Good News and Better News … January 1st, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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“When life gives you lemons…”

Hold out for some nice oranges. See if you can’t pick up some fresh strawberries. Even some marked-down bananas would be better. Lemons need too much sugar to be drinkable–and often still end up tart.

It was my deep, abiding pleasure and joy to begin our 2018 tour across this great nation by sharing my heart at Saint Andrews United Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

It is ably and gently pastored by an open-faced and friendly brother named Brad. He sent along Jim, Chris and David to help us set up on Saturday, and they all treated us like kings instead of the vagabonds we be.

As I sat behind my keyboard before the service began and watched the congregation gathering, my heart was ablaze with the blessing of contentment. Even though I have lived for a decent season on Earth, I am still jubilant and optimistic over the possibilities of seeing humanity achieve its better potential by negating the available lemons and shopping for more fruitful possibilities.

And the lemons are available.

So my message to all I will encounter this year will be very simple:

  • Stop believing that lying is acceptable.
  • Mean is not and never will be good.
  • And prejudice is not common–just prevalent.

Once we accept these lemons, attempting to sweeten them, we can find ourselves frustrated and stuck with a drink that is still sour. Why? Because it’s got lemons in it.

So stop accepting the social lemons that make us believe we are trapped in our humanity instead of blessed by God to revel in it.

The command for this year is monumental: We will be kind to those of our own kind.

Of course, I’m talking about people. You may feel free to enjoy your pets, you can admire the wonders of nature, you can insist that you have the loveliest home in town, but we will be evaluated on how kind we are to our own kind.

The good news is, Saint Andrews has got the message.

The better news is, they don’t have to make lemonade.

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Good News and Better News… October 16th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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The world curses

We praise

The world complains

We sing

The world divides

United we stand

The world judges

We forgive

The world’s mean

We are kind

Yet for some reason, because there is a screaming dialogue constantly going on, promoting “might makes right,” we become tempted to curse, complain, divide, judge and be mean.


When we don’t, we feel like limp, leftover losers.

Please observe the picture inserted.

This is a bowl of some leftover something-or-other that we had several days ago, and enjoyed thoroughly–so much so that we thought we might reheat it and have a second go at it. We didn’t. So because it sat around, it got old and eventually became unidentifiable. Once I got the picture, I threw the leftovers away.

The Jesonian–the lifestyle of Jesus–is not a practice of being defensive. We’re not supposed to wait until the world curses to praise, nor should we wait until the whole world is erupting in meanness to express kindness. If we do, we appear to be leftovers.

It may not sound very practical to approach North Korea with diplomacy. It may seem unrealistic. So we are ready to enter a third conflict, already entangled in two unwinnable wars. It’s the thrill of the kill, which is always much more intriguing to those who are not going to be killed or have to do the killing.

The church has lost its heart–and the heart of the church is Jesus. The soul of the church is God, the mind of the church is the Holy Spirit, and the strength of the church is the Body of Christ, working together.

We’ve lost our heart.

No longer do we thoroughly believe in the Golden Rule. We think it might be a great idea, but has no application–just a doctrine for limp leftover losers.

We piously believe we’re better than those who are cloying and clawing their way to the top–but then we buy magazines to read all about who they dissed, who they hurt and who they’re sexually involved with.

Being in love with Jesus is more than dipping your head in reverence to the cross. It’s lifting your head in respect to a message–and it’s holding that head high, knowing that evil cannot win. It’s just too greedy. It eventually chews off its own leg.

There will never be a replacement for praise, singing, standing, forgiving, and kindness. It is what the victors do after the vanquished have failed.

The good news is that we have a message.

The better news is, the message always ultimately wins.Donate Button

 

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Three Reasons to be Kind … June 26, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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hands in mirror1. Mean is a major commitment. Kind, on the other hand, allows room for adjustment.

2. You never know who you don’t knowknows.

3. Joy is not about what we do, but the feeling that remains after we do it.

I don’t have time or energy to maintain a sullen, suspicious or fearful profile. It is exhausting.

If there is no god, then the world needs my help even more. If there is a God, how I treat people is what I think of Him.

I want to be happy.

To achieve that, I must avoid regret and grudges. There are no guarantees … but being kind is safer than being mean.

 

 

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Arizona morning

After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

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

Click here to listen to Spirited music

 

 

In Secret … December 9, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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desk clerkIt happens every once in a while.

As we tour across the country, it becomes necessary to have a single overnight stay in some town for the sole purpose of resting, relaxing and getting ready for the next day’s drive. We refer to it as a “sleep stop.” There are three goals:

  1. Find a comfortable motel
  2. Carry in as little as necessary, since you’re not setting up for an entire week.
  3. Make it as reasonable a location as feasible so as not to bust the piggy bank.

So when we arrived in Knoxville, Tennessee, at our sleep stop, Jan was confronted by the innkeeper, who explained that the room would be more expensive than originally stated. Jan, being an excellent business woman, lodged a complaint and asked the lady at the front desk to honor her original quote.

It wasn’t a big deal–no large argument. But a negotiation ensued, and as with most compromises, both parties were dissatisfied.

So as we were unloading into our room, I handed Jan the money to cover the extra price our host felt was needed for our occupancy. It wasn’t necessary. The room was already ours, legitimately.

But it wasn’t ours righteously.

Let me tell you, my friends, there are three ways to believe.

There is the belief we proclaim to others. This is what we call “church”–quoting the Good Book and tried and true hymns, to inform our neighbors that we are good folk and excellent Americans.

Secondly, there’s the belief we apply. This is a convoluted mixture of what God says, what we think, what Mom and Dad taught us, and the pressure put on us by society to conform to the present norm.

But last, there is the belief we allow to reach into our “secret place.” This is the room within the house of our faith, where we spend most of our time, closet our fears, and determine our future–based upon our own thoughts and feelings, many of which we would never be able to share with others.

I have learned over the years that Christianity does not work unless it reaches into this private compartment.

For some of the rudest and meanest people I have ever met have just come from church, proclaiming the goodness of God.

Likewise, many of the more confused, frustrated and mentally unstable individuals I’ve encountered over the years seem to have a terrific testimony about their relationship with the Almighty.

But I’ve never met anyone who allows their philosophy to reach their “secret place” who isn’t humbly satisfied with the experience.

I didn’t need to give that lady at the front desk any more money to satisfy her requirements.

I needed to give her the money to satisfy the yearning … in my secret soul.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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

Neutral … January 16, 2013

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Jon SigningIn the often-comical pursuit of trying to create  dialogue and social interaction that does not offend anyone, we have actually ended up being one of the most offensive generations that has ever walked the face of the earth. By the time the commentators finish parsing words, studying body language and playing video tape which has been edited to reinforce their points, they are able to turn almost any conversation, speech or private moment into the abomination of desolation or an obvious affrontation to some beleaguered and misunderstood portion of our society.

So everybody is heading for the low ground.

There was a time when we actually did try to climb the mountain of wisdom in order to find the high ground where we could see better. But now it seems more prudent to those in control to find the lowest point of disagreement and camp there, hoping never to be challenged or questioned.

It happened to me yesterday. Some dear soul who had caught my show requested that I come to present my ideas, music and creativity in front of another audience of her organizing. The lady was thrilled with what she had seen, and wanted to make sure she could include all of her friends in the experience. I told her I was more than willing to go anywhere and for her to let me know how I could be of assistance.

Well, less than twenty-four-hours later she called me and said that she had talked to the “powers that be.” They were more than willing to invite me to come to their auditorium to perform–if I would comply with a few simple rules. (Honestly, friends, I don’t know how the words “simple” and “rules” ever got hooked up. It is not a good marriage–because rules are never simple and simple rarely demands many rules.)

Basically, the main concern by her  fellow-workers was that they wanted to be assured that I would come in and offer a “neutral” program. Many of the people in their constituency are of different political persuasions, faiths, ethnic backgrounds and general dispositions. They needed some guarantee that what I would share would not be offensive, but “in the wheelhouse” of everyone’s comfort zone.

Let me tell you something about neutral. Neutral by definition is a decision not to get involved and neither go forward or backwards. It is not exactly where anyone desires to be, but rather, a profile thrust upon us by fear of being overly passionate or too advanced.

I don’t mind being neutral. I just don’t know whether I can offer the same package of potential and emotional explosion by carefully removing all the meat from my offering, only to display the remaining skeleton.

But as I said, it’s not hard to do. The United Methodist minister, for instance, is more than willing to sacrifice miracles, supernatural events and any controversial subject that might have been brought up by Jesus, in an attempt to create a faith which can be intellectually absorbed through the pores from the hymn book.

On the other hand, the Southern Baptist will gladly and almost reverently take away any of the compassion, open-mindedness and non-judgmental approach of Jesus in favor of the bleeding savior who died for the world’s sins because “we’re all so very rotten, you know.”

It seems to me that the problem with religion is that it chooses to either be weak or to be mean.

So what I told the lady I would do for her gathering is simple. I’ve already found a neutral message. It’s not, however,  neutral in its energy and impact. It’s neutral because it is the only message that cross-sects all of humanity–simultaneously making sense and also convicting the hell out of all of our souls.

That message is “NoOne is better than anyone else.”

It is not obtuse to the atheist OR the pentecostal, yet individuals within those groups may find it humorous or implausible. I am willing to work with any philosophy, political party or clump of clods who will accept that the only way we’re going to get along on this planet together is when we stop feeling either superior or inferior to each other.

It’s not so much a neutral message as it is the only message.

So if my Buddhist friends have trouble with it, I offer them the platform to give me a more concise and on-point directive.

If the agnostics think it is irrelevant, I’m all ears to their findings.

And if the Muslims, Jews, Republicans, Democrats, atheists and “whoevers” wish to banter with me about the specifics of this holy sound bite, I am prepared to be instructed and informed–just not deterred.

So there is my neutral message: NoOne is better than anyone else.

I’m sure someone on MSNBC or Fox News could find fault with it, and if they couldn’t decimate the content, they could certainly delve into my character and find reasons why I am unworthy to front the notion. I don’t care. I will not play the game.

I learned a long time ago–the only way to become a fool is by participating in foolishness.

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Matters … May 22, 2012

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He was very loud.

He apparently had a deep conviction that using much volume and vigor was the symbol for commitment and passion. He strutted across the stage, engaging the audience, whipping them into a frenzy of agreement. I was never quite sure whether those listening were responding to the words or were merely overtaken by the sheer magnitude of the effort.

I turned down the noise in my mind and listened solely to this TV preacher’s  content. This is what he said:

“Sometimes I’m moody. Sometimes I’m depressed. Sometimes I’m mean. Sometimes I don’t like people. Sometimes I’m hard to get along with. Sometimes I’m not a very nice fellow. Sometimes I’m not a good husband. Sometimes I’m not a good preacher. Sometimes I’m just who I am—and without God giving me grace, I wouldn’t have a chance to ever make it to heaven.”

Each time he offered one of his “sometimes” phrases, the audience cheered. I wondered what they were cheering about. Was it just a gigantic pep rally, where anything that was in the context of “Yea, our team!” would have been greeted with equal exuberance? Or was it just that the gathered souls were simply offering their support to the general position of their leader?

I don’t know. But when I got done listening, the question that came to my mind was, “What’s the point?” If you’re going to be a believer, following the leading of the Heavenly Father, and you’re still the same kind of jerk you were before, why go to the trouble? Why take money out of your coffers to support a cause that doesn’t make you any different? Why take the time to dress up, perfume yourself and drive  to a building to worship an entity that offers no reprieve to your ailing soul, but rather, seems to revel in your insufficiency? How can we be the light of the world when we continue to be dim-witted? How can we be the salt of the earth, but have such a flat taste? How can we be a city set on a hill and be in darkness because someone failed to pay the light bill?

Jesus called God “the Father”’ but what KIND of Father? Is He one of those abusive Dads who levy punishments for minor infractions? Is He one of those doting Papas, who thinks His offspring can do no wrong, and always makes excuses in order to maintain the family bond? Or worse yet, is He one of those Fathers who pretends to be supportive, but inwardly and secretly hopes the child fails at his independence so “the young ‘un will come home to Daddy?”

It gave me a chill. Is that really the best we can offer? “Come and worship God, who will show you how weak you are and help you maintain your feebleness until you either die and discover the truth of the matteror get sick of being the underdog, run out of the door of the church screaming–to escape the bondage of religion?”

Is there a way to be human, acknowledge that you are, but also learn from the spirit of the Divine how to be better at it–and be adequately challenged and loved through the whole process?

I sat down and wrote three things on a piece of paper. I believe these three points are necessary to maintain emotional well-being, spiritual prosperity, mental health and physical solvency. (1) I matter. (2) You matter. (3) It matters.

First of all, I cannot advance my cause if I don’t believe that I matter. I can only tolerate a certain amount of self-imposed incrimination before my heart rebels against being treated like an unwanted orphan. Everything of quality in life has to commence with the understanding that “I matter.” To me, one of the more invigorating verses of scripture is when Jesus told his disciples that they didn’t need to worry, because the Father in heaven knew what they needed before they even asked. How lovely. And as a smart Creator, He knows that he placed within each and every one in us a need to believe in ourselves, pursue our own betterment, and refuse to give in to mediocrity. I matter—and if I matter, I’m not going to sell out and assume that my most meager efforts are my best.

So I say to that minister on the television, you may get some immediate “Amens” from the crowd by portraying human beings as incapable of overcoming their inconsistencies, but in the long run, you will cause them to lose the power to become the sons of God.

Because until I believe I matter, I cannot possibly let YOU matter. I love you but I’m not going to let you be better than me. I appreciate that you’re God’s child and I welcome you to a seat at the table—but I’m never going to give you my pork chop.  But when I feel secure in the fact that I matter and have a mission to improve myself instead of settling, I then will pass the platter your way and let you partake. It’s impossible to love your neighbor if you don’t already love yourself. Facts are, you WILL love your neighbor just as much as you DO love yourself, and if you think that you, yourself, are just a big pile of trash in the corner, then you certainly will be prepared to haul your friends to the curb.

If you really believe it’s natural for human beings to be depressed, mean, moody and selfish, then you will become fiercely competitive with others and suspicious of the world around you. The only way I can let you matter is because I know that I matter. If God is not transforming my life, why do I think He would be interested in your situation? Spirituality is not the absence of self-confidence, but rather, the definition of it. And that definition is simple: I matter enough that God tells me what will make my life even richer, so that I can live that out and make room for you to matter, too.

Do you see where we’re going? After I realize that I matter and my life is important, I have the joy of believing that you matter. And once you matter, suddenly the true miracle of life occurs: IT matters.

There’s nothing too small–setting up chairs in an auditorium, driving your car, buying groceries, folding the laundry, watching a football game or sitting in a church, worshipping. You know that I matter, and you’ve given grace to others to allow them to matter as well, and then suddenly–everything you do matters.

You give the greatest part of yourself to your own life—and that is attention. For instance, as I write this jonathots, I am nowhere else, thinking of nothing else, worrying about no one else, completely absorbed in this matter. I love it.

I was greatly saddened by this flamboyant, energetic minister on TV. He was seeking the approval of the populace by telling them they didn’t need to do anything more than what they were already doing in order to be godly. I suppose it is true if your goal is to maintain a mediocre lifestyle. But if you really want to be happy, you have to find a way to challenge your moodiness, depression, meanness and selfishness—and open the door to continual flows of living waters into your soul.

  • I matter.
  • You matter.
  • It matters.

And in the end, because it DOES matter, it gives even greater confirmation to why I matter, and it starts the circle of life again.

I’m sure there are those who can cite specific holy writings which might contradict parts of this thesis. But real holiness is a truth that makes us free—a word which has value because it is both heavenly and has an obviously rewarding earthly application.

Don’t settle. Don’t give in to your weakness and call it humility. Find out why God is a good Father—because He teaches His children to believe: I matter, you matter, it matters. 

  

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Is God Mean? … February 24, 2012

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Even though I thought I had my information straight, I decided to go back and check out the list one more time. After a careful scrutiny, I discoveredGod is love,” “God is a spirit” and “God is light.”
 
For the life of me, I was unable to uncover “God is mean.”
 
It seems remarkable, doesn’t it, since the notion of God’s meanness is a prevailing human opinion from time to time for nearly all of us (myself included)? Some tragedy will come along or strange abuse of children or women and we’ll find ourselves lamenting over the seeming impotence of God to aid in these matters, and then someone will remind us about when He was starting his business back there in the Old Testament, that He was known for being quite ruthless.
 
So how does someone who is advertised for the love, spirit and light He brings get tagged so often as “the meanie?” Well, He has some strong deterrents to His public relations campaign.
 
1. Let’s start with the Bible itself. People mistakenly think that the Holy Bible is God speaking to mankind rather than a gradual discovery by mankind of how God speaks. It would be similar to examining a camel by starting at the rear end and working your way up to the face. That’s really the presentation of the book we know as the Bible. But there are those people who hold fast to the notion that the Book of Job is just as viable as the Book of Acts and because that philosophy is still in the air, it often appears that God is mean or in a bad mood.
2. Another thing that does no favors for God’s personal presentation is the earth itself. Storms, earthquakes, eruptions and all sorts of natural tragedies cause us to think that God is either in a bad mood or He’s just grumpy and anti-human. There are very few people who take the time to compliment God on a thousand beautiful sunrises, but they will certainly discredit Him for allowing one big wind to blow the roof off their house.
3. The third thing that makes it difficult for God to escape the “mean” rap are his followers. Most people who are religious blend in just enough of God to rationalize their personal ego trips–so God is labeled with all sorts of false conceptions, ideologies and interpretations.
4. Of course, the main reason that God gets smacked in the head for being mean is the decision He made long ago at creation–and that decision is the unbridled granting of free will to humans. It is irrevocable and non-debatable. People can do whatever they want using whatever excuse they choose, blaming whomever they have selected.
 
So let’s understand the problem. With some of the poor translation of the Bible, the earth’s shaking and shimmying, religious followers making the true nature of the Divine as elusive as possible and the general decision on God’s part to grant free will to humanity, God is often stuck at the end of the line, having to pay the bill for what everybody else has ordered.
 
And one other situation we rarely think about. Just because God is love–which mean’s He’s emotional, by the way–and God is a spirit–which certainly would connote that He is spiritual–and God is light–which means He welcomes enlightenment and knowledge (big brain stuff)–yes, even though all those things are true, human beings are often stuck in an adolescent stage of maturity, like teenagers not wanting to be loved, rejecting any attempt to become spirited, and resenting the hell out of light being shone on their deeds.
 
Yes, if you’ve raised children, you will remember the phase in those precious teen years, when the fact that you loved them and wanted to “spirit them” to better causes, and in order to be a good parent, you had to shed light on some of their dubious behavior … well, let’s put it this way. It did not cause you to fall into good graces with your sneering offspring. Yes, all parents have heard from their teenager: “You’re mean.”
 
So when you combine a Bible that is read literally instead of progressively, an earth that is mothered toward evolution and growth despite our objections, followers of God who always have more agenda than mercy, the decision by the Almighty Himself to grant unconditional free will to His human creation, and the fact that lots of us get stuck temporarily in an adolescent maturity and want to be left alone and not be loved, spirited or enlightened–well, when you consider all of that, it’s no wonder that some disgruntled patrons of the earth might consider God to be mean.
 
Here’s the truth: God is love, spirit and light. The love doesn’t change, the spirit is always moving forward and the light illuminates even those things we wish it didn’t. Mother Nature has a job of making sure that the earth continues and in the process, grants us all an even playing field. Human beings are basically self-involved, but when motivated by other fellow-travelers who are less selfish, can be pumped up to do better things.
 
So the answer, to me, is that God isn’t mean, but He created some factors in the world around us that can be mean if we don’t learn how to discern the signs of our times and understand our vulnerabilities. God gives free will and lets us discover the hidden treasure that’s been placed everywhere in creation.
 
So in conclusion:
  • The Bible is a book about God–not God Himself.
  • The earth is something He set in motion. It is never merely His daily whim.
  • His followers have to be judged on whether they bring love, spirit and light to the world–thus, God.
  • And the decision He grants us–to have free will–should be entered into with humility, respect and a healthy lust towards succeeding.
 So as we continue our I.G.P.–intelligence, growth and progress–we can fine tune that trio by understanding that a loving spirit of light named God has given us the free will of choice to find Him and unmask the imitators. So now we are two questions down, with one remaining. How about this one:
 
Are we supposed to do better?
 
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Got a question for Jonathan? Or would you like to receive a personal weekly email? Just click my email address below and let me know what’s on your mind! jonathancring@gmail.com
 
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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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