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

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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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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Good News and Better News … October 5th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News Cross Plains

Yesterday I had the chance to share at a Lutheran church in Cross Plains, Wisconsin.

Lutherans believe in grace. I have to admit, I do favor that particular favoring. Grace seems to be a cool drink of water on a hot day.

But I must tell you, I do think grace requires a bit of confirmation.

Just as kind is bolstered by a bit of kindness, and love is greatly enhanced by loving, grace waits patiently for the arrival of gracious.

Yes, those who have been bestowed grace are given the opportunity of being gracious. It is an opportunity that certainly should be embraced as an expectation. And what is gracious?

Gracious is when we wink our eye at our brothers and sisters and laughingly say, “You think you’re bad? You should know me!”

  • It’s endearing.
  • It’s humble.
  • It’s human.
  • It’s funny.
  • It’s relaxed.
  • And it is the definition, in human form, of good cheer.

I looked for the presence of gracious in my Cross Plains hosts.

Wow. They did good.

They welcomed us. They listened, They were helpful. They shared their own hearts without fear. And most importantly, rather than standing at a distance in piety, they learned.

It was amazing.

So what is my contribution to this lovely group of people I met in Cross Plains? Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re either too young or too old.

The church is losing its power by eliminating the youth, and assuming that those who have reached retirement are incapable of transformation. If you’re going to stunt the growth of a congregation by thinking people are too young or too old, you’ll put your faith in those in the middle, who are completely encompassed with raising children and having their mortgage growl at them every month. These are not the people to lead your church–these are the folks who desperately need the ministry of the church.

But getting your younger members to be excited about church again, and your older folks to put their work boots back on instead of setting them in the corner, is what will transform all churches–including the Lutheran souls in Cross Plains–into a force of gracious effort.

I so enjoyed all the people I met.

I was greeted with warm handshakes, smiles, tears, hugs and one dear lady even kissed me.

But good Lutherans that you are, please remember, grace is much easier to understand when it is acted out by those who are gracious.

And it will be the young who will see visions ,,, and your older folks who will hatch new dreams.

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A meeting place for folks who know they’re human

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Lasting “Fiend”ship… March 11, 2013

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I could be absolutely wrong, but to my recollection I can only conjure the memory of about two dozen people in my life who have become my enemies and I am at odds with–around twenty folks. It’s nothing serious–there is no “shoot on sight” declaration in place–just coming to terms with the fact that our particular chemistry was not favorable for future experiments. So considering the fact that I have met tens of thousands of people, I think that average is not too bad.

Yet, I’m not proud of having ANY maladjustment with my fellow-humans. But every once in a while, you run across a situation where, try as you might, the jagged edges of human character just don’t seem to snap into place.

I thought about this yesterday in Houston. Here was my discovery. Presently in our country, there are two options available for interacting with others. Both require decisions. You can decide to be loving or you can be preoccupied and avoid making a decision. What I’m saying is that people aren’t really hateful–just disconnected. And if you’re trying to relate to them in the midst of their preoccupation, it can certainly feel like rejection.

I think it’s the difference between being a fiend and being a friend.

To become a friend to people, you have to understand a bit about how things work. It’s a four-point process. If you’re going to be a friend:

1. There’s no reason to compete. Not every mortal on the planet is my competition. There are people who are better at things than I am, who deserve my respect. And there are folks that are not quite as adept and they require my mercy. The need to compete is a sign that insecurity is in control of your soul.

2. There’s no need to unseat. Some people are determined to attack power because they think it makes them appear more powerful. Attacking power is simply you admitting that someone IS ruling over you. It’s a waste of time to argue with people who are in the seat of power. If they’re doing a good job, you end up looking like an idiot, and if they aren’t, they soon will be “de-seated.”

3. No desire to deplete. Sometimes when I am in a church service I get aggravated because we somehow believe that showing appreciation for what people do, or applauding effort, diminishes our honoring of God. Didn’t Jesus say that “when you’ve done it to the least of these, my brethren, you’ve done it for me?” I do not need to rob you of your needful praise just to make sure that you stay humble. We deplete each other–making us so defensive about our egos that we are reluctant to interact with one another.

4. And finally, no plan to repeat. Am I the only one who thinks that life is self-explanatory? Case in point: you try something. If it doesn’t work. stop doing it. When I look at the things I was trained to be from my youth, I find some of them to be applicable to my present situation and some of them to be comically broken.  Don’t repeat what’s STUPID. It’s a great lesson for life. You will take away much of your pain if you will just follow that simple principle.

The difference between friendship and “fiend”ship is whether you show up to be loving or you arrive on the scene of fellowship in a state of preoccupation.

  • There’s no reason to compete.
  • No need to unseat.
  • No desire to deplete, and
  • No plan to repeat.

When you initiate those four things, you suddenly become of great value to the people around you.

And in the process, rather than coming off as a self-involved fiend, you become a self-aware friend.

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The Death of Hubris … July 29, 2012

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Behold the myth:

“I can nourish a relationship with another human being and still maintain my need for acceptance.”

Ridiculous.

If you show up needy, you end up greedy. Yes, if you do not have your own life worked out and your ego completely appeased, you will end up attacking any person you interact with, pursuing predominance.

It’s called hubrisan exaggerated sense of self-importance.

Under the banner of self-esteem, this country has become obsessed with the mission of making sure that everybody feels that they are valuable. Unfortunately, we forget that fat egos don’t exercise well with others. If something is exaggerated, it means it has departed from facts and has begun to deal in fantasy. So how is it exaggerated?

We have raised up a generation of people who have no idea whatsoever where the praise and appreciation for their lives and deeds is supposed to come from. They keep looking for it in approval from others or confirmation from the society around them and ending up feeling slighted because they’re always standing in line behind other people who are equally as determined to receive acclaim.

To rectify this, we have to learn the difference between unnatural praise and natural praise. Unnatural praise is manufactured by our culture to make everybody feel good for a few minutes, only to have their hope dashed later by the intensity of this competition called life. Here are the three practices of unnatural praise, which trigger frustration, anger and sometimes even violence:

1. I am valuable because I am alive. Since making a human being is not a very difficult task, we should be careful not to put too much emphasis on merely possessing flesh and blood, but much more consideration on what we do with our heart and soul.

2. I need to be loved to love. When you’re working under the premise that you require a stimulus to stimulate you, and you are living around other folks who have the same basic approach, then who is left to become the trigger to start the fire? It’s why we’ve begun to peer at each other from a distance in suspicion. We’re not sure of the next move to make. Remember this–love is not an emotion, it is a response. And if that is not birthed from another response, then often it simply vanishes.

3. I demand acceptance and respect. Even though there are thousands of cars on a busy highway, each and every one of them is driven by human beings who feels that they have the right of way. Their destination is more important; their feelings should always be taken into consideration and their particular rendition of traffic laws should be upheld.

These are the three angles that people take to gain footing, which only grant them an unnatural praise. You can imagine, as you look over them, that if all of humanity followed these concepts, we would soon be warring with each other. Facts are, we are already suffering under the burden of the inadequacy of this approach. If you watch television you will be convinced that reality is that people cannot live in the same space without fighting and attacking each other. Even though our country extols the beauty of conservative values, the word “dysfunctional” seems to have parked itself in front of the word “family.”

It is impossible to enter into a covenant with another human being if you are showing up requesting that they reinforce your ego, which leads to natural praise. Unnatural praise consists of false assertions about our divine rights, which leads, at best, to flattery and at worst, to conflict. Here are the forms of natural praise:

1. If I do well, I will be accepted. It’s from the book of Genesis–words God spoke to Cain after the young fellow killed his brother out of jealousy. It’s a rather simple concept–you just don’t do well on Planet Earth until you realize that you’re part of nature. Human beings are not a ruling class, free of responsibility. We must learn what works well, what functions, what succeeds, what fails and what is the normal procedure so we can submit to the wisdom of the Creator who made the atmosphere in which we dwell. When you’re in rebellion to the rules of the game, you can’t expect to win. Built into life is acceptance, appreciation and applause for those who will simply enact the plan without festering a gripe against the process. The earth has a manual of behavior. If you learn it, respect it and do well by it, you receive the natural praise of productivity that follows. It’s as simple as that–and there is no replacement for that affirmation. No standing ovation or kind words from others can ever be a substitute for knowing in your heart that you’ve done well and you’ve received your rightful reward.

2. To everything there is a season. If you’re going to be successful in life, receiving the natural praise cast your way, you must speak aloud to your surroundings, “I can evolve.” You may insist that because it worked last year, it still should be applicable, but guess what? It doesn’t work anymore. I know your “grandma and your grandpa used to do it,” but it just doesn’t fly in our present climate. There are seasons. Those human beings who learn the seasons, adjust to them, smile, adapt and find a way to enjoy themselves with the transition, receive natural praise for being so flexible. Those individuals who dig their heels in and insist that they are protecting and defending some universal concept that has already moved on, always end up looking stupid, perched in fellowship with the idiots. I will tell you right now–you will never be on the right side of any issue that takes freedom away from another person. No natural praise is awaiting you.

3. And finally, give and it shall be given unto you. It may be a good thing to show up to a buffet with an appetite as long as you’ve got the ten dollars in your pocket to pay for the privilege. But you will never receive anything in this life until you’ve invested something. Nothing happens until we give. So if we are reluctant or selfish, we will be targeted by the human beings around us and “stiffed” of any blessing. It takes giving to get. Not giving is the explanation for the complete lack of receiving.

If you’re going to welcome the natural praise built into this system, you must understand from a joyful heart, and say aloud, “I am the initiator. No one will love me–until I love; no one will give to me–until I give; no one will see me–until I see them, and God, Himself, will not move on my behalf–until I bring my five loaves and two fishes–my faith, my heart, my passion and my purpose.

These are the three approaches that guarantee the natural praise that feeds our ego with legitimate encouragement instead of creating a monster of hubris and exaggerated importance. It really boils down to an issue of mathematics. If two zeros show up on a piece of paper and you add them together, you get zero. If the zeros try to multiply, you still get zero. Even when they fight and divide, you end up with zero. It takes one plus one to create the agreement of two. And to become a one, able to be added into the significance of life, you must pursue natural praise and reject the foolishness of unnatural praise, and once and for all, put to death the hubris that makes us more nasty than valuable.

Being on this tour for seven months and speaking from the stage the words, “NoOne is better than anyone else,” I have realized that a shock goes through the audience. Even though the words have appeal to their hearts, they realize that in order to guarantee their own self-worth, they have decided to be superior to certain individuals around them. You don’t need that. All you need to do is seek the natural praise the God put into His universe, which says:

  • If I do well, I will be accepted
  • To everything there is a season
  • And give and it shall be given unto you.

Perhaps this will never become the working plan of our nation, but if you want to be ahead of the game–empowered instead of groveling–you will step into it, kill off your hubris and receive your praise … from more heavenly sources.

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Tabling the Talk … March 16, 2012

 

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Martin wasn’t sure whether he had died or was just experiencing a dream brought on by consuming an extra-large pizza from Fatty Joey’s with pineapple, green olives and extra anchovies. Whatever it was, it happened in a quaint coffee shop. (“Quaint” used to mean a comfortable sense of being homey–but now has been demoted and refers to anything perceived as sub-standard.)

In the rear of the coffee shop was a booth with a person sitting, back to Martin, waiting. Well, at least, in this particular vision, he felt this individual was waiting for him. So he strolled back, looking around and found himself staring into the face of a beautiful woman–long blond hair, youthful, voluptuous, and quite engaging.

She reached out her hand and said, “Hello, there. I’m God.”

Martin demonstrated a bit of trepidation over the introduction, so the woman laughed at his reaction.

“What?” She-God asked. “You didn’t think I would be a woman? Do you have a problem with that?”

Martin mused for a moment and replied, “No. Not that you’re a woman. I’m just a little afraid for myself–that I’ll end up staring at your legs.”

The feminine Divinity replied, “Would you like this better?”

Suddenly, before his eyes, “she” transformed into a “he,” now resembling the forty-eight-year old son of the pairing of Danny DeVito and Margaret Thatcher. “Is this better?”

Martin slid down into the booth and said, “Well, at least no danger of lust.”

God continued. “What is it you want, Martin?”

Martin was prepared for the question–because Martin spent much of his time contemplating what he wanted. The unfortunate by-product of that process was that he was often discontented and fretful about what he didn’t have. “I want to be rich.”

“Good,” said God. “What are you presently doing with your money?”

“I don’t have any money,” Martin replied.

“Oops,” said God. “We  just started lying. You have money–you just don’t think it’s enough, so you kind of pinch your pennies until they scream at you. Is that about right?”

“I would do better if I had more, ” said Martin.

God smiled. “That’s what everybody thinks. But actually, human beings don’t do any more with much than they’ve already done with less. So what else do you want?”

Martin paused, partially because he wasn’t sure what to bring up next, and also a bit stung by his first request being dismissed in such a cavalier way. “Okay,” said Martin. “I want to be famous.”

“How do you bless those who already know you?” God asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Well,” said God, “I would assume you would want to use your fame to make the world a better place, so I was wondering how you are making the world a better place for the people you already know, before I put millions of people at your mercy.”

“Forget that,” said Martin. “I just want to be more attractive. If I were more attractive, I could probably handle getting the fame on my own.”

God squinted and then queried, “Have you ever thought about bathing and combing your hair?”

“What!?” Martin replied, deeply offended.

“No, don’t get me wrong,” God said, “I am not suggesting you are absent of hygiene. Just how wonderful it feels to be cleansed and straightened up. Makes us all feel more attractive, don’t you think?”

Martin sighed. “Okay, Mr. Picky. You probably won’t have any trouble with this one. I would just like to live a full, long life.”

“Well, let me ask you a question,” God said. “Why do you get so tired?”

“Well,” said Martin, “I guess I get tired because I’m getting older.”

“I see.” God massaged His chin. “So you think you could live a long life without getting older?”

Martin was perturbed. “Are you just here to annoy me?” he asked. “What’s wrong with being rich, famous, attractive and given longevity?”

God fired right back. “Why don’t you want to be creative, generous, loving and funny? These are actually preferable.”

Martin scooted forward, with a burst of sudden confidence. “Listen, Mr. Almighty. If I lived a long time and was very attractive, had fame and great riches, don’t you see? Then I would have time and resource to BE creative, generous, loving and funny.” Martin leaned back in the booth, satisfied that he had scored a point.

God sat quietly, took a sip of His coffee, and said nothing. Martin smirked. “So I gotcha, right? I have made a case which you can’t respond to.”

“I can respond,” said God. “It’s just that you won’t like it.”

“Well, I haven’t liked anything you’ve said so far, so why should that stop you now?” said Martin nastily.

God took a deep breath and began. “Riches make you worried and selfish. Fame makes you defensive. Being attractive makes you insecure because you never know why people truly do love you. And living a long time just increases the number of days you have to be with yourself. They are all curses unless they are enhanced by you being creative, generous, loving and funny.”

God paused for a moment and then concluded, “I’ve enjoyed our talk. I was wondering if you would mind picking up the check on the coffee, and I also ate one of the crullers. I don’t have my wallet with me.” Martin nodded. Part of him knew that God was right, even though he was a little surprised that the King of Kings stuck him with the check. 

A bit of whirling of the head, some achiness of the body, and Martin found himself awakening his own bed–it had all been an apparition of the night. He belched, revisiting a bit of fishy pineapple from the previous evening’s escapades. He rose from his bed, took a shower, combed his hair and started down the stairs, whistling a tune from an old Dave Clark Five record that just popped into his memory.

He was off to begin a new day … wanting nothing.

**************

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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