Sit Down Comedy … July 12th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Paralyzed by the immobility of a weary exasperation, I pause, waiting for the Senate of Sitters, the House of Misrepresentation, the President of Whim and the Court of Supreme Confusion to hatch a single egg of an idea from their coop of chickens.

I would suggest that it’s time for each of us to step up and become the solution before we are drug into the quicksand of indecision and suffocated by lameness.

So therefore, may I suggest the following mission statement:

A lways

B elieving in the persistent power of goodness

C oncerned

D eeply in our portion of the responsibility of carrying the banner of possibility, we

E ffectively craft a plan of action which has historical awareness, future vision and a great sensitivity to the present need.

F inding reasons to agree, similarities among us all

G iving us a common joy which beckons an uncommon strength to tackle our problems, while

H aving respect for one another and reverence for great ideals,

I join with you to form US, which is the “we, the people” who are in pursuit of a more perfect union.

J ustice is our mind, creativity our heart and mercy our soul.

K indly we enjoin.

L osing the fickle identity of political parties, we

M ingle.

N aturally becoming the melting pot of cultures that we have advertised ourselves to be,

O ur hope is an equality that lends itself to equity—

P ure of heart, to find the divine within us.

Q uiet in ignorance,

R allying toward learning who we are together, we

S urvive to expand what we know without shame over our lacking, for

T ruth is submission to the next well-proven revelation. We

U nite with each other in our hunger and thirst for what is better. Indeed,

V ictory is sweeter when celebrated by all, and

W inning, more peaceful when there are fewer losers.

X marks the spot where there is an atmosphere wherein

Y ou and I, once and for all, are able to look one another in the eye without fear or prejudice—to go out every single day and be:

Z ealously affected by a good thing.


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G-Poppers … June 30th, 2017

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

May G-Pop make a suggestion to his children? How about:

Hello.

How are you?

Are you well?

What can I do to help?

You can go first.

Are you okay?

Where’d you get the outfit?

I was thinking of you.

You can do better.

I believe in you.

Don’t give up.

You don’t have to agree.

I wish you well.

I’m listening.

I see what you’re trying to do.

I appreciate you.

Thank you.

Try one of these. See if it works. Share with another human being an expression of possibility. If it’s successful, next time you might want to try two.

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Good News and Better News… December 12th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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good-news-light

She spoke to me in a quiet voice, a bit creaky and worn from decades of conversation, hinting at the possibility of sage wisdom.

“I know Jesus said we shouldn’t worry, but …”

She didn’t finish. Apparently she was leaving it to my imagination to fill in the blank. What did she want me to insert in that space?

“I know Jesus said we shouldn’t worry but…”

  1. He was wrong?
  2. He didn’t live in the 21st century?
  3. He was perfect, so it doesn’t count?
  4. He was never a mother?

The greatest disservice we do to ourselves is continuing to believe that worry performs any reasonable function.

Worry is an anti-energy.

It not only fails to provide assistance but actually drains away faith and hope, leaving us stuck with images of struggle and failure.

Here’s the good news:

Since God knows we’re human, He has lit up the path before us.

Not in the sense of controlling our destiny, but rather, by making it clear what needs to be done next and how we can contribute to the cause.

It’s lit up.

Jesus told us that it’s our job to “discern the signs of our times.”

In other words, see what is available for consideration today, and put our efforts into people and circumstances that are ready for input instead of into situations and individuals which stubbornly avoid solution.

  • The wise men followed a star.
  • They didn’t make up a religion.
  • They didn’t adopt a philosophy.
  • They saw a light and they followed it.

It lit up.

The shepherds went to work, never thinking they would be talked to by angels. But once the angels spoke to them and lit up a possibility, they went with it.

And the whole salvation plan came down to a girl turning to her betrothed, Joseph, and saying, “Excuse me, I need to get down from this donkey. I’m crowning.”

Joseph didn’t question. Joseph didn’t say, “There’s no place for this to happen.” It lit up. He followed.

The good news is that life does light up in front of us with today’s possibility.

The better news is that even though the dark questions may go unanswered, there is great opportunity that soon they will brighten.

 

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Full of Wonder … September 16, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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watchLife is usually so full that we wonder if things are going to work. Yes, those are the building blocks for wonderful.

Without the pressure and often intimidation of a challenging schedule, there is also an absence of the possibility of great benefit and blessing.

I ran headlong into this scenario yesterday. I arrived at a church where things were very busy. After all, there was a boy who needed to be baptized, church ladies who required thanks for all their work putting together delicacies, finance procured for the congregation, the “pray” needed “luded” and the “dox” needed a bit of “ology.”

It kind of squeezed me into a corner of limited time and  I felt like an accordionist in a polka band who thought he was coming to perform for a bar mitzvah but ended up gigging at a circumcision–cut short.

Being a human, my first inclination was to be frustrated. Now understand–this was not directed at anyone else, it was just that my “full” didn’t seem to be heading towards “wonder.”

I took a deep breath–literally–then set into motion a process I have grown accustomed to using when my humanity wants to become unraveled in public.

1. Less is more, if less is given a chance. In other words, whatever time I use, I should use wisely and excellently.

2. Don’t be in a hurry when you haven’t got enough time to waste. The three crazy demons that infest humanity, causing us to look inept, are hurry, worry and flurry. (They tend to clump, by the way.)

3. Rejoicing is more attractive than lamenting. Being grateful for the opportunity to have any opening in life is much more powerful than complaining about the portion provided.

4. Focus on people, and God will show up. After all, nobody out in the audience knew what I expected, so any complaint coming from my lips would make me look absolutely ridiculous.

5. Nothing is personal unless you take it personally.

6. Do well. Sometimes the spotlight only hits you for a minute. Be ready.

7. And finally, don’t expect–but do be prepared.

I just exercised my human right to buy some time and do things better instead of freaking out and doing things poorly and making excuses about my lousy presentation.

You know what? It ended up being a great day, even amazing.

For the reason that God’s grace is sufficient for us is not just that He gives us favor because we’re His children–it’s because He gives us full schedules, where we wonder if things are going to work out.

And when they do, we discover the true definition of “wonderful.”

 

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Quatrain of Perseverance … June 11, 2013

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Prize

 

I am tired

Tired robs possibility

Possibility needs joy

Joy renews strength

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May… June 20, 2012

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“May we pursue this with vigor?”

“It may happen…”

“Maybe…”

One of the great, unique aspects of the Christian faith is the assertion that we all are “to become as little children.” Other philosophies and religions tend to relegate those who have young spirits, bodies and minds to a secondary status until they are granted the approval of maturity. Jesus asked us to reverse that process–to escape the austerity of being “grown-up” and maintain a childlike simplicity. But what is that?

A spiritual, childlike heart is the blessing of continuing to believe even when that particular energy is not always bearing fruit. It is having the maturity to know that the absence of belief–the subtraction of “may” from our lives–does not make us more intelligent or productive, but rather, renders us jaded and cynical. Jaded and cynical people end up stymied in their own fear of failure and lethargy over being disappointed.

There is a third silence that we have to avoid–it is silent doubt.

As I travel this country, I encounter an overwhelming reticence that can only be explained as doubt, which has taken root and removed all of our sensation that “something good may happen.” I don’t know–maybe it’s just a brattiness inside us that doesn’t want to chase down dreams unless we’re guaranteed that they’re going to work. We should know that nothing works all the time. In my mind, the presence of disappointment is the confirmation of God. If life continued to give great benefit to some and detriment to others, I could hardly consider it to be an act of love, and therefore an acknowledgment of God. Balance lies in the fact that good and evil, dark and light, and sunshine and rain are equally distributed to all.

But if we don’t believe that, a doubt enters our soul which is kept silent in order to maintain the integrity of being part of a religious idea. Sitting in a church, I often hear the silent screams of those around me, pleading: “Are we really going to sing one more hymn? Why?” “Will this be over soon?” “I don’t know half the people in this room and I don’t really care to get to know them.” “What does that communion bread and wine really mean anyway?” “If I have to listen to one more Old Testament scripture with unpronounceable names and locations, I think I’ll go crazy.”

But instead of giving voice to these doubts–that they may not believe inGod the Father, maker of heaven and earth”–they maintain silence in an imitation of reverence. That is why Jesus describes a frustrated people, who “praise me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

Silent doubt has brought progress in this country to a screeching halt, as we continue to go through the motions of repetition without having any internal confidence that ideas will work or perseverance will win the day. We just don’t believe any more–but saying that out loud is too frightening; yet living with it may be too painful.

The most famous doubter in all of history was named Thomas. But the reason he is granted a status of acceptability is that rather than keeping his feelings to himself, he admitted that he had questions about the validity of the statements that were being shared around him. He said he didn’t believe that Jesus was risen from the dead. Dare I say, there are people in the church and even in the ministry who don’t believe that either, but they would never speak it aloud because to do so would make them seem out of the loop and heretical.

But not Thomas. If he was going to have a doubt, he was going to live it out so it could either be confirmed or disproven. Because of that, Thomas remained as one of the twelve disciples and was able to encounter the resurrected Christ.

Doubt is killing us–not because we have it, but because we mask it with pretense. A silent doubt has taken away our ability to believe in what may be God’s will, what may be a better direction, what may be fruitful and certainly what may need to be done to progress us as people.

If we don’t reveal this silent doubt and tap into faith by realizing that belief is not a guarantee for success, but rather, a door open to possibility, we will continue to go through the motions without any of the personal payoff.

May. We have stalled the vehicle of our own better natures by allowing a silent doubt to steal from us the childlike simplicity of merely continuing to wish, no matter what the results.

There are two things that are certain: (1) life will continue; and (2) life is just better when we believe.

Belief does not guarantee us prosperity, but silent doubt robs us of any tools to excavate it. So if we’re going to have a real sense of the return to a “may” mentality in our spiritual environment, we need to be willing to uncork our doubts and allow them to breathe. There is nothing wrong with wondering why things are the way they are, as long as you don’t pretend that we are doomed to remain impotent.

Just as silent prejudice keeps us from embracing one another and silent surrender takes away the strength to pursue excellence, silent doubt drains our faith and childlike simplicity–which is the only way to actually enter the Kingdom of God. And since the Kingdom of God is within us, we’ve actually closed the door to our own internal potential.

We need to be careful. We are desperately teetering on the brink of having a form of Godliness while denying the power of it. There is only one thing worse than spiritual oblivion and the sensation of being lost, and that is masquerading as part of the sheep, only to end up with the goats.

   

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Scared Cropless… January 3, 2012

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Jonathan in Miami

I just found out that she’s very sick.

I met her thirty years ago when she was just a kid and I really was, too, although I had a few years on her. She wanted to be a singer but had settled for a husband. He was a religious fellow who ended up procuring some violence and repression along with his favorite Bible verses. He didn’t want her to sing–so she didn’t do much.

She was an idealist. An idealist is a person who cleans up the messes in life, convinced that it’s just preparations for a great big party. More often than not, the party doesn’t arrive. Her life became a journey of disappointment, masked by moments of religious euphoria. In a juncture of weakness, she obtained a lover who fathered three children with her but never quite got the idea of being a husband. She was a damaged soul with a pasted-on smile, singing hymns with tears in her eyes.

She was always in financial need, always praying for God’s grace and always talking to me about how “next week” she planned on doing “something” with her abilities. She never did.

She did the three things that we humans perform when we are silently frightened of trying to compete and still want to appear self-righteous. She settled in, she hid away and she checked out. She settled in to a life of domestication, making her children her life. She hid away in the choir at a large church, pretending she was using her gift to full capacity, and she checked out of any responsibility to sow her seed and reap. And the Bible she honored so dearly made it quite clear that God is not mocked–that “whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.”

The problem with that concept is that most people are scared cropless. Out of fear of reaping the wrong conclusions, they just refuse to sow anything into the earth and they sit back and do their best impersonation of patience.

She was a princess, expecting a prince. She was a believer, demanding a miracle. And she was a talent, waiting for opportunity. She failed to realize that the Prince has already arrived and is offering us peace; that miracles are what God provides when He encounters an exhausted believer who is still moving forward faithfully, and that opportunity only comes to those who refuse to bury their talents, but place them out visibly for others to see and enjoy.

Tears came to my eyes when I heard about her illness, mainly because I love her and I’m very sad that she’s not well. But I’m also greatly angered by a religiosity that still permeates our society which keeps people crippled in their inadequacy instead of telling them to rise and walk in the newness of life. The fact of the matter is, most people don’t reap bad things in their lives because they sowed poorly–the majority of the populace reaps nothing because they planted nothing. They played it safe, they waited for the next train, and they passed on the possibility. So the time of harvest comes around and they have very little to celebrate. They falsely believe that it is the lot of those who follow Jesus to be the underdogs.

How sad.

Please pray for her. I hope she recovers and gets another chance to stop expecting, demanding and waiting. I hope she gets a door to escape settling in, hiding away and checking out.

Don’t be scared cropless. Take what you have, plant it, water it and see what happens. You never know. It just might grow.

*************

Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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