Good News and Better News … February 8th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog


Good News Better News McCormick

Pictured above is a Kleenex, which I discarded yesterday when I was sitting at my book table, enjoying the blessings of being in the presence of delightful souls in McCormick, South Carolina.

I thought I was going to sneeze. I grabbed the Kleenex, and when I did not sneeze, I wadded it up and put it to the side, having never put it to use. But since it was rejected, it no longer had any purpose, even though it was not trash.

That’s the way I feel about the church.

Many people have wadded it up and cast it to the side, and it looks a little dilapidated even though it has not completed its purpose.

Yesterday, while relishing in the interaction with Paul and Kay, and the local congregation, I was inspired by the fact that they succeeded in getting people from the whole community to come out to church simply by being excited themselves over the prospect of a special event.

Here’s the question: can we get excited again about being together and celebrating the life of the church, instead of being like a used Kleenex which hasn’t even absorbed a sneeze?

Because once people get excited, they will do the work.

Once people believe that something different from the commonplace will happen, they will be prepared to rejoice, clap their hands and even hug one another.

But if you’re going to treat the Gospel message like it’s used Kleenex, don’t be surprised if people choose to ignore it.

The good news is that the citizens of McCormick, South Carolina, rallied together and had a sweet time in the spirit.

Now let me tell you some better news–you can have that same thing happen every week if you take three things into consideration. The Gospel needs:

1. Humanity

We spend too much time talking about God and not enough about how to be better people. Jesus was not interested in exploring new ways to worship God. He was concerned with how we treat the least of our brethren. This defines our belief.

2. Humor

I don’t know how the humor of Jesus escapes theologians. I suppose it’s because they read everything he said as if Jesus just finished sucking on a lemon.

But Jesus had a dry wit.

  • He told his disciples to “be of good cheer.”
  • He told them “the blind can’t lead the blind–otherwise, they’ll end up in a ditch.”
  • And tongue-in-cheek, he told them they were “worth many sparrows.”

A humorless Gospel is a discarded tissue.

3. Honesty

If we’re going to teach our congregations to approach life as if it’s a political campaign, attempting to dodge charges instead of facing realities, the church will become a sanctuary for losers.

Jesus was clear. “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.”

Stop trying to make explanations. He said anything that is not a yes or a no is usually born of evil.

So to all of my new friends in McCormick, thank you for being who you are. And I encourage you to keep the humanity, the humor and the honesty in your gathering.

It will make every Sunday a Super Sunday.


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Getting in Character … August 31st, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog


hand taking an oath

From Act II, Scene VII of As You Like It, Shakespeare asserts that “all the world is a stage and all the men and women, merely players.”

  • I promise.
  • Cross my heart and hope to die.
  • I swear by my mother’s grave.
  • And some bizarre confirmation of truthfulness by “sticking a needle in one’s eye.”

These are the pledges and contortions that people seem to be willing to put themselves through to get others to comprehend the level of their faithfulness.

But unfortunately, even though “promise” seems promising, it is now often accompanied by a forlorn adjective: “broken.”

  • Broken promises.
  • Broken marital vows.
  • Broken dreams.

So as an actor on the stage of life, what is our responsibility to those around us, to prove the intensity of our veracity? For you see, the problem with a promise is that it fails to recognize that the person sharing it is human, not divine. Every time we try to take on the job description of our Creator, we create nothing but fiasco.

Only God can promise. Only God has the ability to perform His beckoning without ever needing to swear or vow.

As a human being, you have three available, realistic responses:

1. Yes.

“Yes” should only be used when we actually plan on doing it because it is in the spectrum of our own will and concerns. It may seem noble to say yes because we’ve been pressured into it, but then what you have is a promise, which may be difficult to keep.

2. No.

No, I’m not interested.

No, I won’t.

No, I can’t.

No, I shouldn’t.

“No” is one of the more powerful words in the English language because it eliminates 90% of our hypocrisy. If we had said no to that thing we really didn’t intend to do in the first place, people would not be able to hang anything over our heads in judgment.

3. I don’t know.

Ignorance is not bliss unless you admit it. If you’re caught, it’s in the neighborhood of sin.

There is a great authority given to us by admitting that we just don’t have enough information to make an intelligent decision. We will sit, learn and wait for the power to be intelligent instead of impetuous.

Since we do not control all the factors that surround us, it is better to forego the foolishness of promises … and therefore escape that nasty needle in the eye.


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