Good News and Better News… October 30th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I have participated in thousands and thousands of …

Now, what shall I call them? For if I refer to these as “performances, shows or gigs,” religious people will give me the holy frown of disapproval because I have trivialized the spiritual significance.

But by the same token, referring to my efforts as ministry, worship leading or any other divine terminology makes me reek of pretension.

Of course, worst of all is the safe, but vanilla describer, “presentation.”

I run into the same problem when I try to decide whether to say a robust “Praise God” or a timid “thanks be to God.”

Do I go for the full dunk in baptism, or settle for some other plunk?

Should communion be unleavened bread, or a golden loaf?

Wine or Welch’s grape juice (which many denominations insist was Jesus’ preference)?

And I think the most intimidating crossroads of all is settling whether our Christian faith is ground in social commentary or revivalism.

That’s why the tambourine is pictured today. A tambourine can scare a Lutheran or a Methodist to death–almost as much as a printed bulletin with liturgy makes a Baptist tremble.

It just doesn’t seem to occur to us that defining the word “ministry” requires taking a long gaze into the lifestyle and actions of Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus was both contemplative and flamboyant.

He had the strange notion that the profile for what he did in blessing others was contingent on what they needed, and not confined to the Book of Common Prayer.

So to one person, he said, “Be healed.”

He touched lepers.

He spit on someone else.

He stuck his fingers in another person’s ears.

And he shouted to raise the dead.

He would have upset a lot of people.

Jesus didn’t worship miracles; he didn’t minister miracles–he performed miracles.

He showcased the Gospel in stories, told with colorful description and high-flung gestures.

The church has lost Jesus because it has focused on either social gospel or revivalism.

Jesus was the Son of God, who came to teach us how to get along with each other–with a tambourine in his hand.

So the good news is that we need both social commentary and revivalism.

The better news is, when we actually mingle the two, we suddenly become more relevant.

 

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Elf Control Band… December 14, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2093)

Clazzy Christmas bigJust because you can doesn’t mean you should–and also, just because you shouldn’t have, doesn’t require that you spend a whole lot of time regretting.

That’s life.

This comes to my mind as I remember the Christmas 2000, when I convinced myself to open up a store for the holiday season. My daughter-in-law, Angy, was anxious to attempt a business project and I was in my usual adventurous state of mind to comply. We called it The Clazzy Christmas Store in honor of a CD recently put out by Janet and myself, loaded with music of the season.

We immediately ran into two problems: the amount of money we were able to afford to rent a commercial space in a shopping mall was not sufficient to acquire property in a successful, ongoing avenue. No, our funding only allowed for us to rent this type of facility in a mall which was dying out due to lack of interest, with quite limited foot traffic.

Secondly … well, we had no idea what we were doing.

Perhaps if this idea had been placed in a locale other than Outer Mongolia and staffed by leadership which had at least read an article on opening up new business, it might have prospered immensely. But because it was in a commercial environment that would have been well-suited to a tribe of monks, it was necessary for us to create a stir and generate publicity by offering incentives which we thought would stimulate commerce.

  • So we hired a good Santa Claus, who alternated wearing both a red suit and a white suit.  Unique.
  • We had parades through the parking lot to draw attention to ourselves and increase interest.
  • And our third little escapade was to start something we called The Elf Control Band.

I went into a recording studio, took some classic rock songs and replaced the lyrics with Christmas sentiments (often silly in content) and then took my children–who ranged in age from third grade to junior high school–to embody these band members, dressing them in rubber elf ears, striped socks, funny hats, then placing them on a stage, lip-syncing and dancing to the songs which I had recorded.

To our amazement, this actually worked.

Although to this day my children insist that they do not have fond memories of the excursion, we got press coverage, television cameras and probably drew in the most “mall millers” this particular shopping center had experienced since they discovered fifteen dead raccoons in the heating ducts two years earlier.

We stocked our store with decorations and as much inventory as we could afford, and to our great fortune, only ended up by Christmas Day, losing about ten thousand dollars.

But here’s what I know: my children would never have had the experience of doing this together, creating a bond which has now lasted a lifetime. Matter of fact, one of them picked up a bass guitar that Christmas season which he has never put down and still plays funk and jazz today. Another one of the children started playing tambourine, cow bell and wood block and branched out into a career in drumline and technical support for those who march to a different beat.

It was truly amazing. It was creative in an environment where such shenanigans were viewed as bizarre, but still managed to gain enough acceptability to produce a smirk or two instead of just leers.

What I learned from The Elf Control Band is that even though something may seem silly, frivolous, out of step with the times or just downright ridiculous, it still can produce great benefit if energized by passion and love of life.

Some people spend their time wishing for what they could do. Others lament what they’ve already done.

I like to go out and do stuff and then … remember the good parts.

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

Symphony 150 … March 15, 2012

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The Book of Psalms.

It is a collection of songs and poems depicting the victories and struggles of human life, punctuated by the pursuit of God. Its closing stanzas are reserved for an explanation—no, more than that—an orchestration of what truly is praise and worship. Yes, it is a symphony in four movements, carefully constructed, sensitive to the needs of mankind and seductive to the ear of the Divine.

It begins with the trumpet—a fanfare. I envision four measures of our brass in unison—a clarion. “Wake up! Life is good! Notice the beauty of God and join the chorus.”

In the fifth measure, a second part is added, introducing diversity but still maintaining the integrity of tone. In the ninth through the sixteenth measures, the trumpets blare a quartet of harmonies, announcing the beginnings of well-deserved appreciation.

 And then suddenly, the brass are replaced by the lute and harp, establishing our melody—a recurring theme of sweetness and gentleness that accentuates our deep sense of awe and wonder over creation. It is genuine, pure and simple. “Be still. Know. Relax. It is time to exude the unity of your internal orchestra—heart, soul and mind—and let it come forth in the jubilation of your strength.”

An ascending arpeggio and our first movement ends—with the awareness that all is well.

It is quickly followed by the second movement, which explodes with rhythm—tambourines, hand-held noise makers, stimulating the dance—like a Chopin Polonaise—the affirmation that human life not only is functional, but also fruitful, because there is no reason to believe that God would do anything to stop us from achieving our best. It is time to rise, to move to the music. “Produce a visual for your joy. Reject stagnation. Pound the tambourines. Dance.”

Then, at the peak of this exaltation, the strings are introduced, blended with the organ. We hear the first fruits of our original theme from the lute and harp, now played with greater intensity and flow from our orchestra. It is time to take the jubilance of our dance and find the tunefulness of our heart’s desire and express it freely, without fear. The strings and organ give us the freedom to be unashamed of our humanity—to be willing to let all of our parts connect in a joyous repentance, absent of sadness, but filled with the expectation that God is forgiving, God is light and God is love.

Our second movement ends with this reassurance.

Fully absolved of our insecurities, frustrations and sins, the third movement begins with loud cymbals. It is a chorus, flirting with cacophony but still maintaining a control over intensity. It is a time to confirm that we are salvaged. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so! Trumpet the conviction true spirituality is not escaping human life, but rather, finally confirming its dynamic. Don’t be afraid.”

Our loud cymbals are joined by high-sounding cymbals, producing a fevered pitch. Our worship has now entered into a thrilling lack of intimidation. We are in awe of God, which gives us permission to honor of ourselves. We are surrounded by sound without complaining about the volume. We are lost in the moment without shame.

This ends movement three.

Suddenly … stillness—a two measure rest. Recreation—and then we begin movement four, the finale, where everything that has breath joins the orchestra to bring praise to the Lord. The brass, the woodwinds and even a chorus of voices blend, revisiting that original melody by the lute and the harp, exploring it as an anthem—a victorious march to triumph. Breath unites with breath, building in volume, the pace picking up to a glorious climax, a place where the sopranos can find their highest note. The tenors join just beneath as the altos gloriously bellow their second and the basses resound the bottom.

The ending is held, vibrating the sound waves through the room with such an intensity that chills run down the body, when all at once the conductor stops the orchestra. Another two measure rest, when …

The entire ensemble culminates in a lower inversion C chord. Peace, be still.

Thus ends our fourth movement—and our symphony.

It is how the Psalmist describes what true praise and worship of life and God should be—not merely the droning of well-rehearsed, “special music,” but a fresh, burgeoning composition extolling the great potential of being alive.

Symphony 150, in four movements—always available, always beautiful—always penetrating the heart of God.

**************

Below is the first chapter of Jonathan Richard Cring’s stunning novel entitled Preparing a Place for Myself—the story of a journey after death. It is a delicious blend of theology and science fiction that will inspire and entertain. I thought you might enjoy reading it. After you do, if you would like to read the book in its entirety, please click on the link below and go to our tour store. The book is being offered at the special price of $4.99 plus $3.99 shipping–a total of $8.98. Enjoy.

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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