Untotaled: Stepping 36 (June 12th, 1967) Trimmings… October 18, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2385)

(Transcript)

All of our neighbors had already mowed their lawns twice.

I kept insisting that our grass was not in need of such a precaution or I was able to check the weather forecast and cite that there was rain coming and therefore dangerous to be out in the storm.

For you see, in my house it was my job to be the caretaker of “the green.”

I hated it.

I avoided it.

I even pretended I was sick to escape the arduous chore of pushing our power mower around the yard to guarantee my one dollar a week allowance.

Part of it was teenage rebellion. There is certainly a misunderstanding about the condition. Teenage rebellion is not a choice, like whether to wear a hat to the beach. It’s more like an emotional diarrhea, which attacks you when you least expect it, causing you to run out of the room screaming. And in addition, I was a fat boy, and the idea of walking around, back and forth, to simply receive the payoff which pleases your family for only about eight days, was not enough to motivate me to fire up the old “growler”–to give the yard a haircut.

I even listened to people’s suggestions on how to cut the lawn and make it enjoyable. I was never able to recapture their ecstasy.

But worst of all, my dad expected me to use the hand-trimmers after I finished mowing, and caretake the areas that were not able to be reached by the blades.

I refused.

Matter of fact, I can’t remember doing it more than two or three times–because it demanded two actions that every fat boy dreads.

Bend over or kneel down.

(My body type was more suited for standing, sitting or reclining.)

After a while, my dad was content when I actually did mow the lawn before a machete was needed–so much so that he completely dropped the trimming issue. He got tired of hearing me claim that the blades were too rusty to cut through the overgrowth.

Because my dad did not force me, it was a good ten years before I learned the importance of straining my will to do a little bit more than my whim dictated.

So when I raised sons, I learned that there are three purposes for discipline:

  1. To get your kid to confront his or her weakness.
  2. In the process, to address their fear.
  3. And maybe most important of all, to trap them into doing something they really don’t want to do.

If you consider this discipline to be cruel or unusual, you will probably give your children a pardon which will later haunt them as they continue the crime of laziness.

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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

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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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Click here to listen to Spirited music

Untotaled: Stepping 18–(January 14th, 1966) On My Sleeve … June 14, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2263)

(Transcript)

Two doors down from our home were some neighbors who were quite friendly, but we only saw about six times a year and talked to maybe twice.

So imagine our surprise when they showed up at the door the day before Christmas and brought gifts. My mother was frantic, trying to figure out how to reciprocate with some sort of generosity to this surprise burst of holiday cheer.

But the most amazing thing was when I opened my present on Christmas morning from these little-known neighbors and it was a sweater.

It was beautiful for two reasons. First of all, it was a swirl of blue in a cardigan style and had brown leather buttons that looked like chocolate covered cherries.

But the greatest blessing was that it fit. I was a big fat boy, and in that era, no one made provision for such creatures. I don’t know where our neighbors found it, but it was made of Angora–that material that looks like it should be on a goat or a really pretty rabbit.

I loved it. I wore it every day. I pretended it was my winter coat. Maybe because of that, I picked up a cold.

I hate colds.

I guess everybody does, but the main reason I despise getting the common flu bug is that I had no intention in my young teen years of doing anything about it except enduring it with much complaint.

So I was sitting in the study hall while wearing my beautiful blue Angora sweater with the chocolate buttons. It was a very cold day and they had turned up the heat, and the mixture of the other students in the room with the air of the furnace blowing started my nose running.

Now, I was a young man who had little care for anything that looked frilly, so I certainly did not carry Kleenex. (I don’t know what kind of fellow you would have to be in 1966 to have a Kleenex on you.) And I was also too macho to ask a nearby girl if I could use one of her tissues. That was forbidden territory.

So at first I just tried to sniff it back into my nose. Of course, this was loud, sounded gross and caused a cheerleader next to me to crinkle her nose and turn away.

I did not know what to do. I had already used up all my bathroom privileges with the study hall monitor, and was quite sure I would not be allowed to leave the premises. And sure enough, when I raised my hand, he just looked at me and shook his head.

Meanwhile, my nose was reaching avalanche proportions. I don’t know what it looked like, but it felt like Niagara Falls was running down my lip. It had to be gross. I tried to duck my head down, but that made the gravity of the situation worse.

I thought about running my hand under my nose, but then I would have it on my hand.

Suddenly, without thinking, fearing that I was about to embarrass myself in front of the entire class with my river of snot, I reached up with the sleeve of my sweater and ran it across my face two or three times.

Fortunately, at that point my nose loosened up and I was able to have one huge sniff and the running went away.

But my beautiful Angora sweater had been slimed by my drippy nose dropping.

I took off the sweater, folded it up, and when I got home that night tried to wipe the goop out of the fur–but it wouldn’t go away.

I wore the sweater a couple more times, but people kept asking me why the sleeve was matted.

I loved that sweater so much.

But about four days later, I quietly went out into the back yard, dug a hole, and buried it.

I realized there would be no way to ever fix it. My family knew nothing about dry cleaning, and I was in no mood to try to explain why it was rumpled and stiff.

I know it sounds strange, but I cried. Actually, I cried more at the grave of my sweater than I did for a couple of aunts who passed away.

Of course, they never looked nearly as good or kept me nearly as warm.

 

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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

 

 

Met More for Us … December 11, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2091)

ButterflyA caterpillar is just a maggot who has purchased a really nice coat.

Both of ’em are larvae–larvae being that phase in which something that’s come out of an egg is trying to resemble what it eventually needs to be.

Human beings are no different.

One of the reasons I believe in a Creator is that there is so much of birds, amphibians, cattle and monkeys in the human being, that you can see that God reached the end of His evolutionary fit, and just threw everything in the pot and made human goulash.

And this is why we love babies. It’s the egg phase. They’re cute, we can pretend they’re going to grow up and become great people, and we even distinguish their drool from the spittle of our next door neighbor’s offspring.

Then … they become maggots.

Somewhere between the age of thirteen and thirty, these little wunderkinds transform into ugly, creeping, crawling, cheating guppies.

We lament.

We decry.

We complain to our neighbors, seeking comfort because this “glob of goo” couldn’t possibly have come from our loins.

Time passes. They have children, cocooning themselves within a house, a mortgage, credit card bills and elongated PTA meetings.

Here’s the problem: nobody ever makes it out of the pupae to become a damn butterfly. Human beings seem to stop in the cocoon phase, encased.

So we’re cute as babies, ugly as adolescents and young adults, and trapped as grown-ups.

Where are the butterflies? Where is the beauty, flight and excitement that explains why the whole process was initiated in the first place?

In nature we refer to it as metamorphoses–but what I want you to understand is this: in our species, it’s met more for us.

God never expected our lives to end when we birthed our first child. We are inteded to take the new generation and teach by example how to fly off in the direction of our dreams.

Last night I sat at a table with my twenty-four-year-old son, celebrating his birthday. I suppose, to some people, it would look like he was in his larval phase. He is.

Perhaps in a couple of years he may even be embarrassed by some of his current choices, and cocoon in a relationship and a family. But if he’s going to be truly spiritual and whole, he will emerge from that cocoon in a wave of repentance–and soar.

  • I was an egg.
  • I was a really despicable maggot.
  • I cocooned in my soul to regenerate my hopes.

And now, by the grace of God and the beauty of determination … I am a Monarch.

 

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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.

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Message or Massage?… October 28, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2050)

massageA friend of mine posted it on Facebook so it trickled down for my viewing. It was entitled “A Three-Point Formula for Success,” presented by some new pop-culture philosopher. (Yet another oxymoron…) It read as follows:

  1. In the history of mankind there has never been anyone quite like you.
  2. Your abilities and powers are endless.
  3.  Follow your destiny to achieve your dreams.

There were hundreds, maybe thousands, of comments linked to this diatribe. Most of the people voted their appreciation and thankfulness for such encouragement. You must forgive me—I rolled my eyes.

It’s another example of American confusion. We don’t know the difference between a message and a massage.

Just in case you have forgotten, a massage is someone rubbing you the right way to make you feel better, without ever really knowing your ailments. It is warm lotion spread on your back to grant you a climate of contentment instead of preparing you for the challenge of the hunt.

A message, on the other hand, takes the risk of sharing the TRUTH—knowing that it will make you free, but in the meantime, may just make you mad.

May I offer my three steps to afford you, as a human being, the opportunity to see the culmination of your efforts?

  1. We are more alike than different. Welcome to the human race.
  2. Your talent and potential are equivalent to your passion and perseverance. Be fully aware that short-cuts put you in dark alleys, staring at dead ends.
  3. God, circumstance, nature and people don’t control your destiny. It is your choice.

 I’m not so sure that a message will ever have quite the appeal as a massage–but one will teach you how to become fond of your neighbors and the other one just fondles your ego.

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Poor Coverage … August 9, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1970)

For two-and-a-half years I shared and ministered with the poor, disenfranchised and homeless folks in Shreveport, Louisiana.

I would not trade that experience for any amount of gold or prestige. Yet I have to tell you that even though it was peppered with great blessing, it was also salted with revelation and discovery.

I learned first-hand what Jesus meant when he said that “the poor you have with you always.”

It never stops. A bag of groceries does not alleviate aching hunger. Paying an electric bill fattens the purse of the local utility, but frustrates the recipients, who realize that next month they will find themselves in the same predicament.

There is a misrepresentation about spirituality–that those who pursue deeper understanding of the heart of God are meant to be propagators of generosity to the destitute. Why the misconception? Because it sounds good.

I observed it last night during my visit to a church in Michigan. These wonderful congregants had put together a system of providing paper goods and needful supplies to members of their community suffering under the rigors of financial depression. I watched as the people came in to receive their bag of goodies and observed as they departed. There was no joy, no sense of appreciation, no discovery of a deep truth etching its way across their features. They were resigned. Or maybe they HAD resigned. I don’t know which one.

But even though they possessed goods which they did not previously count in their storehouses, the realization that it was a “temporary fix” burdened their souls.

Discussing poverty is probably one of the most difficult subjects to broach. You will find yourself becoming either encompassed with the festering futility of the ongoing epidemic, or trying to distance yourself–coming across as a calloused, uncaring goofball.

What SHOULD be our position?

Jesus said they’re not going to go away, so you should “do what you can.”

I think that’s what the generous folks WERE accomplishing at last night’s church. But simultaneously, I must alert them that Jesus fed the five thousand … until he discovered they were following him JUST for the food.

  • Jesus healed the lepers but never visited a leper colony. He instead required that these diseased souls track him down and bring their faith.
  • And Jesus, when confronted by Judas about being uncaring toward the poor by wasting ointment on his head and feet, replied that Judas was out of the flow and didn’t realize that there are more important things than a temporary band-aid on a gaping wound.

What DID Jesus do?

1.  He energized the working class and the rich to appreciate what they had and realize that more of them was required.

2.  He kept his ears open to those who broke out of the pack of self-pity and made their way to his side for transformation.

3. He taught people how to be industrious instead of dependent on luck or divine intervention for their provision, telling them that they were “the salt of the earth” and that  “the Kingdom of God was within them.”

4. And in more than one parable, he told them that seed needed to be sown even when it seemed like there was no possibility for it to take root.

I learned during my two-and-a-half years that caring for the poor is something that has to be done in stride rather than being an actual walk in and of itself. And ultimately, the best way to solve poverty is to take the ten per cent who are ready to pursue personal and financial excellence and ask them to look out for the needs … of nine of their neighbors.

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

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

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