Good News and Better News … October 12th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2720)

Good News Milton, WI

Many years ago, I sensed a voice within me, encouraging me to go out and share my heart and abilities with the world. Some people would say it was the voice of God, while others would probably insist that it was just me, declaring my own bidding.

I don’t care.

I heeded the call, and that decision has taken me on an exotic adventure.

If faith is what we believe

And love is what we feel,

Then hope is the desire to feel what we believe.

I spent yesterday morning in Milton, Wisconsin, at a church called Hope.

I did not go there looking for God. I found Him some time ago.

I went there looking for people–especially people who are interested in breaking out of the repetition of religious and social blandness.

After 40 years, I have found things about people which really set them apart and give them the advantage Jesus intended them to have:

1. People should be welcoming.

It may be hard to do, but it is even more difficult to wait for friendship to appear instead of stepping forward to cause it.

2. I look for people who have nothing to defend.

Don’t forget–trying to defend something makes you defensive. And being defensive makes you a target for criticism rather than the fort of solitude you envision yourself to be.

3. I look for folks who are listening.

Learning never happens without listening, and honestly, listening never happens as long as we’re flapping our jaws, complaining.

And also, there is a quality in human beings that must be brought to the forefront for us to escape animalism or the notion that we’re “little gods.”

4. I look for folks who can be touched.

To be touched, you have to admit that another fellow-traveler can come along and reach in and tickle your heart.

Here’s the beautiful part to my story:

Yesterday morning at Hope Church, I found such people.

Oh, they tried to hide out at first and pretend they were bound to their traditions and their loyalties to programming, but after a while they realized how beneficial it is to free themselves from the responsibility of being religious, and allow themselves to be children of God.

  • The Gospel is not for weaklings.
  • It’s not for people who want to follow the crowd.

It is a message for intelligent people who are fully aware that if they pursue the same path as the world around them, they will get the same result, which seems to be a collision of indecision and bedlam.

I was blessed to be with the folks at Hope.

They are shepherded by a fine gentleman with a tender heart and an increasing desire to be swept away by a great wind of Spirit.

I leave them with one better piece of news:

Whenever you walk through the doors of your sanctuary, develop the determination, the attitude and the will to refuse to leave that building … without being totally inspired.

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Untotaled: Stepping 58 (Later That Same Night) Did I say no? What I meant was … March 14, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2531)

(Transcript)

So…

I invited my startled, shocked, surprised, nervous, worried, shattered, partially giddy and apprehensive girlfriend over to my motel room that night to share a pizza and discuss our dilemma.

Of course, being teenagers, the first thing we did in a motel room was ravage one another, unleashing the frustration of a five-week absence.

After the brief and awkward romantic encounter was over and the pizza was delivered, we sat and munched on Italian delight, discussing our Middle-American quandary.

Her situation was simple. Obviously, if she had wanted to return to a relationship and marriage, she would probably have found a way to fly back to Ohio to be with me.

She had naturally been wooed from such a committment by the fact that her parents had moved to a bungalow next to the ocean in Guaymas Sonora, Mexico, thirty paces from walking on the beach, and they had thoroughly excited her about being a freshman at the University of Arizona.

Somewhere in the midst of her enthusiasm, she had left two realities out of her thinking: the baby that continued to grow within her loins, and me, who had been the visitor to the same.

Even though the conversation I had with this girlfriend was very tender, fruitful and never escalated to anger, by the end of the evening she candidly shared that she would not return with me. There was just too much to leave behind.

I placed her in a taxi (which she had to pay for) and she was off and away.

As far as I knew, that was the end of it.

I didn’t sleep much that night. Mine was not merely the turmoil of a forsaken lover, but also the annoying prospect of trying to figure out how I was going to get a fifty dollar ticket to return to Columbus, Ohio, and what I was going to do when I arrived, since I had missed the opportunity to sign up for college in the fall.

It was the shortest night of my life because my brain moved at hyper-speed, and before I knew, it was six o’clock in the morning, and I was in desperate need for a plan to get from my motel room, to the airport, and back to my normal surroundings.

Yet I decided to call her one last time.

  • Was it to say good-bye?
  • Was it to ask her if she might reconsider?

Well, I got very little out of my mouth during the phone conversation before she explained that her new girlfriends at the dormitory had been talking to her all night about her decision. One of the young ladies had developed a tremendous dislike for my girlfriend’s father because of how rude he was when he called the dorm, looking for his errant daughter.

These young ladies thought she was a fool for walking away from love to merely study such encounters in books at the university.

So my girlfriend changed her mind.

She said she had packed her bag, would hop a taxi, and be there in less than an hour. She actually arrived. I was a little surprised, considering her history of missing appointments.

When she arrived, she showed me a checkbook her father had given her for college, with a balance of $750.

My dear God, I had never seen $750. We were starting off our journey wealthy.

With that money we were able to purchase our standby tickets and enjoy a swordfish dinner at a fancy restaurant during our Chicago lay-over. We landed in Columbus feeling like Romeo and Juliet, without being dead.

We were certainly not ready for what happened next…

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G8: Sink or Swim … January 24, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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current ripI discovered that the correct term is “rip current.” In my innocence and ignorance I’ve always referred to it as “undertow.”

I only experienced it personally one time, while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean near Jacksonville Beach. It had taken me a couple of days to get up the courage to get into the water, because I had heard all the rumors about sharks and all sorts of foreign life forms swimming around you while you decided to play in the tide.

So gradually I inched my way deeper into the sea, when all at once I was propelled–not viciously, but certainly purposefully. I’d heard of the rip current, so I knew not to fight it, but I could not remember what to do to overcome it.

In just a matter of a few moments I found myself about two hundred and fifty yards from the shore, deposited in a shallow patch of water about six-and-a-half feet deep, where I was comfortable treading, but not standing.

My heart was racing. I was frightened. Land seemed so far away.

Yet the water around me was calm–actually rather peaceful. I experienced a strange sensation–I just wanted to stay there. Since I didn’t know how to get to shore anyway, and the surroundings were not threatening, my heart’s desire was to leave well enough alone and just float and stroke.

I don’t know how long I stayed in that position. What was really odd was that for a brief moment, I wished I could become a fish so I wouldn’t have to make any more decisions about saving myself. Just swim away to my new destiny.

I was at peace.

Yet it was an insecure sense of well-being, because obviously, I was not a fish, did not belong in the ocean and needed to swim away from my circumstance to evolve back into my real life.

I didn’t want to. Matter of fact, nobody even knew where I was. Nobody knew I was missing yet, and there was something comforting about the waves splashing against my shoulders as I moved my arms back and forth and bicycled with my legs to stay afloat.

I don’t know how much longer I would have remained in my indecision, but suddenly another human being swam up and asked if I was all right. I nodded, but in truth, I wasn’t.

I was afraid to change my situation, even though my position was detrimental and would eventually cost me my life. After all, there was nothing to eat, no drink and assuredly, exhaustion would overtake me and I would drown in six-and-a-half feet of water.

I listened as my rescuer explained how to swim through the undertow. I think he realized I was dazed, so he joined me on the journey to my real home. I was reluctant the whole way.

That is, until I got onto the sand, looked out at the billowing waves and realized how foolish I was to think that I belonged there.

Creation is necessary. To believe that everything around us appeared from nowhere would actually be the greatest step of faith that anyone, anywhere could ever muster.

Somebody created the foundations of the world. Likewise, evolution is obvious. No master designer would create a prototype and then not improve upon it with detail and subtleties.

We have one unique job in life–and that is to recognize that just because we’ve been deposited into a foreign environment and it feels welcoming, does not mean that we are to remain there.

We must evolve to where we can grow. I had no life in the haven of liquid. I just had temporary reassurance.

  • My purpose was on land.
  • I could only grow on land.
  • I could only succeed on land.
  • I could only be happy on land.

To achieve my next place of expansion, I had to swim–because without swimming, I would eventually sink.

What feels secure is rarely the answer. There’s a certain amount of swimming against the tide that is necessary in order for us to land … where we belong.

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Christmas Council … December 25, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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council in heaven

God was angry–more with Himself than anything else. The connection He had once made in a Garden had failed to bloom.

So he called a Council together–of a heavenly sort.

Yes, the God of heaven and earth called the best of the sky and the land together to discuss a problem: what shall we do with humankind?

The noble notion of creating a fleshy creature in His image had deteriorated to wars, fear, anger, lust and mainly, most appalling of all, perpetual indecision.

  • The angels were invited to this Council.
  • Philosophers throughout history who had passed on to reward.
  • Lovers
  • Writers
  • Musicians
  • Craftsmen
  • Architects
  • And even the handful of professional religionists who had actually made it to the other side in spite of their predilection for “straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel.”

It was a lively discussion.

The angels were completely perplexed by why creatures who had been endowed with such insight spent all of their time using their wits to destroy one another.

One of the angelic messengers inserted, partly tongue-in-cheek, “If they want to destroy each other, why not give them an assist?”

The philosophers insisted that the problem was poverty and ignorance, some earthly travelers plagued by one, others cursed by both.

The lovers insisted on romance and the poets proclaimed the satisfaction of deeper thought.

One brave former priest challenged the Almighty by suggesting that human beings might be more spirited if the conversation with the heavens was not so one-sided.

On and on the debate raged.

God quickly realized that certain words were leaping from the discussion–repeated constantly:

“King.”

Jew.”

“Priest.”

“Philosopher.”

“Man.”

“Woman.”

“Politician.”

“Savior.”

After the passage of time (though being in a supernal location, such tick-tocking never actually occurs) God announced His decision.

“Human life is a theory. At least, that’s the way humans are approaching it. And I believe they’ve come to the conclusion that success at such an endeavor is completely impossible. I believe they require a picture–an example, as it were. Yet I know some of you think it would take a king. But actually, what we need is a kingdom that can live inside the emotions and soul of every son or daughter of Eden.”

“Some of you think he should be a Jew, born of the House of David. But I’ve grown weary of relegating a special position to one race of people.”

“A philosopher? Perhaps…but with a simple idea: Love your neighbor as yourself.

“A man? A woman? The better parts of that union: a child.”

“A politician? Truly, wise as a servant, but may I add, harmless as a dove.

God paused for a minute before He continued.

“Members of this august Council, what we need is a human who gets it. A human being who understands his own limitations while believing that limitations don’t really exist.”

God stopped his speech and looked into the faces of the assembled. They were puzzled.

“You see? Now you all look human.”

There was a laugh in heaven, as there always should be. Now the key was to bring the laugh to earth.

So one night God joined His spirit with a woman, to birth a baby who became a child and never lost the glee for living, teaching us that we, too, must become as little children.

God called the experience Christmas.

We called it Jesus.

 

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

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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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Perfectly Imperfect … November 30, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2081)

AnisaShe was born on October 1st, 1987.

She has graciously selected to refer to me as her “godfather,” minus the Marlon Brando impersonation, mob hits and Academy Awards.

She was an only child, but surrounded by a gang of boys who teased her, bordering on the verge of torment, which some people in our modern day would consider to be bullying, but ended up working out sufficiently (as far as we know).

For after all, we live in an imperfect world, which is perfectly designed for our penchant for imperfection.

Today she is getting married.

She has asked me to officiate at the ceremony. Honored, I am preparing to do my best.

She is romantically joining together with another human being at a time when such relationships are considered to be expendable, if not ridiculous. She is attempting to launch the ship of their future in a harbor infested with the pirates of indecision, infidelity and inadequacy.

I don’t wish to offer her any advice–mainly due to its imperfection–but I would counsel her to pay heed to herself and be true.

  1. Have a heart that’s pure. You should never go to sleep with feelings because they always wake up on the wrong side of the bed.
  2. Have a soul that’s satisfied–not in yourself, but in the awareness that God has simplified His position, authority and personage into the next human being you run across. Yes, people are God, and every time you forget it, you become an atheist.
  3. Renew your mind. Purposefully find one opinion each and every day that has proven to be wrong and set out to change it by challenging its location within your skull.
  4. And maintain a healthy body–at least as long as you can. Death is chasing us from the time we’re born. True joy is the combination of ignoring it and punching it in the nose.

They named her Anisa, this god-daughter of mine. She was given this name because it was one of the characters in one of my novels. In this book, the girl named Anisa is a princess, filled with spunk, beauty and intelligence.

How apropos.

Happy wedding day, my dear. Keep an eye on your heart, soul, mind and body, and rejoice that the world created for you … is perfectly imperfect.

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

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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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G-Pop’s Coming — Part 2 … November 25, 2013

angy with familyJonathots Daily Blog

(2078)

Learning is what happens when we stop complaining and start believing that what has come our way is usable.

I guess the best way to describe my life is that I have gradually learned how to learn.

In so doing, I have become less critical of others because I understand the aching process involved in transition–but I have also become more motivated to escape the sidelines, nursing my injuries.

When I meet with my family this week and they ask the golden question, “What have you learned?” I’m going to tell them the following six things (of course, one at a time over a space of time, so as not to bore them):

1. People want experience without wrinkles.

Everywhere I go, audiences desire insight, excellence and maturity but because of our culture, they would like to receive it from someone who is young, handsome or pretty. Unfortunately, beauty and youth don’t always coincide well with wisdom and moxie. You have to make up your mind–do you want a beautiful billboard? Or a slightly beat-up but very functional moving truck?

2. The second mile is the new GPS destination.

Sometimes I wonder why people think they can get by doing what everybody else does and still distinguish themselves from the mob. You have to have an edge. You have to have a little extra oom-pah if you’re going to perform in the best polka band.

3. Sophistication is everywhere–and it’s annoying.

Somewhere along the line America has become more demanding than giving. We expect other people to jump through hoops as we feel only the necessity to hold them. We need an innocence in order to create revival–a belief that we haven’t seen everything yet, and what we’re looking for is not necessarily dazzling, just heart-warming and meaningful.

4. Good cheer is the new money.

People are so morose, despondent and out-of-whack that simply coming across with a willingness, a smile and a desire to pursue betterment pushes you to the front of the horde. Good cheer is when you purposely put on the mask of a face you deeply desire to be your own.

5. Indecision is killing us.

I don’t know when we started defining maturity as the act of holding meetings, discussing and deciding nothing. Sooner or later we will need to risk being flawed in order to actually move forward and discover improvement.

6. And the final thing I will tell my family that I learned this year in my journey across this United States is freedom isn’t always right–but it’s never wrong.

Unless you have some sort of belief that the U.S. should be ruled by Christian Sharia law, you have to understand that democracy grants freedom at all costs. This doesn’t mean that the things people select to do are always right, or even moral. It’s just that they’re never wrong–because the freedom exists in this country to do what you deem necessary, as long as you don’t infringe on the rights of others.

I see absolutely nothing in error in a church establishing in its doctrine that certain attitudes or behaviors are appropriate for the message they espouse. But if that same church lobbies for other American citizens to be forbidden to conduct themselves however they deem best, then that church has gone from a personal choice of worship to a position of robbing civil rights from their brothers and sisters.

So there you go. If I were to sum up all six of them, I would say this:

Find yourself, be happy, love people–but leave ’em alone.

That is what G-Pop learned this year as he traveled across this country. I’m in my van, driving to meet those who are willing to be called my kin.

It should be exciting.

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

Deciding… January 5, 2012

(1,384) 

Fear is the womb that births all indecision.

What makes us afraid?

It is the monsters we chased from our childhood closets, which now have mysteriously found “home” in our adult minds. Most people think the important thing is deciding to do right. Actually, the more valuable choice is landing on the right way to decide. 

I think there are six things that prompt us to “decide,” and the quality of your decisions will be based on which one of these frightens you–or excites you.

1. What’s up? There are many folks who make all of their major directional changes based on the climate of society, the mood of their surroundings or the popular choices of the day. They are literally “blown by the wind.” They move from one thing to another based upon the fad of the moment. They are at the mercy of trends. Of course, we know what the problem is with such a profile. What is presently in vogue will, within a matter of days or weeks, be considered foolish. So if you’re making your decision based on “what’s up,” half the time you’ll be hidden within a  host of adherents and the other half of the time, you’ll be considered out-dated and meaningless.

2. What’s proper? Propriety always harkens to a former time. Former times tend to bring habits to the forefront that are repetitive but not necessarily good. Bad habits breed repression. Repression welcomes sin–and sin ushers in a premature death. Making your personal choices based upon what is proper also puts you at the mercy of the opinion of the strongest and loudest screamer instead of the still, small voice of reason.

3. What’s hard? This is a tricky one–because some people avoid hard things and other people welcome them, feeling they’re very mature because they’re taking on difficult tasks. Can we make something clear? A thing is not better just because it’s harder to do. “Hard” is just a level of fussiness which exists, awaiting an intelligent mind to simplify it. Doing things the hard way is basically admitting you’re stupid–because if any “smarts” existed, a more proficient and easier path would be found.

4. What’s God’s will? This is the one that really makes me laugh. There are people who believe that through prayer, Bible reading or meditation, they are able to make decisions in their lives based upon their discernment of God’s will. This is scary. When I look back over the history of the Crusades and other causes launched in the name of God, a shudder goes down my spine at the notion of anyone believing they are tapping the present daily schedule of the Almighty to find the best approach in any given matter. Actually, God’s will is very simple.  It is: love your neighbor as yourself. And since love and fear cannot coexist and being uncertain of who your neighbor is might stall the process, and an unwillingness to embrace one’s own abilities and emotions could be a deterrent to the conclusion, those very religiously based individuals certainly will find God’s will a bit beyond their groping.

So there are the first four. As you probably can tell, I don’t favor any of them.

  • I will not decide anything based on the vox populi.
  • I certainly cannot condone moving forward on an idea solely determined by its propriety.
  • I am not inclined to pursue a project on the basis of how hard it is–either as a punishment to myself or a proof of my prowess.
  • And honestly, being a mere mortal, accessing God’s will in every matter really is just a case of playing “hot potato.” Because every time I try to toss it off to God, He throws it back my way.

That leaves the final two–and as you probably have guessed, this pair tends to be my favorite.

5. What’s next? Let’s be honest. There is a natural order to things which we sometimes deny because we have pet concepts we want to push to the forefront and often they tend to be out of the flow. On any given day, I know exactly what needs to be done first, second and third, but I may not want to do those things so I pretend they’re unimportant. Life pretty well gives you a “things to do today list,” which you can either ignore or put off–but it doesn’t mean they won’t reappear the following morning. There’s a power in knowing what’s next. Here’s my criterion for what’s next: Of what I presently can do or am willing to do, what is going to create the greater happiness? I will never choose to be unhappy. Even if I am inflicted by disease, my particular attitude will be to move towards happiness and contentment. If you want to know what’s next, find out what’s going to make you happy. If you remove happiness from your life because you think it is unnecessary or unachievable, you are at the mercy of society, propriety, difficulty or a misinterpretation of God’s will. Not a good place to be.

So even when I look at what’s next, I also ask myself, “Is this going to make me and other folks happy?” If the answer is “no,” I am suspicious that this intruder has jumped in line and is not really the next thing I’m supposed to deal with.

6.  And finally, what’s fun? In some ways, we were smarter when wearing short pants. When we were children, we pursued things that were fun and ended up at the end of the day well-exercised, giddy, exhausted and with many friends. What scares away excitement, giddiness and people? Any assertion that fun is not necessary. Because if you’re choosing “what’s next” based on being happy, then deciding what’s fun is just the procedure of making your happiness obvious. If you ask most people if they’re happy, they will say “yes” —  as they frown at you. I just happen to believe that happiness is better expressed through visibly having fun.

As we travel across the country, people will often explain to us that they have to make a decision on whether to have Spirited come into their church. I listen to the tone of their voices.

For some, it’s about, “What’s up?” In other words, “Is this in the flow of our people and will they think it’s a good thing?”

With others, it’s, “What’s proper? Is Spirited going to come in and suggest things we are not presently doing–that might be different?” It’s amazing to me that people expect to have revival in their churches without doing anything new.

Some people want to know if hosting Spirited is going to be hard. They’re afraid there might be a level of difficulty that may surpass their abilities, or that we might make it so easy that they will feel no sense of achievement.

And of course, there are those who think it has to be God’s will. You know, folks, I don’t think I could have traveled for forty years if I didn’t have God as my main investor.

Here’s what I think the basis of every decision should be: What’s next? Is it going to make myself and other folks happier? And: What’s fun? Is that happiness going to be obvious and make us grow into becoming more fruitful individuals?

The first four on our list are decisions based on fear. The last two are decisions of grown-up people who have chased away all the demons — and no longer believe in the Bogey Man.

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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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