Cracked 5 … September 22nd, 2018


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Excuses Some Football Players Give for Enjoying Beating Up Women

 

A. Skin is soft and doesn’t scrape their knuckles

 

B. Don’t hit back very hard

 

C. A quick way to build up body strength and endurance

 

D. Draws other crazy women their way

 

E. Game suspensions give time for travel

football and domestic violence

 

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3 Things… May 31st, 2018

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To Make a Vacation Better

1. Drive fewer miles

2. Spend less money

3. Pursue well-chosen activities

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Confessing … August 8th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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XIV.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

When I began this series on confessing, I made a private covenant with my ego to avoid revealing current events and basically stay focused on sins of the past, long ago resolved.

But unfortunately, I continue to transgress.

I travel on the road.

That’s what I do right now because it’s my way to try to speak some simplicity into the complexity of our world, and sanity into the raging din.

Arriving at my lodging on Monday, I found myself disgruntled. It is summertime, so motels and suites are more expensive, and therefore my budget does not allow me to stay in the top-of-the-line institutions, but rather, places me in Mom and Pop establishments, which are often a mixed bag.

Usually I have pretty good perspective.

For instance, I don’t call the carpet “shabby,” but rather, “quaint.”

I don’t refer to the furniture as being “outdated,” but rather, “antiques.”

But for some reason, this particular week I was fussy. I didn’t like the room. Rather than considering it spacious, I thought it was convoluted.

It put me in a mode: “I’m feeling sorry for myself.”

That sentiment is the soil for the seed of all iniquity. If you catch it early enough, you can keep it from going any further, but I was in no mood to be introspective, so I went to Phase 2: “I feel like blaming you.”

Self-pity never allows me to take any responsibility, so we grab the closest innocent victim and thrust him or her into the role of the villain and the source of all inconvenience–and that particularly dastardly profile was placed on my partner, Janet Clazzy.

So I growled at her a little bit. I expressed my superiority to the meager station of my surroundings. Since she’s the one who acquired the room, it was obviously her fault that they had not changed the paneling since the Eisenhower Administration.

We argued.

It wasn’t really an argument–just a general “blooming onion” of complaint, which had no real center to it, and therefore, no completion.

Shortly after finishing my griping, I went into the third phase: “I’m feeling stupid.”

This is the most important phase. From this point of feeling stupid we can either move to repentance–or we can simply recycle and start all over again with “I’m feeling sorry for myself.”

Matter of fact, I will tell you that a good portion of the population lives in a meaningless, constant circle of feeling sorry for themselves, blaming others, feeling stupid to return to feeling sorry for themselves.

It must have been a good day, because fortunately, rather than feeling stupid and going for another try at feeling sorry for myself, I repented.

I apologized.

And it was amazing how quickly the room went back to being a room instead of a prison cell.

I am the master of my own destiny. No one’s calling the shots but me. If the shots suck, it’s because I suck–not having the sense to avoid feeling sorry for myself … insisting that I got screwed over.

 

confessing room

 

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Save Your Village… March 6, 2014

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puddle water

I like to go to public parks to work on my writings and stuff. The scenery, atmosphere and intrusive clatter–well, I find exhilarating. Yet you do have to share the space with every living creature who habitates within.

Such was the case yesterday when a guy named Bunky came into my three square feet.

He was thirty-one years old and just as slight as I am husky, and wiry as I am cumbersome. We shared very little in common, but since proximity dictated either conversation or further social distancing, I jumped in.

Once I made my preliminary inquiries about his well-being, Bunky launched into a thirty-minute discourse on his life. Here are the highlights:

He had a nineteen-year-old girlfriend who is a junkie and needed him to go to work every day to get the money for her fix, so that she would not become violent and attack him. (In alternating presentations, she was referred to by Bunky as “lover, friend, enemy and bitch.”)

He had once been in a gang–I think it was the Crips–and told me he had killed a man, although he eyeballed me carefully to see if I was questioning his credibility. I didn’t. I saw no reason to authenticate a tale in progress.

He talked to me about the use of marijuana being helpful in relieving his back pain, brought on by years of working on cars, lying flat down on the hard concrete.

I wasn’t sure how long he was going to share, or if there would be a stopping point whatsoever–until his friends showed up. And then what had been a very intimate exchange was terminated as he rose to his feet, accepting the invitation of one of his cohorts, to go to another bench where they could smoke.

As quickly as it began it was over.

Being raised in a spiritual climate, I incriminated myself that I had not more sufficiently impacted Bunky’s world. It’s what we do best, you know. As human beings, we often “strain at the gnat and swallow the camel.” We criticize ourselves for what we don’t accomplish, while simultaneously failing to achieve what is set before us as our daily bread.

Let me share with you candidly, which is always my goal:

  • You are not going to change the world.
  • Jesus Christ didn’t do that.
  • He was smart enough to leave behind an example of exactly how things work.
  • Start where you are.

For you see, Bunky is not my problem There are many more qualified people to share, care and be aware of him than me. Here’s what I’m supposed to do:

  1. Find my village.
  2. Teach my village.
  3. Save my village.
  4. Let it travel.

I raised six boys in my household. For a brief period of human time, these young men sat at my table and listened to me expound on life. They also watched carefully to see if I followed up with my own choices. They were my village.

Also within that village was a handful of friends and comrades. They, too, were exposed to my experience.

I didn’t worry about changing a whole town, state or country. I found my village, I taught my village, I saved my village and then I let it travel.

Those young men met women and now their influence spreads from Miami to China to New York to Nashville to Dallas to Los Angeles. with films, music, business, ministry, recording, procreating and acting.

While some folks encourage me to spread out my influence as far as I possibly can, I would much rather have a thick spreading of peanut butter on a cracker than a thin application on a four-foot-long piece of French bread.

It’s simple–stop trying to change the world. Stop criticizing yourself for being ineffective.

  • Find your village, teach your village, save your village–then let it travel.

And always remember–leave your image in the puddle provided.

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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

Our Redeemer… October 12, 2013

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handsIt was a five-pound mini-barrel of pretzel chunks, stuffed with peanut butter, given to me by a friend who was beaming with delight when I opened it on Christmas morning and eyeballed the monstrosity for the first time.

He was nearly leaping with joy, explaining how he purchased the gift thinking it was ideal for me, in my travels, to have a ready-made snack which would last for quite a while–and to make sure that every time I grabbed a handful, I should think of him and know that he was praying for me.

Having some acting chops, I was able to feign great appreciation over the humongous container of over-salted carbohydrates and even dodge his ongoing discussion of it during the day over turkey and dressing.

Here’s the truth: nothing is more useless to a traveling person than a five-bound barrel of peanut-butter-stuffed pretzels. Even if you enjoy the flavor, lugging such a burden around is not worth the occasional benefit you would receive in tastiness.

I regifted.

That’s much the way I feel about the idea of heaven. Being informed by highly theological sorts that if I accept certain beliefs and receive adequate amounts of grace, that I will someday have an eternal home with golden streets and jasper walls just doesn’t get me through the daily chores of human struggle. I can’t become a better person by thinking about the day when I will no longer BE a person.Our Redeemer Lutheran Church

So as I head off tonight and tomorrow to Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in McMurray, Pennsylvania, I will tell you what I think of the word “redeemer.”

Candidly, if Jesus is no more than a sacrificial lamb for my sins, it will be difficult for me to conjure any sentimentality for him in the midst of a traffic jam in the Steel City. At that point, I will revert to my training, giving into my frustration and festering nasty notions of mythical murders of nearby motorists. Here’s the kind of redeemer I need:

First and foremost, he needs to be a friend.

  • A friend is someone who tells you the truth but you still like him enough that you want him to hang around.
  • A friend is someone who catches you on a bad day but still shows up at eight o’clock the next morning for the next round.
  • A friend is someone who sticks closer than a brother.

My redeemer also needs to be a spotter.

  • I’m referring to that person who stands nearby when you’re lifting weights in a gymnasium, just in case what you’re attempting to take on becomes too much, and he or she can walk over and help lift the danger from your head.
  • I need a spotter who knows that I’m constantly trying to lose weight, and gently nudges me towards less caloric choices.
  • I need a spotter who knows me, loves me, but also challenges me to not bathe in God’s grace, but instead, pursue excellence by multiplying my talents.

And finally, I do need a savior.

If I were to describe the journey we call human life, I would refer to it as “pulling up a little short.” There always seems to be a few feet necessary to complete the task just when exhaustion suffocates our soul. At that point, I could use someone to carry me across the finish line.

If all God has to offer is heaven, He’s going to have some awfully crappy followers on earth. But I believe there’s more to being spiritual than waiting to be “spirited away” to the angelic Holiday Inn.

I believe that our redeemer is our friend, our spotter and our savior.

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

Always Starting Over … January 13, 2013

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shoes

Above are the shoes I was wearing tonight as I set up my equipment at All Saints Lutheran Church in Tamarac, Florida. (All Saints Lutheran–you really have to admire a church that makes sure it doesn’t offend any divine possibilities.)

I took a picture of my shoes because they are a symbol of what I do. I travel. Perhaps many people would find that difficult, boring or even impossible to achieve, but the challenge I receive in journeying across this country enables me to put into practice a precious principle. For you see–I’m always starting over.

I can finish up sharing at one venue and make great friends, receive hugs and an occasional kiss on the cheek, but as soon as I climb back into my van and turn out of that parking lot, my next destination has absolutely no idea of the magnitude of the affection just extended my way–or, for that matter, how much I treasured the folks I encountered.

Each time I stop off, my shoes join me in being a stranger. My philosophy of life is constantly being tested, because rather than being continually surrounded by patrons, family, friends and beloved well-wishers, I am usually in the presence of cautious and even suspicious individuals, who are trying to figure out who I am simply by eyeballing the cut of my jib.

So if I don’t know who I am, I certainly will not be able to convince anybody why they should care. I will tell you right now that a good percentage of the problems in this country are due to the fact that we are all encouraged to have an overblown assessment of ourselves and our abilities, which, when put to the test, come up short, making us look like we’ve been freshly smacked in the kisser with a coconut cream pie. There is power in knowing who you are. There is also a great blessing in my life of having that identity continually questioned, so that in the process of reestablishing daily the factual nature of my true character, I also can bring glory to God by every once in a while sprouting a good work or two.

After I establish who I am, I am then given the gift of sharing why I am. Once I share why I am, I can answer the question that fills the heart of every human being. Why should I care?

If we all walk around this planet expecting props for the magnificent manner with which we breathe, we will eventually destroy one another because we feel offended by the lack of appreciation for our yet-undisclosed abilities.

I like starting over. It adds muscle, credence and intelligence to what I believe and teach. It means that my talent can win over my looks. It confirms that having heart is not a lost art in a society that boasts its indifference.

I will put on my shoes in the morning and go out to meet more people who don’t know anything about me except the propaganda written on a piece of paper, which many of them will never read and the rest rarely believe. If I don’t have a gift out of my soul to carefully place into their souls, I am of little use.

So tonight I will do three things:  (1) clean out the basement of my emotions of all unnecessary and unwarranted ego; (2) think about funny things so I’m ready to be of good cheer in the atmosphere of what could be sour dispositions; and (3) spend some time with my heavenly Father, feeling valued–just in case His human creation forgets to grant me that courtesy.

I can recommend starting over. Otherwise you live under the delusion that everybody around you is madly in love with you and thinks you’re the coolest person on earth. They really don’t. They’re just trying to do the best they can and would certainly welcome any overture on your part to make their lives easier.

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Have Yourself a Mary Christmas… December 25, 2012

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1. Don’t be afraid. God really IS love.

Mary and Jesus

2. So therefore, God uses young and old alike. He picked a teenage chick and an old dame to birth two children of promise.

3. Your partner will come around. Don’t expect people to understand the seed that’s been planted inside your soul. If they love you, they’ll find you–and end up listening to an angel of their better natures.

4. Outsiders are critical. That’s why we call them “outsiders.” People who are frightened of change are either overly curious, jealous or prejudiced. It’s not that you can’t please everybody. If you’re trying to please people, you won’t end up with anybody.

5. It never happens the way you think. Everyone would love to birth their idea to great applause, notoriety and success. Yet every great idea has to spend its time stuck out in a barn somewhere.

6. Be prepared to travel. When your new idea of blessing and what you’ve birthed through your talent and faith is not immediately received by the hometown folks and is even attacked, you might want to slide on your shoes and see how you will fare in another locale. Remember, God never told you that what’s in your heart will be received by those who are closest to your heart. God just told you it’s important.

7. Leave a little bit of your own personality imbedded in the miracle. Sometimes we think that Mary was just a birthing chamber for Jesus. But she was his mother. So even though he had his Father’s soul and wit, the young Nazarene had his mother’s humor and determination.

If you believe that Mary of Nazareth was a one-hit wonder which will never be duplicated again, you will probably be willing to sit back and watch our generation flounder without the needed infusion of renewal, renovation and revival.

But if you realize that she was just a young girl who was willing to let the Spirit touch her in a unique way and then see it through instead of giving up, you can take a little bit of her spirit with you every day.

Yes, I have a little bit of Jesus in me–because of Mary. So on this beautiful day, when we celebrate the birthing of the Prince of Peace, let’s remember that his mother made it all possible.

So have yourself … a Mary Christmas.

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