1 Thing That Will Teach You the Power of Not Knowing

Understand what is considered normal good behavior.

1. “I don’t know.”

2. “Let’s find out.”

3. “Gee, that’s interesting.”

Human beings are attracted to each other when ignorance is in pursuit of deeper understanding.

Unfortunately, sometimes when we arrive ignorant, we decide to hold a barn dance to celebrate our deficiency. Worse, we call our ignorance “greater understanding that has not yet been fathomed by the masses.”

But when we get together as people and share a common “I don’t know,” it opens the door to “let’s find out.”

Then, in the midst of finding out, we form deep, meaningful relationships. Therefore, when we do uncover some mystery, we can hug each other and say, “Gee, that’s interesting.”

Otherwise, we get stuck in a logjam of personality quirks which make us desirable to only a few.

Understand the “Know Flow”

A. “I know it all.” (Good luck.)

B. “I know lots of things.” (Be prepared to be challenged.)

C. “I know certain things.” (Your information needs to be spot-on.)

D. “I know this.” (Please be humble if you find out you’re wrong.)

E. “I don’t know.” (The freakin’ door to wisdom.)


Subway Stop… April 2, 2013


SubwayAshford done.

It was an evening with a couple dozen strangers. We talked, laughed, got to know each other and I believe, departed as friends. That in itself is an inspirational miracle that boggles the mind and tingles the spirit.

Packed up, ready to go–8:33 P.M. At this point we need some nourishment–something called dinner. It’s tricky business. You don’t want to get food that has so much fat, sugar and grease that you wake up the next morning with a five-pound weight gain. But you also would like to have something that is both incredible and edible. So we “went to Jared’s.” No, not the diamond store–Subway. You remember Jared–the guy who lost all the weight just eating Subway? It is a remarkable joint to frequent if you are attempting to watch your calories and consume vegetables along with your breads and meats.

I stayed in the van and Jan ran in to make our selections. I snapped a picture of her while she was in there, as you can see in today’s artwork. While I was sitting there a car pulled up, rattling my windows with its speakers, sharing a massive overdose of rap music, proliferated with lots of harmonics, rhythm, and language which would make my mother leave the room in a huff.

A young man stepped out of his car, into the Subway and stood in line behind Jan. I had to watch this. Even though she was very busy making her order and interacting with the lady who was trying to “sandwich everything in,” Jan took a moment to strike up a conversation with the young man who had just entered the store. I couldn’t hear anything and it was like watching a silent movie, but in no time at all they were laughing and he was expressing great intrigue. I just sat there for a moment and thought, “How perfect.”

There is this thing we talk about called The Great Commission. Basically, it states,  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every living creature, teaching them to observe whatsoever I’ve commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

I had to smile. God never begins or ends at the door of the church. God is us. It’s why Jesus saidthe kingdom of God is within you.”

So on this beautiful night in Houston, we HAD “gone into the world.” We drove over to this town and broke our pattern of normalcy to try something new. “Go into the world” means that somehow or another you have to escape your confinements. If you believe that everything has to be “normal,” you will eventually become prejudiced and close somebody out. If you do this, God stops showing up for your morning meetings.

Then you’ve got to preach the gospel. We had done that. “Preaching the gospel” means finding your message, and making sure that when you share it with others, it’s GOOD NEWS. There’s a lot of stuff I could tell people which would shock them or make them angry, but that’s not the gospel. The gospel is good news. So if I can’t muster a bunch of good news to share with people, and all I can find in my soul is sadness, I probably shouldn’t preach. We shared good news.

But when it was over and we needed a place to get a bite to eat, The Great Commission continues–it’s no longer about preaching, it’s about teaching. How do you teach somebody? Are we talking about a blackboard? Or reciting information, hoping that someone is taking notes? No. Our entire teaching format is displaying to the world who we are. It is our presence. We are the “light of the world” and we are the “salt of the earth.” If we can’t be lit up and tasty, no one will care much about anything we have to preach.

When Jan returned to the van, she explained what the young man was interested in when he came into the shop. He dug her clothes and shoes. He thought she had style. So it made him curious about what brought her to town.

I guess if we can’t shine forth like a city set on a hill and have a countenance that reflects that we’ve been somewhere other than a lemon-tasting convention, we have little chance ot teaching anyone anything.

Yes–it’s our responsibility to make our lives a presence.

And finally, we need to walk with the realization that Jesus is with us. Not just us–we’re not his “favorite dudes.” But because we’ve gone into the world, escaping our “normal,” and we’ve preached the gospel by finding a message and making sure it’s good news, and we’re teaching people to observe what Jesus said by making our lives a presence, we can have the confidence that he’s with us.

Can I sum that up in two words? Stay sane.

The world wants you to go a little nuts. Don’t do it. Society would love to have you worry and become overwrought. Turn down the invitation. The television set screams of dangers. Change the channel. Stay sane.

  • Escape the norm
  • Find a message and make sure it’s good news
  • Make your life a presence
  • And stay sane.

That’s The Great Commission, folks. And my friend, Jan, acted it out last night, at a Subway stop.

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

Withered … May 27, 2012


He was sick.


Well, not really without ability. His particular affliction had been with him for so long that nobody gave it a second thought.

Nobody except him. (Personal plagues are always personally present.) But as for friends, unless some new family came for worship at the church and one of their little ones was fascinated with the dwarfed hand and stared too long–well, other than that, it was pretty well absorbed.

He had a deformed hand. On initial viewing, it was grotesque. Determined eyeball-to-eyeball contact was required to avoid a misplaced glance at the tiny appendage. It was a very polite and political policy of practice.

He had such a great attitude about his limitation, even occasionally joking with others about his situation, citing that he would, “give them a hand, but he didn’t have one to spare!”

It had become acceptable–an acceptable lacking. An absence, adjusted to quite well. People had moved on. Life had reassembled into an understanding of the necessity for normalcy. There were no mentions of cure. There were no discussions of remedy. There were no longer any prayers for a miracle. Everyone was satisfied with a very unsatisfying situation. Everyone … except Jesus.

He came to worship. He sat to pray. He listened to scriptures. But then he rose to meet the need.

He interrupted.

Now, you must understand that interruptions are generally considered to be anti-human contradictions to the flow of our relaxed consciousness. Even when they’re pleasant possibilities, we resist at first because they are not in the spectrum of the programming. For after all, there’s no reason to hold a worship service if you haven’t already planned it. Songs were selected; special music was practiced. Even a presentation for the children was strategically placed within the framework of a cramped agenda. There was really no time for interruptions

Propriety is the schoolmaster of the classroom of decency and order. So when Jesus stood to his feet and interrupted the proceedings, there was a sense of both surprise and certainly, annoyance. Who did he think he was? What did he think he was doing? What arrogance did he possess that caused him to believe that any contribution he could make would be worthy of consideration? He simply posed the question.

“Is it good to do good on the Sabbath?”

There was silence. For after all, that was the response to most things that happened within the confines of the sanctuary. Silence was a way of showing reverence, of being reflective and pious. But silence in this case only confirmed indifference and cowardice.

Jesus was angry. He asked the man with the withered hand to stand to his feet and stretch it forth. As he did, the hand, which had become common in its disfigurement appeared for the first time–beautifully whole.

There was no applause. There were no hallelujahs. Just an uncomfortable fidgeting, punctuated by a cough or two.

Jesus turned on his heel and walked out of the building, followed by a freshly healed, reborn and rejuvenated new brother.

After the pair left, there was a stillness in the room for a few moments, while everyone tried to mentally reconnoiter what to do next. Then the minister rose to his feet and began to read scriptures and everyone found their place in the order of service and continued faithfully.

Having survived the disruption of a miracle, the church was able to return to its liturgy. But Jesus was gone from their midst. Also gone was the confirmation in flesh of why they truly should gather–a transformed human being who had been touched by the grace of God.

Withered–it’s what occurs to any living thing right before death closes the deal. It is the lingering pain which has become acceptable because of its frequency. People adjust to it. People work around it.

Not Jesus. Jesus was off and away, to seek and save that which was lost.

Withered. It begs the question. “Is it good to do good on the Sabbath?”

The question echoes in our silence.


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

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