Jesonian … August 18th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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There was an old gospel song that used to get the hometown folks clappin’ and snappin’. It had a lyric which proclaimed, “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.”

I grew up in a small town that believed, like most small towns, that if the world behaved like they did, there would be eternal peace. But since the world didn’t behave, all the children needed to be careful going into the big city, or worse yet, into the world.

Matter of fact, like most small towns, over half of my graduating class still lives within ten miles of the place where they got their first kiss.

It’s easy for people who have religion to attack the world. Matter of fact, there are many preachers who wouldn’t have anything to share if they couldn’t criticize the world, sin and the souls around them. Even those practitioners of philosophies which portend to have more open-mindedness will still gladly join into a conversation of discussing how damnable things are on the planet.

Sometimes I wonder how it’s possible to be so in love with God and so hateful of the home He’s given us.

Now I remember. I forgot the lyrics: “This world is not my home.”

It makes me wonder why Jesus prayed that heavenly things be done on Earth.

God is a good Father. As a good Father, he knows His children. And the Earth is filled with His children.

He understands that the world is stuck in a rebellion resembling a sixteen-year-old: snotty, bratty, selfish, indulgent, unappreciative–but certainly unwilling to go anyplace else. That’s a sixteen-year-old.

So maybe we should walk away from our gospel songs and even our theology and take a careful look at what Jesus said about the world.

Two things:

1. “In the world you have tribulation.”

I suppose you could blame God for that–not because He steps back and lets things happen, but because He gave us free will. Honestly, if I had created beings that possessed as much intelligence as humans, I would have curtailed free will.

It doesn’t make sense. For people to have imaginations from the time of their youth, but for those musings to be generally evil, doesn’t bode well for blessings to flow across the land.

But it was God’s way.

He made us smart, with the ability to choose to be stupid.

Therefore, at one time or another, somebody is always being stupid, which makes it seem like all matter is about to fall apart. Jesus called this “tribulation”–a sense that things never find peace or settle down.

Now most religionists love that particular verse about tribulation in the world. Matter of fact, they stop right there and use it as a platform to preach against every sin that comes to their minds. They never factor in the second thought that Jesus had on the world:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. And He didn’t send His son into the world to condemn the world, but so that they could choose to be saved (paraphrase).

Of course, the key coupling there is “so loved.”

Not a passive appreciation.

Not a duty of being a parent of something you wish you could abandon.

But a deep emotional commitment, free of condemnation.

So here’s the truth of the matter, although I don’t want to anger some gospel song writer: this world is my home, for the time being, and I am passing through.

My job is to have good cheer when I see the tribulation, and make sure, through my face, my actions and my tenderness, that those around me know exactly how much they are so loved.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … August 15th, 2018

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Yet, in the Middle

by Jonathan Richard Cring

The world has tribulation

On this we can agree

A fretful habitation

Is thrust on you and me

 

So faith begins

To sprout some fear

And nagging sins

Rob us of cheer

 

“Love one another”

The Master’s request

Our sister and brother

We fail at our best

 

The sea is raging

The wind continues to blow

Hampered by aging

Not certain where to go

 

And “peace be still”

The Carpenter’s command

Has lost some will

With our feeble demand

 

Yet in the middle

Of the festering crazy

There is always a little

If I’m not too lazy

 

Just a piece

Of Jesus to be

A joyous release

Of him and me

 

A chance to remember

A promise of December

Unto us a child is given

The answer to Earth from heaven

 

So be not afraid

My precious friend

All things God has made

He’s with us ’til the end.

Today’s guest reader is Thomas, from Georgia. Thomas is a writer and blogger in his own right.

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Good News and Better News… November 27th, 2017

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Upon arriving at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Palm City, Florida, we were greeted by Pastor Roy and John, who graciously agreed to carry in our equipment and assist us in any way possible. It is magnificent to run across human souls who welcome strangers–no matter how strange they may appear to be.

Pastor Roy is a congenial fellow who, like Matthew of old, was called from his trade to come and share the Gospel. Courteous, gentle, kind, inventive and helpful. During the time of our set-up, and also our whole visitation, this dear brother became and remained, our right arm.

I am humbled by such an active service.

I had one mission in Palm City–an attempt to escort beautiful children of God’s kingdom from fear to good cheer.

Fear grips us.

Good cheer greets us: Greets us with the awareness that all is well, God is with us and we have resource.

Being good Lutherans, they were naturally afraid of any show of spontaneous emotion. After all, we’re not positive that God isn’t a solemn and austere figure. (Of course, if He is, we’re in a world of trouble.)

Good cheer is what Jesus suggests we use to survive while he overcomes the world, which is full of tribulation.

I explained to these dear brothers and sisters that there’s a difference between clapping your hands and applause. Applause is often deemed an expression of appreciation or even praise for an artist. Clapping your hands is the most authentic evidence of the presence of joy.

So when we come into God’s house and we sit tight in our seats, afraid to move, waiting for the Eucharist, we miss the point of our gathering.

We should be there for three reasons: to strengthen one another, to care for one another and to confirm that the Gospel continues to be “good news.” All of our other traditions are delightful, but have little to do with what actually constitutes praise and worship.

So I told my new friends that I personally need no applause–but that God loves to hear them clap their hands.

So if you hear something good, see something good, feel tingly and warm in the Spirit or are overcome with joy: “Clap your hands, all ye people. Shout unto God with a voice of triumph.”

The good news is that when these Lutherans did so, the building reverberated with the power of love.

The better news is, if they will continue to release that Spirit through clapping their hands, many prayers for miracles will come their way.

 

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Good News and Better News… February 13th, 2017

 

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good-news-jon-and-jan

Pictured are Ms. Clazzy and myself, getting ready to share at the Renaissance Christian Fellowship in Sunrise, Florida.

This particular congregation is pastored by my son, Jerrod. He graciously invited us to come and present our heart, mission and passion to his fledgling, but burgeoning, congregation.

Of course, I didn’t want to fall on my face, like an old man racing too quickly for the pot of tapioca. Simultaneously, I wanted to stay faithful to a spiritual itch in my soul which I’ve been scratching now for forty-five years.

First–and deliciously righteous–is the fact that I enjoy and love those folks. But I can tell you that they are victims of a ping-pong match being conducted in our society, which is leaving our citizens bouncing around, searching for a point.

We are harangued to leap from blind ambition to blind faith and back again. We sit in the churches and hear a message which tells us to trust God, pray more and believe in grace–and when we’re nearly to the point of insane rage over the dissatisfaction of nothing happening, we find ourselves escaping into the arms of the world, which demands we chase dreams, cheat others, stay tough and believe that we, ourselves, are the beginning and end-all of everything.

So after being abused by the world for a week, people come to church looking for substance and get a “whipped-cream Jesus,” who does nothing but die on the cross and promise to love us until the pearly gates.

We then escape that sticky concoction, running to the world for entertainment, news and education–only to be thrown into a common pot of tribulation, with lies and misinformation.

I love my son dearly. Therefore I will tell him that his mission is to free those he loves from that turmoil of meaningless back-and-forth activity.

The world has nothing to offer but blind ambition.

The religious system panders to us with ooey-gooey statements concerning blind faith.

Here’s the good news: Renaissance Christian Fellowship and all believers everywhere can take heart that Jesus did not come merely to save us for heaven, but to teach us how his will can be done here on Earth.

And the better news is, if you abandon blind ambition and blind faith, you can get a pure heart–which gives you the privilege of seeing God.

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Good News and Better News… January 2nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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good-news-jon-hat

Every January 1st, a preacher friend sends me an email with his prophecies for the new year.

His predictions are always pretty general–and also grim. I guess he thinks it’s a safe bet in a world of tribulation, to foretell disaster.

  • Yet there is no love without giving.
  • Faith dies without passion.
  • And hope disappears without dreams.

It’s just too easy to be upset.

It’s way too predictable to continue to complain about the circumstances.

Yesterday morning when I arrived at Carteret United Methodist Church, I was looking for people who were fed up with being depressed.

I think Pastor Frank was pretty surprised at the turnout. After all, it was New Year’s Day and a tremendous opportunity for folks to use it as an excuse not to come to church.

But they didn’t.

We gathered, we sang, we mused, we laughed, we cried, we fellowshipped and we left–believing that certain things must be honored, or honor will leave our world.

1. Love your neighbor is not optional.

Although we spend much time in diplomacy and negotiations with countries which are determined to hurt one another, the truth of the matter is, our greatest possibility lies in the souls who still insist on loving and believing in each other.

2. Be of good cheer.

Nothing is ever accomplished from a defeated position of gloom. If knowing the facts upset you, then choose the bliss of ignorance–because in the long run, it is not intelligence or education that saves us, but rather, the wisdom we garner from the data that gives us the power to believe.

I so enjoyed the congregation in Beaufort, South Carolina–and may I tell them:

The good news is that there’s a song of praise that needs to be written every day.

And the better news is that I, for one, want to meet my Creator with that song in my heart.

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G-Poppers … November 18th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

It doesn’t have to be my “ism” to create a schism.

A schism is a split–usually between people.

G-Pop was rolling into his motel when a young man crossed his path. There was an immediate tension. Three years ago it may have been different, but the chasm among people has grown as the anger, malice and dissension have mounted in our country.

For you see, what the young man saw in G-Pop was a fat, 60-year-old white man with Nordic features. He, being a young fellow of color, felt disdain for such a creature, assuming that a Caucasian elderly gentleman must certainly carry the opinions promoted in the marketplace, which look down on him.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yet likewise, to some degree a woman in this country must assume that the men she meets are guilty of chauvinism because of the reinstitution of male superiority.

Also, somebody wearing an American flag on his or her lapel is no longer viewed as a patriotic person, but rather, a potential radical who might be a proponent of “America, love it or leave it.”

Unbridled prejudice has made us suspicious of one another.

It is the casualty of the 2016 election. The campaign was more than a “rocky transition” in our political system. We legitimized the “isms”–chauvinism, racism, ageism, sexism and nationalism, placing the American populace back into armed camps.

Before the campaign, we had the appearance of inching our way to the table of negotiation. Now we are back to rejecting one another.

So in that brief moment when G-Pop came across the young man, he realized it was important to tear down those walls and try to restore some sense of reconciliation.

It requires a combination of “greet” and “meet,” establishing a friendly invitation and following it up with a piece of self-deprecation.

“Hello, my friend,” initiated G-Pop.

The young man gave a quick nod.

“You would think at my age that I should have figured out how to do things, but would you believe I still stumble around, making tons of mistakes?”

This second statement caused the young fellow to pause and turn. So G-Pop offered a third.

“Aren’t you blessed that you’ve still got time to learn stuff and be smarter than me?”

He smiled and replied, “Oh, you’re plenty smart, I’m sure.”

G-Pop concluded, “Some days it’s just hard for me to prove it. Have a great day, my friend.”

The young man laughed.

There had been a greeting, followed by a meeting of the souls. Months and months of aggravated verbal assaults, televised through the media, had been addressed but not conquered.

The work of those who believe in faith, hope and charity has increased but not changed. In a world of tribulation, it is up to us to be of good cheer.

We have increased the schism in this country by allowing errant ideas to be given breath, and therefore a life of their own.

Getting offended or proclaiming it unfair will not change the situation. We will need to bridge the schism by exposing the nasty “isms.”

 

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Don’t let another Christmas season go by without owning Jonathan’s book of Christmas stories

Mr. Kringle’s Tales …26 Stories ‘Til Christmas

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An advent calendar of stories, designed to enchant readers of all ages

“Quite literally the best Christmas stories I have ever read.” — Arthur Holland, Shelby, North Carolina

Only $5.99 plus $1.25 shipping and handling.

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Good News and Better News … August 1st, 2016

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Good News Enola NewsletterI always request a church newsletter–every place I go. I imagine the staff might speculate on why I want it. They might think I’m trying to confirm whether our appearance was adequately advertised, but since I’m already there, it would be fruitless to know.

The reason I read the church newsletter is that I’m trying to figure out what they’re doing and where they’re going.

It’s very important. Without a definite idea on doing and going, we can find ourselves whisked away with many a tornado of confusion.

So I read the newsletter of Enola Emmanuel United Methodist Church while I was sitting in my green room before the program.

The main article was about “branding”–passing on an easily identifiable image to the surrounding community concerning mission.

Here’s the dilemma: in branding, we too often try to chase spiritual goals, using limited human abilities. For instance, we extol the importance of prayer, witnessing, church attendance and Bible reading to human folk who spend most of their time working, eating and sleeping.

Jesus had a different idea.

He told us that the world was full of tribulation but there wasn’t anything we would be able to do about that.Good News Enola Good cheer

He also said the world would need to be overcome. He placed that chore on himself.

He gave us a human mission: “Be of good cheer.”

Yet if you share this with people, they look at you as if you’re silly or irresponsible. But good cheer is the only thing we can accomplish with energy.

It begins by understanding that church should not be a service or a worship experience, but rather, a rally. We need to teach our congregations to:

1. Be

“I will find joy, joyfully”

2. Of

“I will join with others”

3. Good

“Together we will discover what is valuable”

4. Cheer

“Linking in fellowship, we will celebrate goodness”

Removing celebration from church is like taking the breath out of lungs. It leaves us with reverence and no praise. The Gospel of Jesus was intended to be human-friendly, not ethereal.

Good News Enola penSit down, take a pen and paper and write what turns you on. Make a list of the things you find joyful, enhancing and enriching. Then go out and find a way to do those things while benefitting others.

There is an empty chair waiting in the church for the person who will dare to be real and admit that he or she is human, and not ashamed of it.

The good news is that branding is finding our way to “be of good cheer.”

The better news is that cheerful people are a great draw.

Good News Enola chair

 

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