Populie: We Need More God/Freedom… December 10, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

(2439)

weed guy and America needs god with border

Loud is loud.

When you add brash to it, you come up with a profile that is impossible to ignore, yet difficult to receive.

It seems that America is standing on both ends of the playing field screaming, hoping that the intensity of their individual squall will win the day.

It’s a battle between freedom of religion and freedom from religion.

  • “We need God.”
  • “We need freedom.”

The entertainment industry loves the populie because it makes for great theater, placing causes, and even cultures, at odds with one another.

Religion, of course, joins in, in order to prove that the presence of more “godliness” would allow for greater blessing from the Almighty and perpetual supernatural intervention.

And politicians alternate between God and freedom based on the temperament of their constituency or the audience which has rallied to the cause.

The end result?

Noise. And certainly not a joyful one.

Is there something we need? Is there an insight or philosophical approach that would lead us to a greater unity?

I think we need more personal responsibility.

I think granting additional freedoms without taking into consideration how they will affect the lives of those around us–as well as our own well-being–is a catastrophic miscalculation.

We want to give people the freedom for abortion without fully understanding the ramifications for the woman, the child, the man and the culture. Simultaneously, we don’t want to talk about the personal responsibility of procuring birth control and making sure that unwanted pregnancies are not nearly as often unwanted.

We cry for freedom and shun personal responsibility.

We want to legalize marijuana, never taking into account that our society is mostly smoke-free, so people would not be able to puff in public anyway, nor do we consider the danger of second-hand smoke. Plus we fail to recognize that it is a drug that does affect disposition and productivity. We don’t want to take the personal responsibility for the end result of this campaign for freedom.

Likewise, others scream for “more God” while failing to use the God they have. After all, it is “not His will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” But we spend more time discussing who should be left out than who should be brought in.

True belief in God is only confirmed by our level of mercy.

There is no way to prove that someone loves God without seeing their mercy in action. If we live for the grace of God to save us from our own inadequacies, we must extend that same tenderness to others through the ointment of mercy.

I will believe that spirituality has a place in our society when I see it beginning to create more compassionate and merciful people. Bigotry, self-righteousness, traditionalism, pop-culture gospel, prosperity and political pundits do not represent the mind of Jesus.

So in our country, it’s popular to scream “we need God” or “we need freedom.”

But the truth is, what we need is personal responsibility and mercy. 

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Populie: We Are Blessed… November 12, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2411)

african children with bowls bigger

Three billion people in the world live on less than $2.50 a day. That is nearly half.

46.5 million people in the United States live below the poverty line. That’s 15% of adults and 21.8% of children.

Yet we still continue to persist in the popular belief that prosperity is determined by blessing and that the evidence of sin, iniquity or evil is accentuated by the curse of being impoverished.

It is the populie:

  • If all is going well, God is with me.
  • If I face my share of adversity, God has abandoned me.

This populie is spun by the entertainment industry, which places physical beauty above the bounty of spirit.

Politics wholeheartedly believes that money is the proof of value.

And religion teaches that the prophets of old suffered persecution, while publicly insisting that a gospel of God’s favor being shown through prosperity.

But the spiritual rate of exchange in the universe is good cheer. Let me relate a story.

When a Christian adoption organization went into Central America to attempt to raise funds for the children, who were ravaged by inadequacy and financial desperation, all of the pictures of the little ones were peppered with smiles. They finally had to teach them how to frown in order for the cameras to convey the desperate message to the hard-hearted Americans.

The reason the children were so delighted–aside from the fact that this was the way they had learned to live–was that one of the camera men had wrapped a large rock in duct tape, and the children were suddenly blessed with a soccer ball.

America has become both paranoid and neurotic over its own greed. Because we have made beauty and money the center of our consciousness, we are incapable of being satisfied with anything less.

Even though good cheer is the only true way to overcome all circumstances and to react to all benefits, we allow ourselves the luxury of being depressed when confronted with difficulty and produce a phony sense of joy when we win the lottery. Yet a followup on most lottery winners shows that it fails to bring contentment, but rather, conflict and destitution.

So the fact of the matter is, it is impossible to attain sanity without eliminating craziness. And if you believe that the sun coming out on your wedding day means approval for your union, and rain falling on the same occasion might be an omen from God of pending disaster, then your next stop will probably be medication for your depression or ending up in a loony bin.

The only way to truly be blessed as a human being is to receive what is provided, find a way to work with it and maintain a sense of balance and good cheer.

If I were to look in the mirror to determine my value, I might end up suicidal.

If I ascertained the presence of God in my life by my financial take-in this year, I would probably believe myself abandoned.

But this has been one of the greatest years of my life–because the trial of my faith has taught me patience, which has allowed me to learn how to have good cheer in all realms.

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Turning Kids Into Humans (Part 5) 6-9: Humble Intelligence… September 15, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2353)

Humanating

Probably the most terrifying interlude in the journey of parenting is needing to release your young offspring into the general care of the educational system. This is not to cast shadows of doubt on knowledge nor the teachers who impart it.

But in the pursuit of teaching empathy and gratitude to change kids into humans, you may discover that others do not share the importance of such values. Unfortunately, the goal in our social order is to pass on knowledge and leave it to the hearer to determine application.

As I said, a bit frightening.

So knowing that for the first time in your child’s existence, he or she will be away from you for nearly forty hours a week, under the tutelage of a structure which is not necessarily completely in the flow of what you have set in motion, you need to have special times, when you take the intelligence being passed along to your little one and translate it into a practical humility.

It is humble intelligence.

For we well know that humility without intelligence is basically useless in the human family, and intelligence without humility is often belligerent and abusive.

So it is during this 6 to 9-year-old period that three things need to be established in the life of your son or daughter:

1. With knowledge comes responsibility.

Believe it or not, the goal of knowing stuff is not to make other people feel ignorant or to be able to answer Jeopardy! questions. Knowledge is afforded us so we can better our lives and the lives of other.

2. With prosperity comes the need for generosity.

It may sound a little bit ridiculous, but there are those folks who do not understand the concept that to alleviate poverty will take the assistance of those who are not impoverished. Merely telling people to “get a job” will not guarantee their financial stability. With the acquisition of finance and possessions comes the joy of giving to others.

3. With victory comes the awareness of defeat.

Yes, I will say it aloud: I find it ridiculous to analyze failure because all it does is add guilt and fear into future projects. The time to be analytical is when you’ve had a success and you can fine-tune it without feeling despair.

So let’s put these ideas into “working man’s clothes.” How can you take your 6 to 9-year-old and teach him or her to be responsible for knowledge?

Motivate them to tutor another kid in the class who’s not doing as well. I don’t know why it escapes so many people in our society, but children learn much more easily from their peers than from adults. It’s amazing that we do not have tutoring programs among the students, allowing the accomplished learner to further learn by imparting the data to someone who needs assistance.

Secondly to teach the generosity which should come through prosperity, you must be willing to give your children a weekly allowance and then teach them how to budget it–with charity being included in the process. If you’re going to pay the way of your child, but not instruct him or her about how to pay for themselves, they will have some severe problems when they get into their twenties.

And finally, to make them aware of the need to improve, celebrate their glorious moments of achievement, but help them to realize how they can do it better the next time. Self-awareness is the best way to teach your child how to avoid being criticized.

So even though they’re no longer solely the product of your teaching, you can still establish these necessary guidelines, which will allow for the process of making a kid into a human being continue without interruption.

 

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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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G-31: Provider … July 4, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2281)

 bigger star of david“God, you are not a good Father,” pined the Creator Almighty. “You can’t make ’em and then break ’em.”

A rocky start.

For you see, my friend, no matter what you think of the story contained in the black leather-bound book, or what accounts you hold dear, the tale begins with a series of misfortunes, and dare we say, mistakes.

For instance:

  • Creating man with no woman.
  • Welcoming woman with no direct communication about the goals of Eden.
  • Creating a rule while keeping the temptation readily available.
  • Then allowing a tempter to aggravate the reality of free will.
  • Having no idea how to deal with the human penchant for lying.
  • Kicking them out with no destination.
  • Separation.
  • Murder.
  • Ego.
  • Violence.
  • And then the erroneous decision to kill them and start over.

The whole experience was terrifying for the Creator, not to mention bruising to the creation.

How do you become a good Father once you’ve decided to bear children?

The Creator quickly chose to become a provider–to bring blessing and opportunity to a handful of favored souls, who would trickle down the wealth and prosperity to those around them.

A lineage was selected, commencing with a man named Abram, who later became the internationally-famous Abraham. He was promised a great nation and given all sorts of door prizes for every door he entered.

Unfortunately, he still continued to maintain some of that penchant for lying, and ended up being a bit of a wimp–because when he bore children by two women, he selected one over the other, thus setting in motion a custody battle that still rages today.

Abraham had a son named Isaac, who ended up raising two children of his own–one a wimp and one a liar. Esau, the oldest, gladly exchanged his rite of passage as a leader for a good meal. And the younger, Jacob, lied his way into inheritance. He wrestled with angels, suffered the consequences of being lied to by others and had twelve sons, although he really liked one the best–a boy named Joseph.

All through this process, the Creator is practicing Fatherhood by being a good provider, attempting not to interfere too much in the gears of human emotion and transition.

Finally, on the fourth try, he ends up with a decent fellow.

Joseph not only isn’t a liar, he gets in a helluva lot of trouble for telling the truth. And because he’s not a wimp, thousands are saved from starvation in Egypt, finally granting the favored generation a seat of power next to Pharoah.

For the first time in ancient, and even present, history, the Jews and Arabs were living side-by-side, in peace, under mutual agreement.

It seemed that everything was going pretty well, and that this “provider” approach was really paying off.

That is, until Joseph died.

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Five Rules of Fools… October 3, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2026)

1. Be yourself.fool

Please don’t. Just imagine what would happen if eight billion ants went off in different directions to express themselves instead of contributing to the common  hill. In no time at all, ants would be extinct. The real truth is, find your talent, multiply it in a direction that assists the needs of humanity and you will always have work, friends, prosperity and opportunity.

2. We are exceptional.

Spitting defiantly into the wind is one of the best ways to end up with your efforts thrown back into your face. Some of the first words ever spoken by God in the Good Book to a human being were offered to a future murderer named Cain. God’s counsel was simple: “If you do well, won’t you be accepted?”

Claiming that we are exceptional does not make us excellent. It astounds me that those who insist they are spiritual do not believe in evolution, and those who adhere to evolution often negate the spiritual. Evolution and spirituality are the same. The “survival of the fittest,” presented by Darwin, is an identical concept to “what you sow is what you reap.”

So you can continue to insist that “God loves you no matter what,” or you can take the scientific approach and believe that everything in the universe is biochemical, or you can blend the two and realize that we are not exceptional until we do exceptional things.

3. Stand up for yourself.

You can do that, but be prepared to be knocked down. If we live in a world where everybody stands up for themselves, the entire planet will square off twenty-four hours a day, with the potential for “wars and rumors of wars” causing our hearts to fail for fear. Somebody has to stand down, to buy precious time for insight to arrive with a fresh shipment.

4. Pornography is art.

We used to believe that pornography was the exploitation of women, and often men. But somewhere along the line, about twenty years ago, when the young actors on the TV Show, Friends, began joking around about “porn,” it became an acceptable practice and is now viewed by some as an art form. Pornography is not art. It takes women and puts them in the most demeaning positions of false submission so as to get off a bunch of misfits who are incapable of maintaining real relationships which require faithfulness and sexual commitment.

5. Men and women are adversaries.

There’s an old saying, which is still true: “You shouldn’t crap where you eat.”  If your primary relationship with another person is a source of giggling love, romantic pleasure, financial security and family warmth, it might be a good idea to avoid stirring the pot by making that other person feel less than you. It is rather doubtful that we can continue as a race if fifty percent of us are fighting the other fifty percent in a condescending way.

I do not know if there are unique emotional differences between men and women. Much of it is certainly cultural. But I do know that if we spotlight those differences, we will eventually find the process of mating and settling into a lifestyle together extraordinarily unpleasant, nasty and maybe eventually even avoidable.

There you go–five rules of fools, which cause everything from divorce to government shut-down.

You can pursue them, but be prepared to end up in the camp of those who demand attention instead of those who command it.

 

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Hope: Good v. Bad … September 11, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2003)

Garden cityI suppose, technically speaking, that hope is viewed in a positive light–something perpetually draped in white linen, espousing good. I certainly do not want to portray in this morning’s essay that I am opposed to something as universally enshrined in purity as hope, yet I must tell you–there IS such a thing as “bad hope.”

When hope is ill-placed or fails to evolve through the leading of the Spirit,  it becomes “bad hope.”

For instance, we live in a time when the two words “I can” are continually touted as the symbol of confidence–the battle cry of the victor. Here’s the problem: what if your “I can”  is really and truthfully an “I can’t?” What if claiming an ability you HOPE you have does not conjure it into existence? What if you believe you can dance, but really possess two left feet? Will your continual proclamations of superiority make you a better hoofer? Or are you opening yourself up to disappointment with a side dish of ridicule?

Secular society dupes the public into believing that merely stating a desire makes it come to pass as long as you “keep on believing.” Tain’t so, Joe.

Somewhere along the line, the advertising that falls off your lips with “I can” needs to audition on the stage of competition and prove its merit. At that juncture, many people walk away not only disillusioned, but also angry at those who are better than them.

The second “bad hope” comes from the religious community, as those with beatific expressions lift their eyes to the heavens and shout, “HE can!”

It amazes me that we believe we have the right to declare the will and preferences of God, especially as pertaining to our prosperity and future. There are folks who think if they become fervent enough, they can force the hand of “Our Father, which art in heaven” to do their beckoning. What God is able to do and what He chooses to do are two different things. You do not impress the Creator of the Universe by quoting Bible to Him.

So what IS “good hope?”

As I head off tonight to share with the folks at Good Hope Lutheran Church in Garden City, Michigan, I want to make sure they understand that their edifice of worship is well-named–as long as they pursue the correct style of hopefulness.

Good hope happens whenever we promote the truly heavenly notion that “WE can.”

“I can” will fail based upon my talent.

“He can” often dribbles away due to presumption and pride.

But when we finally arrive at the “we” part of the Kingdom of God, we discover the power of hope.

Here it is in a single sentence: I need you, you need me, we need God and God needs us.

That’s it.

As long as you choose that line of logic, you will find that hope is a very fulfilling and delightful exercise.

  • I may be able to do things but that doesn’t mean I don’t need you.
  • You may have great gifts, but truthfully, you probably require my involvement.
  • We all could benefit from picking the brain of the Guy who came up with the idea of earth.
  • And He has no intention of doing anything without coming into covenant with human beings.

It’s just the way it works. If you’re not going to bring your five loaves and two fishes and hang around to see what happens, don’t expect God to multiply it out to the thousands.

So there IS “bad hope:”

Any time we believe that merely saying “I can” puts a shudder of fear down the backside of the universe, we are on a fool’s journey. And also, on those occasions when we bow our heads and piously proclaim, “HE can,” with no intention of changing our own personal calendars, we are equally as dumbfounded by the less-than-promising results.

But when we realize that I need you and you need me, we come to the conclusion that we need God and we see that He has decided to need us, then whatever we hope can become faith, which has proven, over time … to have the power to move mountains.

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Shell-rocked … July 27, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1956)

faithlutheranshellrock

  • The me you see
  • The me that’s me
  • The me I’m freed to be

 It’s three different people, you know. Maybe success in life is about getting that trio of personalities to blend into oneness—for if they stay separate, there can be a lot of frustration.

As I head off tomorrow morning to Faith Lutheran Church in Shell Rock, Iowa, I am completely aware that God was speaking the obvious when He said that “man looks on the outward appearance.”

Honestly, my dear friends, my outward appearance has never been my “best foot forward,” unless you are fond of stumbling:

  1. I am fat.
  2. I am certainly NOT tall, dark and handsome.
  3. The aging process has relieved me of my hair.
  4. And I don’t seem powerful because my knees are pretty bad and I utilize a wheelchair to cover long distances.

Now at first reading of this description, you might be sympathetic, or even feel that I need your pity. But that’s the me you see. That is not the me that’s me.

The me that’s me is a father who has raised six sons, traveled the country many times over, written symphonies, books, movies, and has performed in front of hundreds of thousands of people.

I learned early in my life that my best shot was to abandon beauty, my “good looks,” and instead, take a good look at myself and find the best way to be of benefit to others, and therefore find great prosperity in my soul.

new jon and janSo what does that mean?

It means that I’ve developed a sense of humor about how I look, a sense of passion about what I do and a deep abiding gratitude for who I’ve been freed to be.

For you see, that is the third process. God has come along and given me permission to be a new creature—born again, as it were. He has implanted in my spirit notions, ideas and promises that don’t always jibe with my reality, but still remain available if I’m willing to accept them by faith.

Take salvation, for example. I’m glad He handles that particular arena. If I were in charge of salvation, I would first of all have to always be a good person, saying all the right things, while being that guy who believes in life after death even in moments of doubtful consideration.

But I don’t have to worry about that.

The reason most people get shell-shocked on their way to Shell Rock is because they become anxious about what other people are going to think about them and they don’t have much confidence in God pulling off His part. They have bookends of insecurity, making them very nervous about their own package of talent.

I fully expect the people in Shell Rock to initially see me as a fat guy rolling along in a wheelchair. In fact, if it were a silent film, that would be it. But life isn’t a silent film:

  • We get the chance to have a voice.
  • We get the chance to express ourselves.
  • We get the chance to be loving.
  • We are afforded the opportunity to be generous.
  • We are provided moments when we can be confrontational in a way that benefits the common good.

And I am not about to ever forget that even though people may have an immediate visceral reaction to me and I may have gifts that can overcome that prejudice, it still holds no candle to how much I am loved by my Father.

If you’re going to be successful on Planet Earth, you have to realize that the me that people see can never, ever be perfected. No matter how many times you lift your face, tuck your belly or comb your hair, someone will have a problem with your appearance.

So spend more time with the “me that’s me,” and perfect the art of being yourself. And don’t be afraid to move towards excellence.

Because when it’s all done, even when people reject your offering as a whole, you can come home to the “me you’re freed to be” … in the arms of your Father in heaven.

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

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