Good News and Better News … August 29th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dividing people is easy.

Just get them to focus on their differences, and their prejudices will do the rest.

But uniting people is equally simple.

Turn the conversation toward our common humanity and let our sense of humor draw us closer.

Ebensburg Penn State highway signAs I finished up eleven weeks in Central Pennsylvania, I headed off to Ebensburg en route to begin my tour in Michigan.

Every little community in America touts some piece of uniqueness, or sometimes even insists that it has a personality unto itself. I have absolutely no idea why we want to distinguish ourselves by our quirks and profiles.

But once you break through that initial crustiness, what you find are human beings. As human beings, they have three basic natures:

1. They are concerned for themselves.

2. They are concerned for what is directly around them.

3. But it doesn’t take a whole lot for them to realize that in order to get Numbers 1 and 2 means they need to be concerned about others.Ebensburg set with Jan

I loved my time in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania.

The audiences were not easy. Having an insulated sense of community, they wanted to look on Janet and myself as strangers, but we popped out of that box and offered big hugs.

So by the time we got to the end of our programs and were ready to pack up, they invited us to a luncheon. We shared with them that we needed to hit the road, because we had a two-hour drive to Youngstown, Ohio. dividing people, prejudices, uniting people, sense of humor, commonality,

They sweetly accepted our explanation, but then they came back a second time and invited us again. Why? I suppose if I were bratty, I could say they were being pushy. But that wasn’t the case.

Ebensburg pianoIn the three hours we were with them, a connection was made–and they just wanted us to know that they were fully aware of it and treasured it.

We gently declined again, and all at once one of the sweet Ebensburg souls said, “Why don’t we make you some plates to go? You have to eat. What is it you want?”

It was so moving. Perseverant love.

They wanted us to eat their food, and we needed to eat food, even though we could not stay–so they came up with a plan.

They bagged us up dinners, complete with two cold bottles of water.

As I drove down the highway enjoying my salad with just the right dressing and all the little choices they put on my plate, I considered perseverant love.

The church is in a position to become the only resource in America that has an open door policy and offers perseverant love. It will begin when we stop studying the Bible in abstract, but instead, study human life, find out what’s really going on with people, and then come back to the Gospels to unearth what Jesus says about it.

That’s the good news.

The better news is that when we have this perseverant love, it’s a lot easier to comprehend that somebody could feel that way toward us, too.

Ebensburg empty piano bench

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

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From My Mouth to Monmouth… June 30, 2013

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mouthDo you know what the worst part of public speaking is?

Talking.

I don’t mean that it’s “difficult to share in front of an audience.” I just think it’s really presumptuous and sometimes arrogant to think that anybody should actually listen to me. Sometimes I get bored listening to myself.

Every once in a while I start the second verse of a song and wish it was over because I’m sure I’ve taken too much of the congregation’s time.

Some people just like to hear themselves yak. I’m not one of them.

Other folks like to pontificate for hours on a subject, to share their great wealth of knowledge. I can pretty well empty my bucket in a couple of minutes.

So as I head off to Monmouth, Illinois, tomorrow morning to be with the wonderful human beings at the First United Methodist Church, I set a standards. If I am going to open my monmouthmouth to spit out some words and ideas, I want to make sure they are:

  • accurate
  • real
  • and maybe, by some miracle, resemble the truth.

Accurate is the easy one. That just means I need to tell everyone the facts about myself without trying to pump them up with air, smoke or project them into mirrors. It’s not like anyone will be more impressed if I lie. But it is a part of our human race to want to make ourselves look better than we are. I think I owe it to those who hear me to give them something that lands in their ears that rings of honesty.

Then–being real. I like that one too. Being real is a decision to admit that you live in the present, aren’t trying to bring back the past or thrust everybody too far ahead into the future. Real is where we are right now–without apology. Real means that we’re all getting used to a bunch of stuff we never thought we would have to deal with. But now it’s here, so we’re doing our best to stay loving, while we also attempt to maintain a bit of personal conviction. It’s not easy. Some people think it’s 1950 and other folks are pretending we’re using flying cars and spending the weekend on the moon. Neither situation is true. We’re here now and we need to deal with the now because it’s our daily bread.

Then finally, there’s that thing called truth. Truth is that idea that God knows, which He only lets us discover a crumb or two at a time, lest we become so prideful with our understanding that we thump others with our beliefs.

Truth is what comes out at the end of a performance when I have been accurate and we’ve all been real. Then God in His mercy grants us a brief glimpse into His gentle heart and His wise soul. We are probably not worthy to spend too much time there, but even a short tour can be quite thrilling.

So I already apologize to the people of Monmouth for the fact that I have to open my mouth. I will be concise, joyous, entertaining and inspirational–at least as much as I know how.

I will be accurate in personal data, real to the time that God has called me to, and will humbly sit back with the rest of you, to see if some truth doesn’t spring forth.

It should be fun. That is … if I don’t get too gabby.

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Dwelling… April 17, 2012

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A house for comfort.

A habitat for happiness.

A resting place for relaxation.

A spot within a cubicle placed strategically in a world not our own, where we can rejuvenate, regroup and rediscover.

It’s a good thing, right? Yes, I would have to agree that under normal conditions, finding a sanctuary of sabbatical for the purpose of sanity is sumptuous. Yes, it actually brings flavor to our lives, cools the brain off from over-heating, takes the soul off simmer and the emoting from emotions. But something I discovered recently was a bit of a shock to my system, while being a great revelation to my spirit. A dwelling can also be an escape from the reality encouraging us towards excellence.

I woke up this morning after having journeyed to Los Angeles, California, on my tour. I was tired. Over the weekend, I had driven nearly 450 miles–from Tucson, Arizona, to San Diego–set up my equipment, did a show, picked up a few hours of sleep and found myself back on the road, pointing to LA.

Before me was a task. We needed to go out and purchase food supplies for the week–a simple endeavor. But my weary body was not only reluctant, but resentful over such an energetic undertaking. I almost decided to go into my “comfortable, happy and relaxed” mode, putting off this responsibility until later. It would have felt good–I mean, it would have been comfortable, made me happy and certainly promoted relaxation. It was a dwelling place where my mind wanted to go in sympathy to my body.

I almost did it. But then I realized that when inevitable things are avoided in the moment of their best application, the season we select to be involved in is rarely as fruitful. Bluntly, life comes with opportunity when it’s needed–and putting it off leaves us with the arduous pursuit but often with less reward. For example, by midday it would have been hotter, more crowded at the store, and we would have a room lacking provisions. My dwelling place of comfort, happiness and relaxation was robbing me of my potential. I realized then and there that what we are comfortable with–or even what brings us happiness and relaxes us–can often be just a cop-out from getting what we truly need and deserve. A dwelling place can be a trap if it has no way of letting in the light, windows for fresh air and doors to escape when we require further expansion.

For after all, there are three things that want to settle into each of our souls and find dwelling:

(1) Prejudice. Of course, we don’t call it prejudice. Each one of us refers to our own personal prejudice as “experience.” Nonetheless, any idea that disincludes other people from having their own liberty is prejudice.

(2) We are often happy with our own insecurity.

  •  “I don’t want to go to that party–I don’t know anyone.”
  • “I don’t want to get a new job. You have to fill out all those applications and meet all those new people.”
  • “I don’t feel well, but I sure don’t want to go to the doctor. They give me the creeps.” 

Each one of us can be happy in our own insecurities, never realizing that these fears are keeping us from our better selves.

(3) And unfortunately, we can become very relaxed with failure. Here’s a definition: Failure is settling back into a position because we’re tired of trying. Failure is an old friend who makes an agreement to not criticize us if we won’t criticize him. Attempting to do new things and improve life for ourselves can be quite exhausting but to become relaxed with our failure, assuming that it’s our lot–or even worse, God’s will–is a dwelling place which becomes a cave, absent of light.

It was a good morning. I went to the store and overcame my prejudice, insecurity and failure. To do that, for a moment I had to relinquish my comfort, jeopardize my happiness and certainly give up my relaxation. The end result was that I got what I needed, I have what I want and my new dwelling place is the confidence in my soul that when choices are given to me–to remain the same or to improve my plight–I am capable of choosing righteously.

Beware of dwelling places that keep the air stale and the confines enclosed. They may make you comfortable, happy and even relaxed, but ultimately, a dwelling place can just become a prison.

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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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