3 Things… July 12th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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That Cost Nothing

1. Thinking for yourself

2. Being thoughtful

3. Collecting wisdom

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Good News and Better News … September 19th, 2016

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good-news-marlette

It is utterly amazing how many potholes on the highway of progress can be gloriously filled in with the marvelous cement of enthusiasm and repentance.

Although many people tout the power of thinking and prayer, our thoughts are often stuck in the past, and our prayers can be pious.

When I arrived in Marlette, Michigan, to meet up with Pastor Dave and the human beings who inhabit that region, I was looking for enthusiasm and repentance. Nothing of any significance is going to happen without this pair of miracle-workers.

Enthusiasm has a simple message: “I want to be happy.”

And repentance comes along cleansing the process by offering, “And I realize I may have to change to get it.”

Without enthusiasm. we eventually regress to complaining. And absent repentance, we always become “makers of great excuse.”

I was so pleased to encounter one friend after another in this gathered array of Michiganders, who expressed enthusiasm, and with tears in their eyes, realized the necessity of repentance.

Throughout my journey I have discovered that politics does not work because it’s so afraid of failure that it lies.

Education is limited because without the spunk of perseverance, it may not survive.

And religion is nearly comical because it pursues salvation without revering personal responsibility.

But the magic of enthusiasm followed by the anointing of repentance turns the human race into a livable sort, making folks able to co-exist with one another without gossip and murder.

I think this begins with how we answer the question, “How are you?”

We can decide to hide our feelings and say “fine” with varying degrees of apathy, or we can launch into a series of woes about our present condition, hoping for sympathy.

But I have found the perfect answer to “how are you?Here it is: “At first, a little overwhelmed, but by nightfall, kind of surprised at how well things turned out.”

I shall always remember the folks in Marlette with Pastor Dave and his evolving outreach. They brought to the sanctuary enough enthusiasm to welcome repentance.

That’s the good news.

The better news?

It turns out that enthusiasm and repentance are much easier to work with than defeat and stubbornness.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 19) The Writing on the Wall … September 4th, 2016

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Reverend Meningsbee

Running ten minutes late, Meningsbee motored his way through some of the back streets of little Garsonville, on his way to the high school to speak to the creative writing class about “what’s it like to be a writer.” He was late to the appointment because Matrisse had entranced him with a tale of foolishness and woe.

When Matrisse first arrived, she referred to Kitty as “Sassy.” Meningsbee didn’t think much about it. But as she related the events from her homestead, he realized that she had no great affection for the young girl he had befriended on his overnight trip to South Dakota.

It seems Kitty had quickly become antsy hanging around home with Matrisse and Hapsy, and slipped away to the only bar in Garsonville–an establishment with nine stools, a pool table, which offered extra-hot buffalo wings to any brave takers. There, Kitty met up with a young man named Tarbo. Although Matrisse was pretty certain this was not his given Christian name, it was the only one Sassy–or Kitty–would provide.

Matrisse explained that Kitty was in tears because she wanted to go with Tarbo to Chicago, where he intended to sign up to join the Navy, to become a SEAL. Kitty was afraid if she didn’t go with him, she might never see him again, as he would certainly be sent off to fight the terrorists in foreign lands.

Long story short, Kitty wanted Matrisse to watch Hapsy for a couple of weeks so she could go chase this dream–which seemed to be ordained by God, Himself, since they met under such supernatural circumstances down at the pub.

Meningsbee had listened intently, knowing that eventually Matrisse would close off her tellings with some sort of question–that probably being, “And what are you going to do about this?”

Fortunately, he was able to make an escape because of the speaking commitment at the high school, telling Matrisse he would call her later so they could cap their conversation.

She frowned, looking at him with an old witchy evil eye, and said, as she departed the house, “It ain’t no good, Reverend.”

So still having the whole fiasco on his mind, Meningsbee arrived at the high school creative writing class to discover that four of the students had asked to be excused from the lecture, because their parents were former members of the church, and didn’t think it was right to have the preacher come to teach the children. This affrontation was more distressing to the instructor than it was to Meningsbee. He just smiled and said, “Let’s go.”

He didn’t talk long to the class–about ten minutes.

He explained to them about writing his book, The Jesus Church, what it meant to edit, how to realize when you were finished with a book, and some of the inner workings of publishing.

At the end of the class, he opened it up for Q and A–the teacher’s request. Meningsbee was pretty sure none of the kids would be very inquisitive.

After what seemed to be an interminable silence (probably only about fifteen seconds), one student raised his hand, and with a huge smirk on his face, said, “I don’t think I would like your book. I don’t believe in God.”

The classroom offered up a mixture of gasps and giggles. The teacher stepped forward to scold the boy.

Meningsbee interrupted her.

“Thank you for your question,” said Meningsbee. “Or whatever it was. I write about God because God wrote about me. It seemed the right thing to do. Polite, you know. Like coming up with a legitimate question for a guest speaker when he takes the time to come to your school. You see, God is either our Creator–or He’s nothing. If He’s nothing, He’s been really successful at extending a myth for thousands and thousands of years. If He is our Creator, then He knows how we are made. I don’t know how I’m made. Do you?”

Meningsbee didn’t wait for the boy to respond. “Didn’t think so. So I read what God wrote about me, and basically, my book is writing back what I think about Him. You see, it’s a combination of appreciation and doubt. First, I appreciate the fact that I can live. I especially like eating. I could do without bowling.”

The class mustered a giggle.

“But also, I have questions. I wonder why, since we’re all children of God, we can’t get together and find what we have in common instead of constantly harping on our differences. I wonder why my Creator tolerates idiots preaching for Him, who don’t care about anybody else, and do nothing generous in His name. And most of all, I wonder how sad He must be that an intelligent young man sitting in a schoolroom has to deny he believes in Him to look like he’s smart. So even though you didn’t ask, that’s why I wrote the book. Any more questions?”

Meningsbee quickly grabbed his papers and headed for the door.

“Didn’t think so. Thanks for your time.”

As he scurried down the hallway of the school like an alien from outer space escaping a NASCAR convention, he chuckled to himself.

He was imagining what the students must be thinking…or maybe he was just hoping he got them to do so.

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Ask Jonathots… August 11th, 2016

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ask jonathots bigger

There’s a lot of terrible things going on in the world lately and I don’t want fear to have control over my decisions. How do I make sure I am moving forward in freedom instead of fear?

Life is a tug of war between action and thinking.

We spend much of our early training fine-tuning our brains to make quality decisions based on knowledge, and therefore, hopefully low-risk adventures.

The difficulty with this approach is that thinking your way out of situations is unlikely. Normally we work our way out.

Human beings become afraid when we convince ourselves there’s nothing we can do and our minds become dumbfounded with anger and helplessness.

One of the things a person of faith is supposed to possess is an understanding that “going the second mile” gives us an activity to perform while we’re waiting for better options.

For after all, none of us are very good at sitting patiently by and waiting for the next bus of opportunity to come our way.

This is why Jesus said to “take no thought.”

If it turns out you can’t change the circumstances around you, thinking about it won’t improve things in the least, but instead, will drain the remaining hope and ability you might possess.

So whenever you run across a situation, you should ask one simple question: What can I do about this?

If the answer is “nothing,” make sure you distance yourself from the quandary and stop musing. But if you get a clear revelation about what you could contribute, insert it quickly and get the good vibrations that come from being involved.

How about an example or two?

Poverty.

You cannot make poor people comfortable all over the world, but you can be generous within your circle. That generosity not only radiates out, encouraging others to be more open-minded, but gives you a sense of completion.

Violence.

There’s probably nothing you can do about gun control in this country, but you certainly can control the amount of animosity and intimidation that you allow to be around you. Once again, you set in motion the possibility of trickling down to others while satisfying your soul’s need to improve matters instead of being afraid of the monsters.

Take action, not thought.

It is the best way in the world to chase away your fears and plant the seeds of solution.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … February 17th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Pohymn the rose

Eureka

I am not afraid to doubt

Doubting purifies my belief

Belief links my spirit with willingness

Willingness is the giddy notion that there might be more

More is what God offers to my labored thinking

Thinking is cleansed by honoring feeling

Feeling lets me know I am human

Human is the merger of the monkey and the angel

Angels wish they were me

Me is the space I have been granted to experiment

I experiment because I am not afraid.

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The Alphabet of Us: Q is for Quality … March 30, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Building block Q big

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

“Quality of life.”

It is a phrase that is usually introduced when a catastrophic accident has left a victim comatose, with very little brain activity and response. We then ask the powerful question: are more heroic measures necessary and will they guarantee a quality of life?

Yet I must tell you that in any gathering of human souls, the most common subject that can stimulate conversation is to ask the simple question: How many people here have had a disaster in your life?

All of us are on the other side of a fiasco.

Unfortunately, many folks remain in a coma–not a physical repose, but rather, a startled, unresponsive condition.

The quality of life suffers.

So in considering our journey on this “alphabet of human essentials,” the word quality must be included, because it is necessary periodically for us all to take inventory of our faculties and realize what is paralyzed and needs to be revived. We require:

1. A quality of heart.

To achieve this, we must decide to tell the truth. What stalls our emotions is dodging a maze of lies.

We shut down. It’s too painful to continue and too revealing to admit.

The quality of the heart is always cleansed by deciding to tell the truth.

2. The quality of the soul.

Although there are religionists who tout the power of worship, praise, meditation, fasting and sacraments, the human soul maintains its quality by learning to love people.

Candidly, it’s impossible to carry on a gentle, mature relationship with ourselves when we despise another human being who mirrors our features.

To gain quality of the soul, you must always be in a learning profile to love people.

3. The quality of the mind.

Since the brain is a storage area, it often needs to be cleaned out to make room for our new stuff. We never really acquire a quality in our minds until we’re confident that we’re thinking for ourselves.

To be assured of this, we must abandon teachings, indoctrination and prejudices which were thrust deep into our gray matter as truth–and confirm they are wrong. You achieve quality of the mind when you begin to think for yourself.

4. And finally, there’s the quality of our strength.

Our bodies. The body only demands one thing of us: apply what works.

For instance, yesterday I ate some delicious food. It wasn’t particularly high in calories, nor was it filled with starches and fats. But my particular physicality has grown accustomed to a certain diet and is in no mood to suddenly transform to new recipes.

I had a minor reaction. I learned.

All my body requires of me is that I apply what works to keep a well-oiled, humming machine.

It is possible to survive the accident and end up in a coma. Therefore, it is only natural that we, as human beings, encounter personal tragedy and likewise become suspended in a state of confusion.

Get a quality in your heart, soul, mind and strength by deciding, learning, thinking and applying.

 

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Three Ways to Know a Change is Needed … March 26, 2015

Jonathots Daily Blog

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John Mayer with guitar

Many people are afraid of change because it risks their dollars.

They’ve grown so accustomed to a procedure which gives them a minimal satisfaction that they’re frightened to move from an unfulfilling position to a new possibility.

The first thing you have to remember is to get rid of the guilt when you find yourself stuck in the mud. Guilt tends to lead us to one of the most unfruitful human profiles: defensive.

Once we’re defensive we put up our walls and become impenetrable. There’s no shame in being stuck in a rut as long as you don’t spin your wheels.

Here is a clue–a change is needed when we either believe that no God is necessary to aid our human development, or that there is no human effort required to aid and assist God.

Either way, you’ve created an extreme which leaves us unfulfilled and basically looking for a way to be nasty to one another.

There are three simple questions to ask when determining whether a change is needed:

1. Have people stopped thinking?

Yes, it is possible to be in an environment where thinking is discouraged or is thought to be sacrilegious because it challenges some holy principle that must be honored without question.

If we don’t allow ourselves the ability to reason together, we start reacting. And when we react, we fall prey to our own moods, instead of the moving of spiritual renewal.

It was one of Jesus’s favorite phrases: “What do you think?”

Without thinking we react–from ideals which may or may not be part of our true conviction.

2. Have people stopped believing?

Our rendition of believing in the religious system, and even our secular corridors, is repeating. We have somehow convinced ourselves that the more we repeat traditional attitudes or platitudes the better off we are and the more we are expressing true faith.

Remember: “Faith without works is dead, being alone.”

In other words, merely repeating what we think should work without seeing the fruit born through our belief is not only futile, but ends up being the true definition of fatalism.

3. Have people stopped feeling?

When we forbid ourselves the ability to let our hearts be involved in our spirituality and let feeling enter into what we believe, we end up with a lifestyle that is just reacting to the stimulus sent our way. That’s not what we’re meant to do.

  • We’re meant to be doers.
  • We’re meant to be people who joyously exhaust ourselves in the adventure of our own pursuit.
  • We are meant to feel.

It is the joy of our faith that gives us strength. Not repetition. Not even love. We require joy–a feeling–to propel us as human beings.

When you live a life that is merely reacting, repeating and reciting, you close the door on true thinking, believing and feeling.

There is a change needed in our lives when we become defensive about our faith. For truly, faith without works is dead, being alone. We need something to point to which is a byproduct of our own spiritual energy to confirm to ourselves that belief in God is viable.

There are no words written by prophets that have the power of a single paragraph of personal testimony. 

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