Cracked 5 … April 19th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Things You Just Might Notice While Watching 7-Year-Olds Play Soccer

A. They are inexplicably terrified of the ball.

 

B. They clump together like turf bunnies.

 

C. They spend a lot of time purposely avoiding the goal.

 

D. They don’t want to take the ball away from their girlfriend, who’s not really their girlfriend because a 7-year-old can’t admit such nonsense

 

E. Considering the shouting, the moms and dads on the sideline obviously have bet on the game.

 

cracked 5 soccer

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Ask Jonathots … November 12th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I’m a fourteen-year-old girl and I’ve been playing soccer since I was six. I have a really good kick, and I want to try out for kicker on the high school football team next spring. Everyone has an opinion about it. My parents are afraid I’ll get hurt, and also that I won’t get asked out on dates by boys. My soccer girlfriends are upset because the schedule means I can’t play soccer. I’m a little scared myself, but more about my physicality–I’m really good, but will I get better, like a boy would? Any advice–both about the physical part and the social part?

There is only one great gift we can give to ourselves: tell the truth.

Honestly, if you don’t tell anybody else the truth, you can still find peace of mind if you know that you’re being completely honest. What destroys us is when we create a lie and spend a lot of time convincing ourselves it’s the truth.

I tell you that because the most important question facing you is: why do you want to kick for the high school football team?

The question is not whether you should or whether boys will want to date you–the greatest attraction boys and girls have for each other is success. In other words, if you’re a successful high school kicker, boys will be drawn to you.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying you are lying.  As long as your reason for wanting to kick on the high school football team is because you’re good enough to kick on the high school football team, and  you’re sure it’s the next step in your progress as an athlete, then by all means, go ahead.

So how do you know if your own heart is truthful, and that your reasons for doing this are based on your own desire?

1. If it weren’t unusual, would you still want to do it?

In other words, if you were a boy, would you still want to kick on the football team? If the answer is yes, then what’s the difference in being a girl? The goal is to make the kick–not whether it’s done by a girl or a boy.

2. Can you do this with belief in your heart, realizing that criticism will come, but it won’t change your mind?

You will have to have some determination. If it’s worth it, then determination will come.

3. And finally, if it doesn’t go well, will you still be glad you did it?

Simply put, is this valuable enough to you that if you fail at it, you will still be glad you tried because it’s what you needed to do?

This is all about you.

It’s not about what other people think and it certainly is not about avoiding trying to do it because you’re afraid of what people will feel.

I believe in you.

I wouldn’t care if you were a girl or a boy.

I would just want to know that it’s your dream…and you’re going to do it well. 

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Enough Stuff… January 6, 2013

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child surrounded by toysThere may be nothing more frightening than seeing a child or a teenager in the possession of great sums of money. Since prudence has not yet arrived on the scene and wisdom is somewhere in the distant future, money can often be the vehicle to disaster rather than the key to peace of mind.

We all know this. Yet for some reason we still persist in the notion that possessing more THINGS will free us from the burdens of poverty and set in motion a miracle of happiness in our souls.Since I have decided to become a child in 2013, I need to realize that my greatest requirement is not money.

Children need security.  Your immediate question, I assume, will be, “Well, what is security, if not money?”

Since a child has no bills in his or her name, no mortgage to negotiate nor car payment to fret over, to a child, security is to live in a worry-free environment. As I have traveled around this country and even to other lands, I have noticed that joy has very little to do with circumstances or the quality of the enclosure wherein you place your bed. Joy is the by-product of being content with your present layout without complaint.

So I have seen children in Haiti playing with a ball that was made out of mud, dried and hardened in the sun for better tossing possibilities. They were squealing and clapping like they were on some American Junior Soccer team wearing $100 uniforms, having paid a $200 entrance fee, nibbling specially purchased granola bars and sipping exotic waters at $5 a pop. The Haitian children felt secure … because they were worry-free.

So is it possible to have enough money but still be nervous about losing your position, and actually make your household a place of miserable uncertainty? Absolutely.

You know what I’ve learned? We in America have enough STUFF. We just need to learn how to spread it out and use it better.

Children need security in a worry-free environment. So how do we make it worry-free? Keep it simple. Your vacation should not look like the travel schedule for the President of the United States. Your weekend of planned family activities should not cost more than your monthly electric bill.

Don’t get cheap–get creative. Children want to enjoy themselves in a worry-free environment where they feel secure. It is not old-fashioned to think that you can still take your family out into a tent in the woods, sitting around a fire toasting marshmallows, telling ghost stories and have a roaring good time. You may have to turn off the cell phones and the I-Everythings–and just absorb the available giggling possibilities.

We have enough stuff but we still don’t feel “stuffed”–secure–and because we don’t feel secure, we worry, and passing worry onto your family complicates the lives of those who are nurtured by simplicity.

So I am going to stop chasing the American dream because before my eyes it has turned into a nightmare. I am going to cease to pinch pennies only to suddenly and extravagantly spend too much money on nothing, but instead, disperse my funds more evenly, to create the greatest blessing for dollar value.

I am a child of God who needs security by living in a worry-free environment that is kept simple. No wonder Jesus said to stop thinking about what you eat and drink. After all, we all know where our next meal is going to end up. And whether you spent five dollars on it or five hundred doesn’t really matter when it reaches its destination.

  • Enough stuff.
  • Enough worry.
  • Enough complication.

Enough said.

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Road of the King–October 27, 2011

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About four or five miles outside of King, North Carolina, is a little United Methodist Church where I’ve spent my past two days sharing with salt-of-the-earth citizens while adding my particular sprinkle of pepper. The experience was rich. People are always a little hesitant to embrace strangers for fear of contracting some sort of social leprosy or actually absorbing a new idea or two. But once you get past the initial shock of physical appearance and survive the great bathing of curiosity, you can get down to the realities of person-to-person.

Unfortunately, two of the greater forces in our society–religion and politics–always fail to deliver us from true evil. They manufacture enemies for us to despise or attack in an attempt to keep our minds off the real problem. And that dilemma would be our inability as a species to deal with our own problems, preferring to pick at the sores and scabs of others.

As I’ve taken a magnifying glass to inspect my innards more frequently, I have discovered that I have much less time to examine yours. It is a good thing. So as I leave my new friends in King (or actually rural King, NC), I impart three different thoughts to them–great barometers to measure whether what they believe and do is really on the right track with the mind of Jesus, or just a bunch of religious rhetoric and political poo-poo.

Let me begin it by saying, “You know you’re on the right path when …”

1.  Children are welcome and encouraged to understand. Somehow or another we forget that children are going to spend most of their lives as adults. If we let them walk around believing they don’t need to understand the truth, they can carry their childish attitudes into the grown-up world and become both obnoxious and useless. Sometimes we think that childhood is only about soccer balls, video games and parties, with a little schoolwork thrown in on the side. Now soccer is great exercise, some video games can be entertaining, everybody loves a party and I certainly have nothing against the pursuit of knowledge. But I think children need to know they’re heading towards a world of responsibility, which they need to both understand and enjoy. Otherwise, you have bratty kids who are going to become frustrated adults. Now, most twelve-year-old children think church is boring, old people are boring, and Jesus is both church AND old, and therefore boring. It is a huge mistake. Every kid should walk out of church with a smile on his face and an idea in his head. Pastor, if they’re doing that, you’ve reached the old ones, too.

2.  Joy should always be established. Joy is a great two-pronged blessing. It is feeling good about what just happened while simultaneously knowing that if it never happens again, you’re still going to be all right. Joy is happiness mingled with the understanding that being giddy is not always possible–but happiness never has to leave. It is the knowledge that we are never forsaken. It is the great information that we matter.  And it is the realization that because we matter, the person sitting next to us does too.

3. And finally, every church service should holler with glee that faith is admired. We need to stop reciting things so much and instead, need to live out a fruitful life, which gives us reason to testify.  Stop expecting people to believe. Belief is a lot harder to achieve than most ministers preach. Faith demands that I walk away from a lot of things I’m seeing towards a bunch of stuff that appears to be invisible at this present moment. That’s tough. But if I’m not walking towards possibility, I’m walking away from opportunity and leaping into disappointment. Faith should be admired. When we see people standing on their own two feet, even though they’re a little wobbly, we should come and put an arm around them and tell them how we admire their bravery. Unfortunately, we’re too busy trying to find all the right answers instead of taking advantage of each and every moment.

Most of the things being debated in our society–that folks are so sure they know the right answers to–I often am not even certain that I comprehend the question. Here’s what I do know.  Faith is necessary for me to get out of my circumstances. My circumstances are often of my own making, but God has granted me grace and forgiven me. And that forgiveness is contingent on me loving people–whether I like them or not.

That’s right. I don’t have to like you to love you.Liking you means I would look forward to an opportunity to share dinner and conversation with you. Loving you means that I’m going to get out of your way and let you have a good life so you can find somebody better than me to eat dinner with and have conversation. So that’s it, King. I love you.  And guess what? I even like you.

But take a  look in the faces of your children to see if your beliefs are working. And make sure you never get together without joy being established. And when you see faith in yourself and other people, step back and applaud and shout hallelujah. Those three things right there will set you apart from the mediocre politicians and the picky religionists.

I hope to see you again. And I know if we pursue these things together, there certainly will be a great meeting place.

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Jonathan sings “Let”

Jonathan Sings “Spent This Time”

Jonathan and his partner, Janet Clazzy, play “The Call”

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