Catchy (Sitting 38) Tulips (Two Lips)… March 4th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Matthew awoke with a pounding headache, sore throat, a mushy brain and a hangover that seemed to have hung on for weeks. He was lying in a fancy circular bed covered with satin sheets, in a bedroom which looked like a tribute to the color red.

He tried to focus on where he was. After about thirty seconds of trimming away frustration, he uncovered the fact that he was in Amsterdam.

Suddenly it all came back to him. He had spent the night before sharing a bong with a young female Chinese capitalist–an oil speculator from the United Arab Emirates, and a Lutheran minister from Southern California. He vaguely remembered their discussion as one punctuated with verbosity, absent much profundity.

Then, leaving the gathering of the “three wise ones,” he headed into the street and found himself at the De Wallen–often referred to as the “Windows” street of Amsterdam, because in window after window, prostitutes posed, availble for purchase–a Christmas display of female flesh.

As he remembered more, he recalled coming upon a window with a tall blond girl with spiked hair and deep-set, dark eyes. For some reason, he had decided he had to have her. So he stepped into her room. She pulled the curtains for privacy and he made arrangements with her–with one stipulation. He wanted her to be with him all night.

It was an expensive necessity, for the last thing in the world Matthew wanted was to be kicked out of his bed of pleasure because his time was up.

And it was pleasurable. Perhaps a little predictable and unemotional, but the woman he chose was certainly adept at the craft of love, if not the feeling.

Still lying in his bed, he turned his head and saw her sleeping next to him. What was her name? He knew she told him, because he commented on it. All at once, he remembered his own joke.

“Did you say girdle?”

She didn’t find it funny, but since she was a hired employee, she choked out a giggle. Her real name was Gerta.

As he gazed at her, he wanted to wake her up. He wanted to talk to her. Actually, he wanted her to give a damn about him. He felt a bit feminine–like a young girl who gives away her cherry, hoping that her lover would want to hang around for the rest of the “Sunday.”

All at once she stirred. “Are you awake?” she asked in the most crackly, sexy voice he had ever heard.

“I am,” he whispered, trying to be equally as appealing. Unfortunately, his voice sounded more like he had bronchitis.

“Did you sleep well?” she asked with her thick German accent.

“I did,” Matthew replied. He realized the conversation would go nowhere unless he inserted greater input. “Gerta, can I ask you a question?”

“Sure,” she said, turning over and exposing her perfect breasts and beautifully bronzed skin.

Matthew gasped. Gerta laughed. She pulled the sheet up so as to take away the temptation to stall conversation.

Matthew took a deep breath and inquired, “Am I a good lover? And please–tell me the truth.”

Gerta burst into laughter. “This is always what the men want to know. Usually they want me to score them in comparison–sometimes even by nationalities.”

Matthew was quite offended. “Well, I don’t want anything like that. I’m just horribly insecure at this point in my life, and I would like to know, deep in my heart, that my penis is doing well.”

Gerta sat up with her arms dangling in front of her and asked, “Do you want the truth or do you want me to make you feel extra, extra, extra good?”

“Wow,” said Matthew. “That’s scary shit.”

Gerta frowned. “I’m not familiar with ‘scary shit.’ Would that be an unexpected bowel movement, or a discoloration?”

She was dead serious. Matthew had his own fit of laughter. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it was so American. Scary shit just means it’s really, really, really scary.”

“I see,” said Gerta, as if cataloguing the phrase into her brain trust. “So, which is it, big boy? Do you want the truth, or do you want me to make it more padded and less, as you say, scary shit?”

She said it so cutely that he wanted to kiss her.

“I guess I want the truth,” said Matthew.

“The truth is, you’re average. Average looks. Average penis size. Average length of time it takes you to reach the top of your mountain. And average minutes for you to fall asleep afterwards.”

Matthew pretended to wipe sweat from his brown. “Phew… And here I thought I was a loser.”

There was a pause while both of them stared at a small shaft of light that had figured out how to wiggle through the dark curtains.

At length, Matthew said, “Thank you for staying all night.”

“Thank you for the money,” said Gerta.

“Why are you a prostitute?” he suddenly asked.

“Why do you ask foolish questions?” she countered, slinging her legs over the side of the bed, standing to her feet and scurrying into the bathroom for a quick pee.

“I’m sorry,” said Matthew, speaking through the wall. “I think being a prostitute is…unusual.”

She emerged, having donned panties, and slipping on his ragged t-shirt. She still looked beautiful.

“Listen, sir,” she said, sitting on the side of the bed. “Being a whore is unusual. Being a prostitute is a job. But that’s neither here nor there. I’m in my last two months.”

Matthew sat up, shocked. “Your last two months of what?”

She reached over, grabbed a cup of water and took a sip. “I am a contracted prostitute. You see, here in the Netherlands, everything is done by law, to keep things proper. So my contract is up in two months, and even though I’ve renewed three or four times, this is my last.”

“What will you do?” asked Matthew. “I’m not trying to be nosy, but since we’ve exchanged bodily fluids, I thought a little questioning might be permitted.”

She didn’t smile. It was obvious she did not find her work to be a matter of silliness. Her eyes suddenly lit up. It was like they began to dance across her face in jubilation.

“A month ago I went to Paris and participated in the Carlos Movement.”

Matthew nearly fainted. Never in his mind’s eye could he have envisioned laying in the bed of a prostitute in Amsterdam, trying to recover from a night of excessive marijuana, and hearing the name “Jubal Carlos.”

She proceeded on. “I went there on a lark. I was sure that since it was a religious movement, that once they found out I was a prostitute from Amsterdam, from the De Wallen, they would be condemning of me. So I walked up to one of the workers who appeared she might be the most prickly one, and I said, what do you think your Jesus feels about me? I’m a prostitute from Amsterdam.

“This worker took my hands and said, ‘Well, I know what he thinks. You’re the one he’s been waiting for.'”

Matthew closed his eyes. Had to be Sister Rolinda. No doubt about it. When he reopened his eyes, he saw that Gerta was crying.

“I don’t know why it struck me so,” she said, “and why it still moves my heart this morning, but the idea of Jesus waiting for me just overcame all my barriers. I danced, I ate, I embraced, I drank some wine and I listened to the message of Father Carlos. At the end I came back to the woman who said those words to me, and I told her, ‘I’m glad Jesus was waiting for me, because I have been waiting for him for a long time.’ She hugged me until I nearly broke and led me into a deeper understanding of a new beginning. So I came back here, gave my…notice? Is that what they say in America? Anyway, now I’m waiting.”

Matthew frowned. “You still didn’t answer my question. What will you do?”

“Oh,” she said. “I’m sorry. They asked me to join the team. They want me to fly around and share my story. I can’t think of anything more exciting.”

Matthew tried to lighten the moment. “So… Now you’ve been with Jesus. How would you rate him?”

Gerta stared at Matthew as if looking through his backbone all the way to his soul. It made him uncomfortable, so he tumbled out of the bed, searching unsuccessfully for his underwear. He slid on his pants and shoes, requested his shirt, plopped it on, and headed to the door.

He paused and turned back to Gerta, who was cradling her breasts. “What if telling your story is not as exciting as being a prostitute?”

Once again, she gave him that deep, all-knowing glance. “What if it’s not as painful?” she responded.

Matthew nodded his head, opened the door and entered the streets of Amsterdam, immediately hailing a cab. While waiting for his transportation to come to the curb, he was thinking.

How did this simple idea get all the way to De Wallen Street in Amsterdam?

The taxi rolled up, Matthew climbed in, and the young man sporting a big smile, who spoke in broken English, said, “Good morning, my brother.”

Matthew replied, “Take me to the airport.”

Seated in the back, Matthew looked up on the dashboard, where there would normally be a picture of the driver along with his license. In its place was a handbill with a photo of Jubal Carlos, and, in what appeared to be German, the words: “Live from Berlin.”

He glanced into the rearview mirror and saw the eyes of the cabbie.They were those eyes–bright, hopeful and mysteriously enlightened.

Matthew shook his head and whispered to himself, “Jesus Christ. He is everywhere.

 

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Cracked 5 … January 9th, 2018


Jonathots Daily Blog

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When Asked “Who is Martin Luther King, Jr?” What the Average Twelve-Year-Old Answered

A.  “A hip-hop hopeful from the hood”

 

B.  “A guy who makes street signs named after him”

 

C.  “The world’s oldest Lutheran”

 

D.  “MLK–the most common misspelling of milk”

 

E.  “An American patriot and revolutionary leader in civil rights”

 

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Good News and Better News… October 30th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I have participated in thousands and thousands of …

Now, what shall I call them? For if I refer to these as “performances, shows or gigs,” religious people will give me the holy frown of disapproval because I have trivialized the spiritual significance.

But by the same token, referring to my efforts as ministry, worship leading or any other divine terminology makes me reek of pretension.

Of course, worst of all is the safe, but vanilla describer, “presentation.”

I run into the same problem when I try to decide whether to say a robust “Praise God” or a timid “thanks be to God.”

Do I go for the full dunk in baptism, or settle for some other plunk?

Should communion be unleavened bread, or a golden loaf?

Wine or Welch’s grape juice (which many denominations insist was Jesus’ preference)?

And I think the most intimidating crossroads of all is settling whether our Christian faith is ground in social commentary or revivalism.

That’s why the tambourine is pictured today. A tambourine can scare a Lutheran or a Methodist to death–almost as much as a printed bulletin with liturgy makes a Baptist tremble.

It just doesn’t seem to occur to us that defining the word “ministry” requires taking a long gaze into the lifestyle and actions of Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus was both contemplative and flamboyant.

He had the strange notion that the profile for what he did in blessing others was contingent on what they needed, and not confined to the Book of Common Prayer.

So to one person, he said, “Be healed.”

He touched lepers.

He spit on someone else.

He stuck his fingers in another person’s ears.

And he shouted to raise the dead.

He would have upset a lot of people.

Jesus didn’t worship miracles; he didn’t minister miracles–he performed miracles.

He showcased the Gospel in stories, told with colorful description and high-flung gestures.

The church has lost Jesus because it has focused on either social gospel or revivalism.

Jesus was the Son of God, who came to teach us how to get along with each other–with a tambourine in his hand.

So the good news is that we need both social commentary and revivalism.

The better news is, when we actually mingle the two, we suddenly become more relevant.

 

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Good News and Better News… October 2nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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She was a sweetheart.

During my two presentations at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Clermont, Florida, I got a chance to meet this delightful woman.

She bounced up to my book table and engaged in conversation. About halfway through our exchange, her face got a little more serious and she asked me, “How do we rate? I mean, you go to places all over America. How would you rate our church?”

I knew she wanted a serious answer, yet I wasn’t going to placate her nor was I going to try to place some burden on her heart by pointing out an inadequacy.

“You’re kind of right in the middle,” I said.

She started to smile, then squinted and replied, “Well, that’s not very good.”

After nearly forty-five years of traveling America and sharing in a vari=ety of venues, many of them churches, I will tell you what makes a good church. It begins and ends with the word “generous.”

One of the most chilling statements Jesus offered to his disciples, and to us who would follow his message, was “to he who much is given much is expected.” So it’s a little optimistic to think that you’ll receive eternal salvation while lounging on a heavenly hammock. So here are the three things that make a great church:

1. Generous space.

Sanctuaries are too cramped. They’re confining. This stifles the sensation of freedom. Since your church probably is not filling up the sanctuary for every service, take come pews out. Create room. Make people aware that they have the freedom to extend their legs and arms. Give children a place to crawl.

Clear everything unnecessary from the platform. There should be room for three or four people to stand side by side easily.

If you give air to the room you give air to the people to give air

2. Generous face.

If you’re not going to talk to someone, don’t peer from a distance. It’s creepy. And when you walk up, don’t stay too long, but do make eye contact while you’re there.

We met a fabulous brother named Joe at Shepherd of the Hills. He was not an “average Joe.” He was loving, giving, kind, and made us believe that we had a primal place in his present consciousness.

No one expects you to be a counselor or long-lost friend from high school, but grant folks the dignity to enter your generous space and receive your generous face.

3. Generous grace.

You have no right, privilege or scriptural authority to probe into the lifestyles of those who worship next to you. Share the Gospel of Jesus and let the Gospel do its work. The Holy Spirit is much more adept at convicting people than you are with your gossip. I don’t care what you hear about people. I don’t care what you think about people. At no time do you, I or anyone else have the permission to judge anyone.

It is possible for any church in America to become a Jesonian church–a Jesonian Catholic, a Jesonian Baptist, a Jesonian Methodist, a Jesonian Lutheran, a Jesonian Pentecostal–but it requires you to take on the heart of Jesus instead of pounding your favorite theological nails.

The good news is that Shepherd of the Hills Church has this delightful lady who is not willing to subsist in the middle.

And the better news is, if you make your church a generous space with a generous face, offering generous grace, you will grow.

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Ask Jonathots … March 31st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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My fiance was raised as a Catholic and I grew up Presbyterian. We plan to compromise after we’re married by going either to a Lutheran or Episcopal. But I don’t really like the solution. Neither one of us think the denomination makes any difference, but it did get me thinking. What do you think about this dilemma–especially since we want children?

I have always been of the contention that what you believe is much more important than where, when or even how you believe.

I think the problem with a compromise in spirituality is the notion that all outlets for the Christian message actually offer the heart, soul and mind of Jesus of Nazareth. They really don’t.

In the pursuit of finding the climate that suits a congregation, a church often has to place the more intense convictions of the faith on the back burner. It’s not a malicious act, but it is a purposeful one.

So I think it’s possible to visit every denomination for one Sunday or a couple of Sabbaths, introduce your own belief system into their atmosphere, and have an absolutely delightful time. But after a while, they will desire that you acquiesce to their cultural preferences instead of sharing your more basic beliefs.

So I think the decision of whether you go to an Episcopalian, Lutheran, Catholic or Presbyterian because you think they all believe in the same God is errant. What you want is to go to a church that understands the important values you treasure and leave there with a soul-satisfying experience.

I think many people think of going to church like they got a DUI and now have to do community service. They find it to be a duty, responsibility and now a sentence–to atone for a sinful nature.

I, for one, do not believe that such attendance to a religious service does us much good unless we actually find a way to become emotionally involved.

So my suggestion? The two of you should sit and write down the five things you agree upon, spiritually and emotionally, and then find a church of any denomination that agrees with most of them and grants you the conducive surroundings.

The sooner we understand that church is not about the delivery system of the worship service, but rather, the message and how it impacts our lives and touches our hearts, the better off we will be–and the less likely we will be to leave the institution because we find that Sunday morning family time is much more fulfilling.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … July 29th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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PoHymn for July 29

Namey Name Name

Baptist, Methodist

But Mary called him Jesus

Lutheran, Presbyterian

Pentecostal, Unitarian

Latter Day Saint

Former day Jew

Assembly of God

No assembly required

Christian, Christos Iglesias

His buddies dubbed him Jesus

Catholic, Roman

Catholic, Greek

Catholic, schoolboy

Catholic, priest

Missionary Alliance

Missionary position

From this rock

I set sail

Calm the seas

Hell, it can’t fail

Revelation, Episcopalian

The lepers screamed for Jesus

Gay church

Black church

White church

Country church

Church in the wildwood

Church in the neighborhood

Church of the brotherhood

Every game has a name

But Jesus came to take the blame

Politics failed him

Religion nailed him

Wise folks trailed him

This one called Jesus

So let me say

In my simple way

I know Jesus of the people

Not Christ with a steeple

We were together

Long before he went

Non-profit.

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Jesonian: Exodus (A Sequel) … February 16, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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crowd exiting“Where are all the people?”

It is the pleading question I hear week after week, as ministers, church leaders, secretaries and music directors stare out at the depleted ranks for evidence of the faithful, probing the pews for the chosen “fews.”

Matter of fact, many proclaimers of the gospel find themselves exaggerating the numbers attending the holy sanctuary in order to maintain any shred of purpose or semblance of clerical ego.

There’s no doubt about it–people are leaving the church.

You could assemble a panel of those of a theological bend to discuss the matter for hours, and come up with all sorts of theories, many of which would have grounding in fact without having any footing in solution.

  • Yes, it is posh to be agnostic.
  • Yes, there is a new indifference masked by the wording of “being busy.”
  • Yes, people are more isolated in their homes than they’ve ever been before.
  • Yes, the Christian movement has done a lot to shoot itself in the ass by being either too conservative or too liberal
  • Yes, we have allowed the “rain makers” to control the message instead of keeping it simple and gently watering the plants that are growing by faith.
  • Yes…

You could go on and on. But truthfully, I believe the main problem is that the Sermon on the Mount has hit the valley–because the thrust is now a proclamation of infinity, when mankind is desperately requiring a voice crying in the wilderness for afinity.

Since we are human beings born on Earth, pursuing the promise of heaven, we need to be careful that we don’t “Pinocchio” the gospel–in other words:

  • comforting people who are wooden puppets by telling them that “someday they will become little boys and girls.”
  • looking at people who have life now and telling them to be overly interested in the life to come.
  • addressing human beings who need to be exhorted to excellence, but keeping them weak on a pabulum of their own sinful nature.

Whether it’s Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal or Lutheran, there is some curriculum teaching that Jesus wants us to focus on “infinity and beyond.” To keep this message in the forefront, you have to emphasize (1) personal weakness so people will be reminded that they need a strong God; and (2) personal salvation, so the elect recognize their weakness and are grateful for a heaven someday.

If you have one ounce of motivation adding up to a pound of desire you will get bored very quickly with this “bad news,” suitable only for the pitiful.

Fortunately, the real message of Jesus of Nazareth was “afinity and be here:

1. Recognize your personal blessing and do something about it.

  • To he whom much is given much is expected.
  • Go the second mile.
  • You are the salt of the earth.
  • Go and do thou likewise.

2. Personal responsibility: “Whenever you’ve done it unto the least of these, my brethren, you’ve done it unto me.”

Yes, there is a second exodus. The people of God are running across the “over-read sea” into the desert of social nothingness, wandering around complaining about the provisions available, dreaming of a Promised Land.

It comes down to this: if the church continues to preach “infinity and beyond” instead of afinity and be here, we will eventually follow the model of the European church, which is now more or less a museum in remembrance of dead ideas.

If you want to stop the exodus, you’re going to have to start preaching the gospel. And the gospel of Jesus is very simple:

As I bask and rejoice in my personal blessing I take up my cross of personal responsibility and go out and make a better life and a better world.

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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

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