Sit Down Comedy … December 14th, 2018

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Bad inflow, stinky outflow.

The human race has been given lots of bad information.

Thus the stink in the air.

The collaborators are at work. They have gotten together and either lined up in one brigade or clumped in another–those camps being the secular notion that all human beings are basically good, just needing to be left alone to prosper within their own consciousness, or the religious assertion that we are rotten, and if God doesn’t save us and constantly monitor our activities, we are fodder for hell.

It’s spooky.

And trying to find a real life out of these warring armies of philosophy makes the common person like me wish for some peace. The problem is, I end up less productive than I wish to be.

Human beings are probably one of the simpler forms of life.

We are not creatures in the jungle, struggling for survival. We are not bees, frantically trying to make honey, and we also are not cockroaches, scurrying across the floor to escape being squashed by grossed-out adults.

We have two buttons. Yes, just two: LESS and MORE. Should we press LESS or press MORE?

The conflict arises when our ego tells us to press MORE when LESS is needed, or our fear demands we press LESS when it’s time to hunker down on the MORE button.

The entire Gospel of Jesus was a less and more proposal. Don’t take my word for it–you read it and you’ll see the principle. He came to guide us into what should be done less, what should be thought less and what should be felt less, and what requires a good dose of more.

You don’t have to go any further than the Beatitudes to find this in full application:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

In other words, less ego about being spiritual because you really aren’t, and God doesn’t expect you to be anything but human.

“Blessed are they that mourn.”

More compassion is needed for others if we expect to feel the compassion coming back our way.

“Blessed are the meek.”

Less struggling, fighting, arguing, back-biting and cursing will give us a chance to buy time for a shift in society’s thinking or a change of scenery.

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

We all need more energy in trying to learn to achieve our goals by using the most common sense we can possibly muster.

“Blessed are the merciful.”

It’s made clear that the more merciful we are to others, the more we receive in return.

“Blessed are the pure in heart.”

The less we inundate our emotions with unnecessary arguments, the easier it is to see God working in our lives.

“Blessed are the peacemakers.”

The more we stay out of the fracas of politics and religious intolerance, the more we will be viewed as individuals who make things happen–good things.

“Blessed are those which are persecuted for righteousness sake.”

Yes, less worry about whether we will come out on top. We should stop being concerned about goodness going out of style.

And the culmination: “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad.”

Bluntly, less fretting about whether things are going to turn out well for us here on Earth and in the kingdom beyond.

Step into your day with your two buttons: LESS and MORE.

Then take the time, all the good things you’ve learned, and choose which one to press when it is the moment to render an excellent decision.


We are delighted to announce that every afternoon from now until Christmas we will be posting sittings from the story, “Jubilators,” for your enjoyment. Good reading and Merry Christmas!

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Good News and Better News … April 25th, 2016

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Salem United Methodist Church in Blountville, Tennessee.

It was my pleasure to be with the dear citizens yesterday morning.

“Salem” means “a peaceful completion.” Ironic, since it’s contained in the name of the city, “Jerusalem,” which is hardly peaceful or completed.

But as I looked out at my new friends yesterday morning, I asked myself, what is peace?

Because Jesus told us that we are certainly meant to be peacemakers. As in most things in life, I think we get confused as to where to start.

The more religious among us believe we should make our peace with God first and foremost.

Those who are more secular-minded contend we should make our peace with ourselves–find our inner sanctum of tranquility. Then we would be in a position to make peace with others.

Even though these two schools of thought are very popular, they have not brought peace to the world.

Often when we feel we’ve made our peace with God, it makes us prideful of our salvation and therefore critical of others.

On the other hand, when we make peace with ourselves, we tend to get a bit pompous over our own satisfaction, feel no need for God, and pity the weaker humans around us.

Yesterday, while sharing with the Salem gathered, I realized that our job is to make peace with others.

Jesus made this clear in the Sermon on the Mount. He said if you get to church and you remember that somebody has something against you–maybe a grudge–you should leave church and work that out first. Otherwise, nothing good will happen.

Conventional thinking is that going to church would soften our hearts to be more forgiving, or that the solitude of prayer would prepare our souls for a peaceful resolution.

But Jesus said nothing is really achieved until we make peace with the offended. (By the way, that doesn’t mean we have a bone to pick with them, but instead, we recall that they want to pick our bones.)

I’ve got to be honest with you–sometimes those around me get miffed at something I’ve done and I couldn’t give a hoot owl’s “who-who” over it. But that’s because I think I can have peace of mind and peace with my God without having peace with my brothers and sisters.

That kind of attitude is the formula for conflict, feuds and even wars.

God has peace with me. He knows who I am. He still hangs around.

Generally speaking, under normal circumstances, I find a way to love myself–even if it’s the “ooey-gooey” of self-pity.

But true peace is when I become passionately concerned over trying to understand the situation of the individuals around me.

I can’t get peace with God or really have legitimate peace with myself until I attempt to make peace with others.

That’s the good news. Here’s the better news:

If we believe this to be true, we can get a jump on the situation … before misunderstandings become lasting conflicts.

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 11) Peaceful … February 14th, 2016

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Jesonian hands

Love is a committed affection.

War is a committed aggression.

Peaceful is a committed listening.

As you can see, every aspect of human behavior, whether it yields goodness or pain, does demand some level of commitment.

So those who think peacemakers are weak fail to realize the courage it takes to listen to tons of foolishness to find one idea that is worthy of discussion and diplomacy.

Those who contend that a war can begin or end without the destruction of the dreams of many hopeful souls are foolhardy.

And souls believing that love is complete by pursuing commitment or satisfied merely by producing affection often find themselves more often than not falling out of love instead of into it.

It is reasonable to be loving.

War is when we cease to be reasonable and start searching for dominant weapons.

But what does it mean to be peaceful? Or how would we even know that we’re seeking for peace instead of just building up a case for our war effort?

The steps to “peaceful” are very simple, but essential:

1. No one to attack.

As long as we believe that our system of values has to be defended, we might fall victim to being overly sensitive, desiring someone to attack. Actually, everything I believe will continue to be true, whether I defend it or not.

My compulsion to defend is an admission of my insecurity over the quality of what I believe. To be peaceful, you must have an abiding sense that there is no one to attack.

2. Nothing to prove.

I am often astounded at how little confidence we have in the truth to make freedom, and love to find a way.

Believing in truth and love is not a hippie philosophy, but rather, the only hip way to avoid struggling to prove our point when our point, if it has value, has a natural mission to prove itself.

3. Nowhere I’d rather be.

Is it possible that much of the warring that goes on in our species is because we are jealous, and have convinced ourselves that someone has something that we must possess–otherwise, we will feel diminished?

There is no place I’d rather be. That sensation gives me a warm blanket of feeling peaceful.

Contentment is when we are sure that the place we have landed is our next station of learning.

War is when we convince ourselves that something needs to be attacked to prove our point, because our status and power must be supreme.

It is the reasonable mission of those who are guided by spirit to be peaceful.

Stop attacking.

Stop trying to prove a point.

And start enjoying where you find yourself blooming.

 

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Ask Jonathots …December 17th, 2015

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I have a co-worker who thinks that all the religions of the world are the same. She believes that they all teach human beings to love and respect each other, take care of those in need, be honest and that there’s something greater than ourselves. I have other friends who disagree vehemently. What do you think?

Choosing up sides seems to be the great pastime of the human race. A sociologist might insist that this is natural since we basically are gregarious and like to clump together.

But I think it is often a sign of our insecurity and the lack of faith we have in presenting our individuality.

Is there a purpose for religion?

Is it the bastion for our souls or is it, as Karl Marx insisted, merely an opiate for the people, to keep them calm so they can be controlled?

If you remove the word “religion,” then you’re left with a term called “belief.” And belief should be an acceptance of scientific discovery mingled with a psychological profile of getting along with others, interspersed with our theories of what an afterlife might truly be.

If religion could transform into belief, then I think it would become rather obvious to us how it should play out in our society. Whatever the religion and whatever the contentions may be of those who deem themselves holy, there has to be some respect given to one another and to the planet, not merely a conjecture on for heavenly dreams.

So I will tell you–not all religions are the same, simply because not all religions honor Earth, humanity, justice and respect for the scientific community.

There are three questions you can always ask of anyone who claims to have a religious inclination, and from the answers, you can determine whether the religion is Earth-friendly or has a tendency to alienate human beings from their environment:

1. Does the religion believe that some people are better than others?

If it does, it generates the climate for dissension, which will never allow us to be peacemakers.

2. Does the religion accept the fact that the world is evolving, and that everything in it is expanding to a different situation?

If the religious community continues to insist that our creative God did not evolve things through time, then there will be a complete misunderstanding on how to handle the natural bumps that come in the road.

3. Does the religion believe that kindness can endure and win out, or does it demand or tolerate retribution? Even though we may have a desire for revenge, that particular action has no end game, since there’s always someone prepared to retaliate to the last attack.

Not all religions of the world are sensitive to these three ideas.

If they aren’t, they hinder the progress that God intended for human beings.

If they do offer agreement in these areas, then they are not only acceptable, but necessary to our emotional and spiritual growth.

 

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Jesonian: Head for the Hills … November 8th, 2015

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Drachma

The Middle East is a muddled beast.

It has baffled politicians, military strategists and rational thinkers for generations.

Following a Jesonian philosophy, which is an attempt to tap the heart of Jesus, I decided to find out if the Nazarene had any insight on the issue.

Turns out he does.

It was in the latter part of his ministry when Jesus visited Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem and took the opportunity to attack the religious leaders for their hypocrisy, excess, indifference and greed.

He spends quite a bit of time elaborating on the iniquity that filled the religious system of his day. But it is the closing of his speech which is most chilling. He finishes up his talk by saying that he had come to Jerusalem many times, trying to reason with them and get them to repent of their stubbornness and sense of superiority. But the continual rejection had caused him to decide that “their house was left to them desolate.”

Because they had killed the prophets, ignored wise men who had been sent their way, and shunned anyone who was practical enough to believe that spirituality could be best expressed through the love of human beings instead of the practice of ritual, he felt it was time for him to depart.

So the 24th Chapter of Matthew begins with a chilling proclamation: Jesus left the Temple.

He never went back again.

He never has.

All the dealings of the Christian faith are meant to be conducted in the streets and homes of human beings–at the point of need.

The ironic part is that the disciples try to draw him back to the Temple, to show him all the sights and wonders–a “Holy Land tour.”

He emphatically tells them that what they see before their eyes will be torn down, stone by stone. He even describes the process. He says that people will be so involved in their religion and their family life that they will not notice the signs of their times.

They will be “marrying and given in marriage,” oblivious to the dangers of conflict and generational revenge.

Jesus gave his disciples counsel. He said, “When you see there is conflict around Jerusalem and that there are armies gathering … head for the hills.”

Don’t stay and fight.

Don’t pick a side.

Don’t assume that God will protect those who are out to destroy each other.

Head for the hills.

We, as the United States, should take the wisdom of Jesus’ warning. There is no Armageddon unless all the armies of the world go to the desert and fight.

It is possible for us to support Israel and also welcome the Palestinians as long as the Palestinians accept the right of Israel to exist and Israel includes the Palestinians.

This is a family fight, and if we join it, both sides of the family will fight against us. So basically, we don’t please the Muslims and we don’t satisfy the Israelis.

Head for the hills.

It is possible to be an arbiter without putting on boxing gloves to join in the bout.

This should be our mission. We should watch the signs of the times, keep ourselves free from the conflict, and do our best to guide these lost brothers and sisters into understanding that the world is big enough for both of them, if their hearts can grow big enough for each other.

So I say to the Republicans and the Democrats: from a Jesonian perspective, you’re both wrong.

Jesus realized there is no negotiation with religion.

  • Religion will kill to fulfill its principles.
  • Religion will repeat instead of repent.
  • Religion is constantly looking for a new Messiah.
  • And religion invites war because it thinks peace is compromising doctrine.

But Jesus left the Temple.

We should do the same.

Stand back and let’s see if these warring factions will grow tired of burying their children, and begin to have a heart for making peace. And then, let us be the peace-makers instead of the fellow-warriors.

I believe it’s the only answer.

There is no Holy Land in the Middle East: people are dying, people are hurt, people are abused and people are marginalized.

It is the definition … of unholy. 

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Ask Jonathots … October 15th, 2015

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I have an acquaintance at work who is a fundamentalist Christian. Almost every day she comes into work and cites some tragic world event, such as the flood in South Carolina or all of the conflict and killing in the Middle East–especially with Russia entering Syria–and she joyfully proclaims that these are “signs of the end times” and that “Jesus will be coming back soon.” Is there any way I could convince her that God wants to save the world, not destroy it? Heads up: I don’t want the world to end!

I would like to begin my answer by focusing on the word “fundamentalist,” especially when it’s tied to the word “Christian.”

The definition of fundamentalist is someone who is a strict adherent to a philosophy, a doctrine or a cause. It’s an individual who holds to the letter of the law as being the correct process in pursuing the spirit of the law.

Therefore there are even fundamentalist atheists.

But when you place the word “fundamentalist” with the word “Christian” you create a quandary, because Jesus claimed that he was the fulfillment of all the Law and Prophets, and then he boiled down the entire extent of that body of work to two principles:

  1. We’re to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength;
  2. And the second is like unto it: love your neighbor as yourself.

So fundamentalists who believe they’re a Christian because they hold fast to the Old Testament or to the Epistles of the Apostles will certainly find themselves on shaky ground if one of those ideas is contrary to loving the Lord or your neighbor.

Also, Jesus made it very clear that he had not come to destroy the world, but to save it, nor condemn the world, but instead, welcome change. Our goal was to be peacemakers.

Anyone who finds joy in the suffering of mankind has by default become a cheerleader for evil.

The reason the Bible says that Jesus will eventually return to Earth is to keep us from killing everyone on the planet.

  • It is an act of mercy, not vengeance.
  • It is a position of grace, not judgment.

So if we have any desire to see the world end and for suffering to multiply so that such an event might occur, then we are identical to James and John, who wanted to rain fire down from Heaven because a Samaritan village refused to welcome them.

So when I run across people who have that mindset, I explain to them that I understand their desire but I do not consider them to be followers of the heart of Jesus.

I call them Apocalyptic Believers. In other words, they believe in the Apocalypse.

If they really believed in Jesus, they would pray for a way for the world to be preserved and saved… until more people could find their way home.

 

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Jesonian: Born… December 7, 2014

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Being born is important, necessary, a boat launching.

If you were born in a manger, there is certainly some significance to that, along with an accompanying story. Yet we often determine the success of an individual based upon his or her roots, or as we phrase it, “humble beginnings.”

So it is markedly amazing that some of the greatest people in history were given extremely stressful or poverty-stricken conditions at birth.

Jesus was born.

We have a whole holiday about it. While some people debate whether the season is given enough reason of spirituality, I would rather focus on that night–when a virgin was placed in a dastardly position, and asked to perform a task, minus any experience.

Nothing of any significance in faith can be achieved unless we understand the purpose of the mission of that evening in “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

Actually it never changed. Although we have many Calvinistic preachers who want to insist that the reason for the appearance of the Christ was for him to die on a cross, that fatalism removes our choice.

“Peace on Earth, good will toward men.”

  • It was the byline of the night.
  • It was the ‘holy tweet.”
  • It was the mission statement.

And it didn’t change when Jesus became a man:

  • “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
  • “My peace I give to you.”
  • “Peace be unto you.”
  • “Love one another.”
  • “Be reconciled to your brothers.”
  • “Whenever you’ve done it unto the least of these my brethren, you’ve done it unto me.”

Here’s a strong statement: Jesus was not born to die, he was born to bring peace and good will.

(Don’t argue with me–take it up with the angels.)

And he faithfully conducted his business, echoing the voice of these heavenly proclaimers all through his ministry, until humanity came along and put nails in his healing hands and his traveling feet. It was only then that they could stop him.

So we have to learn the difference among these words: mission, free will, insanity and grace.

  • The mission was “peace on Earth, good will toward men.”
  • The free will was offering humans a chance to decide what they thought about it.
  • The insanity was rejecting it and killing the messenger.
  • And the grace is that if we choose to still believe in that “peace on Earth, good will toward men”… we can be born again.

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