Ask Jonathots … October 29th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Are you supposed to like your siblings? I’m twelve and my sister is fifteen. She always acts like she’s better than me and I can’t stand her. My mom says that will change but I don’t see it happening anytime soon, if ever. How does this work? Nobody I know likes their brother or sister. I feel bad saying it, but it’s the truth.

There is an old saying which is basically true: “Familiarity breeds contempt.”

And as you probably know, the word “family” is at the root of familiarity.

There is absolutely no reason to believe that because people share certain aspects of DNA, they have natural emotional linkings to one another.

There is also historical fact that the heroes of our past had many problems dealing with their families, often having to go against those ties to achieve their purposes.

You don’t have to go any further than Jesus of Nazareth to discover squabbling among siblings. The Gospels make it clear that his family did not believe in him.

That being said, I contend that the purpose of family is to place us in a boot camp.

It’s a chance for us to find ways to get along with adversaries who live in our midst, eat at the same dinner table, share in grief and celebration, and acquire the ability to be merciful, gracious and forgiving, so that when we get in the real world, we are prepared to do so.

For this to work, we must be willing to admit that our families are not perfect, nor were they designed to be naturally connected.

In other words, if you were able to look at your sister as just another human being that you needed to deal with rather than some sacred creature born within your lineage, then you would have a much better chance to put your relationship in perspective, and maybe even understand her ways.

Brothers and sisters within a household fight with each other because we tell them they need to get along–simply because they’re related. It sets a horrible precedent, and we begin to believe that in the outside world we can avoid the people who disagree with us, and only hang around with those individuals who seem to be perfectly agreeable to our ideas.

What is your best procedure in dealing with your sister since you’re twelve years old? Do exactly what you’ll need to do when you’re 22, 32 or 72 years old: find common ground.

Don’t ever try to go beyond common ground. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself trying to change people, or worse, judge them because they don’t meet your standards.

If for some reason you cannot find common ground, then retreat to a position where peace can be achieved.

This is real life.

Forcing people to think they should love each other only leads to pent-up resentment, and worse, explosions of anger later on.

  • What do you like about your sister?
  • Is there anything you appreciate?
  • How is she valuable to you?

Try to pursue those areas, and avoid the parts that upset you.

This is called growing up.

The overemphasis on family in our culture has not created more loving people.

It is the promotion of loyalty–often without affection.

 

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“Ifing” Way: Part 2… October 27, 2014

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What if a voice of sanity had risen up at various stages in the story of human history, to offer a challenging view when craziness was about to win the day?

If …

Dad arrived just in time.

His youngest son was already primed and ready to run out the door to go see his older brother to try to reconcile hurt feelings. The siblings had never really been close, yet the bond of family had always meshed them with a sense of loyalty. But recent events had exacerbated the tenuous feelings, generating a volatile situation. A simple misunderstanding had turned into a sense of rejection, culminating in a looming burst of rage.

When the incident happened, Dad stepped between them to prevent violence, but the younger son, having a more optimistic nature, believed all that was needed was a good conversation. So he had privately decided to go off on his own, without any counsel, to see his brother at the work site so they could “rummage through their feelings” and arrive at resolution.

Fortunately, Dad came on the scene–just in time.

“Where are you going?” Dad asked.

The young man paused for a second, wondering if he could possibly deceive his father and achieve his own purposes, but then realized that was contrary to his heart.

“You know where I’m going. I’m going to make peace with my brother.”

The father smiled. “I know that seems like a good idea to you, and far be it from me to be against peace, but your brother is a complicated man and his emotions and thoughts are not privy to you, and therefore not available.”

The young man frowned.

Sensing his son’s disagreement, the father continued. “We could talk about this all day and we wouldn’t agree. What I would like you to do is trust me. If I end up being wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it. But I would like you to leave your brother alone for a while, until you and I agree on a better time. Because if you go and see him now, all you’re going to do is remind him of the pain of the conflict, and perhaps incense him over the idea that you appear to be the better brother because you’re trying to make things right. I want you to promise me–based upon our friendship and bond–that you will stay away from him until things are better.”

The young man objected. “But how can things get better if we don’t make them better?”

The father patted him on the shoulder and said, “Son, sometimes things don’t get better. But if we interfere, we can make them worse.”

He gave his younger son a hug. The boy agreed to stay away from his older brother until such time as was deemed appropriate.

As it turned out, the conversation never actually happened. The two brothers, who had never been particularly close, maintained a distance throughout their lives. They learned how to be appropriate during family gatherings, and gave each other proper respect and space.

Cain and Abel never became close friends.

But because Adam took his position as a father and intervened in a dangerous situation … no one had to die.

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Untotaled: Stepping 35 (May 8th, 1967) The Sanbobs … October 11, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

They were called the Sanbobs.

They were one of three rock and roll bands in our school, although I use the term “band” loosely, to cover a multitude of whims.

They were headed by a guy named Chip Sanford. He worked with a fellow named Bob Wigglesworth. Thus, the Sanbobs.

Now, Chip did not like me, which caused Bob to follow suit in loyalty. I think the reason Chip didn’t like me very well was that he was chubby, wore glasses, and people were constantly saying that we “could be brothers,” which is a certain way to make sure that people won’t have an affinity for each other. I think another reason was that Chip played piano and so did I. I used my gifts in the gospel field, while he was drawn to the Troggs, the Beatles and the Kinks.

The Sanbobs had four members. As I already told you–Chip was on piano, Bob Wigglesworth on guitar (knowing an amazing five chords), Mark Jackson on drums, who was highly recommended for his loud playing, and Larry Mankins on bass–even though he couldn’t afford an electric one, so instead thumped on a stand-up, which left him appearing to be very vigorous, but unheard.

The biggest happening in the spring of 1967 in our school was that Chip got a new electric organ. It was so cool. So it was decided that the Sanbobs would be scheduled to play for the spring dance, and the diligent members of the quartet went out and learned six songs.

The only problem was that one of the songs they selected was Louie, Louie–which had already been banned by the state of Indiana for having obscene lyrics. Now, we lived in Ohio, but certainly did not want to seem immoral by advocating such a “loose tune.” When word got out to the principal’s office that the Sanbobs were planning to play the piece, a meeting was held and it was forbidden.

The FBI had investigated the lyrics, and had come to the conclusion that they were basically unintelligible. (The Kingsmen had made sure of that.) But just to play it safe, the song was still considered to be nefarious.

On the night of the dance, after they had played each of their five songs three times over, the Sanbobs decided to rebel against authority, and began to play Louie, Louie. The girls screamed in delight and the young men clapped their hands, peering at each other lasciviously.

It took a few minutes for the adults to figure out what was going on, but when they did, they proceeded to the stage to stop the performance. To my surprise, about twenty-five of the kids rushed the platform, locked their arms, and forbade the teachers from getting near the band, as the Sanbobs continued to croon the bewildering poetry.

(I was one of the participants who scattered to a corner of the gym in horror, like a mouse being chased by the handmaiden’s broom.)

When the teachers were unable to get through the “Red Rover, Red Rover” line-up, they decided to kill the electricity, which left the gymnasium encompassed in darkness.

At first there were some “oohs” and “aahs” and screams, which gradually became whispers and culminated in silence. The teachers, not sure what was going on in the dark, restored the juice and discovered that the students were making out with each other.

So it became a choice–which vice did you want to promote? Louie, Louie, with its garbled goodies, or a make-out session in the high school gym?

So the Sanbobs were allowed to finish their song, but an early termination of the dance was proclaimed.

Of course, as the years have gone by, it is obvious that nobody was really defiled by a single rock and roll song. It was prejudice, fear, apprehension and narrow-mindedness which did that to us.

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Untotaled: Stepping 34 (March 19th, 1967) Water Buffalo … October 4, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

Jack Forrest was my friend.

He was one of those adolescent chums who I was sure would always be my next-door neighbor, as we borrowed lawn and garden tools from each other and swapped spares in the neighborhood bowling league.

We played football together until I quit early in the season–and sure enough, he also abandoned the sport in reverence and defiance. So I think he was a little confused when I returned to play basketball.

It was not an easy choice for me, either. I never wore shorts and because I was so large, the little tank-top jersey they provided was too tight and made my promising pecs appear to be burgeoning breasts.

But by the same token I was athletic. I was good enough to be a starter. So one afternoon, the Olentangy freshman basketball team came over to play us and Jack attended the game.

I was hoping to do well in this particular competition because I had secured the starting forward position, and I wanted to impress the coach. When I walked onto the court in all of my chubby glory, a young student from the Olentangy campus yelled out, “Hey, look! A water buffalo!”

There were some titters from the opposing faithful.

Even though I shouldn’t have, I looked around to see who was taunting me. There was this guy with a smirk on his face sitting right behind my buddy, Jack.

The coach whispered in my ear an exhortation to put it out of my mind and the game began.

But I didn’t put it out of my mind–especially when this fellow continued to call me a water buffalo and once even generated a “M-o-o-o-o!” in my direction. Honestly, the thing that crossed my mind was that I didn’t think the buffalo species “mooed.”

But being a kid, the insults affected me. I dribbled a ball off my foot, missed an easy lay-up and fouled the opposing team a couple of times in frustration. I found myself peering over at that screamer instead of paying attention to the game.

Jack just sat there quietly in front of him without moving a muscle.

All at once, when the fellow yelled out his most recent insult, Jack stood up, turned around and punched the kid in the nose. He didn’t knock him out, but the guy did bleed. Jack didn’t care. He just turned around, sat back down and watched the game.

It was amazing.

  • No one stopped the action.
  • No teacher jumped in and sent Jack off in hand-cuffs with the police.
  • And the fellow who had done all the yelling stopped his taunts, never filing a lawsuit.
  • Matter of fact, no one ever even talked to Jack about what he did, assuming it was a rite of passage between two young, emerging studs.

I finished the game free of interference and actually scored a couple of baskets.

After it was over, I thanked Jack for his assistance, but said it wasn’t necessary.

Jack replied, “I didn’t do it for you. His squawking made my ears hurt.”

I smiled–because I knew he did do it for me.

He was loyal. And even though loyalty can be misguided, it’s a pretty powerful thing to carry around … on your way to acquiring good sense.

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

Click here to listen to Spirited music

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G-4: Stay or Go? … December 27, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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clayI did it.

I made something.

Like every endeavor known to man, I felt greatly fulfilled upon completion, and a little disappointed with the inadequacy of the final product.

You see, in my mind, it should have been much better. But when I was finished, there were flaws. To my comprehension, glaring.

It was time for a decision–a very important one, may I add.  Do I stay or do I go?

Do I step up to what I have produced, proudly taking ownership, and begin to work with it until it becomes better, or do I distance myself from the project, expressing my displeasure and pretending that it wasn’t my fault?

Being creative does not guarantee perfection. Matter of fact, it usually presents you with the opposite: imperfection that yearns for your abiding, loving touch.

There is nothing I have ever done which possessed the qualities of my vision when I finished the first prototype.

That’s just life.

Where we develop a sense of purpose, devotion, loyalty and perseverance is in the extent to which we take responsibility for our labors, and nurture our creations to better forms.

  • No family is perfect.
  • No song is perfect.
  • No nail in a board is perfect.

Everything in life requires a second visitation, demanding that we take personal responsibility.

Is there a time to go? Is there a time to walk away from what hatched from your egg and emerged as a big disappointment? Here’s a guideline:

  1.  If it resembles what you want, but merely needs some work, stay.
  2. If its existence is proven to be a hurtful thing to those around you and yourself, go.
  3. If it is full of promise but ugly, stay.
  4. If it’s ugly, lacking promise, go.

The most valuable concept to possess in the human brain is the knowledge that nothing we touch is birthed in perfection. You have to come around, take a look, find out what needs to be fixed … and produce the good humor that makes correction process tolerable.

 

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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.

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