Sit Down Comedy … October 18th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Sit Down Comedy

“Love your enemies.” A peculiar idea.

First, how does that happen? If you’re really a lover, how do you make enemies? Do some people just hate to be loved—therefore they have to hate you because you’re the one who loved them?

Or is it that you fail to love your neighbors, and in the meantime, they turn into enemies, so now you’ve got a real problem.

How can you love your enemies? Doesn’t the word “enemy” connote some sort of conflict?

Does Jesus love Satan? They’re enemies.

Does Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi love Donald Trump? They’re enemies.

There seems to be a prerequisite of a certain amount of disfavor, if not hate, in levying the word “enemy” onto someone else.

So what’s the purpose of the love? Are we speaking figuratively, as in, “compared to the amount of dislike we could muster, we sure seem loving in our discretion?”

Or is it that condescending “love your enemy,” like they do with gay people?

“I love the sinner, but I hate the sin.” How does one do that?

For this to work, the sinner would have to believe he or she is sinning, rather than following a sexual orientation. Any way you look at it, it’s hatred.

So how do you love your enemies? Doesn’t it express a weakness that leaves you vulnerable? Someone gets ready to punch you in the face, and you say, “Listen—I love you.”

Do we think it’s a deterrent?

Does “turn the other cheek” spare a cheek from being hit? Or just make you defenseless?

God knows, pessimism is a destructive virus. But likewise, optimism leaves us all gooey and doughy—half-baked.

I don’t know about you—I don’t want platitudes.

I don’t want someone to say, “Love your enemies,” and then if I try it, they chuckle and say, “No—not that way.”

Or, “Come on, kid. You’ve gotta stand up for yourself.” But we’ve been standing up for ourselves for a long time.

Israel stands up for itself in the Middle East. So do the Arabs.

Standing up for oneself is really the formula for a stand-off, isn’t it?

Yet what good does it do to introduce love into a volatile situation?

It seems so ridiculous to people, even those who claim to believe in the Gospel, that they try to ignore it and think of all sorts of ways to hurt one another.

How did I ever get goddamn enemies? Did I think I was loving, but ended up being an asshole? Or did I insist I imitate a loving person while being an asshole? Come on.

Words are useless unless you know what they mean.

When the words “love” and “enemy” occur in the same sentence, I, for one, need more information.

I’d rather not have enemies. Will being a loving person help with that? Now, there’s an idea.

I don’t want to pick a fight. Picking a fight is such a futile process. There’s a chance you’ll win. There’s a chance you’ll lose. But if you win, you still must have some sort of concern toward the person you beat the crap out of. Otherwise, people will think you’re wicked. I guess it’s alright to be hateful as long as you aren’t wicked.

When people say they’ll pray for you, do they? Or is the statement the prayer?

I think maybe the human race could do much better if high-sounding ideas like “love your enemy” were better explained, and really shitty attitudes, like, “every man for himself,” were exposed.

My thought is, if somebody is your enemy and you aren’t able to whoop him, you’d better find a way to get along with him.

And if you think you can whoop everybody, it’s safe to say that you’ll eventually get whooped.

I’m not in the mood for a good whooping—either to give one or to take one.

So I guess the thought is:

Once you find out that someone is pissed at you, control the vibe.

Nurture the energy that flows his or her way, and make sure they have no reason to turn the feud into a vendetta and the vendetta into a war.

 

 

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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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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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G-Poppers … November 13th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

Thoughtful is not the opposite of thoughtless.

G-Pop wants his children to understand that.

There is an in-between world. It is lodged somewhere between being absent thought and being filled to the brim. Shall we refer to it as thought-parts?

It’s the quicksand human beings often find themselves in when deliberating the best way to be generous without really giving up anything. It revolves around two questions:

1. Why don’t they…?

2. And why isn’t it…?

For some reason, we get stymied by the fact that life is not working out exactly the way we envisioned it. Even when we pretend to be flexible and resilient, there is a hidden animosity lurking within us, causing us to be grouchy or overly careful.

On our way to thoughtful, to escape thoughtless, we get bogged down in thought-parts.

Because we certainly want to avoid thoughtless, characterized by staring down at the phone with buds in the ears and a grimace on the face, as a pair of texts arrive, ruining the day by reporting that the tickets desired for the concert were not available and the favorite department store no longer sells skinny-leg jeans.

People don’t want to be thoughtless, where they throw up a wall of insecurity and frustration which basically makes them believe that life sucks and they deserve better.

They attempt to avoid pessimism, but still find themselves unwilling reach the status of “thoughtful,” sliding down into thought-parts.

They don’t want to make decisions, therefore they become a target of every pesky hassle that comes along.

So how do you get from thought-parts to thoughtful? Thoughtful is pretty simple–or shall we say, simply stated?

Thoughtful is two realizations:

They don’t have to.

And I can use it.

This pair brings about the holy realization that no human owes us anything, and rather than complaining about what we have, we find a trail in the direction of success.

Since one of the more common questions in life is, “What do you think?” we probably should develop an astute answer.

  • Thoughtless is always cynical.
  • Thoughtful is always prepared.
  • And thought-parts wants to do something positive, but finds it hard to get over being offended.

 

 

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Keep … April 10, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

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Delta pic 1Many years ago, packing up and getting ready to leave a small Upper Room venue, where a couple dozen bare-footed and jean-clad souls had gathered to listen to music while sipping tea and eating day-old doughnuts graciously provided by the local baker, I received warm hugs and two abiding sentiments: keep truckin’ and keep the faith.

Tears filled the eyes of the exhorter, only partially clouding the great emotion of hope, belief and abiding knowledge that God isn’t done with any of us yet.

Alas, a new wave of pessimism, cynicism and agnosticism is sweeping our country and is even permeating the pores of the righteous, and makes such declarations–“keep truckin'” and “keep the faith”–seem misplaced, nostalgic and even absurd.

I have no desire to return to former times that were plagued with their own viral stupidities, but there is a thread of gentleness that has to be passed from one generation to another. Otherwise, this experiment of humanity comes unraveled.

So with humility in my heart and an abundance of confidence in my soul, I share with you the five phases necessary to change the world. Please take them on one at a time, and when you feel the nudge and permission from your spirit, move on and allow yourself the joy of embracing the next possibility.

Delta pic 2

PHASE ONE

Change my heart

Awake my soul

Renew my mind

Give me strength

PHASE TWO

(As Boldness Allows)

Anoint my touch

Expand my reach

Let me stand

Enliven my moves

PHASE THREE

(After Spiritual Muscle Has Grown)

Bless my walk

Guide my steps

Give me people

Let me be gentle

Share, don’t preach

Feel, don’t teach

 

PHASE FOUR

(Enlivened, Moving On)

Learn instead of know

Watch myself grow

Establish trust

Relate good news

Avoid the darkness

Light a candle

Do good works

PHASE FIVE

(Glorified, I Continue)

Reject my fear

Welcome new love

Point joyously to progress

Call progress God.

 

Keep truckin’. Keep the faith.

delta pic 3

(pictures of journey from Gallup, New Mexico to Paonia, Colorado)

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