G-Poppers … September 1st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

A quick point from G-Pop.

If it is your idea to share your heart, it’s called vulnerable. If somebody else demands you share your heart, it’s called weak.

Human beings need the ability to make their own choice. When you remove this, you tinker with the soul. No human being has the right to tinker with the soul of another.

Yet rather than screaming about choice, it would be a good idea to learn how choice is acquired.

It’s really quite simple:

If you need to be wanted, you always come across as weak. On the other hand, if you need to be respected, you will generally be considered mean.

So at all costs, we must refrain from the need to be wanted–that fussy part of us that tries to pretend we don’t care what people think while simultaneously being addicted to the drug of public opinion. Because the danger is to rebound and try to become tough, demanding that people respect us–and when they don’t, plotting a foolish revenge.

This situation is not different in China as compared to Argentina. The people in the British Isles don’t have different criterion than those in Nigeria. All of us function in the same scenario. In other words, we rise and thrive by avoiding the feelings of needing to be wanted or needing to be respected.

Being wanted and respected is impossible until it is determined that you are valuable. So crawl into your own soul and make pearls–accumulating worth.

Make yourself interesting. Make yourself predictable in a good way. In other words, when the chips are down, you can be counted on.

There you are. If you are going to complain about the system, you’ll never be able to work with it. So how do we become valuable?

1. Stop seeking praise and seek opportunity.

2. Be willing to do important things on your own when others have given up.

3. Don’t criticize people for failing to have the same determination that you do.

4. Do the good deed and don’t hang around for the party.

5. Make sure that when you fail, you make it clear to those around you that you’re going to correct it or improve it.

6. Acknowledge the value in others.

G-Pop wants his children to know that they should not need to be wanted or need to be respected.

The power lies in becoming valuable to those around you–and then they will want you and respect you.

 

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Good News and Better News … September 12th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

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milford-c-c-comp

There is certainly nothing more representative of the heart and mind-set of Jesus than compassion.

Arriving yesterday in Milford, I felt that gentle enthusiasm from Pastor Doug, his wife Marianne and the gathered souls.

They yearn to reach others.

Matter of fact, next Sunday they’re going to invite the community in to join them for breakfast, casting aside the trappings of religion, and making themselves vulnerable as human beings.

Yet in the midst of needful outreach to the community, we must be aware that the church was never intended to be a refuge to nurse the wounds or the grudges of purposely “little people.”

The message of Jesus is clear:

  • Heal the sick
  • Help them discover abundant life
  • And make sure everyone is free indeed

So even though we want to be forgiving and kind, we must remember three very important attributes of Jesus’ ministry:

1. Jesus refused to tolerate complainers.

The Pharisees didn’t have a good word for any good word. They didn’t realize that their hypocrisy was their problem, not Roman domination.

2. Jesus was not too available.

People had to ask about him. The lepers had to seek him out, and some determined souls even had to knock through the ceiling of the house to lower down a comrade for healing.

Jesus required people to make a personal emotional effort so he could make their encounter effortless.

3. Jesus was looking for faith.

Even though the dictionary may not agree, the opposite of faith is complaining. Once you begin to complain, you are proving that your circumstances determine your good cheer. Faith is the ability to deal with difficulty and laugh at it while waiting for fresh opportunity to come your way.

If we can incorporate this into our compassion for those who are non-complaining, seeking answers and bringing their faith, such as it is, we can become a church.

But when we extend grace to those who have been touched by the mercy of God and have decided to growl at the environment and people around them, then we’re wasting our time on souls who have plotted to be out of sorts.

The good news is that Jesus has compassion.

The better news is that compassion is much more effective with those who are not demanding it.

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Jonathan’s Latest Book Release!

PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

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G-48: 1619… October 31, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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cargo ship bigger

Excitement.

  • A season of reason.
  • An hour of power.
  • A college of knowledge.
  • A start for art.
  • A relief for belief.
  • A release of peace.
  • A righting of the course of fellowship.

And then … 1619.

A Dutch trader, selling his goods along the African coast, runs across a tribesman who has no money, but is willing to give a cargo of human beings, his neighbors, as exchange for his merchandise.

The wayfaring seaman pauses, thinking. He knows he doesn’t dare return without some sort of remuneration, or face losing his job–maybe worse. He looks at the half-clothed, nervous, twitching beings in front of him. They don’t look like him.

His brain sets in motion a nasty logic:

  1. These people are vulnerable.
  2. Therefore, these folks are less.
  3. These souls are our servants.
  4. These creatures are our property.
  5. These possessions are our slaves.

Much to his surprise, when he returns from his journey, expecting a rebuke for his choice, he is praised for such an inventive idea and commissioned to return and do it again.

As often is the case, there is a market. Therefore we pursue it–without wondering about its ramifications.

A painful portion of poison is perpetuated upon peoplehood. They digress.

And then one day, in a crowded, heated hall, nervous men, trying to cover their apprehension with verbal boldness, agree to a document which states clearly, directly and without apology:

“All men are created equal.”

1776.

Perhaps it is the remedy for 1619.

We shall see what price they’re willing to pay…for their own convictions.

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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Listen! Stop! Look! … July 21, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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stop look listen

Listen!

Don’t assume you’ve heard it all.

Allow your brain a chance to receive the freshness of a new insight.

People are always telling you their story.

They will let you know where it hurts.

They will inform you of what they need.

Sometimes they bury the lead under a joke.

Often they disguise the anguish beneath religiosity.

But listen.

Allow yourself to believe there’s more.

He that has an ear, let him hear.

Stop!

Yes, cease to believe that you’ve heard it all and know it all.

Don’t try to fix people.

Find a way to input them in the space they’ve provided.

Stop trying to save the world.

Instead, give people a chance to grow.

Don’t be so sure you know the will of God.

Because after all, it’s not His will that any should perish.

Don’t allow yourself to be so far behind the times that you’re chasing truth.

Stop repeating things that don’t work.

Start anticipating fresh blessings every day.

Look!

  • For ways to bless people.
  • For ways to hug people.
  • For ways to touch people.
  • For ways to make people laugh.
  • For ways to drop a dollar at just the right moment.
  • For ways to learn.
  • For ways to avoid too much work.
  • For ways to lift a burden.
  • For ways to establish your humanity.
  • For ways to be forgiving.
  • For ways to be vulnerable.
  • For ways to accept that people are the closest thing to God you will see today.

Listen!

Get your ears on.

Stop!

Selling an agenda.

Look!

For God.

He’s out there.

 

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Arizona morning

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

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Fault Line … May 8, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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fault lineA fault line is what triggers earthquakes.

Living on a fault line is accepting the possibility of a disruption.

The same thing is true in human beings with the issue of fault. A majority of the upheavals which occur between human beings is based upon fierce disagreements over the fault involved. So because of this, people establish their opinions along a fault line, which best represents their willingness to interact.

1. Everything is my fault.

This is way too vulnerable. It often puts us in the position of being considered the underdog and the dumping ground for other people’s deception.

2. Most things are my fault.

Once again, this is much too difficult to define, still leaving us over-exposed to those folks who refuse to consider their own part in any failure.

3. Some things are my fault.

Always too much to explain. By the time we finish clarifying our part in the fiasco, we’ve bored the listener.

4. Nothing is my fault.

This certainly reeks of arrogance and eventually drives away all of our cohorts from working with us because they have to carry the burden of our lack.

5. I don’t believe in fault.

It may be a noble gesture, but you are surrounded by a world which points fingers–and has plenty of digits available.

Personal success is wrapped up in our level of personal responsibility.

This is the truth that Jesus says will make us free–free because we are no longer dependent on other people’s participation.

We look for our part in the project and continue to pursue it with diligence and joy instead of probing for someone to blame or the nearest scapegoat.

Let me give you an example.

Seven years ago a friend of mine died. He was a victim of cancer.

He smoked, drank a little bit, was angry much of the time, single and frustrated with the status, and full of animosity toward those around him because his life had not worked out the way he had hoped.

When he passed away, rather than pointing at him in his coffin and proclaiming that “he had made his own bed” and would now sleep eternally in it, I instead took a look at what responsibility I had in his demise.

It was a beautiful, healing journey. Candidly, most of my discoveries were positive. I had been generous; I had been kind. I had influenced without becoming an interloper.

But in the process of reviewing the case concerning this friend, I did discover some truth. I could have stepped in earlier and encouraged–or even insisted–that he go to the doctor, which could have made a difference in his prognosis.

I didn’t feel guilt about it. I didn’t assume that it was my fault–but I realized that if I ever had the opportunity again with another human being, I would step into the gap a bit sooner and offer positive solutions.

It was so cleansing.

I didn’t have to take on fault, nor did I have to absolve myself of guilt.

I found personal responsibility.

In a generation which is trying to escape our part in the disaster, we are also running away from the truth that can make us free.

Not everything is my fault–but it is also not the case that nothing is my fault.

The fault line, which spurs our hearts to personal discovery, is there to bring the “truth which can make us free.”

Personal responsibility is the only doorway that allows us the dignity of finishing our day with a smile instead of a nervous apprehension about tomorrow.

 

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Arizona morning

After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

 

 

Leaky… September 3, 2012

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I don’t like to be vulnerable. I understand the importance of it; I appreciate that we best express our humanity one to another by admitting our foibles and allowing others to get a quick peek into the cellar of our disappointment. It doesn’t make it any more pleasant, though. Especially when you’re traveling on the road and touring, you need to be careful not to come across desperate, needy or cloying. I don’t ever want anyone to contribute to my work on the road because they’re afraid that my bald tires will blow out on the freeway as I leave town.

That’s why it was difficult yesterday in South Lyon, Michigan, when I was sitting in my green room preparing for the morning’s activities, and a spry, bright-eyed gentleman walked in and told me that my van was leaking from the radiator. I wasn’t upset with the news. I wasn’t nervous or concerned about the repair. After all, if you drive a vehicle around the country, you will have a certain amount of expense to maintain it. I just don’t like the sensation of coming across as a vagabond with no means of caring for my own needs.

Let me make something clear–at no time did this fine gentleman ever cause me to feel diminished. It was all in my head. So I put it out of my mind, went into the morning service and had a grand time with these outrageously inspired individuals. During the service, the gentleman who had discovered our radiator leak asked for help after the conclusion of the morning’s program, to assist us in putting our van in good enough shape to send us on our way. So while I had the blessing of interfacing with the audience, three or four of the men from the church went out and ministered to my Ford. They were astute, aware and qualified.

So by the time I finished trying to give a collective hug to the entire congregation and made my way out to my transportation, these gentlemen already had everything under control. They had filled it up with “Stop Leak,” told me of some needful repair, and I was on my way.

As I drove towards my lodging, I still had those misgivings–about being too open and available. But then I came to the realization that if I hadn’t been “leaky,” those fine folks would have had no way of expressing their affection, mercy and graciousness to me.

  • I want to be powerful. (Sometimes God needs me to appear less.)
  • I want to be large and in charge. (God often recommends the lower seat.)
  • I want to appear manly and full of promise. (As I’m aging, a limp is being added to my walk, to temper my stride.)
  • I want to have the privilege of making my own decisions in my own way. (I find strength in a multitude of counselors.
  • I want to believe I can handle all of my own mishaps without intervention. (God sends angels to me and I must learn to recognize them–otherwise, I miss my piece of heaven.)
  • I want to be free of leaks. (I’m often just a big drip.)

I realized that I was asking this congregation yesterday morning to expose themselves, open their hearts, show their fears and discuss possibilities on how to plug up the holes in their lives. I was expecting them to do this without I, myself, ever presenting my own lacking. Oh, I am very willing to be self-deprecating or even forthcoming, but in some areas I like to maintain control.

Areas like my radiator.

But “he that would gain his life will lose it, and he that will lose his life shall gain it.” Temporarily yesterday, I lost control of my van. It was put into the capable hands of intelligent, caring brothers. I closed down my ego and I opened up the potential for receiving generosity. Because of that, it was a better day.

Here’s the truth: Mitt Romney is leaky. Barack Obama is leaky.  My dear God, Jesus was leaky. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, pleading for a better solution, while God watched his blood to drip onto the ground. We’re not looking for people who aren’t leaky. We’re looking for folks who will allow others to help them.

I had a blessing in South Lyon which actually enabled me to become more of a blessing to them. I am leaky.

When I try to plug those on my own, I lose the benefit of showing a part of myself that is more relevant to those who are searching for greater humanity … and less deception.

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Happi-Less… May 6, 2012

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  1. Always present your best side. Be positive.
  2. Be strong and don’t let your emotions betray you.
  3. Don’t let people walk on you.
  4. Be satisfied with what you have.
  5. Don’t let people take advantage of you. Stay alert.
  6. Be careful what you share about yourself.
  7. Work for peace; prepare for war.
  8. Be gentle but always be ready to fight for yourself.
  9. Return in kind.
  10. Keep your cool–even out your emotions.

Almost any good author could take the precepts above and write a self-help book, publish it and sell thousands of copies to the American public. Those ten ideas are deeply ingrained into the fabric of our nation’s daily interactions and stitched into our philosophy. They are nearly immutable. You hear them in the movies, they are espoused on television shows–they are basically the gospel of the reality show format. They comprise the credo of the American public perception of self-esteem.

The problem? Every one of them is the opposite of what Jesus taught.

When he presented his top ten notions for life and getting along with others from The Beatitudes in Sermon on the Mount–a list which he contended would produce happiness–the American philosophy ends up being contrary to his thinking. Perhaps it’s no surprise that we are a Christian nation by belief, and a jungle jumble by philosophy. For we all know–there is a difference between believing and following.

As to #1, Jesus told us to be poor in spirit instead of constantly positive, blowing our own horns. He doesn’t share this because it’s noble. It’s just that if two bulls are going to be in a pen, one had better show up willing to stop locking horns–or nothing will be accomplished.

As to #2–about being strong, hiding emotions–Jesus said that it’s blessed to mourn. If we would just realize that if there isn’t a physical manifestation of grief, concern or empathy, no one around us can be sure that we even care.

His response to #3 is that people will walk on you whether you want them to or not. Your only recourse is to be meek–buy time–to give them a more metered and intelligent response instead of saying, “And you, too …” The meek inherit the earth because the earth honors temperance and repels violence.

How about #4–being satisfied? Jesus says we should be hungering and thirsting for righteousness. We’re just not very good people when we become complacent and assume that what we already are and possess is sufficient.

Number 5–the fear of being taken advantage of–prevents us from committing acts of kindness, or at least, delays it. Jesus said that the merciful will receive mercy from God as a gift.

Should we be careful about what we share with others? You can be if you want. But Jesus says the pure in heart–those who are candid about their weakness before others find out and gossip–well, those folks get to see God. It’s just hard to see God if you can’t peer into your own heart.

And even though we might believe in a strong national defense, we have to understand that every time we build a bomb, we’re stealing valuable time that could be utilized for developing better forms of diplomacy. It’s too bad that in our world, the pursuit of peace, or as Jesus called it–peace making–is perceived as weakness rather than a masterful step of “bombing people” with greater intuition.

Jesus makes it clear that all of us will be persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Good ideas get punished until they’re accepted. It’s just a fact of life. You can feel free to “fight for yourself” and make a case, but until people’s ears are tuned to reasonableness, they will react negatively against anything different, even if it’s for their own good.

Of course, there is the inevitable flow of lies and falsehoods that happen in our society when those who have become our adversaries decide to stop the debate and begin the attacks. You can return in kind. It would make you a wonderful Muslim, an acceptable Jew and maybe even an honorable Chinese. But it just makes you a lousy Christian. Insanity doesn’t stop until someone insists on restoring upright thinking.

And finally, when it’s all said and done, Jesus says the end result should be happiness. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad. In our first list of ten, the resolution is to “keep your cool.” But Jesus suggests that we revel in the success of our own endeavors and our own desire to get along. Yet, in our top ten American precepts, we tout that it’s not good to let people see you being too joyful, too sad or too involved.

There’s happiness. Boiling it down to a single sentence: happiness is a decision to be vulnerable before someone comes along and wounds you anyway.

And there is the American culture top ten, which says, “Be defensive and keep from being wounded by staying aggressive.” The end result is that you lose your peace of mind, are constantly paranoid and end up Happi-Less–less happy.

The teachings of Jesus are not an attempt to turn the world population into pacifists, at the mercy of the lions, tigers and bears (oh, my). It is a philosophy that asks each individual to take personal responsibility for their actions, desires, foibles and talents instead of blaming others. The conclusion? If enough people would do this, there wouldn’t be any need to attack another.

So what will it be? Happiness? (Which really is focusing on my own dreams without judging others.) Or Happi-Less? (Building a fort around my life to protect myself from the savages.)

Remember–it is possible to believe without actually following. And it’s possible to defend yourself and end up alone and confused … because you don’t really know the person that remains.

  

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