3 Things… April 5th, 2018


Jonathots Daily Blog

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To Do When a Relationship Fails

1. SPEND TIME WITH YOURSELF

Don’t be surrounded by friends who try to free you of responsibility. Work on your person. After all, it is the portion you are taking into tomorrow.

2. SPEND TIME WITH STRANGERS

Rub shoulders with people who don’t know “the story.” Let them absorb you. Allow them to evaluate who you truly are. Build your confidence back up by realizing the appeal you possess.

3. REACH FOR A NEW PROJECT

Human beings do not succeed unless they’re pressing forward. Allow yourself to be energized by the best aspects of a worthy endeavor. Then let that gentle experience give you the personal counsel you desire.

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Good News and Better News … January 8th, 2018


 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Bethel United Methodist Church in Walterboro, South Carolina.

Although I’m not privy to your traveling plans, it does seem unlikely that you will ever make your way to darken the doors of this particular sanctuary. I did–just yesterday morning.

With a day that folks from Wisconsin would call “brisk” and those from South Carolina deemed “polar ice cap,” some very faithful locals gathered in the building to see what the weather and the road had brought to them via our humble efforts.

It started the day before, when Wally, Johnny and Collin arrived to help us set up, and all of my equipment, which had been sitting in the back of the van, tried to “fuzz out,” insisting it was Floridian. Overcoming those little missteps, we got all hooked up, and by Sunday morning, the Holy Spirit, resilient fellow that He is, arrived in a parka.

These are beautiful people. They are delightful human beings that the political parties take for granted, and the more snotty members of our society deem to be “simple.”

It’s a huge mistake. They are full of integrity; they have hearts which can be moved with the notion of a loving God, and after a considerable amount of time, they are even willing to embrace odd-looking strangers like Janet and myself.

As I sat and chatted with these adorable brothers and sisters, I was struck by a usable idea. All during my childhood and even in my adult years, I have been encouraged by society to “find my voice.”

Yes, “find your voice.”

But yesterday it struck me that this notion is the misconception that’s driving our problems into the ditch. People are trying very hard to find their own voice, and when all these individual voices speak together, what we have is” Tower of Babel II.”

Life is not about finding your voice–it’s about finding the voice.

The voice is humble, encouraging, respectful, open-minded, free of prejudice and also gentle and kind, with good cheer.

I suppose if you sat down all the people of Bethel United Methodist and had a political discussion, they might be at each other’s throats in three minutes.

That’s why we should never do that. We should take all things pertaining to government–“Caesar”–and let them stew in their own juices.

What we need to think about are the things that belong to God.

I’ve stopped trying to find my voice, and I’m looking for the voice. It is a voice that:

1. Encourages others.

2. Knows when to shut up.

3. Doesn’t repeat information unless there’s a personal experience.

4. Looks for a reason to be kind.

5. Quotes things that lift people up.

6. Refuses to accept complaining as natural.

7. Notices when things get better.

This morning I feel as joyous as a new baby colt. (They are joyous, aren’t they? I would think so.)

Because the good news is, I got to spend time with Wally, Johnny, Collin and the blessed souls of Bethel.

And the better news is, I got to practice once again finding The Voice instead of insisting on promoting mine.

 

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Good News and Better News… November 27th, 2017


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Upon arriving at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Palm City, Florida, we were greeted by Pastor Roy and John, who graciously agreed to carry in our equipment and assist us in any way possible. It is magnificent to run across human souls who welcome strangers–no matter how strange they may appear to be.

Pastor Roy is a congenial fellow who, like Matthew of old, was called from his trade to come and share the Gospel. Courteous, gentle, kind, inventive and helpful. During the time of our set-up, and also our whole visitation, this dear brother became and remained, our right arm.

I am humbled by such an active service.

I had one mission in Palm City–an attempt to escort beautiful children of God’s kingdom from fear to good cheer.

Fear grips us.

Good cheer greets us: Greets us with the awareness that all is well, God is with us and we have resource.

Being good Lutherans, they were naturally afraid of any show of spontaneous emotion. After all, we’re not positive that God isn’t a solemn and austere figure. (Of course, if He is, we’re in a world of trouble.)

Good cheer is what Jesus suggests we use to survive while he overcomes the world, which is full of tribulation.

I explained to these dear brothers and sisters that there’s a difference between clapping your hands and applause. Applause is often deemed an expression of appreciation or even praise for an artist. Clapping your hands is the most authentic evidence of the presence of joy.

So when we come into God’s house and we sit tight in our seats, afraid to move, waiting for the Eucharist, we miss the point of our gathering.

We should be there for three reasons: to strengthen one another, to care for one another and to confirm that the Gospel continues to be “good news.” All of our other traditions are delightful, but have little to do with what actually constitutes praise and worship.

So I told my new friends that I personally need no applause–but that God loves to hear them clap their hands.

So if you hear something good, see something good, feel tingly and warm in the Spirit or are overcome with joy: “Clap your hands, all ye people. Shout unto God with a voice of triumph.”

The good news is that when these Lutherans did so, the building reverberated with the power of love.

The better news is, if they will continue to release that Spirit through clapping their hands, many prayers for miracles will come their way.

 

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Good News and Better News… September 4th, 2017


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Is peace merely the absence of war or a majestic anointing to dissuade all conflict?

This question crossed my mind Sunday morning when Janet and I had the privilege of sharing our program at Peace Lutheran Church in Palm Bay, Florida, under the able leadership of Pastor Paul. Although the folks were hesitant at first to open their hearts to “us strangers,” in no time at all the glory of Spirit filled the room with reconciliation, realization and renewal.

It was good. It felt good.

Which brings me to my point this morning. Even though we may exalt ourselves for being extremely intellectual or even spiritual, we actually spend most of our lives being prompted by our feelings. Some would insist that this predilection is our weakness, but I have discovered that our emotions are what endear us to the Creator.

So when anyone steps into Peace Lutheran Church, they are taking the pulse of the heartbeat in the place.

Is it a sanctuary for redemption minus the fussiness propagated by our society? Is it warm with human smiles–aglow with care, and just lit up by the notion that “all things work together for the good for those who love the Lord?”

Only after we feel good about a place do we actually look around to see.

We notice faces. We observe actions. God forgive us, we become spies at our present location. Are we critical? Unfortunately, yes.

This is why there must be a belief system on Earth that understands that we’re constantly letting our light shine before all men. There is no backstage for the journey of faith, nor are we given a dressing room. There is no time to learn lines because all the daily setups are improvisational.

  • The world is looking.
  • The world is critical.
  • The world must see evidence for what it feels.

And finally, if we like what we feel and we’re pretty satisfied with what we see, we’re ready to hear.

As we know, faith comes by hearing, so it is the responsibility of every believer to bring peace to our quadrant by providing a faith that can be seen and felt.

That was our message yesterday. We must stop insisting that merely opening the doors to a house of worship promotes brotherly love, good will or recognition of our Creator.

No–if people don’t feel it they will never see it.

And if they don’t see it, they won’t hear it.

So the good news is that by the time I left Peace Lutheran I felt them and I saw the love of God. They let me eyeball their soul.

And the better news is, I can now trust what I hear from them.

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Good News and Better News … September 21st, 2015


 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Tomah

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.

I was so proud. I finally got it right.

I spent the week misspelling the name of the town we were headed for our next gig. It was Tomah, Wisconsin, but I kept trying to move the “h” up next to the “t”–forming “Thoma.”

Try as I might, I apparently had placed a crease in my brain to prefer the premature h. But when I arrived in town and was jotting down a note or two for the upcoming presentation, I actually spelled it correctly.

Let me get back to that.

The people sent to greet us and assist us in setting up for the performance were Mary and Paul. Lovely folks.

You see, the key to hospitality is realizing that the quality of our being is not assessed on how well we treat ourselves or our families, but rather, on the profile we select in caring for strangers. (Strangers scare us. That’s why we emphasize it with the word “strange.”)

But Mary and Paul relaxed, so did we, and in no time at all it seemed like this was our eighth barbecue together instead of first conversation.

When it came time for Sunday morning, I arrived at a church whose pastor had recently suffered two strokes. I was saddened by this for a pair of reasons:

Number one, it is the responsibility of every human being to temporarily take on the pain of others to bring the reality to bear of the need for prayer.

Secondly, the lady who books us said that the pastor was a delightful, loving, giving and warm-hearted man. The Kingdom cannot afford to lose such a valuable creature.

In his stead was another fellow, who was formerly the pastor of the church, who kindly, gently and ably was filling in during the absence of the ailing shepherd.

How do I describe my experience with the Tomah people?

First and foremost, delightful. I do like people.

I like them when they’re difficult because it presents me with a challenge.

I like them when they’re easy because then I don’t have to survive a challenge and we can get to the business of just enjoying one another.

The two services were filled with great emotional moments. Emotion is our fuel:

  • If it’s a football game, we cheer.
  • If it’s a sudden burst of finance…well, we also cheer.
  • But if we’re in church and we realize how good our life is, how blessed we are, or how we were spared a disgrace or indignity, we tend to sit, bewildered by what to do.

You see, that brings me back to my situation with the spelling of Tomah. There apparently was some stubborn part of me that wanted Tomah to be spelled the way I proposed. Even though I was incorrect, I felt right enough to continue to be wrong without apology.

Yes, there was much good news at the Tomah church, but I can offer them better news, and here it is:

Blessing arrives in tiny bites which need to be appreciated, or you will never experience the satisfaction of a full meal.

Church was never intended to be a place where we come and tiptoe around, attempting to find the will of God.

After all, church is not for God. It’s for us.

It is a sanctuary.

It is a place where we come to escape debates, anger, shootings, frustration, foolishness, politics and threats that surround us all week long, in a world that seems determined to self-destruct.

We need a place where we can lounge in the confidence of the love of those around us, while celebrating the bites of truth that are gradually coming into the vision of our understanding.

So don’t tell me your denomination doesn’t get emotional when your denomination is filled with people–and people are emotional.

I don’t care how you do it. I don’t care what kind of music you use as background to your decision to feel.

But when you leave a church, you should sense that you’ve been uplifted and touched in your heart.

That’s what I tried to bring to Tomah. Were they listening? Well, honestly, that’s not my business.

Just like it was not my job to change how they spelled their town.

 

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Three Ways to Be Wanted … November 6, 2014


 Jonathots Daily Blog

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wanted cropped

Everybody yearns to be wanted.

Are there universal aspects of human behavior that make us more appealing to the tribe than others? Of course there are.

So it’s ridiculous to continue to preach a gospel of individuality when a certain amount of conformity is necessary for us to get along and succeed with our brothers and sisters.

So let me offer three suggestions on how to make yourself more wanted by friends, and even strangers.

1. Stop complaining.

I mean, completely. And when you do slip up and begin to grump and growl, catch it and apologize. It’s a piece of self-righteousness that we must acquire, otherwise we will find ourselves hanging around with folks who believe that complaining is an option rather than a vice.

To identify what complaining is, let me give you a definition: Complaining is when your expectation has been dashed and detoured by reality and you still feel you have the right to an opinion.

You don’t, I don’t and neither does anyone else.

One of the most appealing aspects of human character which draws people your way is a reputation for “taking one on the chin” without bruising up for a week.

2. Start listening and remembering.

Some people say they’re good listeners, but they’re horrible at remembering.

  • If people tell you they don’t like pickles, don’t keep serving them.
  • If you hear that someone is searching for a specific item and you run across it, buy it and present it to them.

We extol the virtue of listening, but it is a useless attribute if we don’t allow the information to become part of our conscious memory.

Listen–yes indeed, but more importantly, remember the preferences, deeds and desires of others.

3. Pick a mood.

You don’t have to be happy all the time. But you do have to land on a general temperament which people can trust. Even though we may not admit it, we get frustrated by folks who are high one day and “in the pit” the next. Matter of fact, we tend to become amateur psychiatrists, diagnosing what their condition might be.

Unless you have a neurological disorder or a mental illness, your moodiness is your choice.

All of us desire to be wanted. But to achieve this status, we must pack our knapsack with the kind of supplies that make us valuable on this great camp-out called life.

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

 

Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Moving On … June 13, 2013


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Du QuoinJust because you find yourself in the position of being a traveling troubadour does not necessarily mean that you’re tickled about moving on.

If you have one ounce of human understanding, you have a tendency to attach to the people you meet, do some bonding and have a spot deep in your soul that wishes you could hang around longer. Obviously, that’s why most individuals settle into a nest, raise some birds and fly around the same batch of trees.

So every time I finish up a show with a new clump of friends, the realization that I must go onward and start over with those who insist that we begin “as strangers” is not only a bit intimidating but also stirs a little sadness in my soul–because I will be absent from those with whom I have just drawn near.

But the gospel was never meant to be placed within a tabernacle and revered around an altar. The message of truth and mercy is a living, breathing organism which finds its energy from renewing and saving the lost.

So there’s always a time for moving on.

When I finished up last night in Sunfield, I climbed up into my van and waved at the folks I treasured for forty-eight hours, stepped on the gas and traveled on. I thought to myself:

  • I have shared my music and heart to the best of my ability and to the completeness of my understanding at this point in my earth journey.
  • I kept it simple so the message can be remembered and cherished.
  • I laughed with those new friends to confirm the power of good cheer.
  • I shed a tear so that God could comfort us.
  • I tried not to be too long-winded, because many words dull the ears and confound the mind.
  • I stayed just long enough to be of benefit–and to learn.
  • And I left–so that the message can be honored instead of me occupying space and demanding notice.

Moving on. It is the miraculous mixture of trusting my talent, the power of the word …  and the souls left behind.

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