Poor Coverage … August 9, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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For two-and-a-half years I shared and ministered with the poor, disenfranchised and homeless folks in Shreveport, Louisiana.

I would not trade that experience for any amount of gold or prestige. Yet I have to tell you that even though it was peppered with great blessing, it was also salted with revelation and discovery.

I learned first-hand what Jesus meant when he said that “the poor you have with you always.”

It never stops. A bag of groceries does not alleviate aching hunger. Paying an electric bill fattens the purse of the local utility, but frustrates the recipients, who realize that next month they will find themselves in the same predicament.

There is a misrepresentation about spirituality–that those who pursue deeper understanding of the heart of God are meant to be propagators of generosity to the destitute. Why the misconception? Because it sounds good.

I observed it last night during my visit to a church in Michigan. These wonderful congregants had put together a system of providing paper goods and needful supplies to members of their community suffering under the rigors of financial depression. I watched as the people came in to receive their bag of goodies and observed as they departed. There was no joy, no sense of appreciation, no discovery of a deep truth etching its way across their features. They were resigned. Or maybe they HAD resigned. I don’t know which one.

But even though they possessed goods which they did not previously count in their storehouses, the realization that it was a “temporary fix” burdened their souls.

Discussing poverty is probably one of the most difficult subjects to broach. You will find yourself becoming either encompassed with the festering futility of the ongoing epidemic, or trying to distance yourself–coming across as a calloused, uncaring goofball.

What SHOULD be our position?

Jesus said they’re not going to go away, so you should “do what you can.”

I think that’s what the generous folks WERE accomplishing at last night’s church. But simultaneously, I must alert them that Jesus fed the five thousand … until he discovered they were following him JUST for the food.

  • Jesus healed the lepers but never visited a leper colony. He instead required that these diseased souls track him down and bring their faith.
  • And Jesus, when confronted by Judas about being uncaring toward the poor by wasting ointment on his head and feet, replied that Judas was out of the flow and didn’t realize that there are more important things than a temporary band-aid on a gaping wound.

What DID Jesus do?

1.  He energized the working class and the rich to appreciate what they had and realize that more of them was required.

2.  He kept his ears open to those who broke out of the pack of self-pity and made their way to his side for transformation.

3. He taught people how to be industrious instead of dependent on luck or divine intervention for their provision, telling them that they were “the salt of the earth” and that  “the Kingdom of God was within them.”

4. And in more than one parable, he told them that seed needed to be sown even when it seemed like there was no possibility for it to take root.

I learned during my two-and-a-half years that caring for the poor is something that has to be done in stride rather than being an actual walk in and of itself. And ultimately, the best way to solve poverty is to take the ten per cent who are ready to pursue personal and financial excellence and ask them to look out for the needs … of nine of their neighbors.

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

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Leotarded … May 30, 2013

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fairgroundsWe called it “Artist’s Haven.”

It was a gathering of local people in the Shreveport, Louisiana, area who deeply believed they had a creative itch to scratch and wanted to get together, if for no other reason, to have someone else listen to their poem, song–or just general speak-easy.

We met in a museum which had a small art gallery in it (see above picture). We were surrounded by lovely oil paintings and sat around a huge wooden table with large red-velvet chairs, which tried to insist they were still elegant, although age had taken its toll.

The weekly event lasted about an hour and consisted of me sharing some thoughts, followed by an open air to the entire room, allowing anyone to take three minutes to present an offering of inspiration. Considering how unorganized it was and how many of the community’s misfits found their way through the doors, it was really a magnificent melee.

Amazingly, we had only been meeting for about two months when I received a phone call from a young woman from the Arts Council telling me about a ballet troupe which had traveled to Shreveport from New York City. She took a moment to promo them to me –with their resume and accomplishments. I wasn’t sure why she was selling them so hard. Then came the closer.

The ballet troupe had received a grant to travel around the US to about thirty cities. It was required that they perform three times in each town in order to fulfill their obligation. Bottom line was that the agent had been unsuccessful in finding three different places in Shreveport willing to let people come in and “toe dance.” They had located one high school and a retirement center, which reluctantly allowed them thirty minutes of cavorting between tapioca and bingo.

The agent had gotten word that we were meeting at the art gallery and wondered if we would be willing to let the troupe come in and share during our meeting.

I couldn’t help myself. I giggled. I was trying to envision our group of human specimens being invaded by an avant-garde troupe from New York City. But on the other hand, it seemed rude to say no to such talent–AND I have enough of an ornery nature that I decided it would be wonderful to shake things up.

So I told her I would try to get at least forty people there–up from our usual twenty–and immediately launched on a phone campaign. It was rather successful. A couple of our young girls knew some fellows from the university who were involved in dance, and leaped at the opportunity to see these professionals.

All in all, we ended up with forty-two people gathered around six gorgeous. professional vessels of movement, watching them perform things that none of us understood. For me, it was just fun to look around the room–especially at the young girls who had never seen that much leotard live in concert. Also, the young men were quite enamored with the female form and balance.

Our Artist’s Haven was a rowdy group, so the dancers were overjoyed to be regaled with applause and hoots on every single maneuver. Just imagine if you blended an opera with a cock-fight–you pretty much have the atmosphere. The artists answered questions, accepted hugs, had conversation and a little refreshment followed.

I will never forget that night. It showed me that people do not have to be sophisticated to be willing. People do not have to be well-versed to be present. And people do not have to be liberal to avoid being conservative.

What you have to do is just love people–even if they’re leaping in the air in front of you and you don’t quite get it.

It was a wonderful time in my life. And from the Artist’s Haven, I learned that the reason we need art is that it reminds us that we are not yet whole.

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

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Jonathan’s thinking–every day–in a sentence or two …

 Jonathots, Jr.!

Click below

https://jonathots.wordpress.com/jonathots-jr/

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Ears to Hear … May 29, 2013

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Lakeview UMCDo you know what the problem is with talking? It’s fairly important that you make sense,  don’t speak too long and bore people. That’s not easy.

Sometimes I wish I could just write and not do public speaking–simply because the possibility of me going haywire on my logic or becoming long-winded looms heavy. Matter of fact, sometimes I am reluctant to sing the second verse of a song because I fear I’ve lost the attention of the audience.
I will admit that it’s an insecurity. But I think it’s a good one.

There is just too much talking in our society. And to make sure that nobody else gets a word in edgewise, public speakers insert delays, “a-a-a-h-h-s,” and “u-u-m-m-m-s” just to maintain the podium while they try to figure out the next thing they want to say. It’s really ugly.

The only time to continue to share your thoughts is when you KNOW there are ears which are actually hearing. That would eliminate about 60% of political speeches and an equivalent number of sermons.

Matter of fact, when Jesus wanted to make it abundantly evident that he was saying something really valuable, he led off with, “Verily, verily, I say unto you …” He would often end that same passage with, “He that has an ear, let him hear.”

I’m desperately trying to only talk about things that are important. Sometimes that’s just being silly.  Yes, it is very, very essential that we be silly.  But I know this. Three things should be accomplished in the process of speaking your mind:

1. Never pontificate your points unless you’re ready to receive information that elaborates on your issue or even contradicts your assertion. There’s nothing worse than someone who gets caught in a mistake but continues to preach the same message even though it’s been proven to be erred.

2. Update your proclamations by including evidence that YOU find. I suppose if you read all the jonathots I’ve written since I began, you might find contradictions. They aren’t really contradictions. They are holy findings and realizations that have enlightened my original opinion with mercy and wisdom. It is not flip-flopping to move toward truth. It is stupid when you don’t.

3. And finally, the most important thing to remember when speaking is to convey that you are open. Every little piece of dialogue shared that shuts out another human being, puts God in a box, or forbids creative expression will have to be eliminated eventually–and replaced with openness.

So as I head off tonight to Lakeview United Methodist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, I must realize that these folks don’t OWE me an ear to hear. Lakeview signAs a matter of fact, many will arrive and try to discern me on face value, tainting their own potential for receiving. But as long as I am ready to receive from them, find out new ways to communicate, and stay open, my time of words and thoughts will carry some gravitas.

I don’t know everything. I wouldn’t want to know everything–because it would make life tedious. And I do know this–the knowledge I possess needs to expand.

He that has an ear, let him hear.

A good thought. For after all, the human ear sits back on the head and has to take its turn behind a yapping mouth, a nosy beezer and sleepy eyes.

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

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Jonathan’s thinking–every day–in a sentence or two …

 Jonathots, Jr.!

Click below

https://jonathots.wordpress.com/jonathots-jr/

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Seven Points… May 23, 2013

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In the midst of scrambling some points with a couple of dozen good eggs in Seven Points, Texas, last night, I discovered that there really are seven points necessary to put together the kind of human life that is both good to ourselves and valuable to others.

First, I think it’s important that we CARE. After all, apathy is when love has died and finally shows up as a frown on your face.

The second suggestion I would make is to HEAR. Faith comes by hearing. That may explain why we’re in the middle of a faithless generation–people have stopped listening to each other.

How about ACCEPT? Certainly there are folks who might consider me to be wishy-washy, because I believe that if I can’t accept something in the life of another human being, I choose to ignore it. The other options are to judge them or try to change them, both of which are contrary to good sense and the Jesonian philosophy.

If I were to go for a fourth idea, I would certainly recommend REJOICE. The reason the joy of the Lord is our strength is because the absence of finding purpose in our journey makes us feel weak. There is something positive about hanging around with individuals who can kick up their heels and squeal in delight.

I think we should INTERCEDE. When it is in our power to do something good, to fail to pursue it is certainly sin. I sometimes see problems in people’s lives, and it’s just too painful to discuss it with them, so instead, I pray for them or I stand in the gap to make sure they don’t get hurt while they’re learning better ways.

Here’s a sixth one: TRUTHFUL. There aren’t many things we owe one another, but the truth is hard to top. There’s something about looking someone in the eye and refusing to lie to them that creates a bond of trust which is beyond measure.

And if you will allow me a seventh possibility, I would call it YEARN. Instead of becoming nagging ninnies, constantly fussing about the way life is, there should be a yearning in our hearts to see things get better. People who do not yearn always end up complaining–which is the best way to chase God away–AND all the people created in His image.

So here are the seven points I garnered last night from Seven Points, Texas:

  • Care
  • Hear
  • Accept
  • Rejoice
  • Intercede
  • Truthful
  • Yearn

And if you take the first letter of each and every one of those, you end up with the acronym “charity.” And charity is when love gets up out of its chair to answer the door because someone needs help.

Tonight I am off to Shreveport, Louisiana, where thirty years ago I first met my partner, Janet. So we will take a little walk through some memories, and hopefully in the process, create some new ones.

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

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Jonathan’s thinking–every day–in a sentence or two …

 Jonathots, Jr.!

Click below

https://jonathots.wordpress.com/jonathots-jr/

******

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Man-Goes Well… March 14, 2012

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James was black.

His mother noticed shortly after his birth and the trend continued throughout his childhood, into adolescence and was still in full swing when I met him in 1980 in Shreveport, Louisiana.

We became friends. This was frowned on in our community, where it was highly recommended that “coloreds and whites” not be mixed–and I’m not talking about doing the laundry. We didn’t care.

Matter of fact, we planned on taking a missionary trip together to Haiti. Honestly, it was more the desire for adventure than evangelism, but both motivations still welcome the presence of God.

Haiti. It is a land infested with poverty, which welcomes the supernatural, primarily in mysticism and voodoo, but also embraced the Catholic Church when it arrived, possibly because she brought in statues, saints and a bit of her magic–and even smiled a little when the Baptists came in offering redemption through dunking; and certainly the Haitians were intrigued when the Pentecostals arrived, blabbing away in tongues. I even ran across a lady who had built an altar out of cardboard boxes which contained a statue of Mary alongside a goat’s head. (I would assume this would be Holy Mary, mother of goat…”)

James and I created a lot of interest in the city of Port-au-Prince. After all, a black man and a white man strolling along laughing was an unusual sight–especially when the black man was tall and skinny and the white man was not as tall and was “skinny-free.” Walking down the street we looked like a bat and a baseball striding side by side.

Invitations to come and speak in churches in the local communities began to pour in. There were so many that we eventually had to split up–James going to one possibility and I, to another. How disappointed the young, single ladies of the church were when I arrived instead of James! They were yearning for Billy Dee Williams, and they got Billygoat Gruff.

But in one particular hamlet, we ended up together, and in the midst of our presentation, an older lady burst into the church. There was a collective gasp from the gathered. She kind of stomped up to where we were, shook some sort of rattle in our faces and danced around us four or five times before coming to a halt and pointing her finger into my face. James and I, being the rubes we were, applauded her dance, deeming that appropriate. Offended, she plodded out of the room and we were warned by our interpreter that we had just been cursed by a sorceress who was deeply involved in voodoo–and that we should be careful because she had great power.He explained to us that she had wooed a young sixteen-year-old boy away from his home and family, to live with her and be her slave. Honestly, James and I were a bit amused by the whole tale, having dispelled most of our trepidation over fairy tales years earlier.

Now, we decided to stay overnight in the little town, and when we rose in the morning from our pallets, we discovered, outside of our little enclosure, a basket filled with mangos–I think about ten in all. Both of us were hungry, because being not very adept and aware of traveling expenses, we had run out of money and were at the mercy of grazing off the local fare. So we cut into those mangos and began to enjoy a delicious fruit-filled breakfast. When we were about halfway through eating our basket of plenty, our interpreter showed up, absolutely horrified at the sight before him. He explained to us that the mangos had been cursed by our local witch doctress–the lady who had attended the service the night before and that we were eating death and destruction.

Who would know? They tasted like mangos.

Soon a small crowd of the townsfolk gathered around, more or less on a death vigil, to see when we would fall over, foam at the mouth and croak. Hours passed and we continued to giggle, clap our hands and talk with surrounding friends about the goodness of life and God. When it became obvious that the spell must have been somehow “mis-spelled,” the people began to rejoice.Matter of fact, the mother of the young boy who had been taken prisoner gathered a couple of her matronly allies and headed over to the witch doctress’s hut and reclaimed her son, bringing him home.

The woman of alleged magic did nothing. She was powerless.

You see, as it turns out, the boy wasn’t under any spell but lust, and didn’t need any deliverance except to come home and return to sanity. It also turns out that the mangos refused to be infused with anything but good taste.

We stayed on that evening and practically the whole little village came out to hear our message. Superstition was exposed. All it takes is turning on a light, because when you turn on a light, fear scurries away … and faith remains, smiling.

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Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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