Good News and Better News… August 21st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I had the night off from my gigs.

I decided to take in a church service at a small pioneer work where I’m staying. It is called Renaissance Fellowship. It touts the uniqueness of being a Christian church focused on the arts. Since I’ve been known to have a brain cell or two tuned in that direction, I was titillated.

The church is held at a community center and has about twenty-five folks who attend. The people are typical “church.” About 35% of them are excited, involved, busy scurrying around, and the rest of them have the appearance of folks arriving for a seminar on an unknown subject, with the promise that they might get free passes to a restaurant at the end.

Renaissance suffers from what every church suffers from. In trying to find God, they accidentally kill passion.

The pastor, a young man in his early forties, has a delightful desire and talent for sharing his thoughts. You can tell he is still deeply involved in the pursuit of God and the salvation of human souls, but growing a bit worn around the edges in all the well-doing. It happens to all of us.

But I heard something I liked. I heard rumblings that sounded like possibility.

Even though his message was plagued with too much preaching to the soul and teaching to the brain, I sensed that he’s beginning to reach for the heart.

For you see–human beings are not really spiritual. We aren’t thoughtful. We are emotional.

It doesn’t matter if it’s about work, play, a football stadium or church–the evidence that we are impacted is always an emotional outburst.

So I speak with great clarity to this pastor and tell him to keep reaching for the heart. Go ahead and abandon preaching to the soul and teaching to the mind. No one cares what Abraham, Moses, Joseph or any of the old patriarchs did. If the stories do not relate to family, Wal-mart and the Internet, they will not touch the hearts of American people.

Instructing the brain by pointing out clever pieces of information may once have been a path of probability, but no longer. Our brains are inundated with too much information, and of course, way too many posts on Facebook about nothing.

  • Reach the heart.
  • Touch the heart.
  • And demand a heartfelt response.

It is the only way people are healed. As Jesus said, “If you say to this mountain, be removed, and you do not doubt in your heart, it shall be done.”

The soul, the brain and the body have nothing to do with moving mountains. It is a heartfelt action.

Although I’m sure they are delightful and blessed people, many of the folks at Renaissance were doing their best imitation of being church cardboard cutouts. But becoming a church of artistry will require that the congregation that’s already there–tiny as it is–become emotionally excited with its own faith.

If it doesn’t, they will be just an average church that occasionally puts on plays.

The good news is that the Gospel is an experience of the heart.

The better news is, the pastor of Renaissance Fellowship and his congregation have a great opportunity to become heartfelt.

I have confidence in them.

For you see, the pastor is my son.Donate Button

 

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Catchy (Sitting 10) The Three Muster Tears … August 13th, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Randall changed his mind.

He came into the office on Monday morning, apologized for the legal maneuvering and explained that he was interested in being part of the project.

Matthew was suspicious. Perhaps Randall was just trying slip into the inner workings to find out if there was any money in play–to gain further ammunition for the court battle.

Matthew always hated himself for being cynical, regretting it even more when he was right.

Randall apparently sensed Matthew’s skepticism. “I suppose you wonder if I was visited by three ghosts, who spooked me into joining the club.”

Matthew said, “Well, I wouldn’t call you Ebenezer Scrooge, but you certainly might have attended one of his seminars.”

Randall laughed. “I was trying to explain it to Landy last night. She was pissed off at me. But you see, I’ve spent my life watching opportunities come my way, and analyzing them so much that they seem to run away from me in terror and leap into the lap of friendlier faces.”

Matthew got quiet, allowing Randall some space.

Randall continued, “I thought about it. Here’s an old man who dies who wants to give 250 million dollars to take an old religious icon who is known for loving and giving, and make the dude popular again. I thought to myself, what in the hell is wrong with that? Sure, I wish it wasn’t religious, or tied to some church, but when you need a cure, you don’t ask where the medicine comes from, right?”

Matthew just nodded his head.

About that time, Jo-Jay walked into the room and said, “I feel the same way. At least, I think so. I don’t want to miss out on something. I feel like I missed drugs and rock and roll. I never protested against anything. I missed civil rights. Gay rights. All rights. And by the way–what is heavy metal anyway?”

“It’s when you stack up a lot of light metal,” Matthew answered, chuckling at his own joke.

Randall added, “It was worse for me. I even missed Barry Manilow. My parents were very strict. It wasn’t all religion–part of it was our culture. But I wasn’t allowed to do much but study, go to school and attend church.”

Matthew sighed. “So you’re a church boy…”

Randall shook his head. “No–I went to church but I was never a church boy. I used the hour in church to quietly express my hatred for the Divine. While others sang praises, in my mind I asked God questions and then laughed at Him when He failed to come up with an answer.”

Jo-Jay stared in disbelief.

“So you want to do this because…?”Matthew posed.

Randall shook his head. “I don’t know. I know there are no answers in politics. Most of the law is mumbo-jumbo. Education just makes people smart-asses. There’s gotta be something else. I really don’t think it’s Jesus, but maybe we could at least get people to think.”

“Or maybe,” said Jo-Jay, “we just advertise the church and they end up ripping off more money from poor folks and spreading the message of doom and gloom.”

Matthew shook his head. “You know how sometimes the more you think about something, the better it sounds? I gotta tell you–the more I think about this the more it seems like a gigantic turd factory.”

“So you’re quitting?” Randall asked, surprised.

“Well, actually, I never started,” responded Matthew. “I just said I would check it out.”

“And here I came along to go on the magic carpet ride and Aladdin’s folding up shop.” said Jo-Jay.

Matthew squinted his face. “I would be Aladdin?”
Randall inquired, “And the magic carpet ride would be what?”

Jo-Jay laughed. “You guys are definitely over-educated, under-informed and without any natural feeling.”

“Part of me thinks I should say thank you,” Randall said.

There was a knock at the door. Matthew opened it to find a large man dressed in bib overalls and a plaid shirt, with a huge head of hair combed straight back. He reached out a big paw for greeting. Matthew placed his little hand into the acreage, shook it, and asked, “May I help you?”

The big, burly country boy responded. “Yes. My name is Prophet Morgan. I’m here to help you make my man Jesus, popular.”

All at once, Jo-Jay broke out in tears, which for some reason stimulated Randall to do the same, causing the recently arrived Prophet Morgan to sprout his own waterworks.

Matthew stared at the three of them in disbelief. “What in the hell is going on?”

Jo-Jay cleared her throat and managed a little smile. “I don’t know. But it’s neat shit.”
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Dudley … April 27th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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DUDLEY

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Jesonian… April 8th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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The Disagreeable Disciple

Disciple: I love you, my Lord.

Master: Well, thank you. So let’s get to work.

Disciple: I’m all ears.

Master: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Disciple: I pick up that the key word there is “neighbor,” which connotes they’re neighborly. If you mean being kind to neighborly people, then I get it.

Master: Your neighbor is everybody.

Disciple: I understand your heart, but that seems a little unrealistic.

Master: Judge not lest you be judged.

Disciple: I hear you. Gossip is a horrible thing. But there are things that need to be spoken against. Things that you, yourself, certainly don’t condone. So I believe there’s a difference between speaking up against evil and judging people.

Master: What if I told you that I don’t make that distinction?

Disciple: Interesting.

Master: When you pray, enter your closet, and when you shut the door, pray to your Father in secret.

Disciple: At our latest prayer seminar, we were discussing the power of thousands and thousands of people praying together over a common theme. Sometimes my personal prayers seem so anemic–lonely, if you will.

Master: And the Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.

Disciple: Once again, interesting.

Master: In the Kingdom of God there is neither male nor female.

Disciple: Yet you want is to keep our social roles, am I correct? Women as mothers, men as fathers. Also good to study the different personality traits and emotional leanings. Is this true?

Master: Kingdom of God. Neither male nor female.

Disciple: Much to think about.

Master: And whenever you’ve done it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.

Disciple: Now I know we’re on page! We have a food pantry at the church and we take care of hungry kids in after-school programs. We’re tracking this one down.

Master: By least, I don’t mean social order or poverty. I mean the ones you personally consider the least among humanity. The prisoners, the terminally ill, the outcasts, the individuals who don’t necessarily conform to your moral code.

Disciple: Sounds like you’re suggesting we condone sin.

Master: No, I’m telling you that you’ll be judged by how you treat the people you have deemed to be least.

Disciple: Wow, you’re sure giving me a lot to ponder. But you have to be pleased when you see your people gather to worship you every week in church.

Master: In vain do they worship me, because they teach their traditions as if they are commandments of God instead of mere preferences of this generation.

Disciple: But you do like praise and worship?

Master: Worship should be in spirit and truth–a mingling of our hopes with the impact of reality.

Disciple: You know, I haven’t thought about these things from this perspective for a long time.

Master: I’ve never thought about them from any other perspective.

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Turning Kids Into Humans–Part 7 (Age 12-15) “Show” Business … September 29, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Humanating

It itches.

Even though no hives or rash sprout on the skin, adolescence produces an aggravation in the emotions, spirit and mind that makes you want to scratch. It is frustrating and without remedy.

Stop being teachers and instead, become shining examples and show what you desire instead of incessantly explaining it.

Children are not teachable between the ages of twelve and fifteen. Their ears have grown dull through years of public education, inundated by often-meaningless media, and are so accustomed to your voice that they hear a “Peanuts-cartoon honking” instead of actual words.

A quiet rebellion has begun. It will sprout external symptoms if you do not address that festering within.

Your children are questioning three things:

  1. Authority. Who are you to tell me what to do?
  2. Spirituality. Where is this person you call God?
  3. Individuality. Why should I be different from anybody else?

No seminar or book will address this brewing storm. They need you to show them something.

First, show them empathy and gratitude. Avoid becoming defensive. They are questioning authority–therefore, show them how the power of the human voice and the good will of hard work can overcome stupidity and laziness.

The purpose of authority is to get things done. It is not to establish a power base. Once you show them that, it will begin to resound in their beings.

Secondly, please don’t tell your children to go to church because “God requires their worship.” Show them that God is a Father, interested in everything they do.

If you do not teach your children that God is their Father, they will turn Him into a banker. In other words, when they need something, they will ask for a loan, but most of the time they’ll avoid Him because they’re behind on their payments.

And finally, instill in them the power of individuality. Show them how empathy and gratitude are easier than trying to solve impossible problems because we failed to recognize human need or we have denied the opportunity to be grateful for the kindness bestowed upon us.

Warning: you will have the inclination to lecture or have “sit-downs” with your child at this age.

It is a horrible mistake. Don’t be authoritative. Show them the value of good planning.

Don’t be religious. Give them a God who is their Father.

And let them know the contentment that comes from being an individual in a world of sheep. Demonstrate in your own life how to express empathy and gratitude for the opportunities provided.

 

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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

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A Barn Yarn… August 18, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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barnMany years ago a music group of which I was a member in fair standing was invited to a rustic resort in Western Minnesota to put on a concert. The brochure provided to explain the services of this facility were very enticing.

  • Gorgeous cabins.
  • Swimming pools.
  • Hiking for those inclined.
  • And buffet lines, stacked with freshly grilled hamburgers, and sweet corn— steaming, salted and buttered.

Needless to say, this music group of which I was a part was very excited to go to the facility, which was offered to believers who had grown tired of worldly toil, and who wanted to escape the rigors of a demented society and spend three days listening to Christian music, with public speakers brought in from all over the country to fill them with spirit.

The joint was aptly named Christian Retreat.

unfortunately, upon arrival we discovered that the cabins had been booked up and all they had available was one small compartment, which would not be acceptable for three–especially since I was a male intruder. So the girls skipped off to their living quarters and I was escorted … to a barn.

Now, when they told me I would be staying in a barn, I assumed it was a euphemism for a rustic facility, but one still worthy of human habitation. Climbing the crest of a hill, what I beheld was actually a barn–an Amish cathedral–complete with hay, stalls, John Deere tractors and cattle with their south ends pointed to my north.

I did not complain. I found an area they had set aside for human occupation which included straw beds and a shower they had rigged with a spigot protruding from a pipe and a wooden frame to stand upon and a hole dug to drain the excess watery parts from people like me.

I was sitting on a bale of hay when I was interrupted by the arrival of another gent. He started talking. I point this out because from the point that he commenced speech, he never stopped. He explained that he was a farm hand. He told me how difficult his day had been. Within three minutes, I had the full description of his mother’s nasty divorce from her abusive husband which left him with a single mom, working very hard, but still on food stamps.

All during the discourse he was disrobing in front of me, preparing to take his nightly shower, with no embarrassment whatsoever, and was eventually standing buck naked from the curly top of his head and simultaneously beneath.

I am not comfortable around naked people. Matter of fact, I prefer “lights off romance.” If I were a nudist, I would constantly be apologizing, making excuses and informing everyone that I planned on starting a weight loss regimen next week.

Not this fellow. He turned on the spigot, climbed up on the boards and proceeded to suds himself repeatedly.

I did not know where to look, so I stared down at my shoes. When he asked me what I was doing, I explained that I was an amateur cobbler and that I was considering taking the steps to repair my own footwear.

At this point he climbed down from the boards, fully foamy, and walked over to eyeball my shoes, to see if he might be able to assist in the cobbling

I made eye contact–not because someone in a seminar told me to, but more or less for emotional survival. He made some suggestions which I cannot remember, turned the other cheek, climbed back up on the boards and resumed his bubbly process.

I finally had enough and excused myself, explaining that I needed to go set up for the concert–and I instinctively grabbed my gym bag on the way out, knowing that unlike Douglas MacArthur, I had no intention of returning.

After the program that evening, I headed towards our beat-up van, climbed into the back, put together a make-shift pillow and stretched out to go to sleep. My partners in music were concerned, and asked me why I wasn’t going back to my accommodations.

I thought about telling them about my encounter with the farmer’s son,” but instead replied, “I discovered I really DO have hay fever and don’t get along well with barn animals–especially when they talk.”

 

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