“Stephening”… May 15, 2013

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0akdaleSometimes I just can’t sleep very well.

It’s not insomnia–it’s usually because I’m excited about the next day, and my brain is moving at seventy-two miles per hour in a thirty mile per hour zone. On those rare occasions, I turn on the TV.

Last night when I did so, the first thing that popped on the screen was a high-energy rock and roll concert with a young lady running across the stage, dancing and singing with vibrance and enthusiasm. I was unable to make out the words but they had something to do with how excited she was to be in love.

You see, I’m kind of a weird old fart. I’ve always liked rock and roll and still do. I even like all the transformations that have occurred and am greatly intrigued by the present crop being harvested in the music field. What struck me last night was that even though I’m not critical about how young humans entertain themselves, I am greatly concerned about their pursuit of inspiration.

Whether you like jazz, dancing, hunting, fishing, sewing or tap dance really doesn’t make much difference to me, but I do think that somewhere along the line we human beings need to come to an agreement on what is truly inspiring.

This week when I made my way to Stephenville, Texas, my mind floated back to recall the life of a young fellow named Stephen. He, too, was bursting with youth. He was selected to do a job. They put him in charge of food distribution for the hungry and told him to make sure it was done equitably. They trusted him.

Now, here’s the twist: the next time we hear about Stephen, he’s not passing out bread to the hungry, but instead, is sharing his life story and the mission of his message with the masses.

And then, in our next encounter, he is speaking truthfully to the powers that be, and because his words are so convicting, he ends up being killed.

Quite a transition.

It got me thinking about what I think “Stephening” is. For I believe this–if you’re a young human, interested in rock and roll, movies, video games and technology, more power to you. But somewhere in your soul, there has to be a kernel of awareness about the world around you and your part in helping to make it better.

Stephen had that.

  1. He had a yearning to take care of the needs of others.
  2. But he also was not going to be limited to that, and freely stepped out of the box prepared for him, to do something of his own heartfelt desire.
  3. He shared with others–he didn’t hold the truths that were working in his life inside himself, but instead, freely communicated his joy to the world around him.
  4. And finally, he wasn’t afraid.

True success is when we walk away from tradition and also avoid walking toward “the world.”  We find out where tradition has failed, and instead of pursuing the foolishness of abstract materialism and bad habits, we forge a path towards inspiration.

Tonight I will be at the Oakdale United Methodist Church in Stephenville. I am so delighted to be with them–and I’ll be curious if there are any folks there who are interested in “Stephening.”

Because if you don’t decide to care for others, step out of the box, open up your heart to the people around you and not be afraid, you either become a slave to tradition–or a puppy dog chasing the world.

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

Finding a Message in a World a’Twitter: Act II – The Conflict… December 12, 2012

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Jon Signing

Do you want to have an intriguing dinner party? Then invite a bunch of atheists and believers over to your house, and as you serve the first course of soup, pose this question: Did God create man because He was lonely, or did man create God because he was?

Be prepared for some lively discussion. Matter of fact, some of your guests may stomp out, abandoning their main course and certainly their dessert. This confluence of confusion is all based around the foolishness of pursuing or rejecting a belief in a divine being instead of finding the footprints of that intelligence in His own creation and then tracing those clues back to His character.

If life is really just a big crap shoot of luck or misfortune, then candidly, a belief in a reasonable Creator is far-fetched. But if you take the time to study this planet we call earth–what works–you will emerge with your own personal message. In essence, your clue.

Mine, as I told you yesterday, is: NoOne is better than anyone else. That clue led me to several “con-clue-sions.”

1. The earth demands fruitfulness. Things that do not want to progress end up flailing and eventually die. This is something you can find in the Bible OR Darwin.

2. It is the responsibility of earth inhabitants to replenish and give back. Once again, science, technology, religion and even government require a certain amount of payback for receiving the blessings of earth. Those who don’t want to participate in this are always eventually identified as scoundrels.

3. And the third and final thing that is obvious to me as I have spread my wings with my message is that we live in a world that requires us to include. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with” specking out” your own space as long as you afford that to others–even that lion in the jungle. Earth creatures who decide to be insulated from the world around them, vindictive to different species or members of their own group, end up ostracized or extinct. They are also proclaimed by history to be fools.

So before you get into a big discussion about God or the absence of a supernal presence, make sure you understand the evidence that has been left behind in the present plane of existence we call life.

I selected my message of NoOne is better than anyone else because it honors the need to be fruitful, to replenish the earth and to include others. Am I saying that those three things are always easy? No. But they are made easier because the elements that are placed here for our use are not resistant to the flow of these concepts. We may think that having might and strength is the way to rule the world, but every previous empire that followed that philosophy is no longer in existence.

Here’s a clue: Switzerland thrives. It is never conquered, it doesn’t have financial difficulties–matter of fact, it possesses a big hunk of the world’s banks. It doesn’t take sides. Now, I’m not suggesting that we all become Swiss, but I am telling you there is a natural order to this planet that requires that we honor a message and in so doing, discover the purpose for our being and perhaps, the source of our beginnings.

So here is the conflict: those who discuss God without honoring His ideas, which are clearly laid out through His creation, end up looking backward and ignorant. Those who deny God without discovering His fingerprints all over the earth, end up appearing to be inflexible and dogmatic.blue marble

Find your message. Find it in the earth, and then look for those who have also discovered similar evidence and are on the hunt for whoever or whatever got this big, blue marble rolling.

 

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

Copy-Cat… November 16, 2012

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God is a copy-cat.

If you aren’t aware of this, you may have the mistaken idea that He is sitting on His heavenly throne, constantly trying to think of new ways to bail you out of your problems and salvage you from your own inconsistencies.

No, God is not a bail bondsman, nor is He is a doting, rich uncle who for some reason or another, can’t see any fault in you whatsoever and is perplexed as to why you are having so much difficulty moving forward. He is not an adoring parent thinking that every one of your finger paintings bodes the possibility of you becoming the future da Vinci.

He is a copy-cat.

He waits to see what human beings do and then adds on His interpretation of the effort, as confirmation.

It’s why religion does not help us very much. It’s the practice of worshipping an imaginary creature from outer space who is pulling all the strings to a massive puppet show. It just ain’t so, Joe.

Jesus taught us that God is a father. As a father, He has two responsibilities: the first is to refuse to run from His offspring, no matter how embarrassing they may be; the second is to make sure that He doesn’t manufacture a favoritism that keeps them weak and insipid instead of encouraging them to grow.

So even though we may want the grace of God, it will not come forth until we offer mercy to others. Once again, God is a copy-cat. I get just as much grace as I am willing to offer in mercy.

Without this understanding, we start walking around in a dizzying, fretful tizzy over why the God of the Bible, whom we’ve read about since we were children, isn’t flexing His muscle to aid us in our plight.

We want salvation. God has salvation. But He doesn’t use salvation unless it’s rubber stamping forgiveness. If we’re not willing to forgive other people and establish a definition of salvation, we should not expect to receive much evidence of this particular gift for ourselves.

We talk about heaven–God sits  back and watches carefully to see what we do with His earth. I mean, if we don’t give a crap about the earth or its people, events and problems, why should He offer us a second creation to ignore?

The church touts the value of baptism. Yet merely being immersed, poured or sprinkled with water is rather meaningless unless we have already demonstrated to our heavenly Father that we are ready to commence a full renewal and transform our own thinking in the direction of rejuvenation.

God is a copy-cat.

You can come and talk to Him about healing and pray all night long, but He is going to give you just as much healing as you are willing to pursue good healthy choices. In other words, don’t expect to be cured of lung cancer while buying a pack of cigarettes.

Now, there are people who may be offended by this notion, thinking that I am putting forth the theory that it’s all a big negotiation. In other words, “we work our way to heaven by our good deeds.” Actually, what I’m saying is that good deeds, good choices, good ideas and a good heart are necessary to even make us visible to the eternal spirit. Without those attributes, we blend into the surroundings like a chameleon crawling through a forest.

For instance, I watch people take communion in church, thinking they are absorbing the body and blood of their savior, when really what is going on is that they’re just eating bread and drinking wine if they haven’t already decided to be inclusive of the people around them in their own lives. You see, symbolism only works if we actually know for a fact there is a real thing. Yes, I am saying that communion is useless if you haven’t already decided to commune with your fellow-man.

And as far as miracles is concerned–you probably shouldn’t expect mountains to be removed until you’ve been faithful in dealing with your own hills.

God is a copy-cat. He has found the perfect balance in parenting children. Gently, faithfully and specifically, He gives them back exactly what they give out to the world around them.

Could this be why many people who attend church services have begun to lament how mediocre, uninspiring and unfulfilling the experience has become? You can’t show up at a gas station without either a car or a can. And you can’t come into the presence of God empty and devoid of inspiration and expect Him to generously fill you up with euphoria and a born-again sensation of life.

God is a copy-cat. So even when you start coming into His presence with praise, worship and prayers, He still brings about as much of Himself as you and I have brought to the people we have come in contact with during the week. He listens to us with the same quality that we listen to each other. He aids us with the equivalence that we have given out to others.

Even though there are many folks who tearfully and almost angrily discussed the recent Hurricane Sandy that hit the northeast corner of our country, wondering why God let such a tragedy happen, I, on the other hand, celebrated the wisdom of the local leaders, evacuation plans and first-responders who became “God” in the situation. Because they did, hundreds and maybe thousands of lives were spared.

We are blessed through technology and science–which, by the way, God favors. We have found ways to predict the unpredictable. We have shown God that He can extend us generosity because we have generously hit the books, researched and come up with great discoveries about His creation.

God is a copy-cat.

  • If you want grace, start giving mercy.
  • If you need salvation, forgive somebody.
  • If you’re yearning for heaven, make a prototype here on earth.
  • If you need healing, just start to work on your health.
  • How about a miracle? Be faithful to your present cause and stop abandoning projects in the middle.
  • And if you need the presence of God, start recognizing and honoring the people who are already present.

Now, you may disagree with this premise and believe that faith is a supernatural mystery that boggles the mind, and that God is never predictable, but instead, completely encompassed by a heavenly cone of confusion. Feel free.

But as you sit in the room with the dwindling numbers who share your convictions, keep this in mind: If all of this “God-stuff story” has any truth to it whatsoever, each one of us will one day stand before our Creator and offer an explanation for our choices. As in our own judicial system, failing to understand the law does not make you free from punishment–and deciding to become uninvolved can still leave you complicit with the crime.

I choose to believe that God is a copy-cat: He is waiting for me to come up with something original so He can confirm the power of it with His own review.

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

Since I Am Not… May 12, 2012

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No, I am not a Republican. I have many friends who are. Likewise, I am not a Democrat–although I am honored with an equal number of comrades from that camp. I just don’t believe that the discoveries we make as human beings can be limited to one single point of view.

I realized many years ago that as an earth creature, I, as Jesus said, am bestowed with heart, soul, mind and strength. Each one of the political parties, in some way, shape or form, tries to lessen the effects of one or more of those four attributes of the human experience. It is not malicious–it’s just the way the traditions, platforms, platitudes and practices of their particular organization has viewed things over the years.

Since I am a heart (emotions), soul (spiritual), mind (intelligence) and strength (a body), I have no difficulty understanding that this nation we live in has basically the same four parts. So I will tell you how I view my patriotism and you can see what you think about it. I am not trying to evangelize or even promote my ideas. It’s just that I do not see them at work in the political parties–they are too busy trying to maintain distinctions between each other, and therefore, alienation from each other.

The heart of America, to me, is our sense of good cheer and fair play. This is what sets us apart from the rest of the world, which often stumbles on humor and compassion instead of pursuing it. When the United States can’t laugh at itself and fails to have a merciful attitude towards those in need, we’re no different from any other country. The heart of America is our good cheer and fair play. We have comedy clubs so we can go and celebrate that experience. We have even learned to laugh to escape the excesses of pain. What is missing from the parties is a sense of humor about themselves and fair play towards each other. I will not participate. The heart of America is good cheer and fair play–and when we become overly cranky or selfish, we just suck.

The soul of America is our deep, abiding belief that “NoOne is better than anyone else.” Honestly, we have abandoned it many times in order to target specific groups out of prejudice. But we are the only country in the world that is a bastion for the idea that “NoOne is better than anyone else.” This is why I have made that statement my slogan for my touring in 2012. I am often bemused when I share it in front of audience members and the first response is silence, as the concept assimilates into their sensibilities, and they try to figure out if they actually believe it or not. There is no doubt that Hitler and his regime would still rule the world if he had actually believed that “NoOne is better than anyone else.” What brought him down was not a lack of power or technology, but rather, his incessant bigotry, which caused him to be paranoid towards those who worked around him, making him suspicious of their motives, and prompted him to commit genocide on an entire race of people. We should take heed. We are a nation of immigrants, Therefore, we cannot piously discuss how we’re going to close our borders to the rest of the world. Obviously, we cannot have a policy of allowing people to come into the country without some sort of procedure–but the answer to the question has to contain the initial agreement that “NoOne is better than anyone else.” It is our soul–and when we start competing with each other for supremacy, we lose any part of God that may have been with us at our founding.

The mind of this nation, in my opinion, is the Bill of Rights. How ingenious it was of those who ratified the Constitution to immediately realize that the main danger in interpreting the document would be to limit personal freedoms to gain corporate improvement. The Bill of Rights is a reminder that the United States is primarily a country that extols freedom above all else. Neither political party is willing to accept the Bill of Rights in its entirety. Each one of them wants to limit the power of the individual to make choices  for him or herself.

And finally, the strength of our country is our creativity. We don’t have a history of discussing ideas, but rather, with experimenting and implementing them, and letting them evolve until they become functioning parts of our system. When you take away creativity in medical research, you end up with miles and miles of red tape instead of possibilities for healing for those who are struggling with disease. When you take away creativity from government, we pass laws that are a mere shadow of what was actually needed to generate change. When you take away creativity from the arts, you become a nation which culls through the repertoire of previous eras to try to make the latest revival of something that’s already been done. And when you take creativity away from spirituality, you end up with a religion that clumsily interferes in people’s lives instead of enhancing them. We built this nation through creativity and we will destroy it if we begin to believe that we have enough.

So, as you can see, that’s why I am unable to become a Republican or a Democrat. Neither party will hold these four principles as sacrosanct, or even recognize their importance.

But it is why I love this country.

  • We have a heart of fair play and good cheer.
  • At our soul is the consecrated notion that “NoOne is better than anyone else.”
  • We have a mind that puts a Bill of Rights–freedom of the individual–before corporate greed or political avarice.
  • And we have a strength that is based on building a reputation through our creativity instead of force of might.

My contention is that if we return to these principles, we can also return to a sense of mission that gives us place in this world as “a city set on a hill for all to see.”

So let me know what you think. But please do not bore me with false claim that any of the political parties “hold these truths to be self-evident.” I learned a long time ago that you cannot establish a philosophy merely based upon how you disagree with your opponent. In a matter of seconds, I can give you three things that the Democrats have done that I agree with and three things the Republicans have done that I likewise concur over. I can also give you long lists where I oppose both of them.

America has a heart, a soul, a mind and a strength–just like me. Because after all, America is me.

  

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

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