Good News and Better News… August 7th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is truly amazing how God’s plan for my life works so much better when I make good decisions.

Maybe that’s because God, who gave every human being free will, does not “plan our life.” Instead, he offers wisdom, strength and grace to those who remain humble. I see this every single day of my time on Earth.

Some people are waiting for God to do what He’s already done.

Others take what God has done and go out and do something with it.

I was a blessed man to be granted the opportunity to share at the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Palm Harbor, Florida. I ran across people who were thinking about making good decisions.

One fellow candidly told me that when he walked in and saw that there were guest ministers, he wanted to walk right back out. But he decided to sit down –n a grumpy sort of way–and ended up being thrilled with his choice.

Another fellow was recovering from stomach problems and decided to come in spite of them, and departed exhilarated.

I ran across person after person who explained to me that the facts set before them did not necessarily warrant optimism or faith, but they chose to rearrange circumstances to their better advantage.

Jesus never criticized anyone for showing initiative to change his or her life. In our religion we often connote that too much ambition, or even an overload of passion, is detrimental to Godly humility. In the process, many of those who darken the door of the church are plagued by insecurity.

I am a human who truly has been granted a great opportunity of possibility–I get to go and share my thoughts, my songs, my words and my good cheer, with the aspiration of inspiring others. Did God plan for me to do this? He certainly is grateful for my efforts–and I, for His mission.

The good news is that we have been given the tools, the opportunity and the potential to make fruitful lives.

The better news is that our Father in heaven, from a position of support, is admiring our growth.

 

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … December 3rd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Man: I want a woman who’s smart.

 

Woman: Well, I would suggest that you get smarter. Intelligent people tend to find each other. I want a man who’s confident.

 

Man: You’ll need to be careful with that one. Confidence isn’t bragging. It’s a delicate balance between accomplishment and humility. I want a woman who’s sexy.

 

Woman: Well, there are lots of women who need sex–claim to have a yearning for it. But if you’ll allow me to say so, you might look for a woman who wants to have romance solely with you. I, on the other hand, would like a man who’s talented.

 

Man: Well, there’s talent that’s perceived, and talent that has the proof of performance. It’s easy to find a guy who has a guitar and a whole bucket of songs he’s written and is convinced he might have a future. Let’s be honest. If somebody isn’t giving him money for his talent right now, they probably never will. That’s why I would like to have a woman who’s generous.

 

Woman: Now, generosity is a tricky thing. Some people are generous to those they know or to their families, or might even spread it to their friends. But the true spirit of generosity is doing something for someone who has no ability to give it back in your direction. I guess that’s why I yearn for a man who’s spiritual.

 

Man: That can be a trap. There’s a big difference between being religious and being real. True spirituality is realizing there’s nothing in heaven that can’t at least be attempted on Earth. If your man is constantly talking about heaven, faith, prayer and church, he’s letting you know that he has no intention of making God’s will done here on Earth as it is in the sky. Me–I would love to have a woman who’s funny.

 

Woman: Keep in mind, there’s a fine line between silly and humor. And the trouble is, sometimes women who are silly are also air-headed about everything. Here’s how you know a woman is funny. Is she self-deprecating about her own weaknesses without losing a bit of her self-esteem? For me, finding a man who’s kind would be the greatest thing I could achieve.

 

Man: That does sound good, doesn’t it? Except for the fact that some people are kind because they’re afraid of being honest. Kindness has to be borne from a knowledge of the truth, with the addition of mercy. Otherwise you start insisting that everybody in the world is okay, and slam the door on those who might have decided to get better. Let me guess–you’d like a strong man.

 

Woman: Strong worries me. He may be able to lift a box and carry it up to the third floor, but those same muscles could be attached to a bad temper and used against me. I think I would prefer a man who pursues being fearless and uses the strength he’s got to tackle his problems instead of attacking the people he loves.

 

Man: You know what I’m hearing?

 

Woman: What’s that?

 

Man: We’re looking for the same thing in each other.

 

Woman: I guess it’s safe to say, we’re looking for people who realize they’re human beings instead of a penis and a vagina.

 

Man: A little blunt, but I think I agree.

 

Woman: I wasn’t blunt. I was just being strong.

 

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G-Poppers … May 20th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop has certainly made a religion out of avoiding being religious or political.

It’s not that he lacks faith or devotion to America–just that he is leery of any club that insists on making all the rules.

So when G-Pop was waiting for his son to join him for dinner at a restaurant, as he sipped some water and tried to avoid the breadsticks they had brought to the table, he listened in to a nearby conversation among two men and a woman.

Remarkably, the trio was split among the three remaining candidates who have a chance to be the President of the United States.

  • The woman was for Donald.
  • The younger man was for Bernie.
  • And the older man was for Hillary.

G-Pop chose to quietly monitor their conversation because it was so fascinating.

The woman who was for Donald was attracted to him because he is an Alpha male, angry over all the unfairness of government and the lack of protection seemingly being offered the American people.

The younger man was also incensed by the greed of Wall Street, the unfairness of wages and income distribution, as the older man tried to make the case that Hillary was the safe choice and at least has some background in the internal workings of the executive branch of the government.

G-Pop was keeping score in his mind.

Let’s see now: Two “angrys” and a safe choice.

He tried to remember the last President of the United States who came into office angry or as the safe choice, who ended up doing much to benefit the common good.

So G-Pop took a moment to examine the basic premises of each candidate.

Donald: America is too nice, we need to get tougher and also stop trying to please the whole world. Matter of fact, he lives this out personally by sharing that he doesn’t particularly favor apologizing.

Bernie: On the other hand, he is angry because Wall Street billionaires are hoarding all the profit, leaving the working class nearly destitute.

Hillary: She thinks her greatest appeal lies in trying to get the American people to go back to the 1990’s, when her husband was President, to restore that age of alleged optimism, balanced budgets and job security.

Always remember, every temporary solution looks better than a permanent one. That’s what makes it temporary.

Donald doesn’t want to apologize, yet we have a fellow who’s been around for two thousand years who tells us that as we forgive others, we will be forgiven.

Bernie wants to equalize the finance in the world, when that great thinker from two thousand years ago told us that those who have will get more and those who haven’t may very well lose what they have. That’s why we should be sensitive to the least of our brethren. It never equalizes.

And as far as Hillary’s contention regarding going back to the 1990’s, the same teacher instructed us that you can’t put new wine into old wineskins. 2016 is not 1995. Matter of fact, there’s little similarity anywhere in the mix.

So as G-Pop waited for his son to arrive, he thought to himself, two angry people and a safe choice will not prepare our nation for the problems we will be facing, which will demand strength mingled with diplomacy, force tenderized by forgiveness and devotion tempered by an evolution toward needful change.

Obviously, the three people at the table nearby were unable to come to any conclusions.

But G-Pop wants his children to know that unless one of these three candidates steps out of his or her present format and starts forgiving, being more realistic about wealth distribution and admits that we can’t live off a Presidency that is twenty years gone, we will have more problems than just a close election.

We will end up with leftovers in a world that demands main courses.

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G-Poppers … March 18th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop sat quietly, listening to two family members talk about politics. Even though they are loving companions in every way, the political scene does divide them–right down the middle of their concerns.

Their conversation was interesting, but filled with assumptions which have cropped up in this present field of candidates.

Assumption 1: Politics is a different game and doesn’t have to follow the same rules. In other words, we expect them to lie.

Assumption 2: We’re in the process of choosing the best from the worst instead of merely attempting to extract the worst from the best.

Assumption 3: It’s not going to get any better.

G-Pop thought to himself that the true mistake lies in thinking that we are picking a leader instead of allowing the definition of leadership to do the selection for us.

Leadership has four components which end up with a determination.

1. Kindness: “I don’t want to start the fight.”

Anyone who thinks that politics and leadership is about fighting is promoting survival of the meanest.

2. Honesty: “I don’t want to initiate the lie. If lying is going to go on, I would rather watch it happening instead of being the founder of the deceit.”

3. Respect: “I don’t grow with your failure. I don’t need to honor iniquity, but I do need to ensure that the mistakes of others are corrected by nature instead of my rage.”

4. Resolve: “I don’t want to be the first to give up. I also don’t want to be the last to give up once it becomes obvious that change is necessary. I would like to give the plans available a chance to survive a bump or two instead of assuming that we’re heading off a cliff.”

When a good leader puts kindness, honesty, respect and resolve together, he or she ends up in strength, which is: “I don’t want to abandon goodness.”

For as G-Pop listened to his family members discuss politics, he realized there is no difference between being angry at the rich or angry at the poor. You’re still too damn angry.

Somewhere along the line, we have to put our faith into goodness winning the day, and not retreat from that purity … simply because evil does a lot of growling.

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 5) Mercy … January 3rd. 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesonian hands

Our greatest fear is having our weakness exposed to others. To avoid this horror, we pursue positive attitudes, lies, anger, defensiveness, deceit, prayer and self-righteousness.

Yes, the absence of candor is the open door to deception. And when we are dishonest about our true selves, we have the ugly by-product of prejudice, which robs us of our better nature.

Why do we become prejudiced? In order to keep the attention away from the beam sticking out of our own eye, we try to bring focus to the speck in our brother’s eye.

So I can tell you of a certainty, honesty has a little brother and its name is mercy.

Without honesty, we feel no need whatsoever to be merciful, but spend all of our time drafting plans to escape notice of our vice. And maybe it’s not even a vice–perhaps it’s just a piece of us that requires grace instead of criticism.

It is time to become reasonable.

If the Gospel of Jesus does not afford us the humanity to confess our faults one to another, then it merely is a temporary pain-killer, or worse, a dangerous diversion.

Here’s a beautiful process–maybe better phrased, a way of thinking that actually produces thought:

  1. I have a weakness.
  2. You have a weakness.
  3. We have weaknesses.
  4. Therefore, we choose mercy.

If I do not believe I have a weakness, I certainly will not tolerate your peccadilloes. And if I discover that you are weak and I am unwilling to admit my weakness, then I will focus on yours and attack you for having it.

Thus, mercy is avoided, ignored and cast aside.

A world without mercy is always a lie, ready to be prosecuted.

For it will only take you a few moments after you meet me to discover that I have weaknesses, whether I confess them or not. It will not take me any longer to uncover yours.

So the only advantage we have is to get in front of these revelations by admitting that we have weaknesses, encouraging others to make the same confession, and then humbly allowing mercy to do its healing work through understanding and the passage of time.

Nothing happens until we realize how weak we are.

Strength is not owned; it is given by humbly admitting weakness.

 

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The Alphabet of Us: F is for Fret … January 12, 2015

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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Building Block F bigger

All human beings possess a heart, soul, mind and strength. Nothing of any true significance can be achieved unless this is understood.

Fear tentatively creeps across the stage and cautiously introduces “fret”–then runs and hides. Fret takes over.

Fret has three modes of operation:

1. Hesitation. “I’m not sure.”

2. Procrastination. “Let’s wait a little while.”

3. Frustration. “What the hell is happening?”

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that fear is what got our fretful show going. Matter of fact, it’s almost impossible to trace it back to a specific apprehension that triggers our nervous twitches and worrisome attitudes.

People spend millions of dollars in therapy attempting to find the lineage of their fret. Honestly, my dear friends, I think it’s time and money wasted.

Since fret has decided to be the front man for the “band of fear,” you might want to deal with the lead singer.

Therefore, the main reason we hesitate is because we either refuse to deal with what we have or we’re convinced it’s insufficient. Here’s a great piece of advice:

What you have you have. What I have, I have.

Waiting for a new shipment to reinforce our supply causes us to fret. We do much better when we assume that no more is coming and we make a plan to use what we have.

Likewise, we procrastinate because we are unsure that what we have can be turned into what we can do, and that it will have any impact in solving our situation. Can we simplify?

What we can do is what we can do, and if more is needed, there is nothing we can do.

And often, developing a sense of humor about our lack causes others, and even God, to want to step in and fill in the gap.

And finally, frustration is when we’re constantly obsessed with the finish line and have lost sight of the steps that get us there.

For if I find out what I have and what I can do, I have the great opportunity to celebrate what is at least a good start.

Fret is an exercise in vanity.

It is the notion that we have achieved some status of importance that should make us pressure-free.

But if we find out what we have, and we discover what we can actually do and we pronounce it to be a good start, then hesitation, procrastination and frustration will be dismissed from our cast and replaced with much better actors.

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Three Ways to Remain Calm… January 8, 2015

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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family photo album bigger

For all of you who are waiting for things to get better, let me tell you, I will be here to give you a quick hug when they don’t.

Things are not going to get better. We can get better with things.

I had a phone call last night from a gentleman complaining to me about being mistreated. Basically, he explained his situation in the first two minutes, but then went on for another twenty, reinforcing his points on how upset he was and how much revenge he wanted to heap on those who had offended him.

  • At no time did he ask my opinion.
  • He was not pursuing counsel.
  • He wanted to vent.

At the end of the twenty minutes, he thanked me for listening and told me it really helped. I said, “No, it didn’t. You just took the past twenty minutes to convince yourself that you are right and everybody else is wrong. You’re not calm. You’re a loaded gun with the safety on.”

Most of us are fully prepared to explode into a fit of rage if someone cuts us off in traffic. So what should we do when we find ourselves feeling attacked, and our instincts to hurt others come to the forefront and create a billowing sea of turmoil?

1. Pull out the photo album.

I guess nowadays, it may be opening up your computer and checking the wall of your Facebook.

Look at pictures. Don’t react. Don’t fester. Don’t think about what you want to do. Look at pictures of your living history. Remember feeling devastated? Then take a minute to realize that you weren’t. You survived.

Look at the wonderful tapestry of a life you have woven, and consider that there is no reason to destroy it just because you’re having a bad day.

The reason we lose our cool is because we don’t appreciate the hundreds of photographs which have brought us to who we are today.

2. Clean out a closet.

Anger is an energy. It triggers all sorts of chemicals in our bodies, causing us to become feisty and vindictive. Literally, go into your closet and start folding things up. Put your hands to work in a constructive way. Otherwise they will itch to strike out.

You can cuss in your closet. You can slam things around. You will be breaking no laws of either nature or God. And after you’re done and you’ve burned off some of that unnecessary froth, you will also have a clean closet.

3. Write a letter.

People don’t do it anymore. The lack of penning our thoughts to another person is turning us into a bunch of emotional cripples. Actually take a piece of paper and a pen and write a letter to a friend who has stood by you and knows you are not a loser.

You may never send the letter, or you may choose to find an envelope and a stamp. Either way your feelings are on paper, and when they are in ink and you read them back you will be astonished at how clear your thinking will be.

So consider your history. Life has been pretty good.

Use your energy to be constructive. Hang up your clothes.

And find a creative way to communicate your disappointment by using pen and paper.

It is arrogant to believe that what we feel is really all that important. If it were important, we would continue to feel it.

But because it comes and goes, we should find a way for it to go when it comes.

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