Good News and Better News … October 24th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

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good-news-plainwell-stage

Yesterday when I arrived at the First United Methodist Church of Plainwell, Michigan, a gentleman asked me, “So, what do you think about the 2016 Presidential election?”

I replied, “It’s like going to the grocery store to get some steak and finding out they’ve only got baloney.”

Yes. The campaign is just “cold cuts.”

So it’s very important that when we come to church, we give those who have chosen to attend a “people experience”–full of emotion, joy, humor and inspiration–because they certainly are not going to get it on MSNBC, CNN or Fox News. Likewise, neither Donald nor Hillary are motivated to edify people.

My Plainwell experience began the day before when I arrived for setup, and was delighted to meet Pastor Kathy and Sue, who generously afforded us their efforts, hospitality and gentleness. They were absolutely inspiring human beings who just happened to be women.

Therefore, when Sunday rolled around, my heart was full, and I wanted to ensure that everyone I met was aware that even though the world is full of tribulation, this is our season to “be of good cheer.”

good-news-plainwell-cup-and-spoonHowever, serving up good cheer demands that you portion things off in the right units. Otherwise, the recipe doesn’t taste quite right.

For instance, I do think we need a tablespoon of Bible–as long as it’s mingled with a cup of mercy.

How about a tablespoon of prayer, with a cup of helping out?

You can have a handful of church if you throw in a bunch of kindness.

I would welcome a teaspoon of preaching mingled with a quart of living.

I think you can have a cup of worship if you stir in a gallon of joy.

I suppose I could stand a pinch of study, if it will motivate a dash of discovery.

And certainly feel free to throw in a tablespoon of faith–as long as you realize it functions best with a cup full of effort.

The Gospel works because it is suited to people.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us to find the gaps in the world, and instead of being angry about them, fill them:

  • Life is rather tasteless, so bring your salt.
  • Things get pretty dark, so make sure you light it up.
  • Most people demand–learn to ask.
  • Lots of folks blame. Jesus suggests that we seek.
  • And of course, it’s very common to stand on the outside and feel cheated, but Jesus insists that it’s more fulfilling to knock on the door.

We had a fabulous time yesterday in Plainwell.

We laughed, cried, snickered, snorted, watched, listened and embraced. It was a human event–which means it gave God glory, since He was the One who came up with the idea of humanity in the first place.

So the good news is, church is a great remedy for politics.

And the better news is, the more people-friendly church becomes, the more people will be drawn to it.

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Chasing Hippos … February 21, 2012

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There are five things I just don’t like. (Actually, there are probably more, but it’s only Tuesday. No need to get over-eager.)
 
1. Honking horns. I don’t like it when I pull out into traffic, finally finding a slot that seems acceptable, only to be honked at by someone who apparently feels that under no circumstances whatsoever should I be in front of them.
2. Bratty attitudes. Here’s a clue–just because you spent twenty dollars at a restaurant does not mean you have purchased the waitress. He or she is a busy person doing a difficult job and could certainly use a bit of your patience and a lot of your appreciation. Honestly, if you were born a king or a queen, someone certainly would have let you know by now.
3. Suspicious minds. Sometimes I actually giggle when I see the facial expressions on people when they meet me for the first time. Maybe it’s because they’ve seen one too many shows with serial killers, watched too many programs about terrorism or they really have gas and it’s being released through their facial features. I’m not sure. But I will guarantee you this–no mugger or murderer is deterred by your sour expression.
4. Bible quoters. That would also go for people who choose to borrow the inspiration from Shakespeare, Bob Dylan or even recite to you their favorite Doonesbury cartoon. It’s just important to know that you don’t become smarter because you can quote smart people. You aren’t more clever because you know two or three sentences uttered by a clever individual. And you don’t gain depth of spirituality by memorizing Bible verses.
5. Cynics. You know why I don’t like cynics? It’s too easy. There’s nothing simpler in life than to be cynical about everything. After all, it takes a few minutes to start a fire but only a second to douse it. There are people who feel it is their mission to discourage any attempt at progress, happiness, intuition, gentleness or even success. They are cynics and they are not limited to those who are unbelievers. No–many who claim to have a devotion towards God are convinced that He must be on some sort of permanent vacation.
 
But as aggravating as these five things may be to my soul, there is one devilish doodler worse than all five put together: complaining. Specifically, ME complaining. I realize that there is nothing that is more of a sexual, psychological, emotional or spiritual turnoff than citing all of the things that I find unfavorable. So instead of becoming angry at those who honk, are bratty, suspicious, quoting quotables and cynical, I spend most of my time … chasing hippos.
 
Now, I spelled  the word h-i-p-p-o-s for ease of recognition, but actually it should be  h-y-p-o-s–because it is the abbreviation for hypocrisy.
 
Of all the creatures who walk the face of the earth, the hypocrite is ultimately the only one that is never allowed a moment’s peace. Those who know him or her are aware of the hypocrisy, and unfortunately, when he or she is left in their private moments, a guilty conscience allows no rest for the weary. Hypocrisy is what we do when what we really want to accomplish is complaining and we feel no energy towards self-inspection at all.
 
So BECAUSE I don’t like honking horns, I will often sit at a light behind a car driven by a daydreamer in front of me who fails to notice that we have arrived at “green.” Out of principle, I refuse to honk. (I really don’t need to worry about it, because there is always someone behind me that bypasses my discretion and lays on the horn. But I, myself, will not do it.) I honk my horn only to let people know I love Jesus if I happen to see that bumper sticker–“Honk if you love Jesus”–or if I think somebody has gone to sleep at the wheel and requires a quick awakening.
 
I also chase my hippos–or hypo–by refusing to be a brat. Even though I have reached a certain age that perhaps gives me a bit of clout, and have a background to reinforce it, I will not demand ANYTHING. If people do not want to provide me general hospitality, I will settle into the atmosphere and cuisine available and make it work. Am I resentful? No. Because inconvenience doesn’t last very long.  Sometimes it just seems longer because we fuss and fret about it. And for every person who is inconsiderate to me, there are ten who will step into the gap and replenish my experience.
 
I also will not be suspicious. Yes, I lead with a smile. Does it make people think that I am a pigeon, or a mark for their devious scheme? I think that’s foolish. I believe if folks are out to hurt me, they actually might be less likely to do it if they think I have an open heart than if I look like their frowning uncle who molested them.
 
I also don’t quote–especially the Bible. The Bible should be consumed, enjoyed and then regurgitated in your own words. You do not impress anyone by adding King James language to your thoughts. And it might be nice to give people your rendition of the truth–what the Bible refers to as a testimony. It is what has saved us and it is really what is of interest to others.
 
And finally, God forbid that I ever allow a cynical bone in my body. In many ways I view myself as a walking miracle, although occasionally at the end of a long day, it may look like a hobbling mishap. Either way, I am still going forward. I’m not so sure there are many of people my size who have journeyed as much as I have who are still kickin’ and living. So if you don’t mind, I am not going to be cynical even if part of me believes that the things being done might be a bit redundant, if not ridiculous.
 
There is nothing we can do about what other people do. Such a simple statement. But we forget. So then we turn around and perform a worse atrocity than what we’ve just seen by complaining about it.
 
I can recommend to you dear friends that ones great mission in life is chasing your hypos. Find what you don’t like, don’t complain, but instead, extract all versions of your aversions from your human practice. It’s fun. It keeps things interesting. And you don’t have to bend someone’s ear with your nastiness.
 
Chasing hippos (hypos)–finding little pieces in myself of the big problems that make life really stink.
   
**************
Got a question for Jonathan? Or would you like to receive a personal weekly email? Just click my email address below and let me know what’s on your mind! jonathancring@gmail.com
 
  **************

Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

A Chili Reception … February 20, 2012

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Suddenly it all made sense.
 
As I gazed into the container tenderly caressing my luncheon possibility, I realized how it all came to be. For you see, this weekend I found myself in Rose Hill, Texas, during the annual, nearly world-famous chili dinner, which also featured everyone wearing western clothing and cowboy hats–and of course, in addition, Janet and I were there performing. (I don’t say this as a lamentation. For after all, even third billing does get you into the party.)
 
The people I met were fantastic. Now, I do understand that the word “fantastic” doesn’t really mean anything, similar to such other descriptions as “wonderful,” “really great,” “neat,” “interesting” and one of my favorites–“appropriate.”  So let me tell you what I mean by fantastic.
 
I discovered that the people of Rose Hill,Texas, made a great pot of people, so it should have come as no surprise that they concocted an equally inspired pot of chili. And what struck a chord in the music of my heart was how much the ingredients that go into being good chili-makers are also necessary in the process of generating good human beings.
 
Because when I arrived at my motel room to enjoy the chili I had purchased from the establishment, I immediately recognized three outstanding attributes of the concoction:
1.  It was obviously put together by humans who possessed willingness. How do I know that? Because of the way it was presented, the flavor and the texture. Somewhere along the line in “Chili Making,  One,” somebody turned to all the constituents and said, “Listen, we’re going to take this first year and learn what everybody likes, and we darned tootin’ better be willing to change.” My dear, sweet friends–don’t ever forget that willingness may be the most important ingredient that goes into making either chili or people. Because if you’re not willing to change, you’re going to end up digging your heels in and having only friends who are related to you and are therefore stuck with you, and serving a pot of chili that no one likes but you and yours. I say this to you because this particular batch of chili that was given to me was so thick with meat that it could have passed for Sloppy Joe or good barbecue. Somebody told these folks that the best part of chili is the hamburger meat, and rather than arguing with their customers, they decided to comply.
2. The second thing I noticed about my delicious lunch was that they separated the beans from the rest of the chili, placing them in a different container, just in case you didn’t like beans with your chili. You could put in as many beans as you wanted to, and adjust it to your liking. A chill went down my spine as I reveled in the knowledge that I was in the presence of people with awareness. Because after you have a willingness and you know there may be a need to change, you must have the awareness to acknowledge and follow through on the better choice. After all, we all know people who tell you what they should be doing, yet we are fully cognizant that they have no intentions of ever doing it. Not the good folks of Rose Hill. They separated their beans from their chili. So if you wanted chili with beans, you could stir them in to your heart’s content. And if you wanted it more “meaty” than “beany,” you could keep your beans on the side and nibble like a hamster. It also amazed me that the chili just had a little zing to it, but not enough pepper in the pot to scare away novices and those of delicate palate. You can always add more hot sauce, but it’s difficult to take it away. I was almost tearful about the amount of awareness the good folks of Rose Hill had put into their recipe. They had a wilingness to change and an awareness of the better choices.
3. And finally, as I sat there and ate my chili in utter delight (with a FORK, may I add–that’s how thick it was), I realized that some absolutely enlightened people had put a tremendous amount of affection into each and every bowl. Now, what is affection? “I will love myself enough to love you. I will not serve you a bowl of chili that I would not want to gulp down myself. I will put the best of what I have into what I do in order to guarantee a smile on your face.” And my grin was made even broader by the fact that the amount of food they gave me was enough to turn into a second meal sometime later in the week–due to their generous concept of a serving.
 
I so appreciated the folks in Rose Hill, because as we worshipped God together, they had a willingness–knowing that all of us need to change. They fostered an awareness. In other words, if you gave them a better choice, they were ready to move in that direction. And they generated legitimate affection–they loved themselves enough to include me.
 
And the beautiful thing is, it even showed up in their chili.
 
So as I finish my stay in this part of Texas, I will always remember the “chili reception” I received in Rose Hill–certainly not in the sense of being given the cold shoulder, but because fine folks had the willingness, awareness and affection to receive my message–and also to put the same loving kindness in their chili.
 
So if you ever come to this area of Texas, don’t forget to enjoy some Rose Hill chili. It is tried, tested and proven to be people-friendly. And let’s be honest–if we’re not people-friendly, it’s very difficult to get God’s approval anyway.
   
**************
Got a question for Jonathan? Or would you like to receive a personal weekly email? Just click my email address below and let me know what’s on your mind! jonathancring@gmail.com
 
  **************

Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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