Good News and Better News … February 12th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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You are not a farmer.

You are not called to plow, plant, kill weeds and fuss about the weather.

You are a sower.

Your parents were wrong–life is not about “being careful” so you won’t accidentally reap some undesirable result. As long as you’re not starving to death, hurting yourself or interfering with others, get out there and sow.

Your caution only hurts you.

Your intimidation robs you of the experience for which you yearn, and if you fail to achieve, makes you grumpy, old and judgmental. “How dare other people have fun in my presence?”

The story goes, “A sower went forth to sow seed.”

The end result of the process is as follows: Once you drop, you end up with a flop or a crop.

That’s how easy it is. And according to this tale, most of the time it is a flop. Yes, we sustain enthusiasm through many a disappointment, reveling in the sweetness of pleasure.

Some seed will just miss. It won’t get anywhere near soil. Forgive yourself. Laugh it off. “Okay, it landed by the wayside.” Maybe you can aim better next time. It didn’t do anything you wanted it to do. Get over it. Keep in mind, when you refuse to partake of life, you sit in your own sediment until you stink.

Some of the “drop” lands on stony ground. Yeah, the idea started out good, but it didn’t have sustaining power. This doesn’t mean you don’t get joy out of the undertaking. It’s the power of knowing when to walk away. And here’s a clue–when it stops being fun, you should start looking for your shoes.

Some of the seed you drop lands in the middle of thistles. Now, this is soil that’ll grow anything–good and bad. The trouble is, sometimes the bad eats up the good, so it’s not the greatest climate to maintain a cherished mission. Keep sowing.

And some seed miraculously lands right in the middle of rich soil, grows and gives you a crop. This is why we celebrate. It’s why we praise. It’s why we reflect. Why we testify.

We do all of these because success doesn’t happen as often as failure, and if you refuse to try because “doom is more likely than bloom,” you will only guarantee yourself the failure of nothingness.

And if you’re surprised that things don’t work out the way you planned, you may just hang up your bag of seed and pout.

The good news is, we are not farmers–we are sowers.

The better news is, every once in a while we sow into the right soil, and the meaning of life grows right in front of our eyes.

 

 

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Jesonian … December 16th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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A day in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

Although most theologians would like to focus on the 24-hour period leading up to his crucifixion, the Gospels do offer us other examples. One of the primal outlines is found in Matthew, Chapters 12 and 13. You may feel free to read it–I will not tax your spirit or patience by parsing it verse by verse–but there are six things that become clear from perusing the story line.

1. Jesus was not a theologian.

His disciples walked through a field of corn, and even though it was forbidden by religious edict to eat it–especially on the Sabbath–they partook. Jesus defended them to the Pharisees, who were ready to leap upon the activity to prove the unworthiness of Jesus’ Kingdom movement. During this exchange, Jesus makes a profound statement: “The Sabbath is for man.”

It is geared for us, in order to replenish, rejuvenate and renovate our thinking.

2. Jesus was not a rabbi.

He strolls into a synagogue and disrupts the service by healing a man with a withered hand. He is accosted for this untimely interruption, and replies, “Each one of you will save a donkey from a trench, but you won’t do anything to help this fellow.”

Yes, Jesus was guilty of interrupting the flow of worship.

And contrary to the common patter:

3. Jesus was not a Jew.

Not only did he break the Jewish laws, taunting them in doing so, but we are informed that he was a voice, a spirit and a teacher in whom the “Gentiles could trust.”

Even though his proximity to Jerusalem might generate the assumption that he was a Son of Abraham, he made it clear that he was around “before Abraham.”

Shall we press on?

4. He was certainly not a traditionalist.

The religious leaders believed he was satanic. They swore he was casting out demons by the power of Satan. Of course, none of them could cast out a demon, but Jesus made it clear that he had come to destroy the works of the devil and that they needed to be careful not to mock the moving of the Holy Spirit just because it was inconvenient to their case.

So Jesus is not a theologian, a rabbi, a Jew or a traditionalist. And by the way:

5. Jesus was not a family man.

When interrupted by his mother, brothers and sisters during a time of ministry (because they wanted to take him home, thinking he was crazy) Jesus turned to the crowd and claimed them as his new family.

Yes, Jesus might find it difficult to be in a church service, welling up over allegiance with people simply because of shared DNA.

So as Matthew describes a day in the life of Jesus, when he defies theologians, upsets a rabbi, walks away from Judaism, breaks traditions and sidesteps family involvement, he ends the discourse by establishing who the Nazarene really was.

For the Master sat down and told a story: “The sower went forth to sow seed.”

6. Jesus is a sower.

He’s not concerned about isolating off perfect soil, but merely casting the seed in the direction of any possibility.

A day in the life of Jesus will let you know that his message was human, geared for humans, addressed to humans, human-friendly and human-saving.

He discarded religion in favor of the reality of those souls God sent his way.

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Jesonian … September 30th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It had been a day of storytelling.

Launching out into a boat so that the audience on the seashore could hear more clearly, the young teacher, formerly from Nazareth, had shared great yarns about faith–three in particular.

Taking an ethereal subject, he translated it into the human and earthly. It was what he did best. He had no intention of having followers with heaven on their minds–not when there was still so much to do here on earth.

The first story was about a sower. The lesson was really simple. The seeds of hope, love, contentment, joy and even confrontation have to be sown–whether the inhabitants of Earth received them or not. You just never know what patch of soil might sprout promise.

Another story was about how to showcase faith. It really is not a private matter–it is something that needs to be shown forth, demonstrated, put on a candlestick so the light can fill the room.

And then there was that closing story that finished out the day. An inspiring one. “Faith is like a mustard seed…” In other words, it may be small, but its original girth does not foretell what it will eventually be. Don’t despise small beginnings.

At the end of the day this young teacher, Jesus, decided he wanted to go on a late-night sail across the sea to the other shore. It was a family aatmosphere, and so other folks who had been moved by the message decided to join him on the journey. Jesus had a big boat but those who followed him were in little ships. Exhausted, Jesus grabbed a pillow and headed to the back of the boat to get a snooze on the way across.

Then the atmosphere changed. (It nearly always does.) Into a quiet, peaceful night, a storm arose–a big one. The waves began to splash into the boat.The disciples were frightened. All the stories of faith dissipated in the presence of this threat. They screamed at Jesus, asking him why he didn’t do something. Why didn’t he care that they were dying?

Every teacher in the world will understand his feelings at that point. What is the purpose of sharing a lesson if no one applies it?

But Jesus had other concerns. This was no time to put the disciples to the test to see if they could survive their anxieties. Because, you see, there were other little ships. And if the big boat was in trouble then the little ships were in desperate straits.

So Jesus calmed the storm–not because he wanted to appease twelve frightened men in a big boat, but because he was concerned about the little ships.

Jesus was always sensitive to the little ships. Matter of fact, he made it clear that if we don’t take care of the “least,” we’re really not in fellowship with him at all.

We’ve lost our hearts for the little ships.

Storms come to our country and ravage the land and we scream to the government to help us rebuild our houses. Meanwhile, the least of these–the little ships–aren’t even getting water and food to survive.

I spent three days this year locked up in a hot house, sweating, my brain fried because I had none of the conveniences of which I was accustomed. I was fit to be tied.

In Puerto Rico, it’s been many,many days without food, water, cooling and relief.

Can we care about what’s happening to the little ships, or are we only concerned for our own losses and perishing?

That night, terrified disciples were saved because Jesus took care of the little ships.

I suggest that if we find the little ships in our lives, in the process of doing so, all the boats will be brought safely to the shore.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … July 13th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reformation Pohymn

Reformation

Much more than a confirmation

We are children of a reformation

Finding ways to embrace each other

Let me call you sister and brother

Escaping the screaming crowd

Who struggle with the proud

Let us take the Jesus path

Allow our hearts a childlike laugh

And weep for those bound by need

The sower going forth to scatter the seed

And determine that the way we pray

Comes from the heart, not mere words to say

And pepper the south, north, west and east

With the salt of the earth for those deemed least

We are the reformation

A royal priesthood, holy nation

I believe in you

Will you believe in me?

God will guide us through

The Son will make us free.

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Jesonian: We Are Not the Bread … September 28, 2014

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We are not the bread, we are the yeast.

We are not the world, but rather, the light.

We are not the meat. Salt, we are.

We are not the soil, but seed to be sown by the sower.

We are not the wineskin. Behold, new wine.

What does Planet Earth need?

  • Spirit: God is with us if we are with each other and sensitive to his creation.
  • Life: abundant possibilities producing the opportunity to use what we have instead of lamenting our lack.
  • Joy: be of good cheer. Nothing happens until we involve ourselves in the process.

Jesonian is not a religion, a belief, a system of worship or a moral code for judging others. It is when we add our lifestyle of effort, mercy and love to what is available.

It transforms entertainment into inspiration, business into creativity, faith into living works, politics into compassion that counts the cost, family into an every-growing inclusion of our brothers and sisters, and relationship into eternal connections.

We are not the bread.

We have not come to be served … but instead, to serve.

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WDJD… May 20, 2012

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I said yes. I like to say yes, mainly because “no” demands too much of an explanation and makes you sound like you are hem-hawing around instead of being forthright and honest.

A lady at a church, a teacher at the local high school, asked me if I would be willing to come and speak for an assembly of the student body the following morning after my concert. She had taken the initiative to arrange it, so I had no reason to say no.

I do not consider myself to be a great spokesman to young humans–but by the same token, I don’t despise them or find it difficult to communicate once  I get over my own fears and preconceptions. Long story shortened (to allow for you to maintain your attention)  I arrived at the school and was greeted by a young lady who was to be my hostess. She carried that timidity common to the adolescent of our species. I noticed that she was wearing a WWJD bracelet. So I commented.

“Oh, I see you have a WWJD bracelet. Are you a Christian?”

“Well, kinda,” she replied sheepishly. “Actually, my grandma gave it to me along with a little booklet about what it means. Honestly, I haven’t read it yet.”

I decided not to pursue the conversation any further. The WWJD fad really didn’t last too long–mainly because it did become more of a jewelry accessory rather than a spiritual odyssey, and secondly, because most people don’t know what Jesus would do because they are so ingrained in their own personal cultures that they color the purity of that spiritual quest with their own upbringing. So I waited for my instructions concerning the assembly.

Well, things began to fall apart, as they often do whenever you enter the realm of public education. The principal came out and apologized, saying that a full assembly would be impossible because there was testing going on. I listened quietly. He said he had arranged for the drama, speech and music departments to gather in the auditorium to hear me share about the power of inspiration in entertainment. I thanked him for his courtesy and awaited the opportunity. About ten minutes later the principal reappeared and said that regrettably, the choir, music and drama departments would be unable to attend the lecture because they were preparing for an upcoming concert–BUT the speech classes were still very interested in hearing my inspiring talk.

I nodded my head. About three minutes later, the secretary arrived (the principal apparently too embarrassed to attend further) and she said the speech department was going to be unable to hear me, because they needed to rehearse for a debate to be held at a rival school. By this time I was giggling inside, wondering exactly who I would end up speaking to, or if I was just starting my day early to make me appreciate my afternoon nap.

About a half an hour later, I was escorted into the gymnasium, where, in a far corner of the bleachers, about six young women sat–students from a physical education class. They didn’t dress out that particular morning, because they were either sick or had forgotten their exercise clothes. They sat peering at me as the secretary gave me an overly elaborate introduction and unleashed me on these uninterested souls.

I realized at this point that I did not need to know what Jesus WOULD do, but instead, required an understanding of what Jesus DID do. What DID Jesus do when he was placed in a position where he was given lesser and lesser importance, ending up with an audience he did not anticipate or prepare for? You see, I had taken some time to study the school–understood their mascots and had even checked out their website for their sports schedules, to know the team records. At this point, in front of these six non-dressing gym students, this all seemed quite irrelevant.

What was NOT going to work was a typical human reaction based on ego–because every time we feel slighted, cheated, angry, frustrated, misunderstood or fussy, we are viewed as the villain, no matter how justified our reasoning may be. This was my audience, which had deteriorated from fifteen hundred promised students to six students–who didn’t seem to have much promise at all.

What did Jesus do when slapped in the face by reality? There’s a four-step process to understanding how Jesus communicated his message of love and faith to the world. It’s not hard to understand; it’s not difficult to grasp. The problem with religion and Christian theology is that it has a goal rather than a search. Every denomination is determined to promote its particular spin on godliness instead of  just studying the mind and personality of Jesus. Sitting in front of those six young ladies who were bored to death, I applied the Jesonian philosophy on human interaction.

1. Open the heart. You will never reach people spiritually, mentally and physically if you haven’t touched them emotionally. It is futile to reach for the brain or the soul if you haven’t first passed through the heart. Jesus was a heart teacher. If you have no emotion in your spiritual experience, you will have no soul to it, no renewing of the mind and therefore no physical evidence.

2. Tell a story. Anybody who believes they can communicate God by reading the Bible has lost all sense of reason. The communication of God has always been, and always will be, the sharing of a personal testimony from our own experience.  Everything else sounds like jumbled words from a former time written by Shakespeare.

3. Use the earth. We are earthlings–and I don’t mean that in a science fiction sense. I mean that we are all inhabitants of earth. Therefore we understand earth and earth is our best source for communication. When you talk about heaven, the wrong people listen. People who are self-righteous. People who are trying to escape responsibility. People who are ethereal. People who want to condemn other people to hell by first talking about heaven. When you use the earth, every son and daughter of Adam who has ears can hear.

4. And finally, make God human. When Jesus told stories, God was portrayed as a Father, an owner of a vineyard, a king, a fisherman, and even a sower of seed. The true failure of religion is that it is obsessed with the notion of making humans godly–impossible–instead of taking the more logical path of making God more human.

I don’t have to wear a bracelet that says, “What would Jesus do?” I have isolated off the gospels and understand his modus operandi. So when I sat down in front of those six girls, instead of being upset, I opened my heart by telling them the funny story of how my day was going so far. I related about how that happened to great people everywhere–for example, that Abraham Lincoln was deemed to be a complete failure before history called him a success. I used the earth to connect with them about how it felt to be sitting there, not dressing out for gym class, and how when I write something like a movie, I look for anything that is common in order to connect with people. And then I made God human. I told them that I believed if God came to earth today and was looking for work, He would enter the entertainment field. I joked with them that He probably wouldn’t be an accountant–too many numbers. Certainly not a politician–they all laughed. God would make a horrible lawyer because he would always want to forgive the criminals. They especially liked that.

My morning finished triumphantly–although only in front of a half-dozen folk. I left the school with most people not knowing I was ever there, but I got a chance to make friends and impact six young ladies simply because I kept my cool instead of becoming prideful. And I used the magical power of what Jesus DID do–opening the heart, telling a story, using the earth and making God human.

   

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