3 Things … February 7th, 2019

 


Jonathots Daily Blog

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7 deady sins

That Just Might Be Unpardonable

1. Insisting: There is no sin

 

2. Preaching: That people are sinners, going to hell

 

3. Claiming: I don’t sin


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Jesonian… June 3rd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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jesonian-cover-amazon

This week, one of my sons will celebrate his birthday. He is the pastor of a church. Like most children, he has grown up to be his own man and sometimes listens to my counsel, but many times opts to pursue different voices.

It is the way of our tribe.

But as I considered his birthday, I realized that he does not require a new shirt, pants, tennis shoes or a subscription to “Boys Life.” He has the ability to get all of those things on his own.

What he needs from me is what I have always given him–an honest report. So as a gift to my son, and maybe even a piece of usable information for you, I present the “Seven Practices of a Good Shepherd.”

I use Jesus as my example. If you’re going to be a Good Shepherd–a pastor or leader of human souls:

1. Don’t mess, interfere, refer to, question or condemn anyone’s sex life.

When a crowd of people tried to get Jesus to discuss adultery, he turned away, stooped down and fiddled in the dirt as if he never heard them.

2. Stop trying to make friends.

You’ve been called to make disciples. That is the root word for discipline. As a shepherd, your journey will be to guide people in the direction of their better possibility. Sometimes they will be grateful; sometimes they will be temporarily offended. But they must always know that your heart is to see them “grow to the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ.”

3. No preaching, a little teaching, tell stories, make it visual.

Jesus never preached a sermon. He took time to teach his disciples. He told stories to the masses. But most importantly, he gave visual evidence of the power of his word by transforming lives.

4. Family is not everything.

Although we seem trapped in an overly sympathetic mood toward those who share our DNA, Jesus was faithful to his kin until his kin refused to be faithful to his mission. When his family thought he was crazy for preaching the Gospel, he walked away from them until they could grow up.

5. Touch the heart, stir the soul, renew the mind, strengthen the weak.

If you’re not emotionally connecting with people, you can never stir their souls. Therefore their minds will remain concrete, and they will be weakened by their own lack of maturity.

6. Respect free will.

Although you may be tempted to tell people that God has a wonderful plan for their life, the truth of the matter is, God has a wonderful life for their plan. There’s only one thing greater than love–that’s free will.

Even though God loved the world, when the world did not love Jesus, he granted free will to them to make their own decision. From that poor choice–to crucify–He granted them salvation through Jesus’ blood.

If God gives free will, a Good Shepherd can never take it away. So when people decide not to like you, honor their decision.

7. Religion kills.

If you don’t know what religion is, it can be defined simply as a belief in some sort of plan to reach God.

God does not need to be reached. He has done all the reaching. God needs to be acknowledged. God needs to be included. There is no magical plan of salvation. Salvation is when we finally grow permanently comfortable with the fact that God loves us.

So there’s my gift to my son, which I hope you may find of interest also.

I shall tell him that this is his birthday present from his dad, and I hope he likes it … because I didn’t keep the receipt.

 

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Good News and Better News … October 24th, 2016

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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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Jesonian: Fire, Wind and Water … July 13, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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PentecostFire, wind and water–the three ingredients of the Day of Pentecost.

It was the appointed time in the history of human kind when God once and for all infused His spirit inside our spirit, to create what He hoped would be a spirit of revival.

  • The fire–the spoken word through our tongue.
  • The rushing mighty wind, displaying the power of God.
  • And the water of baptism, to wash away the enormity of sin.

But you see, this all just sounds like a sermon–the kind of clever parallels that ministers and theologians put together in the privacy of their “den of simplicity,” to try to impress congregations with a bit of insight to mingle with their devotion to God.

Honestly, it’s just too religious. Truthfully, it bores.

Because if you get fire, wind and water out of order, nothing is effective.

To lead with fire–or talking–burns everybody up.

Too much wind of religious practice blows out the fire, leaving just a hint of smoke.

And water can just drown us, dousing everything so that it’s impossible to ignite the flame.

What I would like to do is take the religion and holiness out of all this speak and instead, make it clear exactly what it means to be Jesonian, a follower of Jesus, instead of a generic Christian–one who reveres Christ.

HandBecause if the ideas of Jesus of Nazareth did not set us free by offering truth, but were just another path of righteousness, then perhaps the notion that one well-beaten path is as good as another would be well-founded.

But Jesus didn’t come to start another religion. He came to generate a reasonable and transferable lifestyle.

So here’s the real fire:

No one is better than anyone else.

These words set ablaze all the prejudice, superiority, self-righteousness and arrogance that exist in our world, and purge the forest of misunderstanding.

Here’s the wind:

Find out what you can do and do it well.

After all, just speaking, promising, blustering and preaching don’t carry any mighty effect. But the confidence you gain by realizing that you have a talent and purpose, and then multiplying that ability to the point where you believe you can do it well, creates a breeze of creativity and hope to those around you.

And the water:

Get what you need out of life and then share the balance with everyone else.

Life is neither about fasting nor is it about hoarding. It is about securing the air mask on your own face before you try to help others breathe.

It is knowing exactly what satisfies your soul and not feeling the need to have more–or less–but if you do have more, strategically getting rid of it to the souls that God sends your way.

The Jesonian lifestyle is realizing that the power of God is in the fire, the wind and the water. But rather than teaching about it figuratively, we go out and speak and live that “no one is better than anyone else” as we find out what we can do, discover opportunities to do it well, and in the process get what we want–and give away the rest.

It is why I am a follower of Jesus. Every other philosophy and religion deals in too much symbolism.

These three abide.

These three can change our world.

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Untotaled: Stepping 10–December 31st, 1965 (The Watch Night) … April 19, 2014

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(Transcript)

There is certainly not much to do on New Year’s Eve in a little village of fifteen hundred people.

Some of the folks of our town would actually make the trip down to Columbus to take in a show and imbibe some alcohol, feeling as if they had flown to the moon and could disguise their drunken condition without fear of community scrutiny.

But most of the citizens of our little burg were devoid of entertainment or ideas for ringing in the New Year.

So our local church planned a Watch Night service, so as to prohibit–or at least impair–the possibility of the young kids falling victim to the beckonings of “demon rum.”

Watch Night services were a tradition of Dixie which had been transplanted to the Buckeye State via those who floated north. It was in four parts:

  • First there was eating–the best potluck of the year. Everyone tried to outdo one another both in culinary skills and appetites.
  • Then there were a couple of hours of gospel singing, featuring local talent (or at least local persons).
  • This trailed off into some preaching, warning all present of the dangers of increasing sin in our nation and the hopes that revival would break out in the coming 365 days provided..
  • And finally, the twelve o’clock hour offered the opportunity for hugs and handshakes.

This year I was thrilled. My group, The Gospels, a quartet of young teens, was going to participate in the singing portion of the evening. We had lobbied the previous year, and even auditioned for the church elders, were weighed in the balances and found wanting. This year, apparently we were in tune.

The ironic part of being welcomed into the songfest was that our group was about to break up. Actually I was breaking it up by kicking the Connelly brothers out of our team and replacing them with two of my friends who I liked better. This caused quite a stir in the church. Matter of fact, I was called in for a conference with the pastor’s wife, as she tried to explain that human beings had feelings and the Connelly brothers deserved better treatment.

I listened politely and then did what I always did. Ignored her. You see, the Connelly brothers didn’t mind. They sang their hearts out that night.

I don’t know if we sounded good or not, but we sure had fun. It was one of those times when I felt really grown-up, in charge and important. That’s hard to come by in a tiny town.

I thought a lot about what the pastor’s wife said on how to treat people and how to conduct your affairs in a way that would not upset anyone else. I came to the conclusion that this was going to be difficult.

I think many people thought I was a real dick when I was a teenager. But without being a little bit of a dick as a teenager, you can grow up to be a dickless adult.

So I decided to try to continually improve what I do and what I work with without upsetting people too much.

Yes, that should keep me really busy.Donate Button

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Untotaled: Stepping Six (May 8, 1965) … March 15, 2014

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When people control your food, water, hygiene, play and sleep, you learn to believe what they say–or spend a lot of time in your room without supper.

On May 8, 1965, I was thirteen years old and still a novice at any form of teenage rebellion. So when the church men decided to go to the mountains of Oklahoma for a meeting of all-male types–three thousand in attendance–to hear nothing but gospel preaching and gospel singing for a whole week, sitting on hard, knotty pine benches with a big knot just beneath my butt crack, I was compelled by those who controlled my supplies, to go.

It ended up being a week of firsts:

  • It was the first time I ever went skinny dipping in an ice-cold mountain creek.
  • It was the first time I heard that Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Communist and a womanizer.
  • The first time I had s’mores made with miniature marshmallows.
  • The first time I heard proclaimed aloud that Jews and Arabs were going to hell.
  • The first time I got poison sumac on my bum (thus the origin of “bummer,” I would assume).
  • And it was the first time I heard the word “nigger” used as a universal, collective pronoun, describing a group of people I didn’t understand and I suspect the speakers had little knowledge of, either.

The rally was forceful. It was intense. It was a meeting that peaked at times in jubilance. It was full of “god-talk.” It was permeated with self-righteousness.

And it was child abuse.

Because I needed …

Well, I needed tenderness. Instead, they gave me large doses of macho.

I needed an open mind. They worked very hard to seal mine shut.

God, I was desperate to know about girls. They proclaimed that women should “submit.”

Some laughter would have been nice. They reserved giggling for the older men around the campfire after they thought we young’uns were asleep.

And of course, I needed a world view. They provided God’s 40 acres.

After I got home and healed of my poison sumac, I started to think for myself. Yes, in my own simple way, I began to rebel.

I have never stopped.

I am still a warrior against anyone who has constructed a box for God … and wants the sheep to come passively, and worship.

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Freedom Part 3: SPEECHERS… July 3, 2013

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protestHuman beings are defensive.

It is perhaps our worst attribute. We spend much more time trying to explain, qualify or rationalize our positions than we ever do considering whether they are valid.

So our founding fathers, thinking they were being extraordinarily intelligent, came up with the First Amendment. In that particular assertion, they concluded that the new nation of America should give everyone freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Their thought was that everybody should have the right to say whatever they want to say and believe whatever they want to believe.

Back to the original point: human beings are defensive.

In other words, once we speak something aloud, we are much more likely to kill someone in order to defend our ridiculous notion than we are to change our minds. We are also more accustomed to stomping our foot and preaching our rendition of God than we ever are to believing there’s additional revelation of the Divine available to us through the testimony of others.

So we end up with speechers and preachers.

Because we have granted people the right to have an opinion, we have also told them they are not responsible for the truthfulness of their ideas. We have allowed folks to meet in conclaves of religiosity with no responsibility for the human beings around them because their interpretation of some holy book grants them the privilege of irrational behavior.

Not even in a perfect world would freedom of speech and freedom of religion be applicable. The first thing perfect people would do is be more quiet and not try to force their convictions on others.

Even though I agree that it was a noble gesture–to give everybody the right to their opinion–it is insane to think that speechers and preachers, who have no regard for the freedoms of others, should be allowed to indiscriminately spew their venom into the air without recourse.

Not only is it stupid to yell “fire!” in a crowded theater when there is no blaze, it is equally dangerous, if you believe there is a blaze, to scream “fire!” knowing that it will create a panic.

Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are two of the weakest parts of our Constitution. They do not take into consideration that defensive people will continue to give “speeches” and “preaches” in order to justify ideas that were present for the dinosaurs’ demise.

So what can we do?

Well, we certainly can’t throw out free speech and freedom of religion. And I’m not suggesting that we develop a police state, where what people think and believe is analyzed by committees and judged for accuracy.

But I am suggesting that a generation of rejuvenated human beings, who truly have been “born again” in their emotions, spirits, minds and bodies, take some personal responsibility for their words and for their contentions about God’s will.

I would suggest three questions:

1. Is what I’m about to say or believe going to make things better?

2. Does what I’m going to say and believe have any historical value, or has it already been proven to be erred?

3. Is what I’m going to say or believe ready to be changed by me when I realize that at least part of it is wrong?

Jesus said it this way: “By your words you are justified and by your words your are condemned.”

From that, I gain the insight to use my freedom of speech and religion, BUT … to do it wisely.

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