G-3: Create or Critique… December 20, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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apeI struggled with the decision.

I do believe I have ability, but apparently I possess enough insecurity that I would rather discuss my efforts than enact them. Why? Because stepping forward always generates the possibility of slipping or falling off a cliff.

Yes, it is much more pleasant to contemplate an idea than it is to perform it.

But here’s the difficulty: when we fail to create, we find ourselves tumbling into the backward, ignorant position of critiquing. Why? Because those around us who have the audacity to actually produce a product end up making us look insipid in our indecision, so we feel compelled to pick and fuss at their endeavors in order to make ourselves look viable and intelligent.

At the heart of every critic is a person who could have been creative, but balked out of fear. But I will tell you–once you begin to create things, you are much less likely to criticize the virgin efforts of others. The experience of making yourself vulnerable by presenting your gift also causes you to feel greater mercy for others who brave the terror.

Why are we so afraid?

1. We have convinced ourselves that something has to be perfect.

I don’t know why–nothing ever is.

  • But the reason most people don’t write is because they think every sentence has to be aligned with the gospel of grammar.
  • People refuse to sing, horrified that bad pitch or forgetting the lyrics will render them the fool of the day.
  • A carpenter will stop working with wood, terrified that he’ll hit his thumb with a hammer.

All creativity is brought to a halt by the superstition of perfection. There is no such thing, but we insist on its existence.

2. We are afraid to perfect.

Yes, there is a certain chill that goes down our spine over the dual prospect of admitting lack and jumping in once again to remold the idea. So because we’re plagued by this tentative energy, we choose to critique instead of create.

But after I wrestled with my own frustrations, I finally decided to become a creator instead of a criticizer. And what did I get for my noble decision? Criticism. But also–something to work with.

So I will make something today that did not exist yesterday, knowing that it will be critiqued by those who made nothing. For creativity is the only way we sense the breath of God within us.

Criticism is for monkeys … and those who ape them.

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

Free Indeed … September 5, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1997)

Zion“We’re all believers.”

Those words were spoken to me last night by four souls who had come out to hear our concert from surrounding towns. They went on to lament that the confusion of religion, the inflexibility of faith-based individuals and the entrenched nature of traditionalism is leaving us without a path to find communion with one another.

In my early years, I did some work in prisons. After one of my presentations, a guy in his early twenties came up to me and asked for a moment of my time. He explained that he was in jail because he had stolen a car. Since arriving, he had repented and was trying to educate himself. He said he had four more years inside, and that the greatest gift he had received since arriving was the extra privilege of being able to go to the lounge and watch television one extra hour a day.

You know what struck me? Here was a gentleman who was free of the guilt and pain of his childish error–but was still trapped because he was in prison.

If church is not making us free of self-imprisonment, insecurity and frustration, then just to have more privileges–even if one of them is salvation–does not remove the bars and take away the guards.

Jesus promised me that I could be “free indeed.”  What does that mean?

It means that even though people have a testimony and a religious conviction, they can still suffer from four terrifying evils that lurk at the corners of their souls:

  1. I’m afraid of failing.
  2. I demand praise.
  3. I’m trying to fit in.
  4. I need to be wanted.

Facts are, you will never be free as long as you’re afraid of the powerful gift of failure. It is a gift because it eliminates useless choices that will hinder our ultimate victory.

In like manner, it is difficult to gain independence as long as you’re stomping about or peeking around the corner looking for praise.

Likewise, if you feel the need to fit in, you will find that you constantly need to trim the corners of your life because some new trend will require you to be different.

And finally, the best way to be wanted is by taking care of somebody else’s need instead of your own.

I believe in spirituality and a lifestyle brought by Jesus. That kind of lifestyle creates a confidence that says:

  1. I welcome the ups and downs–I look at it as emotional exercise.
  2. I love the work–if you praise me for it, it’s just gravy. I’ve already got my mashed potatoes.
  3. I am supplied. I don’t need you to tell me what’s currently “in vogue” or what you deem old-fashioned.
  4. I bring something. I never arrive anticipating to eat off the communal buffet without contributing to the spread.

If what those four people said last night is true–that we’re all believers–then let’s start believing in being “free indeed.”

Free indeed happens when we realize that the kingdom of God is within us …  and any time we crawl on our knees to find it we create distance from our own solution.

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

Why, then How… June 24, 2013

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why am I hereAn astute fellow he was indeed.

Last night, as he ambled up to my book table, sporting an expression mingling admiration with incredulity and curiosity, he posed his well-worded question: “How is it possible to write a daily blog and constantly come up with new ideas?”

I certainly understood his sensation–that such an endeavor seemed impossible.

You see, most of us are task oriented. When you live a life of evaluating HOW something can be accomplished, you usually reject progress in the committee meeting of your mind. “How” is the scariest question we can ask.

  • How will we have enough money?
  • How will we have enough time?
  • How will we have enough ideas?
  • How will we get assistance if it doesn’t work out?
  • How can we sustain the activity if we DO start it?

The word “how” has done more to halt human development than all the minions of hell and the forces of evil combined.

We must begin with “WHY.”

  • Why am I writing a blog?
  • Why am I sharing my thoughts?
  • Why is it valuable to do so?

“Why” is the fuel in our emotional tank. “How” is the hole leaking our energy to the ground.

God provides a “why” for me every day in my life–and never a “how.” “Why” is the wisdom He promised. “How” is the faith I must bring.

Actually, on most mornings, there are two or three different stories vying for the right to be the chosen paragraphs of the day.

Maybe it’s seeing a dead deer on the side of the road and realizing that this creature was part of creation, and related to me in some way or another.

It could be the eighty-seven-year-old woman I met last night, who was celebrating her sixty-sixth wedding anniversary, possessing more energy than the three teenagers sliding by with the sound of swishing denim.

And then again, it could be the young married man holding his baby, with tears in his eyes because the message sank deep into his soul–that truly, NoOne is better than anyone else.

Don’t forget the funny road signs I see as I travel, or memories of past journeys that produce a renewed twinkle in my eye.

If you can stop wondering how something is going to work for one minute, the why that life provides imbues you with power–to be creative and energized.

So it was a man walking up to my table last night asking a very intelligent question which gives me the impetus to share a great secret to the universe:

It is the spirit of God who places the “why” in my heart. It is the darkness of insecurity that answers with “how.”

Can we change the world? Absolutely–as long as we remember why we are doing it.

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

******

 Jonathots, Jr.!

Click below for a quick daily thought from Jonathan

https://jonathots.wordpress.com/jonathots-jr/

******

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

Ears to Hear … May 29, 2013

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Lakeview UMCDo you know what the problem is with talking? It’s fairly important that you make sense,  don’t speak too long and bore people. That’s not easy.

Sometimes I wish I could just write and not do public speaking–simply because the possibility of me going haywire on my logic or becoming long-winded looms heavy. Matter of fact, sometimes I am reluctant to sing the second verse of a song because I fear I’ve lost the attention of the audience.
I will admit that it’s an insecurity. But I think it’s a good one.

There is just too much talking in our society. And to make sure that nobody else gets a word in edgewise, public speakers insert delays, “a-a-a-h-h-s,” and “u-u-m-m-m-s” just to maintain the podium while they try to figure out the next thing they want to say. It’s really ugly.

The only time to continue to share your thoughts is when you KNOW there are ears which are actually hearing. That would eliminate about 60% of political speeches and an equivalent number of sermons.

Matter of fact, when Jesus wanted to make it abundantly evident that he was saying something really valuable, he led off with, “Verily, verily, I say unto you …” He would often end that same passage with, “He that has an ear, let him hear.”

I’m desperately trying to only talk about things that are important. Sometimes that’s just being silly.  Yes, it is very, very essential that we be silly.  But I know this. Three things should be accomplished in the process of speaking your mind:

1. Never pontificate your points unless you’re ready to receive information that elaborates on your issue or even contradicts your assertion. There’s nothing worse than someone who gets caught in a mistake but continues to preach the same message even though it’s been proven to be erred.

2. Update your proclamations by including evidence that YOU find. I suppose if you read all the jonathots I’ve written since I began, you might find contradictions. They aren’t really contradictions. They are holy findings and realizations that have enlightened my original opinion with mercy and wisdom. It is not flip-flopping to move toward truth. It is stupid when you don’t.

3. And finally, the most important thing to remember when speaking is to convey that you are open. Every little piece of dialogue shared that shuts out another human being, puts God in a box, or forbids creative expression will have to be eliminated eventually–and replaced with openness.

So as I head off tonight to Lakeview United Methodist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, I must realize that these folks don’t OWE me an ear to hear. Lakeview signAs a matter of fact, many will arrive and try to discern me on face value, tainting their own potential for receiving. But as long as I am ready to receive from them, find out new ways to communicate, and stay open, my time of words and thoughts will carry some gravitas.

I don’t know everything. I wouldn’t want to know everything–because it would make life tedious. And I do know this–the knowledge I possess needs to expand.

He that has an ear, let him hear.

A good thought. For after all, the human ear sits back on the head and has to take its turn behind a yapping mouth, a nosy beezer and sleepy eyes.

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

******

Jonathan’s thinking–every day–in a sentence or two …

 Jonathots, Jr.!

Click below

https://jonathots.wordpress.com/jonathots-jr/

******

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

Five Moments … May 10, 2013

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hand

In my not-always-so-humble opinion, there are five moments necessary to experience in order to generate a human life that is valuable and not detrimental to others. Without this quintet of encounters, certain levels of presumption, insecurity, arrogance and frustration overtake us, rendering us ineffective and at times, even nasty.

  1. “I am not God.”
  2. “I am not saved.”
  3. “I am not better.”
  4. “I am not guaranteed.”
  5. “I am not right.”

My particular disasters which instilled these important truths deep within my internal organs were terrifying and even life-threatening. Yet without them I would be a self-reliant egotist, determined to push my will to the forefront, even when it was of lesser quality than my peers.

I found out I wasn’t God when I was a nineteen year old kid. I wrote a series of bad checks, thinking that the Almighty would bless them, covering them at the bank because I was pursuing His will. Fortunately for me, before they bounced and turned me into a felon, I came to my senses, slapped myself around a bit and decided it was better to have money IN the bank when you promised someone he could retrieve it.

I found out I needed to be saved when I was in my early twenties. At the time I was constantly hurting people’s feelings, wondering “what the hell was wrong with them.” I was convinced I was talented and that this was all that was necessary, requiring no common decency or gentleness towards humanity. Fortunately again, God and His friends–people–gave me a very quick lesson in humility.

It became clear to me that I was not better than anyone else when I started to compete in the marketplace and realized there were many people just as good as me, and some even more accomplished. At first I was in denial, making excuses or even attacking my competitors to find holes in their abilities. But eventually I realized that the purpose for having those around you who are equivalent to you is to have collaborators, and the reason for having individuals who are more established than yourself is to have angels, promoting more heavenly results.

Likewise, my concept of feeling guaranteed that God’s grace was always sufficient for me was challenged one night in Mobile, Alabama, when I looked down at the body of my son, the victim of a hit-and-run accident. I realized that misery does not “passover” those who are called to minister, but instead, teaches us to minister more effectively.

And finally, every day of my life I find out that I am not right when my ideas are quickly shown to be errant, weak, outdated or ill-timed. At that point I have a choice. Do I persevere in stupidity, acting like I’m a resilient fellow? Or do I evolve and learn from my mistakes, discovering the beauty of transition?

If you haven’t experienced these five moments in your life, do not despair. Yet you should understand that each one of them is essential in forming a human being from the dust of the earth who truly is in the image of God instead of  one who merely munches on the knowledge of good and evil.

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

Frontwards and Backwards… October 22, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

It appears to be the new definition of “cool.”

Especially among the younger generation, the profile of maintaining a certain level of agnosticism seems to be their choice in order to communicate an intellectual bent  social tolerance. Belief in God has been characterized as blackened teeth, having a southern accent and spending time down at the fishin’ hole, digging for frogs. So if you want to communicate that you’re current and living in the twenty-first century, you feel you need to distance yourself from the arcane concepts of religion and instead, embrace the supremacy of science and technology.

It is everywhere. Even those who insist they are still believers have abandoned the emotion, heart and depth of involvement in favor of practice, relics and dogma.

We just really need to get back to God. Now, I don’t mean this in the sense of a backwoods revival in a tent with screaming, hollering and rolling in the aisles. I mean, literally get back to the word: God.

Take a good look at the construction of the word. If you approach it from the front, it begins with G-O–go. If you decide to view it from the back end, it spells D-O–do.

Yes, even in the letters, we have go in the front and do in the back. Any message about a creative Father, who art in heaven, that does not lead with “go” and “do” is not only misrepresenting the essence of the supernal nature of the Almighty, but is lying to the hearers about the best way to curry His favor.

Religion goes nowhere and does nothing. It goes nowhere in the sense that so much emphasis is put on the afterlife and the insufficiency of the human experience that anyone who truly wants to be prosperous or find some fulfillment in their lifespan must walk away from the conclave of the waiters.

Religion does nothing mostly because it’s frightened of accidentally stepping out of the “will of God” and becoming carnal. The result is indecision or immobility. So any talented individual with a burning curiosity to discover the very best that earth has to offer is immediately repulsed by a “go-nowhere, do-nothing” campaign to spirituality.

I am sympathetic. I am often angered when I sit in churches and the messages of grace, mercy and unconditional love are used as flimsy excuses for remaining lazy and indifferent. I just don’t see any particular storyline in the gospels where Jesus encountered people and left them exactly the way he found them, whispering in their ear, “It’s all right. Just relax and trust God.”

It also doesn’t take you many chapters in the gospel to discover that Jesus was a “go” guy and a “do” dude. How we have succeeded in emulsifying the real meat of the truth of the gospel down to the pabulum of salvation and the insufficiency of man I will never know.

If I arrive at the Judgment Day and it turns out that God really desired a people who were shy, nervous, tentative, suspicious, overly-careful and always in the losing position, I just don’t believe that He will be dissatisfied with me because I selected to use my talents and aggressively multiply them. But if I arrive at the Judgment Day and God expected me to take what was given to me and put it into practice, improving my life situation, blessing the world around me, becoming as expansive as possible, and I, instead, have buried my abilities in the tomb of grace, mercy and unconditional love, I think I just might literally be in a helluva lot of trouble.

God: His name says it all–frontwards and backwards. Go and do.

But go and do what?

A young lady told me that she wanted to go to Africa to be a missionary. I replied, “Great. What are you doing here in your community?”

She paused. “Well, not much. You see, I’ve been going to college to train to be a missionary.”

I inserted, “Don’t you think the best way to become a missionary to Africa is by already being a successful missionary right here?”

We can’t always be in training. We can’t always be learning but never coming to the complete knowledge of the truth.

We need to go where we go. I know that may sound over-simplistic. But I don’t need to be telling God that I’m ready to go into all the world if I didn’t treat the maid at my motel with respect and generosity as I checked out of my room this morning in Indianapolis. I may have great ideas of where I want to go, but today I am on I-70, heading towards Lancaster, Ohio.

This IS my go. I plan on doing it so well that God will have confidence that the next “go” He sends my way will be equally as beneficial.

Go where you go.

I say to my good friends, Steve and Sharon: “You clean houses. Be the best house-cleaners in Davidson County.”

I say to my son, Jon, who is premiering his movie today: “Be the best host, director and artisan you can in Albany, New York.”

To Angy–beautify everyone you meet.

Maxine:  Bring cheer to all those shut-ins.

And I say to the delightful pastor I met yesterday in Brownsburg: “Brighten the corner where you are.”

I declare to all you beautiful people: “Go where you go and make the whole world glad you came.”

And then do what you do. I often have people tell me that they wish they had my talent. Perhaps they are a little confused when I laugh. Honestly, friends, I was not born talented. I just got tired of sitting around waiting for something to happen, and decided to use what I could do, and in the process learned enough that every once in a while it looks like I’m talented.

When my legs became weak about fourteen days ago, I realized that my life is not about my legs. My life is about my heart, soul and mind. Whatever I need to do to get my strength to a location where the other three parts of me can do their thing will be just fine. Do what you can do.

I speak to my dear friend, Jean, who writes me and encourages me with her comments from time to time: “Thank you for doing what you do. Mine is often a mission without much appreciation–stating plainly what might be possible. You encourage my soul.”

I would love to bolster the potential of this new generation by letting them know that just because the religious system has let them down does not mean that God has stopped being in the business of going and doing.

When you remove “go” and “do” from “God,” all you end up with is a big zero.

And too often, our churches, denominations and religious institutions have absolutely nothing to offer but the burden of more financial responsibility and additional insecurity.

So here’s to God. If you catch Him in the front, you’ve got GO. And even if you come in the back door, you end up with DO. I love Him because He has simplified this passage of time down to realistic, commonsense elements.

So here I go–maybe a little weaker than I was a couple of months ago. Perhaps for the time being, some of my physical strength has been “chaired.” But my desire to go and do has not diminished.

And because of that, I feel God in my life.

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

Dwelling… April 17, 2012

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A house for comfort.

A habitat for happiness.

A resting place for relaxation.

A spot within a cubicle placed strategically in a world not our own, where we can rejuvenate, regroup and rediscover.

It’s a good thing, right? Yes, I would have to agree that under normal conditions, finding a sanctuary of sabbatical for the purpose of sanity is sumptuous. Yes, it actually brings flavor to our lives, cools the brain off from over-heating, takes the soul off simmer and the emoting from emotions. But something I discovered recently was a bit of a shock to my system, while being a great revelation to my spirit. A dwelling can also be an escape from the reality encouraging us towards excellence.

I woke up this morning after having journeyed to Los Angeles, California, on my tour. I was tired. Over the weekend, I had driven nearly 450 miles–from Tucson, Arizona, to San Diego–set up my equipment, did a show, picked up a few hours of sleep and found myself back on the road, pointing to LA.

Before me was a task. We needed to go out and purchase food supplies for the week–a simple endeavor. But my weary body was not only reluctant, but resentful over such an energetic undertaking. I almost decided to go into my “comfortable, happy and relaxed” mode, putting off this responsibility until later. It would have felt good–I mean, it would have been comfortable, made me happy and certainly promoted relaxation. It was a dwelling place where my mind wanted to go in sympathy to my body.

I almost did it. But then I realized that when inevitable things are avoided in the moment of their best application, the season we select to be involved in is rarely as fruitful. Bluntly, life comes with opportunity when it’s needed–and putting it off leaves us with the arduous pursuit but often with less reward. For example, by midday it would have been hotter, more crowded at the store, and we would have a room lacking provisions. My dwelling place of comfort, happiness and relaxation was robbing me of my potential. I realized then and there that what we are comfortable with–or even what brings us happiness and relaxes us–can often be just a cop-out from getting what we truly need and deserve. A dwelling place can be a trap if it has no way of letting in the light, windows for fresh air and doors to escape when we require further expansion.

For after all, there are three things that want to settle into each of our souls and find dwelling:

(1) Prejudice. Of course, we don’t call it prejudice. Each one of us refers to our own personal prejudice as “experience.” Nonetheless, any idea that disincludes other people from having their own liberty is prejudice.

(2) We are often happy with our own insecurity.

  •  “I don’t want to go to that party–I don’t know anyone.”
  • “I don’t want to get a new job. You have to fill out all those applications and meet all those new people.”
  • “I don’t feel well, but I sure don’t want to go to the doctor. They give me the creeps.” 

Each one of us can be happy in our own insecurities, never realizing that these fears are keeping us from our better selves.

(3) And unfortunately, we can become very relaxed with failure. Here’s a definition: Failure is settling back into a position because we’re tired of trying. Failure is an old friend who makes an agreement to not criticize us if we won’t criticize him. Attempting to do new things and improve life for ourselves can be quite exhausting but to become relaxed with our failure, assuming that it’s our lot–or even worse, God’s will–is a dwelling place which becomes a cave, absent of light.

It was a good morning. I went to the store and overcame my prejudice, insecurity and failure. To do that, for a moment I had to relinquish my comfort, jeopardize my happiness and certainly give up my relaxation. The end result was that I got what I needed, I have what I want and my new dwelling place is the confidence in my soul that when choices are given to me–to remain the same or to improve my plight–I am capable of choosing righteously.

Beware of dwelling places that keep the air stale and the confines enclosed. They may make you comfortable, happy and even relaxed, but ultimately, a dwelling place can just become a prison.

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Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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