked me to edit a play he has written. So I posed the two questions. What exactly is it you want me to do and when do you need it? His reply was, “Well, I’d just like you to make it better and I need it one week from now.”  You see? So all I have to do to come across like an absolute genius is to put in a few more improvements than he expects and deliver it at least one day early. He will not only be astounded, but he will give me the greatest gift that any human being can give to another–trust.

See how it works? So we’ve connected the dots. If you’re willing to get simple about yourself–not being so pompous and fearful of losing your place–you will be powerful and begin to usher in a new world in your soul, projecting salt and light to others around you. If you use that power to exceed the expectations of the world around you by the philosophy of “Do a little more,” you will end up being a friend of sinners, a companion of God and a trusted human being.

So there they are–all three. Get simple.  Be powerful.  Do a little more.

If you follow those three things in order, you will gain the prominence and place you desire in any business, organization or family situation.  And it all comes from connecting the dots from the thoughts and teachings of Jesus.

  • Get simple.  “I’m not even as good as you think I am.”
  • Be powerful.  “I don’t want to hurt me; I don’t want to hurt you. Therefore, I can’t hurt God.”
  • Do a little more.  Ask the two questions. “What is it exactly you want?” and “when do you need it?” Then, simply go a little further.

Try it.  See if it works. Create a visual to the gospel that you believe in your heart–or be prepared to be evaluated on the results of what you do … anyway.

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Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

Powerful — October 12, 2011

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It’s what every human being wants, even though some would insist in false humility that they are perfectly satisfied with owning the lower seat.  Yes, we all want a sense of power, control and destiny for our journey.

Matter of fact, if Jesus had presented his material for his Sermon on the Mount, seeking assistance for organizing his ideas, no modern-day speechwriter worth his brackets, commas and syntax would ever have suggested that he begin with the Beatitudes. They all would have thought he was bringing too much responsibility to the hearers before giving them the chance to become sold out on the more appealing proposals.  No, I think any ghost-writing helper for Jesus would have insisted that he begin his Sermon with, “You are the salt of the earth and you are the light of the world.” Here would be their conclusion–empower the people and bury the personal difficulty more deeply within the context. But that’s not what Jesus did. He made it clear that if we don’t “get simple” and begin to realize that if our choices don’t determine our success, then we’re at the mercy of nature, other people, or dare I even say?–God.  Get simple–realize that the only way to change the complexion of your own situation is to pop your own pimples.

Now, after completing this successful personal analysis and realizing that our own progression is determined by our decisions, we then reach the point where we can be powerful.  We ARE the salt of the earth and we ARE the light of the world.  Why? Because we have walked into a room filled with mediocrity, and rather than joining in, we have established our own standard. We’ve tasted the soup and rather than eating a bland broth, we’ve selected to flavor it. We’ve entered an enclosure that is totally dark and lit a candle.

And the reason we have done so is that we don’t want to spend one minute of our lives in regret. Regret is what people who could have accomplished much more feel when they’ve given in to the blandness around them instead of reaching into themselves to turn their seed of talent into a fruit of success. When I get around folks who regret something or other, I know that I’m also in the presence of individuals who have decided somewhere along the line to do less than they could have done.

So what makes us powerful?  It certainly is not being granted power. Dare I say that most of the people who have held the position of President of the United States are not only forgettable, but in many cases, they ended up through their mediocre choices, doing more harm than good. Granting power  to us is like giving the keys to a Ferrari to a five-year-old. You can perch him behind the wheel, but he doesn’t have the foggiest idea how to start the car, let alone drive it.

Actually, we become powerful when we decide to take on our own lives without blaming anyone else, get simple, and make three very important choices:

1. “I don’t want to hurt me.” Rather than rationalizing all of our bad habits, fears, insecurities and prejudices, we confront them because we know they’re hurting us–and the only way pain will leave is when we force these ridiculous vices out of our circle of influence.

2. “I don’t want to hurt you.” Once I realize that the relief of pain is so comforting and joyous, I become evangelistic to make sure that you, too, do not have to experience the agony of ridiculous propositions. I will never learn to care about you until I sufficiently care about myself. And I will never care about myself until I realize that my personal pot of gold is located at the end of my willingness to deal with my inadequacies.

3.  “Because I don’t want to hurt me and I don’t want to hurt you, therefore I can’t hurt God.” God is not angered by sin that is acknowledged and confessed. God is not infuriated with those who fail if they quickly discover the error and set in motion restitution. There are only two things that cause God to feel alienated from you:  (a) when you don’t care, and (b) when you’re willing to lie about the fact that you don’t care.

How apropos for Jesus to refer to us as salt–a common flavoring–and light–illumination of the surrounding environment. It’s perfect. And what an excellent time it is to live in this society!  Because I will tell you, this is one of the most mediocre periods I have seen in six decades of living. We have learned to settle for so little that if people would just step the game up in a tiny increment, they would be like a  bright beam in the cosmos.  As Jesus said, people would be able to see our good works and glorify the Father in heaven.

I am often astounded that we expect our congregations to come in to praise and worship God when their lives do not demonstrate any improvement or sign of progress. What are we praising? What are we worshipping? Jesus made it clear that nobody glorifies God without seeing other people’s good works! If we can’t raise up a body of believers who have decided to “get simple” and discover their own frailties and move them into the realm of improvement, why do we think anybody would be interested in the message that propels us? After all, I do not walk into a dirty house and ask the owners what kind of cleansers they use. It would seem cruel, not to mention stupid. Neither do I walk into a place where people preach a gospel which leaves their constituency dull and unfeeling and inquire as to how I might become a member.

We become powerful when we get simple and set into motion three holy practices:

  • I don’t want to hurt me.
  • I don’t want to hurt you.
  • Therefore, I can’t hurt God.

With that trio of breezes at our back, we can sail on with confidence and feel energized by our beliefs instead of ransacked. The Sermon on the Mount WAS put in the right order–Jesus began with personal evaluation–informing us of the miracle of “getting simple.” And then he followed it with the power we discover through that evaluation and those choices, which begins to remove the hurt so that we can feel pleasure again. I even sense an explosion in my soul as I write this to you because I don’t want to hurt me anymore–and I don’t want to hurt you. And because of that, I know that it’s impossible for me to be separated from the love of God.

So what’s next? What do we acquire after we decide to “get simple” and be powerful?

On the morrow.

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Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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