Unto Us … December 1, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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babies newbornSome people just don’t get it.

They seem to be completely adverse to the notion of a “baby God,” born in a stable, to bring peace to the world.

Maybe it sounds too much like a “hippie philosophy,” or reeks of humanism. I don’t know. But this is what I’m sure of–or at least, convinced of in my own mind: God didn’t cheat.

When He decided that a more human approach was necessary to convey His love and message, He put Himself through the entire process, beginning with birthing, circumcision and diaper rash.

The story of Jesus is not a supernatural one. It is a naturally superone.

It isn’t God stuffed inside the skin of a human being, but rather, a human being who allowed God to come in.

On this Advent Sunday, which welcomes in the Christmas season, some individuals will remind you that the most important thing about the Christ is his death, to bring us salvation for our sins. They are so anxious to nail Jesus that they’re willing to tear apart the bassinet in order to build the cross.

But as the prophet said, “Unto us a child is born.”

Yes. It’s for us.

Jesus was a little brother who took the hard knocks of human life without exception, to become our older brother. But it all began with Mama’s milk, burping, and a helluva lot of crying.

I love Christmas because it reminds us that God didn’t take any shortcuts in finding a path to become one of us–even choosing to be conceived, born and becoming a child needing to grow in wisdom, stature and in favor with everyone.

So Merry Christmas. And in this season, stop looking for the supernatural and find magnificent ways … to make the natural more super.

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

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Grace Period … September 13, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2004)

leaseI remember how thrilled I was in my twenties when I realized that even though my rent was due on the first of the month, I had five days to pay it before I was delinquent. It was referred to as the “grace period.”

But here’s the problem with that idea: within two months I became convinced that my rent was not due until the fifth. Instead of following the rules of the lease, which said I should pay on the first, I felt my rent could wait until the fifth. Eventually I created my own grace period–I started paying on the tenth and then the fifteenth. In no time at all, I rationalized that I was only one month behind.

You see, grace sounds like a wonderful idea until it’s perverted in the mind of a human twister. Rather than being grateful for the extension of mercy, we have a tendency to redefine and expand upon the original offer.

It doesn’t work in our secular society when we tell people to lie, cheat, deny and avoid doing anything admitting fault, and it does not work in the religious community either, where we generate simpering converts who tearfully espouse their weakness and pray for God to cover their lack.

Is there anywhere or any place where people are still trying to make better human beings?

I will tell you what grace is NOT. From there you can draw your own conclusions:

1. Grace can never be expected. Why? Because the Good Book says that grace is “given to the humble,” and the minute we start thinking we’re picking it up like a paycheck, pride and arrogance remove the value of the gift.

2. It can’t continue to allow us license to be stupid. Once again, the Good Book tells us that we can’t “continue in sin,” hoping that grace will arrive by oxcart, just in time to cover our butts.

3. And finally, grace can’t brag. The minute we start telling stories about how God has supernaturally protected us from our own foolishness instead of silently breathing a prayer of gratitude due to unmerited favor, we not only become obnoxious, but heaven also stops returning our phone calls.

God’s grace is sufficient for us–and therefore is determined by Him, not by the accumulation of our mounting pleas.

I think we would do well to take a season in our society to walk away from grace and encourage people to rediscover the power and majesty of personal responsibility.

  • I don’t think it will diminish grace, because when we are looking to our own hearts, we are humble. God gives grace.
  • When we’re checking out our own motives, we stop fostering foolishness and sin in our lives. Grace is permitted to hang around.
  • And if we will cease screaming and yelling about grace being everlasting, we will discover that the amount sent our way is always sufficient.

I have noticed of late that not many companies talk about “grace periods” anymore. For grace given to a lazy fool is always wasted, always taken for granted and always defined by the sluggard as a blank check … for stupidity.

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

Acts-I-Dent… May 22, 2013

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dentAmazing grace is only amazing if it helps us find a way to stop being so stupid.

Even though I am very grateful for grace, mercy and forgiveness, somewhere along the line, I would like to grow up, mature a little bit and not always be standing in the bread line of neediness. If you don’t agree with this, I understand. There are many religious AND non-religious people who find submission to inadequacy to be appealing–or maybe even the definition of humble. I happen to think that you don’t get the CHANCE to be humble until you do something great.

So you see, on Monday when I backed my van into a truck, denting my door (see above picture), I did not feel humbled by the experience because I did NOT achieve anything great.

What I would like to describe is the process my brain unleashed following this little piece of idiocy. When I felt the thump of making contact with the pick-up truck, I thought:

1. “Oh, crap.” Truthfully, it wasn’t crap–but for the sake of discussion, let us keep that word. It is my normal reaction to difficulty. I have not become a supernatural being who welcomes adversity because it builds patience and character.

2. “Oh, no.” The realization came very quickly: I was entering a world of insurance companies, phone numbers, complaints–and fussiness. I hate those places. Sometimes I pursue extra work just to make sure I don’t have to do THAT work. So realizing I was now in an unwelcome realm, I moved to:

3. “Oh–who or what  can I blame?” Let’s be honest–no one wants to look like a loser, so even when we do loser things, we want to make sure that everybody thinks we are winners doing loser activities. To achieve that requires some back-pedaling and manipulation of the story. But since I don’t like to blam eother people for my mistakes, I had a fourth notion, which was:

4. “Oh. Where can I run?” I don’t have very good legs at this point, so escaping the scene of the accident was unlikely (unless I was being trailed by a herd of turtle-constables). So in that split second, when all these conflicting thoughts were jockeying for attention, the first viable inclination surfaced:

5. “Oh. I’m not gonna lie.” I was not going to tell the guy I hit that it was his fault because he hit my rear end. I’ was not going to tell my friends in the van that it was their fault because they distracted me. The cleanliness of that notion quickly took me to:

6. “Oh, It’s my fault.” Okay, okay–no one likes to say it. But the sooner we get to that freeway of understanding, the faster we can exit from our calamity. It was my fault. I can give you excuses. I can tell you I was tired. I can tell you I should have already been in my room instead of out shopping. I might even get your sympathy. But my series of explanations would never get your respect.

It was my fault. And I have the dent to prove it.

That wonderful admission to myself brought about another reassuring ointment to my mind and heart:

7. “Oh–I’ll survive.” I always have. There’s no reason to think this is the one that’ll take me down. Not until I am unconscious, flying away to eternity, will I run across a problem which is beyond my power–based upon my willingness to adjust.

I was not proud of my stupidity. I don’t ask God’s grace to cover it. God’s pretty busy in Oklahoma right now. What I want is to tell you is that the Acts that I put forth Dented my van.

It was me. I am better because I survived the seven-step process–which only lasted two or three seconds in my mind–to finally land in the reality that I will “never be left nor forsaken.

Stop being afraid of the truth and give yourself a chanceto be made free.

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.!

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

The Waxahachie Project… May 18, 2013

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WaxahachieWaxahachie, Texas.

The name “Waxahachie” comes from the Native American tongue, meaning “Buffalo Creek” or “Cow Creek.” Honestly, I have nothing to say about that. Sometimes it’s better to leave things like that alone, and certainly resist any temptation to be clever or draw deeper meaning from the context.

Here is what Waxahachie means to me: I have three-and-a-half hours to spend with a few hundred people, to communicate my heart and soul, and to leave hopefully having edified them and encouraged them in the better parts of themselves. If you didn’t know, that’s two hundred and ten minutes. It’s not very long. There certainly is no time to waste being picky, fussy, careful, suspicious or opinionated.

I have decided that there are five things I would like to accomplish during my brief stay with these delightful human examples of why God loves the world and hopes the best for it.

1. I’d like these folks to know that we have more in common than we in difference. We are killing each other with the religion of “uniqueness,” which is only giving us license to murder attempts at commonality.

2. The gospel is earth friendly because God is people loving. I guess you can feel free to focus on the parts of spirituality that have nothing to do with human beings, but rather, deal with angels, demons, heaven and hell. But considering the fact that we ARE not yet in the realm of the supernatural, it is perhaps wise to make sure that we focus more on natural pursuits.

3. Good cheer is our best offense in reaching the world. Matter of fact, if you want to act worldly, the most obvious way to achieve that goal is to establish a grumpy disposition. It is rather unlikely that we will be able to help people if we suffer from the same disease of disappointment that infests their entire beings.

4. Meanness gets meanness. I don’t know where we got the idea that we could actually “out-muscle” our competition, or find a way to be nastier than the nasty.  Once you establish the fact that you are trying to get what you want and are willing to do anything to do it, you create the kind of enemies who never forget how you attacked them and lie in the weeds, waiting for a chance to wreak their vengeance. I cannot promise you that you will always get “nice” back from being nice, but I can guarantee that you will always get “mean” back for being mean.

5. And finally, I will share with the dear folks in Waxahachie that every buffalo crosses the creek at the same place. I phrase it this way: NoOne is better than anyone else. As I travel, it amazes me how many people give a nod of assent to this idea, only to later resist the notion because it fails to grant them the supremacy they desire. It doesn’t make any difference. The minute you try to be better than somebody else, there is someone standing in the wings, ready to dash your hopes because they have evidence of presumed superiority.

Well, that’s about it for me. Oh, and by the way–one last thing I will impart to these folks: I love you. Because anything less is too hard to explain.

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

******

Jonathon’s thinking 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

Crossing Paths … January 22, 2013

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Jon SigningI often stand back in bewilderment as I gaze at the world before me and notice the perplexing battle between those who hold to religion and those who pursue the wonders of the natural world.

For those who insist on pursuing supernatural or eternal causes often feel compelled to reject discoveries and insights from psychology, science and business. It is their way of pleasing that which they consider to be present, but unseen.

Likewise, those who have harnessed themselves to the track of psychology, science and business feel an intellectual superiority over believers in fairy tales and magical books.

I say that I am bewildered–because I don’t find myself to be an extraordinarily intelligent fellow, yet even with my small teacup of understanding, I realize that truth lies at the crossroads of religion and knowledge.

In other words, God is not opposed to the natural order that He, Himself, created. He is not a schizophrenic spirit, dwelling in the realm of ghosts and goblins during the night hours, only to rise in the morning to shake off His previous superstitious nature and become the Great Mathematician and Scientist. No–He is the ultimate merger. And if I want to be successful, I need to learn to do the same thing myself.

Over the past two years I have become concerned that religion is being inhabited only by the fearful and disregarded by the creative. Simultaneously, I am equally as appalled to comprehend that the world of educational pursuit is in the hands of those who have absolutely no reverence for anything beyond the “tube of their testing.”

I would like to take a few days to clear the air. For I will tell you this: neither belief nor science, in and of themselves, provide solutions for the problems of humankind. It is in the great merger of the two–crossing paths–that we will find our peace of mind.

So if you don’t mind, tomorrow I will take on where the paths cross between religion and psychology. In the process, we will find true faith–because true faith is the acknowledgment that God is in nature and nature is of God.

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A Proud Look … August 22, 2012

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Did you know that there are seven things that God hates? Of course you did. You’re just as smart or smarter than me.

But do you remember–at the top of that list is “a proud look?” You would certainly think that God’s primal distaste would be for poor church attendance or a lack of tithing; perhaps misguided prayer or ignoring the Bible. But no–it’s a proud look.

When I read that yesterday it gave me great pause. The word “pride” is an established premise in our society for psychological well-being. Simultaneously, it’s also an accusation we make at others when we want to attack their over-wrought sense of importance.

How can it be both?

Is there a certain amount of pride necessary in order to maintain any human presence? And if you exceed that magical level, does it suddenly become detrimental,  even intolerable? And while you’re answer that one, since when would human beings be able to distinguish and maintain that kind of balance?

Pride, it would seem, is similar to handing a vial of nitroglycerin to a child and calling after him, as he heads to the playground, “Play safe!”

It doesn’t seem to come with instructions. We do know this–the seven things that God hates are actually very human and are also the things that we, as people, despise. So God’s preferences are not nearly as religious as one might think–and we know that at the top of His list, in the catacombs of the despicable, is a proud look.

If I’m emotionally proud, I come across condescending, as if I have solved all the secrets of the universe and have arrived here to aid my ailing brothers and sisters. If I’m spiritually proud, there is a piety that causes people to want to hurt me because I have transformed everything practical into the realm of the supernatural, leaving me arrogantly annoying. If I’m mentally proud, it means I think I’m smarter than everybody else, which is usually reason enough to plot my death. And of course, if I’m physically proud–preening all of my outward members–I just cause those around me to try to think of ways to make me stumble, or at least sprout a pimple.

Sometimes we say, “I’m proud to be an American.” That worries me, too. Nationalistic pride is good–as long as it’s inclusive of others and doesn’t begin to believe in the supremacy of our particular type of people.

Pride is like having a knife with no handle–just two blades. The more you use it, the more you cut yourself. So here’s what I came up with–I think it is a complete package and when enacted correctly, allows us to culminate with a sense of confidence and pride.

Emotionally, I am learning me. I need to stop rationalizing who I am or comparing myself to people with lesser conviction and focus on my own emotions and learn what I can about myself without fear and shame.

Spiritually, I am learning God–not from a Biblical sense, from what others have written down in a book, but from the perspective of Him being my Creator and Father, and comprehending what His love and also His mission entails.

Mentally, I am learning earth. Right? That’s where I live. And until I am evicted or given a bus transfer, the best place for me to learn is earth–how it functions, how I can be a good caretaker and how I can submit to the wisdom of Mother Nature without appearing to be a mama’s boy.

And physically I am learning to work with what I have. In our bodies, there is a danger of being too satisfied with our present condition and certainly equally a precarious cliff we can hang from if we’re constantly disgusted with our appearance. In my case, as a large, aging, bald white man, it’s a good idea to try to play up my better parts and disguise areas that may be ready for retirement.

When you put all that together–when you are emotionally learning yourself, spiritually learning of God’s love and His desires, mentally learning the earth of His creation, and you have taken a few moments to eyeball yourself in the mirror and learn to work with what you have, you do reach a point when you can be proud. It is not a look in your eyes that exudes domination, but instead, a simple statement: I am proud of my pursuit.

It doesn’t show up in your facial expression or countenance. Instead, it is manifested in the fruit you bear, in your tasks and your dealings with others.

A proud look is when we allow one part of our being to jut out from our face while we have ignored the other portions that are ragged and rusty. But a true pride is in rejoicing over the pursuit of learning yourself, learning God, learning earth and learning to work with what you are.

It is still a delicate adventure, but to me, it makes more sense than playing with dynamite … while holding a match.

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