G-Poppers … December 1st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Many years ago, G-Pop suggested to his children that they celebrate December 1st as “Life With Style New Year”–not that there was anything particularly wrong with a January 1st startup on the calendar.

But because Christmas is such a special season, it just seemed natural to G-Pop that the year should commence with Yuletide sentiments.

It is a simple celebration–a time to welcome the Prince of Peace to a world that’s not very peaceful; to smile on a baby born in a manger to a planet that has somewhat forgotten the total safety of children; and to acknowledge once again that we are heart, soul, mind and body people, and each part of us needs to hum at a sweet vibration in order for our entire beings to be satisfied.

The heart needs joy.

The soul needs humility.

The mind needs creativity.

And the body needs temperance.

Even though sadness will come into our emotions, we become mature when we understand that our weeping needs to cease, allowing a new morning of joy to dawn.

Although we may feel greatly spiritually blessed by God’s love, we all must humbly remember how it is grace that covers our multitude of sins.

And merely using the mind to recollect instead of expanding ourselves with new ideas is a waste of good brain power.

And of course, the body should have license for nourishment and pleasure–as long as we don’t do too much.

December 1st is a day to rejoice in the birth of possibilities, the nurturing of peace and the joy that we humbly and creatively practice in temperance.

So from G-Pop and his family: Happy Life With Style New Year.

May the Christmas Season bring you all the wonderment it was intended to give.

 

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Good News and Better News … May 2nd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Konnoak Hills UMC Good News

Our clothes get dirty.

When this happens, we check our GPS and head off toward a local laundromat.

It is always an adventure–we certainly encounter some intriguing human beings.

Jan met a woman who was frail, lying on a bench, who told her that she had spent the night in a hospital ward, taking chemotherapy. She explained that she needed to eat something but was not really hungry.

Jan pressed the point and offered to buy her a meal. The lady described in detail a certain entrée just down the road at Bojangles that she might be able to choke down–mentioning that she would want the selection with extra hot sauce.

So Jan and I trekked to Bojangles to procure the treat.

Why? Did we do it because we thought the woman was in need of nourishment? Were we convinced that this little action of mercy was a way to convey love and affection to this frail child of God?

Absolutely not. We did it for us. For after all, to do anything else makes you feel like crap.

Let’s understand something–people who are lost are horrible.

That’s why they’re lost. They’re not “partly good and partly bad.” They aren’t following five of the Ten Commandments. They are often selfish, liars and wiling to do almost anything to get their way.

The truth is, you have a choice in life: you can work or you can con. If you don’t want to work, you’ll probably end up conning.

Anyway, back to the story: we brought the chicken, gave it to the lady and left her alone to enjoy her delicacy. A few minutes later she was gone. (I asked Jan to do a sketch of her just so we would have the memory. See below.)

We have to remember what the purpose is for hope, faith and love.

We’re not hoping the world becomes a better place, that our faith will produce miracles, or love will change the planet.

Hope, faith and love abide. That’s what the Good Book says. They abide because they really don’t solve problems–they just prevent us from becoming part of the mess.

Hope gives me the confidence to get up every morning thinking I can actually accomplish my mission.

Faith embraces me with the belief that I am not alone–what I do and say matters.

And love is my doorway to escape hate because hate sucks.

When I went to the church on Sunday morning–Konnoak Hills United Methodist in Winston-Salem, North Carolina–this was fresh on my mind.

Such beautiful people with wonderful stories, who are constantly being bombarded with the concept that the world is changing at a breakneck pace, so they’d better grab onto the caboose or be left at the station.

Hogwash.

Right now in our country, “crazy” thinks it is the boss. It’s time for us to rise up and share the good news:

  • Shouting is loud, not smart.
  • Popular is advertised, not quality.
  • Anger is mean, not strong.
  • Cynical is frustrated, not clever.
  • And atheism is the absence of hope, not evidence of intellect.

I gave my faith, hope and love to the folks yesterday morning at Konnoak Hills. That’s the good news.

The better news is that I hope they’re smart enough to realize that the lost we are trying to reach can never be virtuous enough to please us.

It’s up to us to bring the heart, soul and patience to the matter.

 

Good News Winston Salem

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Jesonian: Easy Does It … August 23rd, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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corn in hand

Into a world filled with self-righteousness, power struggles and idiotic inclinations, Jesus of Nazareth walked on the scene with a simple message.

Easy does it and lighten up.

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

Leadership hated him for it.

Making truth accessible to the masses and suggesting that it is not that difficult to attain does not endear you to those who make a living out of turning every situation into a quandary.

No mortal receives benefit when we demand divine effort.

Interestingly enough, right after he shared these thoughts of “easy does it” and “lighten up,” he was confronted by a situation which embodied the whole dilemma.

You see, his disciples were walking through a field of corn and they were hungry. Common sense said not to stand around and bitch, but rather, to pick some of the nourishment.

Logical enough, right?

But posted nearby were those religious leaders who made a living from “straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel.” They criticized the disciples and Jesus for the action, citing that the Law of God demanded that the Sabbath be honored by declining to take care of human needs.

Jesus’ answer is a spiritual classic.

He explained that throughout history, whenever noble men and women of mission found themselves without provision, rather than standing on ceremony, they used what was available instead of complaining to the heavens about their lack.

He said that King David even ate the holy bread from the Temple and gave it to his soldiers when there was a gnawing at their innards.

But Jesus didn’t leave it there. He told the Pharisees that everything revolves around one principle: God will have mercy, not sacrifice.

Because if you find yourself feeling sacrificial, restricted, bound and intimidated by religious fervor, very soon … you will end up condemning the guiltless folks who walk amongst you.

 

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Excuse Me… March 14, 2013

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Tree drawing

Excuse me, Tree. When did you bloom? Hours earlier you were barren, devoid of bud, and now, in a full array of leaves.

Excuse me, Blackbird. How did you fly from that second branch skyward, perching on top of the wire dangling in the air?

Excuse me, Ma’am. How do you do it? Tend to your children’s whims, while pursuing womanly dreams?

Excuse me, Brother. I am so sorry for the hot-shots who are so busy discussing billions and billions that they didn’t notice that you were $83.14 shy on your rent this month.

Excuse me, Sun. Where did you go? It has been so cold for so long. Now the warmth gradually returns with renewed vigor.

Excuse me, Book. Would you tell me a story? Your words become feelings, transforming into ideas and projecting them in my mind as visions unimagined by Hollywood.

Excuse me, Rain. What a wonder you are! Somewhere between my head and the earth, you change from a nuisance to nourishment.

Excuse me, God. Where have You been? Much has happened. Did You notice? Is it a plan set before us or merely an atmosphere for human choice? We do welcome You, if You are still interested.

Excuse me, Tree, Blackbird, Ma’am, Brother, Sun, Book, Rain and God. I fear I have been a bit absent–in more than mind. I am back now. I will do my part. Watch me.

You will be proud.

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A Great Reward … February 16, 2013

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Jillian MichaelsShe stomps around the room, panting and huffing, with fire in her eyes, screaming a tirade of disapproval to a collection of hand-selected American fatties, who haplessly receive her critical words, having no way of escape. She is muscular, slightly emaciated and totally bewildered by why these misfit souls can’t exercise their way to trimness and beauty.

“What’s wrong with you?” she bellows from the depths of her self-righteousness.

***

I looked forward to it every day.

When kindergarten was over, if I had been a good boy, my mother would drive me down to the Dairy Delight in Delaware, Ohio, and buy me two chicken sandwiches and a root beer freeze. It was so delicious–so reassuring. Sometimes during the morning hours, it was all I could think about while I organized my crayons and cut circles out of construction paper.

It was my reward–proof that I had done well. And I learned it excellently.

Like millions and millions of other people in this country, I was teased, taunted and tantalized with the reward of eateries and treats, to accentuate the possibility of my good grades and fruitful behavior.

“That’s right, Tommy. If you’re a good boy in the grocery store, Mommy will buy you a candy bar.”

As painful as it is for Tommy to maintain the vigil of purity, the prospect of a soft Milky Way candy bar melting in his mouth sustains him through the rigors of restraint.

“If you’re good, Jane, on the way back from dance class, we’ll stop and get ice cream at Baskin Robbins.”

Jane is willing to tolerate the ridiculous contortions of her instructor’s demands for the prospect of Rocky Road with a squirt of whipped cream.

It is the practice of this country to reward its children with naughty little pieces of caloric destruction when they have achieved success–and then we wonder why we grow up to be a nation full of bloated bodies, if not egos.

So some of these rewarded children discover they have slower metabolisms, or they even develop addictions to their rewards and treats, growing fatter than their neighbors. Then we wonder what’s wrong with them. What turmoil is churning in their souls which cause them to destroy their bodies with the poison of food?

We are absolutely insane. We have a First Lady who proclaims the excellence of good eating, while simultaneously living in a nation where food–dripping with grease, fat, sugar and salt–is touted as a confirmation of our prowess and pleasure.

If we actually are going to be healthier, we have to develop a better reward system. I know it torments me to this day. When I finish a show, I want my two chicken sandwiches and my root beer freeze from the Dairy Delight. “Jonathan has been a good boy.” I have colored within the lines. I put down the toilet seat so the little girls wouldn’t fall in at kindergarten. Where’s my treat?

Until we address this problem, we will manufacture a hypocrisy which is not only befuddling to the masses, but also offers little alternative for ever achieving a trimmed-down solution.

I don’t care what you do with your children, but food–especially those terrible morsels of treachery–can no longer be dangled as rewards for good performance.

How about developing “house bucks”–little dollar bills you print–as the reward for excellent work, which can be traded in for favors, opportunities and the ability to make decisions. In other words, you collect 25 house bucks and you get to select all the TV shows for one night. 50 gives you the chance to choose the dinner, as long as it includes all the necessary food groups. 100 house bucks–you get a bicycle, so you can ride around and exercise instead of sit around and eat fat.

Whatever our decision, we cannot punish our adult population, which is growing obese, because as children they were taught that they were good boys and girls, and confirmed to be so by chomping on caramel and cream.

When you remove the hypocrisy, what remains is your reality. As long as you’re not afraid of it, you gain power. We need to understand that food is not a reward–it is nourishment. The true reward in life is the opportunity to decide for yourself what you’re going to do … and to find a way to have fun doing it.

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We Gathered Together … November 25, 2011

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In Washington, D.C.

Family is a collection of souls who share common experiences with often varying conclusions.

This is why those members of your household can be your best friends or your worst enemies. As the contradictory sayings put forth, “absence DOES make the heart grow fonder” but “familiarity has a tendency to breed contempt.”

So when it came time this year for Thanksgiving, I had one son in Miami, one in Los Angeles, one in New York and three in the Nashville, Tennessee, area. So it was logical to migrate the entire herd to Music City, USA. I rented a large house for four days so we could simulate the experience of the growing up years and share fellowship and the better baking of a bird. It was a fascinating experience.

All of these people who once lived under my roof, subjected to my tutelage, are now adults with lives of their own, with emotionally Xeroxed images of their particular interpretation of the philosophies put forth in our little experiment. I love them all–and even like them. But to assume that I agree with everything they do, approve of their actions or would find myself in complete synchronicity with their purposes is utterly ridiculous.

I think there are three phases in having children. Up to the age of five, you infuse manners, kindness, generosity and just general hygiene into them. From five to fifteen, you present yourself as an example–touting the better ways to handle things and also teaching them the value of having a clean emotional life, which lends itself to the possibility of spirituality. From fifteen to twenty-five, you have to gradually release them to their own missions, and also the favor that they will curry with God and man. After twenty-five, the deal is pretty well done and you need to settle in and become their friend instead of insisting on remaining their father or mother. Any other approach creates tension, disagreement and nasty disapproval, which in no way assists a human being towards for ongoing success. It was just wonderful to sit back and stop trying to be a patriarch and instead, reap the benefits of being a retired parent, who now is trying to find out–just like them–how to maintain the integrity of being a good human being.

The evening was further enhanced by the arrival of five friends of my son from Miami–old acquaintances of his from when he used to live in this region.  They brought freshness, energy, appreciation and joy to the excursion. We closed out the night in the master bedroom, playing songs around the piano, with Jan tootin’ her horns–creating the kind of “Kum Bay Yah” moment that makes for a great Hollywood ending. Yes–to a certain degree, I guess life is like a movie, or as Shakespeare put it–a stage. We develop relationship, we advance the plot, we encounter difficulty and we overcome together. (Honestly, anyone you do that with becomes family. And if your family hasn’t accomplished that, then you’re just related instead of relative to each other.)

I will go back on the road for a sixteen-city tour of a Christmas show of my own making. But I will have the memories of all these folks that I had the pleasure of nurturing, who have now found a way of enjoying their nourishment through life–absent of my interference and present of my approval.

Yes, we gathered together, but not to ask the Lord’s blessing.  No, just to look each other in the eyes and know that the Lord’s blessing is available if we will just have the tenacity to enjoy the pursuit of it. I am a father of sons, many of whom have found wives. I am not outdated, but rather, have updated my status to friend and confidante instead of tutor and disciplinarian. Because of that I am still of value to them. After all, in the adult world, spanking doesn’t work, even when error is made. All that truly is valuable is support and a lack of criticism.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of us–and may we continue to realize that what constitutes family is loving your neighbor as you love yourself.

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

Here comes Christmas! For your listening pleasure, below is Manger Medley, Jonathan’s arrangement of Away in the Manger, which closes with him singing his gorgeous song, Messiah.  Looking forward to the holidays with you!

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