25 Smackabonies… January 16, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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I'M book coverIt takes two different desires to write a book. Well, at least it should:

  • First, a vision of something to say.
  • And second, an arrogance that you actually have a right to say it.

I decided I wanted to write a novel. It went swimmingly until I splashed down in self-doubt.

What you may not know about the writing process is that you pen many, many pages which will never be used or are simply edited down in your completed manuscript.

Mine was a simple telling of the “greatest story ever told.” I wrote a first-person account of the life of Jesus–him telling his own story–including possible scenarios of what may have happened during “the missing years”–between the ages of twelve and thirty.

In 1993, I reached a juncture in the story where I was about to enter the last days of his life. I stalled. I didn’t want to write something predictable. I didn’t want to share the story of the final moments in the life of Jesus of Nazareth in a traditional way.  So I did what all writers do when they’re poised at a fork in the road.

I stopped.

My two oldest sons, who had just moved to Nashville and started working, were greatly concerned. They loved the book and wanted to see me finish it. So unbeknownst to me, they found an empty apartment in our complex which was fully furnished and was rented out to visiting parties for $25 a night. They rented one day’s lodging for me.

This was quite an achievement. It cost twenty-five dollars–hard-earned money they really didn’t have. (We jokingly referred to dollars as “smackabonies.”)

They came to me, handed me the key, and said, “Dad, get away. Go write.”

I was moved by their generosity, but was also fighting a severe bout with a urinary infection at the time. I had a sting in places on my body which were never meant to be stung. But rather than disappoint them, I took my old manual Royal typewriter with  an “a” key which failed to finish its bottom, and headed off for the seclusion.

I have honestly never had such a transforming experience. Sick, with a mild fever, in great pain, I sat behind that typewriter and hammered out seventy-five pages of my book, taking me through the betrayal, the trial, the crucifixion and the resurrection of my dear friend.

It was amazing.

The pain I felt only helped to feed the passion of the moment. Page after page flowed from me, almost like automatic writing, if there is such a thing.

I don’t know what my sons expected, but when I walked out the next morning with nearly ninety fresh pages of my book, they were in tears. They spent the next several hours reading the fruit of my labors and the grapes of their generosity.

It was just 25 smackabonies, after all.

But to them it was a gold mine. And to me it was a treasure chest.

I have never forgotten it. And it makes me realize that the greatest accomplishment in life is discovering that God, your friends and your family not only love you … but are prepared to invest in you. 

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

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

Christmas Greetings A to Z … December 23, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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A: Adorable adventX-men

B: Blessed bounty

C: Cherishing Christmas

D: Dainty dancers

E. Elation everlasting

F: Favorite fa-la-la-la-la

G: Gathering gaiety

H: Huddling home-fires

I: Ideally ingenious

J: Joyous joviality

K: Kris Kringle

L: Loving lullaby

M: Merry manger

N: Noel newness

O: Old-time ornaments

P: Precious Prince

Q: Quality quest

R: Reveling reindeer

S: Sleepless shepherds

T: Tree trimming

U: Untold unity

V: Vivacious vision

W: Wise wanderers

X: X-tra X-men

Y: You, yours

Z: Zany zeal

(Of course, if you insist, you can stick with “Merry Christmas to all!”)

 

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

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

G-2: Big and Small … December 13, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2093)

ballsIn the midst of my great jubilation over the findings in my pursuit of who I am and what I can do, I still feel compelled to stop and ask myself, when does conceit begin and gratitude end?

What opinion rules? Is it mine, or the misgivings of others?

Am I trapped in a game of guessing God‘s will, or placing upon the Divine Father attitudes that are comfortable to me, but not necessarily in the spectrum of His vision?

Is is possible that my “big” is really “small?”

Or maybe that I’ve underestimated my “small” and it’s truly “big?”

Am I stuck in a quicksand that has me sinking with indecision instead of escaping to walk on firm ground?

Can I salve my ego with platitudes or rationalization?

Oh, please God, let me avoid the obvious pitfall of comparing my efforts to those around me, for that is truly planting the rose-colored glasses upon my blinded eyes.

Yet somehow there has to be a standard. Isn’t there girth in accomplishment which should be obvious?

Is the fact that someone else would be overjoyed with my accumulation evidence of my prowess?

What power is there in just being alive? Is a tree that bears no fruit really a tree? Or just a huge stick in the mud?

Who do I compare myself to without becoming lazy or crazy?

May I present three thoughts:

  1. Big is always small without the inclusion of faith.
  2. Small is big if the feelings, dreams and needs of others are honored.
  3. Yet it doesn’t really matter if I am using up what is available instead of saving it for a rainy day.

I will create … even if it’s not perfect.

 

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

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

Factory … April 29, 2013

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factory“The kingdom of God is within you.”

It’s too bad that statement is so doggone religious. It contains all the language that we associate with church, godliness and piety.

Actually, if you separate off its true meaning, it is so explanatory of life on earth that it puts a chill down my spine. Here’s the truth of the matter: as long as I believe that my destiny, my circumstances and my fruitfulness are determined by factors beyond myself–be they traffic, failure, weather, man, demons, angels or even God–I will become incapacitated from time to time by the perspective of what seems to be pending doom. If I’m reaching out to the world around me to explain who I am, where I am and why I am, I find myself at the mercy of the system, instead of taking control of my life and making a difference, as God intended.

If I could rework that phrase–“the kingdom of God is within you”–to update it to our time, I would probably construct it to say the following: You are a factory. Work on your wheels and keep turning.

For after all, the choices we are given in this day and age in considering a philosophy of life are frustrating and meaningless.

Choice 1: I stink, you stink, we stink, God is good.

Choice 2: I’m ok, you’re ok, we’re ok, who needs God?

Choice 3: Life is tough, I’ll be tough, you be tough, because the tough survive.

As you can see, Choice 1 leads you to believe that you are worthless–that no good can come out of yourself. Choice 2 causes you to think that you’re fine the way you are; it’s just that you’re waiting for the correct opportunity to cash in your chips. Choice 3 puts you on the defensive, around defensive people, constantly defending your defenses. These are the reasons that human interaction comes to a stalemate in our society.

Here’s what I think the correct philosophy of life should be: I’m human, you’re human, we’re human, God became human.

Nowadays we use the phrase “I’m only human” as an excuse for everything from being late for a dinner party to being the justification for a serial killer. Here’s the truth about being a human:

1. We are given talent, and if we use it, multiply it and balance our lives between critique and praise, we will have room to establish ourselves in prosperity.

2. NoOne is better than anyones else, so as long as you’re not trying to be superior, you are not a threat to your fellow-humans, and therefore, can get some breathing room to do what you want to do.

3. If I believe that both the solution and the problem lie within me, I have the control and authority to promote the good parts and to gradually address the weaker ones.

4. The key to being appreciated is to learn to be a person who appreciates.

There you go.

When I finished up with the beautiful people yesterday at St. Andrew‘s, I viewed absolutely delightful human beings who just need to understand that the kingdom of God is within them.

Each one of them is a factory. If they will stop waiting for their “gospel ship” to come in, cease blaming other people for their problems, and simply and quietly address their own vision and circumstances, they can be productive human beings filled with joy.

Praise God, I’m a factory. I am not an abandoned building. I am not living in the penthouse of a high-rise apartment.I am not a church with a steeple. God made me to be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth.

Blow the whistle, start your shift, and let’s begin.

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

Quatrain of Eternity… April 9, 2013

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God's hands

Father of Spirit

Breathe in us

Uniting our vision

Earth as Heaven

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

Flat-Out Tired… March 13, 2013

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flat tireFinishing my morning writing session yesterday, having spoken to you about how problems are really doorways to new ideas, I came outside to discover that I had a flat tire on my van.

Candidly, a flat tire might just be the symbol for all representations of inconvenience. Some people would just reach in, grab their spare and change it. I admire those folks–the way I appreciate individuals who win the Decathlon in the Olympics.

It is not me. I am not lazy but my inability combined with my unwillingness can certainly resemble lethargy. But because I had just written to you about doorways, I realized that all this event really did was create a new scenario to some things which absolutely needed to be accomplished anyway.

I had known for two weeks that I should purchase new tires for the back of the van. I was putting it off as long as possible–in order to fulfill my ongoing reputation for a bit of procrastination. There was no more need to procrastinate.

So instead of becoming frustrated, I realized that my morning had changed. Fortunately for me, right next door to our lodging was a car repair shop. Unfortunately, the young manager who walked over to see if he could assist informed me that his business did not handle tires. But in the process of discovering this, he asked me to locate the jack, so I searched through the van, and lo and behold, in moving a few things around, came upon a twenty-dollar bill. Even in the midst of my harried pursuit, I felt a great burst of appreciation.

I tucked it in my pocket, not thinking any more about it, and when it became obvious that this fine gentleman was not going to be able to help me, I reached into my wallet and gave him five dollars for his time. He refused it but I insisted–and he took it and strolled away.

Talking with Jan, we decided it was a good idea to get our tire fixed and incorporate our other duties around the perimeter of the process. So she went back next door to see if that non-tire-repair shop could simply air up our tire, in order for us to drive someplace to get it fixed. Because we had been generous with the young man with the five dollars. two of his employees came over, got the van lifted up with their equipment, took off the old tire and put on our spare. We were grateful.

So I reached into my pocket and pulled out my magic twenty and gave it to them. We went down the road, got two new tires on the van which we needed anyway, and the whole excursion only cost five dollars and a bit of changing of our agenda.

I learned something–I shall call it the “Here Philosophy.”

Life comes along and says, “Here it is.” Honestly, most of us are stalled with just the vision of the situation set before us. If we would just understand that “here it will not change the situation, no matter how much we discuss it or avoid it, we could move to Step 2, which is:

“Here we are.” The essence of this maneuver is to understand that there’s nothing wrong with being dismayed, as long as in the midst of your lamentation, you are gathering your resources to resolve the dilemma. After we survive “Here it is” and we allow ourselves to discover “Here we are,” God arrives.

Here I am,” He says.

That’s right. If I had NOT been in the midst of trying to solve the problem of the flat tire, I would never have moved things around in the van and found the twenty-dollar blessing God had waiting for me. You see what I mean? “Here it is” leads to “Here we are” which leads God to be able to say, “Here I am.”

And once God is linked up with your efforts, you can smile, step out and say, “Here we go.” We are on an adventure instead of a death walk.

And it was. It was NOT a problem–it was a doorway. And once I came through the doorway, I enacted the “Here philosophy:”

  • Here it is: stop fighting it.
  • Here we are: start bringing it.
  • Here I am: thank you, God, for uncovering that twenty-dollar bill.
  • Here we go: we got the tires we needed in the first place.

And, by the way, we were very successful in achieving most of the other projects along the path.

Sometimes life is flat and our tires imitate. When it happens, put into practice the “Here philosophy” and understand that you will never get God to show up–until He’s convinced that you showed up.

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

Defined … December 7, 2012

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Jon Signing

I woke up confused.

No, that’s too weird. I guess the correct word would be “befuddled,” but that’s such an old-fashioned term that I hate to use it for fear of making myself look like a twenty-first century Charles Dickens. So let me describe the emotion. I knew WHERE I was, but I didn’t know WHY I was. For you see, yesterday afternoon I arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a three-week layover, for Christmas near family members, and also a chance to recuperate, record a new album and prepare for the coming year.

I mean, it sounded like a great idea–and I’m sure it will end up being pleasant and even satisfying. But honestly, my friends, I wasn’t here more than three hours before I realized that I felt separated from my work and abandoned to my own personality, which, as it turns out, is rather similar to canned spam.

I realized that I am defined by my talents, abilities and vision. I know in this present age of psycho-babble, people would roll their eyes and tell me I need to be more inclusive, expansive and varied in my approach. I’m sure for somebody else, that’s fine.

But I’m me. I have been me now for almost sixty-one years. I like me. Me is a mixture of giggles, gags, gifts, gyrations and an ongoing desire to see the gospel of peace settle into the souls of humankind.

I don’t feel noble–but I also don’t feel bizarre. For instance, I like to go shopping because you can get things, come back, have them near to where your fingertips can reach them and create convenience. But the idea of shopping in itself is not appealing to me.

I also love my family, but I’ve never built a life around them–nor have I asked them to make me the center of their universe.

I love doing things that other people do–but I guess I find them a bit more of a chore than a pleasure. You must forgive me for using the word “chore”–I’m sure there’s a better term to communicate my sensations. I do feel enjoyment, but not tremendous motivation.

I love being busy–doing what I can. I love the exhaustion that follows time well spent. I love sharing my heart and allowing others a landing strip near my ears to share theirs. I love my life.

I’m just not very good at being domesticated. Case in point: Gardening is something that I would watch for two minutes on some cable channel and be awe-struck by how someone could actually be interested in it.

I love being a grandparent, but I want my grandchildren to know that I’m still alive and as long as I am, I will pursue my dreams, not make their lives a replacement.

I recognized this morning that I am very defined. Maybe I lack a little helium in my balloon. Maybe I’m unwilling to stray too far from my calling–lest I forget the voice I heard from the burning bush.

I don’t know. But I’m going to do my best. I plan on thoroughly enjoying this mishap of arriving in a world unfamiliar to me and learning to partake of the surroundings–alien that I am.

I guess at heart I am a vagabond, itinerant messenger who is scurrying around to find the next wilderness to cry out into.

Yeah. That’s me.

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

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