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

NEW BOOK RELEASE BY JONATHAN RICHARD CRING

WITHIN

A meeting place for folks who know they’re human

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$3.99 plus $2.00 S & H

$3.99 plus $2.00 S & H

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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

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Always Finishing … January 14, 2013

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All Saints pic

The key is in changing your wanter.

Yes, there are things I want in life, but honestly, most of them are temporary ticklings in my soul rather than permanent inclinations. Perhaps that’s the definition of maturity–understanding that what I want right now is going to change, so instead of becoming stubborn about it I should learn to be prepared to change my wanter based upon availability.

One of the worst pieces of philosophy being propagated in our society is that we should have a dream and stick with it. What if our dream sucks? What if this vision of our future is riddled with inconsistencies, with no acknowledgment whatsoever of our factual abilities? Then we’re not dreamers–we’re just fools, waiting for the next bus to hit us as we energetically step off the curb.

I arrived at All Saints Lutheran Church in Tamarac, Florida, yesterday morning. Here is what the average person would ask me about my morning’s activities:

  1. Do you really, really, really want to be there?
  2. Is it a fulfillment of your dreams?
  3. Do you consider it a stepping stone on your way to your five-year goal plan?

You see, this is the kind of garbage they write about in self-help books. It has nothing to do with the reality of the soup in which we are stirred. So let me answer these questions as a soul who has learned the quality of changing my wanter:

1. Do I want to be there? Well, I am there and it is my next best possibility toward acting out my heart’s desire in front of a group of people who may be particlly interested in listening. It is my experience that the quick door to success is often located on the edge of a cliff. It is better to slowly, meticulously, intelligently and joyfully work with what you’ve got, change your wanter and convince yourself to do immaculate work as if you were doing it in a larger venue in front of millions of people. I did not give the congregation at All Saints Church a presentation based on the size of their particular configuration. I gave them the best that Jonathan Richard Cring had on January 13th, 2013. That’s what I deserve, that’s what they deserve and that’s what God anticipates.

2. Is this a fulfillment of my dream? My dream is to be usable. When I start trying to illustrate that dream with a picture in my mind of the ideal, I arrogantly eliminate most of the real possibilities that will come my way. If I want to be taken seriously by millions, I must faithfully finish my work in front of the ten, one hundred or one thousand sent my way. So if this all ends tomorrow, I can complete my course knowing that I put on a show that was worthy of millions in front of the audience provided.

3. About my five-year goal plan–I don’t like stepping stones. That connotes that everything is located beneath my feet instead of being embraced by my heart. Those beautiful people yesterday were not a stop-over on my way to my journey–they are my journey. Maybe in the process of the journey I will meet more. Or perhaps I will end up with fewer. But I will finish what I set out to do with the vigor, height and depth of my talent.

Sometimes when I’m on stage I close my eyes. Because I am a believer in faith, I also recognize that everything I am doing is being transported to some eternal storage facility where it will be valued. It is my treasure. I will finish it with flair. I will learn from my mis-steps. And I will change my wanter to match my “got it.”

I feel so fulfilled today because I was granted the immense opportunity to share in front of the precious souls at All Saints. After all, what can be more humbling and blessed than being allowed to proffer your limited resources in front of all the saints?

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