3 Things… April 12th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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That Are Powerful to Learn Before You Draw Your Next Breath

1. Nature always invites a portion of chaos

 

2. You can survive if you can adapt

 

3. Evolution is more successful when undertaken with good cheer

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Published in: on April 12, 2018 at 1:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Catchy (Sitting 26) Amaze On … December 10th, 2017

Jonathots Daily Blog

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She struggled to regain consciousness as the sweat poured off of her forehead into her lids, burning her eyes. She closed them tightly, trying to think, which was virtually impossible because her head was throbbing.

Where was she? Who was she, for that matter? What was going on?

Her whole body stung with a variety of wounds. Gradually she opened her eyes, blinking away the perspiration, to stare down at herself. She was lying flat on her back, wearing a bra and what appeared to be cargo shorts, pinned to the ground by a very heavy snake.

Horrified, she resisted the inclination to stand up screaming. As the snake crawled across her belly, she felt the undulations of its skin against hers, propelling itself forward.

She nearly went crazy. Instead, she forced herself to wait. She waited until the snake had stilled itself, and then, in one swift motion, she grabbed it with her hands, leaped to her feet and threw it into the air. She hadn’t realized how heavy the snake was, so it didn’t go very far. She scurried quickly away to what she hoped was a safe place.

Looking around frantically, she realized she was in a jungle. She had never been in a jungle before, but from everything she had heard or read, this appeared to be a rain forest. The heat was suffocating and the humidity so high that water was dripping from the leaves. The ground beneath her was teeming with life, giving an eerie sense of continual movement.

As she looked down, she saw that her legs were covered with little black bugs, which she tried to remove and as she did, tiny red welts remained as residue. But she patiently pursued the task.

On her left, she noticed a small pile of supplies. She rummaged through a knapsack and found two large canteens, which she opened and discovered held water. There were also power bars, a flashlight, matches and a map. On the map was a note, scrawled in magic marker, which read: “Compass in front pocket of knapsack. Walk north. You will find civilization.”

Stunned, terrified, abandoned, Jo-Jay burst into tears. How did she get here? She thought back to the last thing she remembered. She had gone to a Thai restaurant to meet up with an informant, who was supposed to give her a contact on the CLO and a fellow named Joshua.

Arriving at the restaurant, she was greeted by a lovely woman of Eastern extract, who motioned Jo-Jay to follow her down a narrow hallway, through a door and some hanging beads. Jo-Jay recalled pulling back the beads.

And then… well, now waking up with a snake on her chest.

As she stood, convinced she was doomed to die, she conjured the words of her Grandma, who explained that the only truly priceless gift in life was in all circumstances finding a reason to be grateful. This gave Jo-Jay a blessed laugh, considering how little there was to be grateful for out in this wilderness.

But she did have water. And apparently her abductor possessed some sort of conscience, to spare her life and give her a fighting chance to become suburban again.

It then occurred to her that the longer she stood there, the more the communication in the animal kingdom would view her as a target instead of a participant. So she grabbed the compass and knapsack, located north and started walking.

Three hours. Five hours. Was it seven hours? It seemed like even more. She trudged through the jungle.

At first she was totally horrified by the tiny stings on her legs and swatting at the creatures that tried to suck the moisture from her eyeballs. But she finally calmed her spirit and energized her body. She stopped every hour or so to eat a bite and drink a little.

When it occurred to her that evening was coming, she realized she could not survive a night in the jungle.

Suddenly she had an instinct to stop and listen. Over the sounds of chirps, squeaks, hisses and howls, there was another vibration–actually kind of a mumble.

She thought it resembled human voices.

She quickly turned in the direction of what she hoped was life. As she stumbled forward, she emerged and found herself in a clearing. Fifty yards across the expanse stood a man, woman and two children.

Jo-Jay screamed, “My God, my God! I need help!”

The man turned and ran toward her as the woman followed and the children trailed. When they arrived, she related her story–as much as she knew.

They listened intently, and then explained they were the Paulsons from Winterset, Iowa, missionaries to the local tribe, and were clearing off this section of jungle to build a church.

Jo-Jay tried to explain her situation and her own mission, which seemed to confuse the provincial Paulsons. She calmed down and then simplified. “I need to get back to America as quickly as possible.”

Reverend Paulson explained that four times a year, he drove their big truck three hundred miles into Brasilia, the capital, to get supplies, but that he had just completed the journey last week and there was no fuel for the truck.

Jo-Jay asked about other transportation. None.

Airplane. None.

Boat. No water that would take her anywhere she wanted to go.

She felt hopeless. She couldn’t stay with these missionaries until the next supply run. She needed to get back.

Something was very wrong–some danger in the air, which she needed to relate to her friends.

Questions cluttered her mind and suffocated her thinking. Why did they spare her? Why did they abduct her? Why did they feel it necessary to take such drastic measures for such a silly little thing as a bunch of Jesus rallies in the United States?

Then one of the children spoke up. “Papa, we do have fuel.”

Jo-Jay pursued. “Do you? Do you have fuel?”

The reverend nodded his head. “Yes, but it’s for us to survive for the next three months.”

Jo-Jay giggled, baffling the family. “Tell you what,” she said. “If you will drive me to Brasilia, I will guarantee you all the fuel you want, and as a donation, will pay for you to make another run of special supplies for your congregation.”

Reverend Paulson stared at the woman before him, adorned only in a bra and cargo shorts, with a doubtful, furrowed brow.

Jo-Jay looked down at herself and laughed. “Listen–I usually dress better than this. I have the money, if you can give me the time.”

Right in the middle of the clearing, the Paulsons knelt in prayer, as a family, as Jo-Jay, slow to join in, caught the idea and knelt down herself.

Papa prayed. “There are no accidents, God the Father. We know this. So meeting our friend today has to have some meaning. You told me that I cannot take that which was given for your work and give it away for others. So I come to You and ask which is more important–this woman’s request, or taking care of those you have commissioned to us.”

He kept his eyes closed and remained silent. The family joined in the profile. As Jo-Jay listened, she assumed he was going to take care of his own. It was only logical. After all, some crazy woman comes out of the jungle, you don’t follow her like she’s a freakin’ Pied Piper.

After a few moments, the reverend opened his eyes. The family peeked out to see if it was time to stop. Reverend Paulson looked at his wife and children, and said not a word. One by one, a smile appeared on each face and they nodded. He, the last of the four, smiled and nodded also.

He turned to Jo-Jay and said, “God wants us to go to Brasilia.”

They wasted no time. They hiked three miles to their camp, climbed into an old truck and drove through the jungle, making their own road as they went.

Jo-Jay became quiet, thinking to herself.

For heaven’s sake, what the hell is going on? 

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G-Poppers … October 20th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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He was tall, lean, with tight jeans, leather skin, cowboy hat and a big cigarette puffing out of his head.

He was The Marlboro Man.

G-Pop grew up believing that this cowboy was the symbol of masculinity.

Unfortunately, G-Pop was so-so tall, portly, marshmallow skin, baseball hat, with no “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Needless to say, his appearance was not deemed macho.

The vision persisted until other images of emaciated victims of cigarette smoking splashed on the scene–the consequence of years of tobacco, tar and nicotine.

So nowadays we don’t really know what makes up a man or what constitutes a woman, though we are certain that the two sexes are better when they intertwine instead of interact.

What makes a man?

What constitutes a woman?

It does sound like the beginning of a very long essay, or a series done by a writer attempting to generate readership through a dribble of controversy. G-Pop shall save you the time.

  • A man is a person who tells the truth, beginning with himself.
  • Likewise a woman tells the truth, beginning with herself.

The absence of truth places every human being right back in the center of the animal kingdom, willing to do anything to survive.

And as Pontius Pilate sardonically phrased, “What is truth?”

Truth is what we understand to be factual, while waiting for more information to enlighten us.

There’s nothing sexier than telling the truth.

Nothing more romantic than making it clear that you can be trusted.

There’s nothing more valuable to another soul than being able to relax with the account that’s been stated, and have some measure of confidence that it’s true.

Matter of fact, the truth sounds terribly alluring until you realize that occasionally it demands confession, apologies and repentance.

There is a contingency of our society that has begun to believe that the best way to avoid difficulty is to always deny any responsibility. It is pukey, sickening and devoid of any of the clarity which makes it simpler to live life.

Somebody lied to The Marlboro Man about cigarettes, so he ended up lying to us. Somebody’s lying today, and we are being tempted to buy into the lies and offer them up as explanations.

God help us all.

G-Pop would love to encourage his children to tell the truth, beginning with themselves.

It’s not always pretty, but it is always beautiful.

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Jesonian … September 30th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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jesonian-cover-amazon

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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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 47) Increase and Decrease … March 26th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

June in Nebraska is a celebration. It is a festival of survival.

Until the end of May, winter threatens to clamp down on any enthusiasm about the arrival of warmer weather. But by June, the monster of frigid temperatures and the obstruction of snow drifts have melted away, leaving behind fields blossoming with corn, sunny skies and the threat of blistering heat.

One local once conjectured that the reason most Nebraskans were so easy-going was because “everything that happens around them is so extreme.”

They wouldn’t dare over-react–to a blizzard or a heat wave.

It was on the third Sunday in June, right when people were beginning to think about the upcoming July 4th celebration, that he came walking into the back of the church.

At first Meningsbee didn’t recognize him. He certainly didn’t remember him being so tall–six foot two, as it turned out. Dark brown hair, chiseled chin, hazel eyes and weighing in at a military 183 pounds was Carl Ramenstein, the young hero who had rescued Meningsbee months earlier in Chicago, from the onslaught of some challenging questions.

As Carl had explained, he had a cousin in town and he came to spend a couple of weeks, having recently graduated from seminary.

Carl fit right in. Everybody loved him. He grew up on a farm, worked on a ranch, liked fishing, knew the working end of a plow.

All the kids adored him because he played so hard. All the old ladies straightened their buns when he walked in the room. And the men pulled out their war stories. It took only one Sunday for Carl to become part of the atmosphere, attitude and heart of the Garsonville Church.

So when two weeks passed and it was time for him to leave, the folks begged him to stay. It turned out to be tremendously beneficial, considering that on the following Wednesday, a little boy about five years old fell into an abandoned well just outside town. Carl spearheaded the rescue effort.

He was in the local newspaper and had dinner invitations enough to last the rest of the year.

But Carl was not interested in all the praise. Carl loved God. In a season when such devotion from a man of his age seemed unlikely, or maybe even suspicious, his legitimate warmth and appreciation for the heavenly Father was demonstrated in how well he treated his children.

Carl loved people.

Meningsbee stood back–astounded. You see, Meningsbee wanted to love people and every once in a while mustered the spirit to do so. But Carl possessed a streak of conviction that every human he met had been waiting for the chance to meet him so that Carl could pass on a blessing.

It was the most amazing mixture of confidence and humility that Reverend Meningsbee had ever seen.

Young women were literally following him around town, just hoping he would turn and give them a smile, and although fully aware of their attractions, he was careful not to put himself in dangerous situations where rumor could give way to scandal.

The people took a liking to Carl.

Carl took a liking to the church.

The church was taking a liking to the community, and the people, who had been sitting on the fence, trying to decide what it felt about the Garsonville Church, were now beginning to trickle in, one by one, and find a place of peace and fellowship.

Matter of fact, one older gentleman took Pastor Meningsbee aside and said, “My dear parson, you had a good idea, but you’re a rather odd little fellow. There’s nothing wrong with that–but Nebraskans are not completely familiar with odd and try not to do much that resembles little. That boy coming to town–well, he’s taken your words and turned them to life.”

Meningsbee smiled, not knowing how he should react.

Although some folks were waiting for the dark side of young Ramenstein to come creeping out, Carl took the opportunity to sit under the teaching, simplicity, honesty and common sense of Meningsbee, and grow taller and stronger.

So Carl kept delaying his departure until finally, one of the deacons of the church said to Meningsbee that he’d better “hire the boy or lose him forever,” because somebody certainly was going to grab him.

When Meningsbee said that the budget would not tolerate it, ten families stepped forward and offered to increase their pledges so that Carl could stay.

So it was on the seventh Sunday after his first visit that Carl Ramenstein was ordained as the Assistant Pastor of the Garsonville Church.

There was a party with joy all through the town.

The following Sunday there were twenty additional visitors, some of whom said they had just been “waiting around to see if they were smart enough to hire him.”

Right after the ordination, Meningsbee realized that he had never heard the young man preach. Carl never asked for the pulpit. It never came up. Carl may have been the first minister ever hired without having to offer three points.

The folks immediately dubbed him “Pas Carl,” for Pastor Carl.

He was a breath of fresh air.

He was a summer miracle.

And he was here to stay.

Now Meningsbee had to get used to sharing the attention.

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Good News and Better News… January 30th, 2017

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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good-news-lighthouse-point

I had the privilege of sharing in Lighthouse Point, Florida.

What a fabulous name. Opens the door for all sorts of clever interpretation–especially for a writer who might become overly exuberant.

But what struck me was that we were returning for our third occasion to be sponsored by Pastor Gabe, in yet another of her assigned churches.

She is a dynamic woman. Let me change that. She is an outstanding person–a breast cancer survivor, a minister, an individual with a delightful sense of humor, and also, as I found out yesterday, enjoys watching reruns of “West Wing.”

During a conversation with Gabe, she mentioned that this present church was about the same size as all of the other churches she had pastored.

Kind of small.

Although she did not express any sadness or misgiving about the size, I thought to myself, “We live in a country that thinks the bigger things are, the better they are.”

Although that might apply to hamburgers and ice cream cones, it certainly does not come to play in discussing a church.

For you see, a church is not an organization, a meeting hall, a service or a club. A church does not become more impressive because there are more butts in seats.

A church is a place where those who are seeking maturity can come together to strengthen one another.

Factually, I don’t know if you can do that with more than a hundred people at a time. You can jam fifteen thousand Christians into an auditorium, but it doesn’t mean that a single-mindedness of joy and faith will be produced.

Yes, the purpose of the church is to encourage people to “grow to the fullness of the measure of the stature of Jesus.”

Whenever you gather more than three or four hundred together, you’ve got to have a program with praise band singers and create some sort of atmosphere of worship, hoping that somewhere over the coffee and donuts provided in the fellowship hall, human conversation might somehow ensue. But that’s not who we are.

We need fullness.

In the human experience, fullness occurs when we allow ourselves to feel. So when I go into a church and people are reluctant to express emotion, I know they’ve convinced themselves that they’re in a worship service instead of a fellowship.

We also need to reach a certain measure.

What is that measure? A sense of survival. After all, we will never succeed if we can’t first survive. We learn to survive by hearing the testimony of others–like Gabe, who herself survived the horror of disease.

We realize we are not alone. For after all, there is nothing lonelier than being in a room with ten thousand people and knowing nobody.

And finally, church should grant us stature.

In other words, we know we can grow. Why? Because we just testified to people about our new discovery.

This is the atmosphere that was intended for the church of Jesus of Nazareth.

  • I can feel
  • I can survive
  • I can grow

And what Pastor Gabe, and all of us, need to celebrate is that the church is not noteworthy because of its sanctuary. It becomes the light of the world because it lights up its members.

The good news is that America is doing well because people like Pastor Gabe are on the job, with an attention to detail and a care for fellow-travelers.

The better news is that we in the church become a highly functioning organism when we motivate the souls around us to grow “to the fullness of the measure of the stature of Jesus.”

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Ask Jonathots … May 5th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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ask jonathots bigger

What causes some siblings to grow up to be friends and others not? I’m forty and I’m not close to my sister at all. I have two teenage daughters, and I’m wondering what I could do to help them grow up to be friends. Your thoughts?

Perhaps one of the more egregious errors in our culture is the notion that the nuclear family is meant to remain intact.

It causes more stress, misgivings, grudges, insecurity, mishap and even murder than any other predicament facing our species.

If I were a coal miner in West Virginia, was unfortunately involved in a cave-in and spent nine days under the earth with eight other people, we would become very close. Matter of fact, we would share dreams, aspirations, prayers and any food and water available to sustain one another.

Yet to think that after I left that cave of impending death I should continue those relationships with my fellow-prisoners outside the mishap would be ridiculous, forced and disappointing.

For a season we share common goals and aspirations with our family. That experience can range from survival to ecstasy.

But humans are meant to come out of this cocoon and bloom in our individual lives, to start our own families, sustaining our species with new possibilities.

Some sisters have memories of the time when they grew up in the same house, but their journey takes them in completely different directions, with new friends, causing the old encounters to bring fond memories but not needful continuation.

Other sisters stay in the same communities, and it’s like their new families are extensions of the older rendition.

One thing is certain–it evolves naturally and cannot be manipulated through false emotion or guilt.

We must understand that for some people, the memory of their birthing family is pleasant but irrelevant, pleasant but valuable, pleasant but in the past.

For others such recollections are unpleasant and degrading, unpleasant and unnecessary, and unpleasant and harmful.

It is always better to look at the family of our youth as the ship that brought us to the New World. Sometimes that ship can sit out in the harbor of our environment as a memory of great times. And sometimes the ship is so full of holes that it needs to be sunk.

You can’t help people to be friends. Friendship is always based upon mutual concerns.

But what you can do is maintain the better parts of every experience as you launch out into newness of life.

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