Three Ways to Forgive… November 20, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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forgiveness bigger

Nothing invokes more teary-eyed sessions and popcorn psychology than the subject of forgiveness.

And it isn’t because we’re all trying to figure out how to forgive other people, but more because we realize how frail our efforts are and how much we need forgiveness ourselves.

The danger is the sappy logic that forces people to pretend they have forgiven while never experiencing the personal satisfaction of moving on.

Honestly, my friend, there are only three ways to forgive, and in this particular case, they are approached in order.

1. Look for your own personal responsibility.

Yes, very few things in life are the fault of one individual, but rather, a twisted spider web of confusing details which have to be untangled order to get to the truth.

This is the power of the warning to “take the log out of our own eye” before removing the “speck of sawdust” from someone else’s peeper.

Of course, there are times when there is no fault on our part, but more often than not, we will discover a seed we planted which unfortunately grew into a root of bitterness. You will find that it is much easier to negotiate with an enemy when you’re willing to be honest about your own part in the mess.

Once you’ve achieved this step, you’re ready for:

2. Look for repentance.

The key to forgiveness is that those who have offended you feel a sense of regret.

I think it is a great lie to tell people they can forgive others who have not admitted their fault. It’s popular to act as if forgiveness can be a one-sided event when others have not joined in the contrition. But if you want forgiveness to work in real life, you need to see repentance in those who have wronged you.

And what happens if you don’t see that repentance? In other words, you have found your own personal responsibility, but those who have attacked you are not convinced of their evil, and refuse to repent? Then:

3. Look to create distance.

It is ludicrous to think that you can exist, prosper and be in good health while remaining around individuals who have hurt you but feel no compulsion to make recompense.

It is important to forget–but virtually impossible to do so if you don’t put those old things behind you.

Look to create distance. You can’t see the face of your abuser every single day and believe that forgiveness has any reality in your being.

Now I know there are people who will disagree with me on these issues, but I do believe that those people are offering a spiritual act of forgiving which has no reality in the human experience.

I don’t forgive people in order to be magnanimous. I forgive people because I need to get the hell out of the mess. If they won’t let me move on, then I need to move away from them–sometimes literally.

Forgiveness is a powerful tool, but even God took on the responsibility of creating humans as emotionally frail creatures. Therefore He looks for repentance, but when it’s not there, He draws away. This is made clear–God only comes close to those who come close to Him.

So if God has discovered the true essence of forgiveness, why don’t we take the step?

Look at what we’ve done, look for repentance, and if it doesn’t come, look for a door to sanity.

 

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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

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

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Click here to listen to Spirited music

A Simple Questionnaire … March 10, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

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  1. What do I want?question marks
  2. What do I need?
  3. What do I have in ability?
  4. What do I fear?
  5. What am I doing?
  6. What do I desire to do?
  7. What is the bridge?

Even though it’s a very simple questionnaire, it is filled with important inquiries, which help us understand more about ourselves and our aspirations.

The confusion of every generation is the ongoing belief that we are not confused. People on their way to the discovery of truth always start out with a bit of personal perplexity, questioning, and maybe even feelings of insecurity, because the road to candor is never clear, but always filled with revelation and sometimes, shocking realities.

So let me be the first to jump in and answer these questions.

First, I want to write, teach and share with my generation without being inhibited by so many restrictions and fears. I would like to escape the rigidity of all the systems that exist, which are determined to bring people into submission to a set of rules instead of helping them find the true cause.

Secondly, I don’t know what I need. I feel pretty comfortable with that because the Good Book tells us that God knows what we need even before we do. Excellent. Maybe that’s why He’s such a good partner–he brings the plastic spoons along for the yogurt, because nobody else thought about actually eating them.

My ability is to use insight with humor, and hopefully a gentle spirit, to communicate difficult ideas and contentious causes in a season where people are so easily offended. I do it through art, music, and hopefully, giggles.

I have a dual fear–falling short of my goals because of my age and physical limitations, and losing my solvency and embarrassing the people around me because my ideas are solid but my bank account is dwindling.

What am I doing? Good question. I’m finishing up a seventeen-year career, working faithfully in the mainline denominational churches, to bring a message of common sense, realizing that I can no longer limit myself to such a tiny market, but must at least attempt to expand my borders.

What I desire is to take that which has been forsaken by society, which has callously cast away great means of communication, replacing them with Instagram, and use these methods to reach people with a simple message of hope and personal responsibility. Just because it’s popular to believe that theater, newspapers, books and even musical albums are obsolete because of downloading, it’s not necessarily true. If I owned Facebook, I would also decry any other form of communication that wasn’t “me.” The world will always return to intimacy. It may take a week; it may take a year. We will come back to needing one another.

Which leads me to the final question. What is the bridge? Just as with my need, I don’t have the foggiest idea. But I’m excited about the search; I’m thrilled about the quest. I feel like a Knight of the Round Table pursuing the Holy Grail.

And I know this: it takes courage to chase something that half the people need and the other half don’t believe in.

But those are the only adventures that are truly worthwhile.

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

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

All Wrapped Up… December 28, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2104)Bible wrapped

The gospel works.

That’s why we call it “good news.”

On the other hand, our culture is not nearly as efficient. It is often a cult of cop-out convenience.

I don’t wish to become brash or harsh, but I do want to say that there is an ongoing danger of people wrapping the culture of our country in the pretty paper of the Bible, tying it up with the bow of “God and country.”

Let’s make some distinctions:

1. The gospel teaches “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Our culture, on the other hand, promotes the idea, “do unto yourself while including others.”

2. The gospel teaches that “NoOne is better than anyone else.” Meanwhile, back at our culture, it is promoted that we are all unique, and therefore different.

3. The gospel: “give and it will be given unto you.” The culture: “get what you can and give to others as you can.”

4. “Don’t judge others.” There’s the gospel. In the culture, we preach, “Don’t allow yourself to be judge.”

5. Continuing on with the gospel: “to he who is given much, much is expected.” We have a three-word cultural mantra: “cut yourself slack.”

6. And finally, the gospel teaches that “whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” Yet the popular philosophy in our culture is, “After we reap, we will get around to sowing” with a sidebar of, “It’s not my fault.”

So in an attempt to hold people in a church, we create a surrogate–impregnating faith with our culture.

  • Our sermons are laced with grace, absent any responsibility or guilt.
  • We teach that God has “a wonderful plan for our lives” in order to stay hip with all the fantasy and Hobbit movies.
  • We insist that “God will supply all our need” without warning people that He does expect us to show up and be involved.
  • We pretend we can love the sinner and still hate the sin.
  • We literally screech that God’s salvation and grace is free to all, leaving us with believers who are bound to a culture, habits and lifestyles that are not fulfilling.

I don’t see anything wrong with wrapping the gospel up in what is culturally pleasing. You can use all the technology, all the music stylings and all available data to sparkle the message in a contemporary way. But when you start preaching the culture in the name of the gospel, you are flirting with disaster.

So how do you know when you’re in the presence of the gospel?

You’ll hear a message that teaches us to believe in God … while taking personal responsibility for your hunk of the kingdom.

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

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

“Crown Thy Good…” July 4, 2012

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America, America,

God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good …

On this auspicious occasion of the 236th birthday of our nation, may I stop for a moment and find out what is good about us and also what crowning achievement we should place upon that particular piece of endeavor? America is not exceptional in every way–what is? But there are important ways that this country is unique and beneficial to the human family, which fosters not only a need for its existence, but also a true mission for its statement.

So please allow me, on this Independence Day, to tell you what I think is really good about this country–and what I think we could do to “crown” that particular piece of righteousness to make it even better. What is good about America?

1. There is an extraordinarily uncomfortable amount of liberty available. It is what makes us great. Theology and pornography have to occupy the same town. They are not allowed to expel each other from the region because of a preference for one over the other. They must coexist. What do people do with liberty? The Bible says that what everyone first does with liberty is “use it as an occasion for the flesh.” Bluntly, every human being first goes too far before doubling back to find a more realistic position. Great. America is tremendous because we have no moral police, no social schoolmarm to insist upon correct etiquette, and no border patrol for liberty. Whenever we try to legislate morality, we turn into a bunch of obnoxious Puritans who are soon apologizing for their short-sightedness.

2. America is good because we always keep the melting pot boiling. If you don’t keep the heat going on the stove, things stop melting and just begin to congeal in globs of fatty grease. What makes this country good is the fact that we insist on equality, conversation, respect and inclusion of all races, no matter how hot the controversy may get, keeping the pot melted and eventually, giving the appearance that we’re all really all the same. Whenever we try to break apart into sections of the country, racial voting blocks or ethnic preferences, we become the nastiest group of people who ever walked the face of the earth.

3. Another good thing about America is that when we are chasing the dream in the right way, we encourage excellence while simultaneously showing compassion to those who can’t measure up. I have no problem with being generous to weaker brothers and sisters, as long as we continue to admit what is really excellent, and refuse to drop the bar so as to include more of the populace. For example, I have no problem with you calling me obese– because I am. I don’t need you to raise the weight standards in order to make the terminology for my condition seem more pleasant. Excellence is excellence, and when it is not accomplished, we should give grace, while continuing to revere the standard.

4. And the final thing I think makes this country good is that at our heart, when we are free of social mediocrity, we do ask people to take personal responsibility for their lives. I do not care if you’re an atheist, gay, Republican, Democrat, man or woman. I want to know that if you run into the back of my car, you going to get out and hand me your insurance card, and own your mistake. If not, then you become a jerk who happens to be gay. Or a loser who is a woman. Or a cheater with male parts. Or a cop-out who is a Republican. Or a shirker who is a Democrat. Or an atheist–who is God-awful. Personal responsibility is what makes us valuable to ourselves. When we establish that worth, we are enlightening to others.

Now, these are the things that are good–but what crown would I place on them during this July 4th coronation? Here are the crowing achievements I think would not be terribly difficult, unrealistic or beyond the pale. As a matter of fact, to me, they just make sense:

1. Since we are a land of good liberty, let’s go ahead and denounce all aspects of our “gossip society.” Let’s stop living our lives through other people. Let’s stop targeting folks who are going through a hard time just so we can feel better about our own inadequacies. I have placed a moratorium on watching anything that attacks other people or gossips about them. If they are not interviewing the person directly involved in the situation or altercation, I will not  listen to other folks pontificate on the dilemma. If we are going to have a crown on our goodness, we have to stop gossiping.

2. Secondly, the crown I would add to the melting pot is to make sure that once and for all, we get rid of any word before claiming our brothers and sisters as Americans. I will never, ever again say “African American.” There isn’t a black person in this country who would last one single morning in Africa without being eaten by a lion. There isn’t one Asian in this country who would survive the hustle, bustle and crowded conditions of the east without ferociously complaining and running to buy a ticket back to Albuquerque. We are Americans–both generous and spoiled, both inventive and lazy. But one thing is certain–we are all the same.

3. The crowning achievement I would put on the encouragement of excellence is to begin to encourage innovation–with money. I don’t think we should ever fail to provide for the common need of those who are disabled or without resource. But I do think we need to make it clear that this is a country that rewards those who go the second mile. And by reward, I’m talking moolah. Instead of giving finance to those who have failed, let’s begin to give more capital to the true capitalists–those who have once again discovered America.

4. And to put a crown on personal responsibility–honor hard work. We live in a nation where the people who work the hardest make the least amount of money. I think we should continue to extol the value of education, but simply possessing a diploma does not guarantee anyone in a free market a ride to the penthouse. Work needs to be honored. As you sit on the highway, stalled by construction, angry at being delayed–make sure you take two minutes to thank God for those hardworking individuals who are out in the beating heat, trying to make your life ultimately easier. When we begin to honor work in this country instead of just flashing credentials, we will put a crown on responsibility and people will be proud once again to come home tired, with a paycheck that is growing instead of shrinking.

I am a patriot because I continue to fight for freedom instead of settling for the latest compromise. There is so much good in this country, but it is time for us to step up to the plate and crown that good … with brotherhood. And what would be the first step towards achieving brotherhood? I believe we could make an initial movement in that direction by stopping the emphasis on political parties and uplifting people with the courage to pursue any idea that includes everyone.

God bless America–but maybe we need to learn how to bless ourselves by crowning all of our good with a new burst of brotherhood.

   

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Here You Aid–November 14, 2011

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Damaged people end up doing damage. People correctly being repaired desire more repair. Healed people want to heal.  Three eternal points–that’s really how simple it is. If you allow yourself or those around you to remain damaged, supposedly miraculously coated in a candy-shell of God’s grace, they will continue to rot inside that enclosure. Eventually, if you crack them, they will spew out their pain.

Jesus told a great parable–or maybe it’s more like an analogy–about how we cannot possibly assist someone in taking the speck out of their eye if we have a log in our own. Yet–we try. And because we make this feeble attempt, we end up doing more offense than setting our brothers and sisters free. On this last day of our series on the “Here Philosophy,” I want to conclude with the concept of what it takes to cease being offensive and to actually become of assistance to those who are damaged or need repair.

Until you deal with your own emotions, accept your feelings as legitimate and own them instead of denying them and hiding them deep in the recesses of your fear, you are not fit or ready to minister to other individuals who are equally imprisoned in their own cells of inadequacy.

Here you go. If you really want to start the process of living and ultimately turn it into loving, you must cease your trepidation over being. Deal with your feelings instead of pretending that they are  innately good OR evil. Once you do this, you acquire:

Here you got. Instead of having a mythical idea of what you think you can do because it’s what you want to do, you are granted, through your spirit, an awareness of your true abilities. You suddenly become valuable. For after all, no one is of much quality to anyone else if they can’t pipe back a faithful inventory of what they are prepared to contribute in any situation or relationship. It is at this point that you reach the capacity of:

Here you adopt. You are initiated into a realm of thankful thinking. Rather than destroying possibilities through negative sensations or oversimplifying life’s opportunities by being too positive too soon, you just become grateful for what you actually have in your possession. It allows for:

Here you adapt. Adaptation is what really frightens most people–because it demands that we begin with one concept but adjust, on the fly, to what needs to be done based upon the new data that has been provided. You can see it would be impossible to do that without being pure of heart–knowing what you have and functioning with thankful thinking. The ability to adapt turns the jungle of life into our own living room of potential. In other words, if life can’t come up with an angle that’s going to throw us, more than likely we’re not going to get thrown. Which makes room for:

Here you add. If you’re confident in what you can do, that assurance gives you the energy and faith to risk your talent to make more. Case in point: not everybody will come to your house and enjoy eating your famous chili recipe. Some people just don’t like chili. But the fact of the matter is, if you know how to brown ground beef and put onions in it, you can stop short of chili, make Sloppy Joe and satisfy your surprised guest. I’m not trying to trivialize the complexities of life–I’m just saying that our worst enemy is stubbornness, and when you have a soul that is ready to add on new possibilities to existing repertoire, you’ll surprise yourself with a new tune. This brings us to our last step: 

Here you aid. Emotionally fulfilled people, who have a soul for what they’ve got, have learned to adopt the thankful thinking which has generated the energy to adapt to the circumstances that pop up in the explosions of everyday living and have added new substance to their talent as a tribute to the Giver of all talents–these individuals have the self-confidence and easiness of style to actually aid people who are emotionally locked up in a tomb.

Resurrection.

Because if you know you’ve got a log in your eye and you remove that log BEFORE you do the delicate surgery on somebody else’s speck, they are more confident about your surgical ability because they’ve seen you do major work on your own being.

Politics is ineffective because nothing changes. Religion impresses no one because we lack poster children for the cause. If you want to make an impact, you must first impact your own life and stop the damage that has occurred and set repair in motion, replacing it with healing. The log and the speck–a fortuitous comparison of Jesus–because he places the responsibility for changing the planet into the hands of the people who have the power to do it.  That’s you and me.

Stop asking the heavens to change the course of earth. Change your own course–and the earth may just turn towards the path of heaven.

  • Here you goget a pure heart.
  • Here you gotdevelop a truthful inventory.
  • Here you adoptthankful thinking. Allow your brain to be a center of joy instead of a coffin of fear and worry.
  • Here you adaptdon’t be surprised if things change. It’s their job.
  • Here you addknowing you have talent, step out and be willing to see it multiply to your benefit and the delight of those around you.
  • Here you aidfree of an agenda to be noticed, you begin to notice those who need to be freed of their agenda.

It’s the “Here Philosophy.”  Where did I get it? I got it from studying life–and Jesus.

For Jesus is not a religion nor is he a “theology” about God. He has a lifestyle. He is a life coach, teaching us that “here” is the “now” that we have, which lays the foundation for our “forever.”

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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!

 

Jonathan sings “Let”

 

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

 

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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