Good News and Better News… November 21st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3132)

good-news-summit-heights

Fifteen friends and family joined us yesterday at the Summit Heights United Methodist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, to celebrate and fellowship over our final gig of the year.

What a year.

Twelve states, thousands of people and memories to last a lifetime.

The Summit Heights congregation was a beautiful human concoction of simplicity and joy, with a great sense of humor–guided by a bright, hopeful and forward-thinking young man named Todd.

So when I took the stage to begin the morning with our prelude, there was an eagerness and energy in the air. I thought to myself, This is what God wants. He wants His children showing up to His house ready for cookies and milk instead of thinking they’re going to have to stomach the medicine.

As I continued in the service, an abiding notion suddenly permeated my mind.

God is not going to do anything without us.

We can pray, we can study, we can hope, we can criticize the world, we can judge others–and God will ignore our feeble, religious efforts. For God is not going to do anything without us.

When Jesus wanted to feed the five thousand, he required the five loaves and two fishes from the disciples.

When it was time to preach the good news, he sent them out two by two.

When desiring to make wine, he requested water.

When people came for healing, he told them that their faith made them whole–and when their faith was absent, it says he was not able to heal many.

And certainly when God wanted to save humanity, He found a willing woman to bring the Savior into the world.

I don’t know why we’re so afraid to become involved in our own life, ministry, outreach and salvation–but it will take our spirit, our countenance and our heart to transform America from its angry position of self-absorption, back into one nation that truly is under God’s guidance.

What kind of spirit?

It’s a spirit of repentance. “I could be wrong and because that’s possible, I am prepared to change.”

What is the countenance?

It is a full-faced expression of joy, which shows that we’re aware of life’s pain, but we realize it can only be conquered through good cheer.

What is the heart?

It is a heart of compassion–letting everyone know that because we have weaknesses, we feel a tender kindness to those like ourselves, who find themselves weak.

It is my prayer that Summit Heights will take on the power of the Gospel, which is: “Christ in me, the hope of glory.”

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … November 9th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3120)

pohymn-reunion

Reunion

Through the years of deep devotion

Conjuring up great emotion

Friends who never really knew us

Sat together on the school bus

Trying to survive younger years

Scared of life, obsessed by fears

We huddled together to find a friend

Handed a diploma, watching it end

Start a family, get a house

Live the dream with our spouse

Ignoring the desire of our heart

Never certain where to start

We gather together to talk of weight

Careful not to discuss our fate

A memory is what connects our lives

Becoming dutiful husbands and wives

Children come, grandkids, too

I got six, how about you?

“You’re looking good” is what we say

Wouldn’t have it any other way

We take some pictures, promises are made

But problems at home cause memories to fade

We will do it again–I’ll contact you

Stay safe, dear heart, and be well, too

Reunion, communion, count the years

A basket of joy … a bucket of tears

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An advent calendar of stories, designed to enchant readers of all ages

“Quite literally the best Christmas stories I have ever read.” — Arthur Holland, Shelby, North Carolina

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Good News and Better News… November 7th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3118)

good-news-trinity-mansfield-sign-pic-1Autumn reminds me of getting older. It occasionally offers memories of the warmth of earlier days, but things start falling off your limbs.

As I woke up and drove to Trinity United Methodist Church in Mansfield, Ohio, it was a beautiful, sunshine-blessed fall morning–invigorating to the body and soul. I think other people felt that as well, because Pastor Bob and the congregation shared a gentle and kind greeting.good-news-trinity-mansfield-clouds-pic-2

I was also blessed to have my nephew and sister-in-law show up for the gig, and we had a few minutes in my green room to catch up and rediscover why we like each other (even though we’re related).

Then it was time for the service. I’m always intrigued by the fact that we pursue the traditions of religion without considering whether they are adequate for the needs of humans. What is the purpose of God putting together a ceremony which does nothing to enrich the lives of the participants?

What do we need from church?

First and foremost–good cheer.

Fortunately for us, Jesus said “he came that our joy might be full.” For after all, we cannot survive another experience that leaves us contemplating without rejoicing.

The second thing church should give us is fellowship.

Once again, God looked ahead and saw our need. Jesus proclaimed, “By this you shall know my followers–that they have love for one another.”

After good cheer and fellowship, we all desperately need forgiveness.

Jesus warned us that “except we repent, we shall perish. But if we do repent, “God is faithful and just to forgive us.” This pardon makes us a little bit more willing to consider being gracious to others.

So you can see, what we need out of church is also what God expects out of church.

Passing off the traditions of men and calling them the commandments of God is what really pissed off Jesus.

So the good news is that if we offer hope and cheer, fellowship and forgiveness, we will not only be doing God’s will, but we will be presenting an atmosphere which is conducive to the growth of human beings.

The better news is that it is a lot more pleasant to do this than arguing over hymns, trying to stay awake during sermons, and bickering over the color of the carpet in the vestibule.

good-news-trinity-mansfield-jon-pic-3

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Mr. Kringle’s Tales …26 Stories ‘Til Christmas

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An advent calendar of stories, designed to enchant readers of all ages

“Quite literally the best Christmas stories I have ever read.” — Arthur Holland, Shelby, North Carolina

Only $5.99 plus $1.25 shipping and handling.

"Buy

 

 

Good News and Better News … October 24th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3104) 

good-news-plainwell-stage

Yesterday when I arrived at the First United Methodist Church of Plainwell, Michigan, a gentleman asked me, “So, what do you think about the 2016 Presidential election?”

I replied, “It’s like going to the grocery store to get some steak and finding out they’ve only got baloney.”

Yes. The campaign is just “cold cuts.”

So it’s very important that when we come to church, we give those who have chosen to attend a “people experience”–full of emotion, joy, humor and inspiration–because they certainly are not going to get it on MSNBC, CNN or Fox News. Likewise, neither Donald nor Hillary are motivated to edify people.

My Plainwell experience began the day before when I arrived for setup, and was delighted to meet Pastor Kathy and Sue, who generously afforded us their efforts, hospitality and gentleness. They were absolutely inspiring human beings who just happened to be women.

Therefore, when Sunday rolled around, my heart was full, and I wanted to ensure that everyone I met was aware that even though the world is full of tribulation, this is our season to “be of good cheer.”

good-news-plainwell-cup-and-spoonHowever, serving up good cheer demands that you portion things off in the right units. Otherwise, the recipe doesn’t taste quite right.

For instance, I do think we need a tablespoon of Bible–as long as it’s mingled with a cup of mercy.

How about a tablespoon of prayer, with a cup of helping out?

You can have a handful of church if you throw in a bunch of kindness.

I would welcome a teaspoon of preaching mingled with a quart of living.

I think you can have a cup of worship if you stir in a gallon of joy.

I suppose I could stand a pinch of study, if it will motivate a dash of discovery.

And certainly feel free to throw in a tablespoon of faith–as long as you realize it functions best with a cup full of effort.

The Gospel works because it is suited to people.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us to find the gaps in the world, and instead of being angry about them, fill them:

  • Life is rather tasteless, so bring your salt.
  • Things get pretty dark, so make sure you light it up.
  • Most people demand–learn to ask.
  • Lots of folks blame. Jesus suggests that we seek.
  • And of course, it’s very common to stand on the outside and feel cheated, but Jesus insists that it’s more fulfilling to knock on the door.

We had a fabulous time yesterday in Plainwell.

We laughed, cried, snickered, snorted, watched, listened and embraced. It was a human event–which means it gave God glory, since He was the One who came up with the idea of humanity in the first place.

So the good news is, church is a great remedy for politics.

And the better news is, the more people-friendly church becomes, the more people will be drawn to it.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … July 27th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3015)

PoHymn Crying

crying

I am a voice crying in the wilderness

My throat is parched from screaming the need

Excuse me, sir, can you take a moment’s thought

To wonder why the Earth won’t move?

 

Flowers in the spring dare to bloom in front of us

Deserts of dreams simply blow away

A smile on the street seems to be suspicious

Churches that pray never seize the day

 

Come with me

(we’re too busy)

I have life

(so do we)

Where’s your joy?

(nothing’s funny)

Deal with me

(we have bigger barns to build)

 

I am the voice pleading in the land of less

We pan for gold in fields of debris

We seek for truth and draw swords of selfishness

We bless a lie and curse the truth

 

Come, won’t you join me in Jordan’s waters?

Cleansing the soul which has lost its feel

Tumbling the dice as you kneel before us

Casting your lot through the holy meal

 

Festering frightened

Ever enlightened

Joyfully jumbled

Wistfully humbled

 

I’m the voice

(crying)

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … July 6th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2994)

PoHymn Alphabetcha

Alphabetcha

A

B  ountiful

C  onsideration

D  elivers

E  xcellent

F  aith.

G  iving

H  ope

I  ndividually;

J  oy,

K  indness,

L  oving,

M  eaningful,

N  eedful,

O  verall

P  eace!

Q  uietly

R  eaching

S  uccess?

T  eaching

U  s

V  ictory

W  ithout

X  xxing

Y  earning

Z  eal.

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Ask Jonathots … March 3rd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2862)

ask jonathots bigger

The medical field keeps people alive much longer than it used to. Do you think this is a good thing?

Are you asking me, do I think more people should be dying? (Somehow or another, I think this is a trick question.)

For thousands of years, life offered only one possibility: quality.

Quantity was fairly unlikely, except in a few rare cases, where longevity was miraculously granted without any obvious effort by the recipient.

Most people, from the time they were children, grew up with an awareness of their mortality and the realization that death was not only present, but often imminent.

So over the years, through medical advances, we have succeeded in increasing the quantity of life without really doing anything to enhance the quality.

This is what I feel about long life: Long life is wonderful if it’s good life.

To me, good life has three elements:

  1. Purposeful work.
  2. Expanding, growing relationships
  3. A good balance of vulnerability and confidence.

The medical field does not address these situations, nor should it have to. This should be the responsibility of our philosophers, teachers and ministers.

If you’re only going to live longer to spend that time fussing about your health, well-being and treatments, then I’m not sure what you’re achieving by becoming a prisoner of your own body.

So I think pursuing a long life is an enriching experience as long as you avoid a trio of negative by-products:

A. Becoming obsessed with your physical health to the detriment of your emotional and spiritual health.

B. Allowing your concern about health to encompass your conversation to the point that you become irrelevant to younger people.

C. Living so long that you settle for a less-than-fulfilling situation, which is only a fragment of what you originally intended to have in your life journey.

Somewhere along the line we need to understand what life is all about. A great teacher once stated that “life is more than the body–what we shall eat and what we shall wear.”

So true.

So if you can give the same attention to your body that you have given to your heart, soul and mind, then I think it’s possible to live on for a long time…with joy.

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