Jesonian … July 21st, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3740)

Jesus is not a conservative.

“He who is given much, much is expected.”

“Whenever you’ve done it unto the least of these, my brethren, you’ve done it unto me.”

Jesus is not a liberal.

“The poor you have with you always. Do what you can.”

“Every good tree brings forth good fruit.”

Jesus is also not a vegan.

Too much talk about killing the fatted calf and eating it, and of course, there was that time he devoured the grilled fish by the seashore.

Jesus is not a member of the NRA.

“They that live by the sword shall die by the sword.”

“My kingdom is not of this world; otherwise my disciples would fight.”

Jesus is not religious.

“Avoid vain repetition.”

“Thinking with their much speaking that they are pleasing God.”

Jesus is not an anarchist.

“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”

“I have not come to destroy the world, but to save it.”

Jesus is a FAITHOLOGIST.

He studied faith, analyzed it, prayed for it, praised it, wondered where the hell it was when it wasn’t there, and showcased it.

He was a Faithologist.

First he taught people to have faith in themselves…

“You are the salt of the Earth.”

“Your faith has made you whole.”

…then God:

“Our Father, which art in heaven.”

“If you, being evil men, give good gifts, won’t your Father give even better?”

In his Faithology course, he taught faith in Nature:

“You can discern the face of the sky.”

“Consider the lily and how it grows.”

And he taught us to have faith in others:

“Give and men shall give to you, good measure, pressed down, running over.”

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

He came in human form to talk to human beings about human things in a human way, to encourage human excellence. He certainly was the Great Humanist.

But he taught this by extolling the power of faith–that even as a mustard seed, if we will not doubt in our hearts, we can move mountains.

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Good News and Better News… December 4th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Somewhere along the line, we have convinced ourselves that church is supposed to be a service–a program put together with songs, testimonies and a sermon, where those in attendance can worship God.

There is no Biblical basis for this kind of thrown-together event. It is a by-product of Catholicism, which borrowed many of its ideas from the Roman hierarchy or the other religions of ancient times, which were ceremonially based.

In pursuing this piety, we have removed two of the basic powerful principles that provide the righteous realization for coming together: including and using.

Yes–church is supposed to include me and you, and find ways for us to discover our usefulness. When you remove a sense of inclusion and the possibility of a person being useful, the motivation for merely gathering in order to revere is not enough to keep the pews filled.

It was the heart of the Master to include people and then make them useful–or maybe not make them useful–just find out where they were useful.

Whether a prostitute or demon-possessed man, Jesus surrounded them with a sense of inclusion and then put in place a purpose and use for their presence.

So a woman at the well became his advertising agent for a revival.

A man who had been possessed by a thousand demons became his public spokesman for a whole region.

And Mary of Magdala, who herself was possessed by seven demons, became one of his right-hand people.

We have lost the power of inclusion. Matter of fact, the church is notorious for disincluding certain groups of the community because of their wickedness or weakness.

So when you walk in the door, you’re handed a program–or not, for those churches which think they are free-wheeling and fancy-free–and you listen to an eight- or nine-piece praise band, which has over-practiced facial expressions while under performing musically, and stare at a screen to sing songs of repetition, waiting for the hour to creep by.

“Not my church!” you say.

But the reality is, just because you have grown accustomed to your surroundings and are accepted within the cave of understanding does not mean a stranger could come in and access the same gentleness.

Here is our new truth:

How big is your congregation? Eight billion and growing, because we include the whole world. But every week we have about two hundred people who attend who are so useful we couldn’t do without them.

Now, that’s church.

Until we abandon a fear of God which has us stuck at the beginning of wisdom, unable to progress, we will gradually see people trickle away because they don’t feel included, and they certainly do not sense they are useful.

The good news is, “whosoever will may come.”

The better news is, we sure hope you show up, because we could sure use you.

 

 

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 5) Late … May 29th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Sunday morning, and Meningsbee woke up late.

He wanted to blame his alarm clock, but since he was fully aware that he was the master of all of its decisions, he scurried along, skipping two of his pre-shower rituals.

He scooted into his car, started it and zoomed toward the church at what he hoped was a reasonable speed. He was thinking about what he wanted to share.

The Gospel of Mark. Most certainly.

It had been an interesting week.

After the breakthrough, with Betty and Clarice being reconciled, there was a sweet buzz of contentment among those who were present, but simultaneously, there were around twenty-five former members who had begun meeting in the banquet hall of the nearby Holiday Inn Express. They were stirring a flurry of frustration through the town.

Their contention? Meningsbee had “stolen their church.”

He understood their perspective. Yet there was a push in his spirit to continue the experiment–to find the real meaning of gathering together instead of marching in time to the drone of repetitive hymns.

Arriving, he ran to the door of the church, and then paused. He could hear the sounds of conversation. It was not the usual pre-church verbal exchanges, but instead, purposeful–what sounded like meaningful, prayerful tones.

So Meningsbee chose to enter quietly and climb the stairs to the balcony, where he could view the proceedings.

He had noticed coming in that there were a few more cars in the parking lot, and was delighted to see, when he looked down from his perch, that there were four visitors and a few of the original congregation who had returned.

But most enlightening was the fact that the three chairs he had placed in the front on Saturday night were filled with people, surrounded by other folks who were sharing and praying for one another.

On the seventh row was a young family who Deacon Smitters had befriended, and was quietly but feverishly entertaining with one of his stories.

It was a reverent scene, in the sense of the true meaning of reverence–full of humanity, compassion, tenderness and just a bit of the childlike freedom that was so often absent from the normal Sunday morning drill.

Reverend Meningsbee wanted to just hang out in the balcony and watch. He knew that as soon as he entered, the holy spell would be broken and they would turn to him to find order.

Finally he decided that it was not good for him to stay away for the whole time. He climbed down the stairs and came into the church as the gathering fell silent.

He turned slowly and addressed them.

“I overslept. But I have been here for fifteen minutes, just watching all of you. It is so beautiful for you to treat each other so beautifully. I know that’s not a good sentence, but it’s what I feel. Thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for loving each other.”

All at once, a hand went up. It was Clarice, from last week’s reconciliation.

“Hello, Pastor. I just wanted to let you know that after Betty and I mended our fences, I got inspired to contact my son in Lincoln, who ran away from home a couple of years ago because he was mad at me for being such a–can I say ‘bitch’ in the church?”

Meningsbee laughed. “You just did.”

Clarice continued. “Anyway, I invited Michael home, we made peace, and I told him to come here with me today to seal the deal.”

The congregation burst into applause without being coaxed. It was spontaneous and it was electrifying.

One after another, there were testimonies about those who came and sat in the chair to receive God’s grace through the kindness of God’s people.

The good Reverend just stood back and shut up. There was a small part of him that felt useless, but most of him felt he had discovered his true use.

Lead the sheep to the green pastures, and then let them eat.

It came time for the end of the service, and Meningsbee wasn’t sure what to do.

Betty stood to her feet and said, “Did you know that Clarice’s son, Michael, plays a mean piano and can really sing?”

Michael feigned a bit of embarrassment, but also exuded a willingness to display his talent. So Meningsbee pointed to the piano, and Michael slowly rose to his feet, walked over, sat down and played and sang “Let It Be” by the Beatles.

It was an inspiring conclusion to the morning.

Meningsbee listened to the song very carefully.

“Let It Be.”

What good advice.

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Good News and Better News … October 12th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News Milton, WI

Many years ago, I sensed a voice within me, encouraging me to go out and share my heart and abilities with the world. Some people would say it was the voice of God, while others would probably insist that it was just me, declaring my own bidding.

I don’t care.

I heeded the call, and that decision has taken me on an exotic adventure.

If faith is what we believe

And love is what we feel,

Then hope is the desire to feel what we believe.

I spent yesterday morning in Milton, Wisconsin, at a church called Hope.

I did not go there looking for God. I found Him some time ago.

I went there looking for people–especially people who are interested in breaking out of the repetition of religious and social blandness.

After 40 years, I have found things about people which really set them apart and give them the advantage Jesus intended them to have:

1. People should be welcoming.

It may be hard to do, but it is even more difficult to wait for friendship to appear instead of stepping forward to cause it.

2. I look for people who have nothing to defend.

Don’t forget–trying to defend something makes you defensive. And being defensive makes you a target for criticism rather than the fort of solitude you envision yourself to be.

3. I look for folks who are listening.

Learning never happens without listening, and honestly, listening never happens as long as we’re flapping our jaws, complaining.

And also, there is a quality in human beings that must be brought to the forefront for us to escape animalism or the notion that we’re “little gods.”

4. I look for folks who can be touched.

To be touched, you have to admit that another fellow-traveler can come along and reach in and tickle your heart.

Here’s the beautiful part to my story:

Yesterday morning at Hope Church, I found such people.

Oh, they tried to hide out at first and pretend they were bound to their traditions and their loyalties to programming, but after a while they realized how beneficial it is to free themselves from the responsibility of being religious, and allow themselves to be children of God.

  • The Gospel is not for weaklings.
  • It’s not for people who want to follow the crowd.

It is a message for intelligent people who are fully aware that if they pursue the same path as the world around them, they will get the same result, which seems to be a collision of indecision and bedlam.

I was blessed to be with the folks at Hope.

They are shepherded by a fine gentleman with a tender heart and an increasing desire to be swept away by a great wind of Spirit.

I leave them with one better piece of news:

Whenever you walk through the doors of your sanctuary, develop the determination, the attitude and the will to refuse to leave that building … without being totally inspired.

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Three Ways to Get Yourself Going… July 17, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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lake

When procrastination and fear get together, they certainly do resemble laziness.

Matter of fact, millions of people castigate themselves for being lazy, practicing deep breathing exercises and trying to walk on the treadmill, only to end up, when the day is finished, with the task incomplete.

I really don’t think most people are lazy. They are victims of a common human emotional disorder:

“I’m putting this off because I’m afraid I’m going to fail.”

Now, I suppose you can try to kill your fear or fake enthusiasm, but I think that’s just placing a band-aid on a gaping wound.

Here are three suggestions on how to get yourself going when procrastination and fear have done their best to make you look lazy:

1. Begin your day with a good conversation.

Honestly, the worst place to live is in your own head. It may be where you store wisdom, but it shares the room with your doubt and fear. It’s just good to hear another voice say something different from what you’re thinking. It’s the purpose of fellowship. If you live by yourself, pick up the phone and make human contact. It isn’t good for us to be alone and when we are, we fall victim to our own insecurities.

2. Start out doing something else.

Don’t begin by working on your main project. Life is a lot like waffles–the first thing you do is never going to be as smooth as the second through the last. So do something else. Practice efficiency. Ease your way into excellence.

If you have to go to the dentist at ten o’clock and you’re not looking forward to it, then do something else at nine o’clock to give yourself a sense of well-being and accomplishment before you get drilled.

3. And finally, get away from the common.

Repetition is really noisy. It’s also where we make the most mistakes. When we believe we know something really well, we remove the valuable tension that creates the kind of focus that generates success.

  • Drive to work a different way.
  • Have a unique breakfast.
  • Do something uncommon in pursuit of your everyday activities.

It places a little jeopardy into the situation, which makes for a very good mind exercise.

You’re never going to get rid of your procrastination. Likewise, chasing your fears is similar to trying to hold jello in your hands.

But what you can do is hear fresh voices from other folk, pursue an alternative idea to get you warmed up, and choose a unique path to travel to where you’re going.

Because the secret to life is not overcoming our foibles.

The secret to life is learning how to avoid them and not put them in the controlling position.

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Groomers… October 11, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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HendrixGraying baby boomers.

Groomers.

I am, of course, talking about those individuals born between 1946 and 1960, who broke the sound barrier by exploding like an atomic bomb, witnessing the end of segregation and the voting in of the first Catholic President.

They left a footprint on history. Maybe better phrased, they stomped their boots into our consciousness. Even though many people criticize the destination of this generation, it is difficult to challenge the authenticity of their origin. Now their ages range from fifty-three to sixty-seven–just beyond being parents, and still a little young to be the grandparents of adolescents.

Many of them have left the church and politics and are looking for other distractions to fulfill the aching memories of their youthful escapades.

But we need these graying boomers to come back to the church, the political arena, the social maneuvering and the emerging etiquette of our country–to bring the passion of the 1960s into our present age.

There are three things that baby boomers believed which have vanished from our present social climate, leaving us overly concerned about our personal needs and too short-sighted in our world vision. These are the three things the graying boomers, which I call groomers, should reinstate in their children and their budding grandchildren:

1. To question is to care.

I know my parents were annoyed because I would not “leave well enough alone,” as they phrased it, always challenging the ideas around me. Why was I able to do so? Because I was not alone in doing it. I wasn’t a renegade–I was in the flow of a generation which believed that many things were questionable, so therefore, go ahead and do it–question.

2. We can change the world.

Call it idealism or dub it presumption–but the baby boomers, for a season, believed they could affect the temperature of our country and clear out the dark clouds. There was no sitting or “waiting on the world to change.”

3. We’re all brothers and sisters.

The music, the movies, the books and the romance of the time were riddled with the notion of brotherhood and a greater understanding that “it was so groovy, now, that people are finally gettin’ together.”

This trio of ideas is in the genetic makeup of the baby boomers, although it seems to have been lost through years of cynical half-hearted participation. It is ironic that a generation which criticized possessions ended up selling out to them.

But there’s still that seed.

Nowadays someone who questions is viewed as being “a troublemaker.”

We need the groomers to come along and teach the younger folks that it’s all right to peer into the soul of our society and demand better angels.

Likewise, nobody in our age believes we can change the world. So what’s the purpose of personal improvement if your voice is going to be drowned out by the din of repetition?

Groomers need to remind the younger ones of protest, creativity and the power of cooperation. And instead of shrinking our love down to our personal families, it would not hurt for the groomers to remind the world once again that we are the family of man.

Our generation needs to be groomed by those who remember when music was not just downloaded, but taken into the heart.

We could begin this in the church, since we have so many gray-hairs there already. We might as well put ’em to work.

Who knows? It might make them feel young again.

Who knows? They could be the spark of a new revolution.

 

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Launder Nut… May 17, 2013

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laundromatThe quickest way to experience failure is to complain about things that have to be done. Not only are you wasting your time by lamenting the activity, but in the process of shifting your focus to crabbiness, you are lengthening the process of the task.

First and foremost, I am not a graduate student of this philosophy, but rather, still in elementary school. In other words, I occasionally fuss about things that are inevitable. Somehow or another, I must believe that my rankling over some chore is going to cause God or the people around me to change my circumstances and allow me a free pass. Of course, it’s ridiculous and never happens.

I used to be that way about doing the laundry. Now, I’ve never been one of those men who thinks it is “women’s work.” Since no woman dirtied my clothing, there’s no reason to think I deserve a launder maid. But from time to time, I have grumped about the activity, thinking that made me more mature, fighting the “tide,” or that it let everyone know that I was sacrificially performing the duty without good “cheer.”

Then one day I asked myself three questions:

1. What did they used to do to wash clothes? For you see, what I do is throw them in a washer, pour in some detergent, and walk away to read a book. My ancestors–by the way, not TOO far back–had to go down to the stream with a bar of lye soap and beat their clothes with rocks to get all the soil out of the fabric. It’s difficult to believe that cleansing your threads could be an aerobic workout, but for my great-grandmother, it certainly was. Humbled by the answer to my first question, I asked a second.

2. What do I have to do? As I shared earlier, I have a washing machine and a dryer to assist me in my endeavor, plus any number of additional distractions to entertain me as I wait for the full baptism of my clothing. The answer to my question is, I can do whatever I want to do. The machines do everything else. The only part of the process that resembles ancient times is that the clothes do require folding. But I have learned to turn that into a game. I see how quickly I can do it, how efficiently, or, on a given week, I fold them in a different direction than I did in the previous one. I also allow myself points and pride for taking those inside-out garments and restoring them to their correct position. Which leads to my third and final question:

3. What do I get out of it? Aside from clean clothes, I get underwear that actually smell good. I like the smell. Sometimes when I’m folding the clothes, I sniff them, which to onlookers may have a perverted bend. But they smell good.

And because laundry is a job that most people abhor, when I return with clean clothes, I become the hero of the hour. As people put them away in their drawers, they thank me over and over again for the arduous activity I endured.

And last but not least, I have the confidence that I will not have to do it again for  several days. It is one of those few pursuits that is actually finished for a season–without constantly looming, threatening repetition.

What I’m trying to tell you is that the door to happiness is unlocked when we realize that we live in a “gilded age,” where the blessing of technology has alleviated nearly all of the suffering from the succotash. We also greatly benefit by being able to complete our journey and see the blessed results of our quest.

Complaining is what people do when they believe two very dumb ideas: (1) life is not fair; and (2) that anybody cares that I’m upset.

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