Good News and Better News… September 18th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Optimism is completely useless in sharing the Good News. It always hopes for positive results which are only determined by the audience and the moving of the Holy Spirit.

Likewise, pessimism is a meaningless, funky choice. After all, what value is there in preaching the end of the world while the doggone thing is still revolving?

I think Paul Simon summed it up best in his song, “The Boxer” when he wrote: Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

So if you want to be a bearer of good tidings, you must keep two essentials in mind. These were in play when I went to Tampa Bay to do two concerts, one at the Sun City Center United Methodist Church and the other at Atonement Lutheran in Wesley Chapel. I was hosted by two fine gentlemen–Kevin and Scott–both of whom desire to see something good happen in our time.

But over the years, you learn that passion, deliberation and organization are not enough. Talent falls short, and patience is a virtue which often fails to impress the meandering mob.

Two things to keep in mind if you want to make a difference: make it clear and make it good.

Honestly, if you don’t come with quality, don’t expect to get any kind of ear turned in your direction. So stop trying to do things that are difficult, believing they’ll be impressive in the long run. Find things you can accomplish well in almost any circumstance, and perfect them.

I am not the best anything. I never will be the best anything. But I can always get better at my best.

That’s our job. Make it good. It’s time for us to stop apologizing for what we present under the guise that “since God is in charge, and He loves us all, He’ll forgive a few sour patches.”
Tain’t so, my brothers and sisters. We’ve got to make it good. And then, you’ve got to make it clear.

To do this requires simplifying your message so that everybody in the room, from six to ninety-six years old, knows exactly what you’re trying to say. Some folks will still try to twist your words to their advantage, but there’s not much you can do about that, so don’t worry.

If you want people to believe that “love your neighbor as yourself” works, you need to say it five times and provide three good
examples.

And then do everybody in the room a favor: Don’t try to make another point. Three-point sermons leave two points forgotten and one point confusing.

So my time in Tampa Bay was lavished with lovely, inspiring people who benefitted from my presence because I determined to not be either optimistic or pessimistic, but instead, made it clear and made it good.

So therefore, the good news is that life is not hopeless, filled with ungrateful human beings who are beyond redemption.

The better news is, as Paul Simon said, we need to give them things they can hear and don’t disregard.

 

 

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Good News and Better News… August 7th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is truly amazing how God’s plan for my life works so much better when I make good decisions.

Maybe that’s because God, who gave every human being free will, does not “plan our life.” Instead, he offers wisdom, strength and grace to those who remain humble. I see this every single day of my time on Earth.

Some people are waiting for God to do what He’s already done.

Others take what God has done and go out and do something with it.

I was a blessed man to be granted the opportunity to share at the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Palm Harbor, Florida. I ran across people who were thinking about making good decisions.

One fellow candidly told me that when he walked in and saw that there were guest ministers, he wanted to walk right back out. But he decided to sit down –n a grumpy sort of way–and ended up being thrilled with his choice.

Another fellow was recovering from stomach problems and decided to come in spite of them, and departed exhilarated.

I ran across person after person who explained to me that the facts set before them did not necessarily warrant optimism or faith, but they chose to rearrange circumstances to their better advantage.

Jesus never criticized anyone for showing initiative to change his or her life. In our religion we often connote that too much ambition, or even an overload of passion, is detrimental to Godly humility. In the process, many of those who darken the door of the church are plagued by insecurity.

I am a human who truly has been granted a great opportunity of possibility–I get to go and share my thoughts, my songs, my words and my good cheer, with the aspiration of inspiring others. Did God plan for me to do this? He certainly is grateful for my efforts–and I, for His mission.

The good news is that we have been given the tools, the opportunity and the potential to make fruitful lives.

The better news is that our Father in heaven, from a position of support, is admiring our growth.

 

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G-Poppers … June 16th, 2017

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop welcomes all his children to the jungle called “today.”

It is possible to negotiate the experience as long as you avoid over-optimism or a nasty streak of pessimism.

First and foremost, G-Pop wants his children to know that coming into the jungle anticipating “good, better and best” is a futile, if not cruel, perspective. Human being s are not geared for such an agenda. Your friends will crumple if you place this regimen upon them.

What you have in the jungle is 1) the reluctant 2) the mediocre and 3) the available. Just realize this. It is the key to survival, which allows for success.

Reluctant people have one message: “leave me alone.” To pursue any further with a reluctant person will ignite their inner rage instead of awakening their potential. They will need to see much before they do anything.

On the other hand, the mediocre communicate clearly, “Why should I change?” They can explain why others need to alter their course and repent, but they feel deeply that they have done as much as they possibly can without sucking on their last straw of sanity.

Then you’ll come upon a clearing and meet the available. Those are the human beings who realize, “We need something.”It doesn’t mean they’re highly motivated to be productive, but they will admit that something needs to happen, or the same mediocre reluctance will render all of us vulnerable to the creatures of prey who devour the weak.

So what is your job? Are you called to turn a reluctant person into an eager one? God forbid. When you run across someone who’s reluctant, just encourage them to keep rummaging. If you see anything of quality, praise it.

Likewise, when you interface with the mediocre, G-Pop wants his children to leave them with something to think about–that good, old-fashioned food for thought with a lot of relish and mustard. Just tell them what you’re considering, and admit that you don’t have the answers, but you’re curious. Mediocre sometimes gets stirred, and in the process, can turn into a bubbling stew.

And of course, when you stumble upon those who are available, urge them to wonder. For instance:

  • How much could a little change accomplish?
  • How about if we just painted the fence?
  • What if we just purchased a welcome mat for the front door of the house?
  • What power does a little creativity bring, which might stimulate the passion to do more?

G-Pop must warn his children that the search for good, better and best is only suited for when we walk among the angels.

Enter the jungle called “today” knowing how to deal with the reluctant, the mediocre and the available.

 

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 7) Considering … January 17th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesonian hands

He didn’t suggest the fig tree, even though they were plentiful in his environment.

For you see, Jesus was quite aware that even though the fig tree grew in the arid, sandy soil of Mesopotamia, it often would sprout leaves to protect itself from the sun, but “cursedly” refuse to offer any fruit to anyone else.

In discussing our lifestyle, Jesus said, “Consider the lily.”

The lily has three aspects to its persona that are much more suited for Planet Earth:

  1. The lily knows it is supposed to grow
  2. It doesn’t work hard (toil).
  3. It isn’t convinced it might need to cheat to get its way (spin).

We are supposed to be lilies.

In being this beautiful flower, we expect growth, we stop struggling and we refuse to lie. This opens the door to just enough optimism that we can work with the available realism.

And the enemy to “lily life?” Those who proclaim that “people don’t change.”

It fascinates me that those who call themselves liberal–who deeply embrace evolution–think that such a transition ceases to apply when it comes to their own lives.

And those who do not believe in evolution, but prefer creation, still contend that God created them to be at least partially miserable.

We are lilies.

This means we need to learn how to consider. And considering is a decision to pursue a better solution instead of suffering in our tradition.

So how can you be reasonable?

A. Find your soil.

You won’t grow lilies in the desert. Even though Jesus was surrounded by desert, he suggested that his disciples find a place where lilies can grow.

B. Sink roots.

Don’t keep changing your mind and following every wind of doctrine. Find principles that have proven to be of lasting quality, creativity, invention, peacefulness and good cheer.

C. Suck in the light.

It is very difficult to grow lilies in a cave of misunderstanding. We are not mushrooms, which sprout in darkness. If you are surrounded by darkness, you will not pursue considering. Therefore you will fall short of considerate.

  • We are not fig trees, trying to just “get by” in the desert.
  • We are not mushrooms, tolerating the darkness.
  • We are a lily.

Therefore we grow as we stop working so hard and refuse to join the cheaters.

 

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The Alphabet of Us: U is for Understanding …April 27, 2015

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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building block U

 

All human beings possess a heart, soul, mind and strength. Nothing of any true significance can be achieved unless this is understood.

When I was a younger man, I believed it was my function and goal to set the world on fire. But now, a bit older and having walked through a few blazes, I realize that the greatest gift I can give to my fellow humans is to put out the fires that were carelessly started by foolish schemers.

I don’t know if I’ll ever have enough time to pursue all of my heart’s desires because there is so much work to be done–clearing away the ignorance, selfishness, short-sightedness and bigotry that was here when I arrived.

This is the spirit of understanding that we must garner as people in order to be of value and continue to maintain our optimism. Otherwise, we stare at the raging fire of stupidity and wonder what we can do with out little cup of water.

Understanding requires three magnificent realizations:

1. “It’s not that bad.”

If you do not develop a kind spirit toward yourself and the world around you, you will begin to view your surroundings as unacceptable and find reasons to alienate your fellow-man instead of coming to the conclusion that peaceful coexistence is possible.

“It’s not that bad”–probably four of the most beautiful words that can fall off of anyone’s lips in the midst of a crisis. They open the door to thinking instead of frantic reacting.

2. “Let’s slow down.”

Instead of a philosophy of “pedal to the metal,” we allow the ointment of understanding to calm our spirits, which allows a realistic pace and also promotes peace of mind.

3. “We can work with this.”

Although thee is a contingency of folks who feel they show their spirit of excellence by being demanding and requiring perfect conditions, the Earth is in a constant state of evolution and therefore can never give you exactly what you want, but merely provides a portion or mutation of your desire.

Can you work with it?

Can you take a little bit and make it more?

Understanding is when we come to the conclusion that changing the world is unlikely, but improving the circumstances of even one soul is viable and necessary.

 

 

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Three Ways to Parent Your Money… September 11, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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disgruntled teenagerMoney is much like the disgruntled, snotty teenager who decides to get even with you by running away from home because you told him or her that the pair of shoes the young’un desires will have to be put off until the next paycheck.money

Also, money will embarrass by going out during this little misadventure and humiliate you, overindulging and even getting in trouble with the law.

What I’m saying in a nutshell is that money needs parenting. Without parenting, it begins to run your household with its bad attitudes, making you cringe in the corner of your bedroom, fearing a knock on the door.

So let me offer three ways to parent your money, making sure that you are still in charge:

1. Always be prepared to give an honest report.

Not only does money fail to grow on trees, but it never sprouts through lies. Pretending you’re something you aren’t is the quickest way to poverty. Failing to recognize the signs of difficulty is not optimism, it’s just stupidity with a smile on its face.

The best way to get in control of your finance and welcome money into your life is to assess your situation without becoming giddy with potential or suicidal with the facts.

2. An organized plan.

Give yourself the greatest gift you can–stop insisting that you’re not an organized person. It’s like taking a dagger and sticking it in your heart and reaching for the band-aids. Life without organization, a plan and clarity to your actions is like walking on the edge of a cliff blindfolded. It is much easier to be organized than it is to put out the brush fires ignited by too many spontaneous choices.

3. A slower pace.

It is a lie that the race goes to the swiftest. It doesn’t. The most important attribute in success is endurance, followed closely by foresight.

Slow down.

If you need five hundred dollars by the end of the month, try to make fifty dollars by the end of the week and see where it takes you.

Life is a much better teacher than opinion. So learn from experience.

And to do so, slow yourself down so you can enjoy the scenery and see the berries hanging from the trees as you go by, and never be hungry.

Just like a teenager, money will try to run your life if you don’t develop a sense of humor and know that you are in charge.

Teenagers don’t have to be insufferable brats. But to stop them, just like with money, you have to make it clear who’s boss.

 

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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

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

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G-37: Pivoting … August 15, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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 Morton's saltMarching down the hillside in Galilee, bubbling with excitement, feeling wonder, hope springing “earthly,” being granted an insight into the common soul, I was overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment.

For the first time, the Creator had gained human lips to speak to human beings about human affairs.

Honestly, there was not a whole lot to say. I covered it in twenty minutes.

Three main points–a trinity of cohesive ideas to generate a sense of blessedness:

I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

  1. All of you are the salt of the earth.
  2. We are a family through faith.

I was thrilled with the message, but even more enthralled with the reaction of the gathered as they found it to be understandable and exploding with authority.

Could it be this simple?

Could it be that the human population was just waiting for a chance to hear words that could be easily translated into actions?

Yet arriving back in the mainstream of life, I soon realized there would be an attempt to thwart my optimism with need and greed.

Yes–the perpetual need of those who were sick, hurt, impoverished and disenfranchised; and the greed of those who wanted to keep them that way by using religion, politics, commerce and bigotry.

Lepers and Pharisees.

For every step forward I was able to make in communicating to the brothers and sisters around me, I found myself corralled by the ongoing frustration of the needy and the indifference of the greedy.

So here I was–human–caught up in the same emotions of jubilance and despair which permeated the lifestyle of those I had previously viewed from my position above. Now I, too, was party to their bewilderment.

Was it going to be possible to win them over through reason and thought … or would more drastic measures be required?

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

 

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

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