Cracked 5 … May 16th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Other Names Considered for Jesus (and also the ones who proposed the “handle”)

 

A. Temple Tumbler–presented by the sarcastic Pharisees after Jesus “turned the tables” on them.

 

B. Winey Boy–a quickly devised name by some very drunken souls in Cana who suddenly found themselves slurping a burgundy made out of water

 

C. Jim Bay Luben–a proposal by the Southern Galilean Baptists, who were hoping it might promote Jesus to be more like his cousin, John

 

D. Carpo the Carpenter–a business-package idea by the Nazareth Chamber of Commerce

 

E. Bastard–a never-dying rumor by old, disgruntled Nazarenes who were “month-counters” for Mother Mary.

 

 

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Good News and Better News… November 21st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Fifteen friends and family joined us yesterday at the Summit Heights United Methodist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, to celebrate and fellowship over our final gig of the year.

What a year.

Twelve states, thousands of people and memories to last a lifetime.

The Summit Heights congregation was a beautiful human concoction of simplicity and joy, with a great sense of humor–guided by a bright, hopeful and forward-thinking young man named Todd.

So when I took the stage to begin the morning with our prelude, there was an eagerness and energy in the air. I thought to myself, This is what God wants. He wants His children showing up to His house ready for cookies and milk instead of thinking they’re going to have to stomach the medicine.

As I continued in the service, an abiding notion suddenly permeated my mind.

God is not going to do anything without us.

We can pray, we can study, we can hope, we can criticize the world, we can judge others–and God will ignore our feeble, religious efforts. For God is not going to do anything without us.

When Jesus wanted to feed the five thousand, he required the five loaves and two fishes from the disciples.

When it was time to preach the good news, he sent them out two by two.

When desiring to make wine, he requested water.

When people came for healing, he told them that their faith made them whole–and when their faith was absent, it says he was not able to heal many.

And certainly when God wanted to save humanity, He found a willing woman to bring the Savior into the world.

I don’t know why we’re so afraid to become involved in our own life, ministry, outreach and salvation–but it will take our spirit, our countenance and our heart to transform America from its angry position of self-absorption, back into one nation that truly is under God’s guidance.

What kind of spirit?

It’s a spirit of repentance. “I could be wrong and because that’s possible, I am prepared to change.”

What is the countenance?

It is a full-faced expression of joy, which shows that we’re aware of life’s pain, but we realize it can only be conquered through good cheer.

What is the heart?

It is a heart of compassion–letting everyone know that because we have weaknesses, we feel a tender kindness to those like ourselves, who find themselves weak.

It is my prayer that Summit Heights will take on the power of the Gospel, which is: “Christ in me, the hope of glory.”

 

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Jesonian: Co-Cana…April 26, 2015

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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Turning water into wine in Cana of Galilee is one of Jesus’ more popular miracles.

Religious people seem to favor it because the Messiah was celebrating weddings, and also introduces the wine, which is later the symbol of his blood.

Secular people embrace the concept because it promotes the idea of “liberal Jesus” who is playful enough to welcome intoxicants into his acceptability.

As often is the case, the actions of the young preacher in Cana of Galilee are overlooked in favor of speculation on theology or sociology.

What is important is how Jesus decided to participate in the lack of wine at a wedding feast.

We’re always pushing the concept that Divinity possesses the capability of pulling rabbits out of hats which are not necessarily conducive to birthing bunnies.

The message of Cana of Galilee is that if you want to do something powerful, don’t show up with an empty pot.

For the wine that was produced that day did not flow from the skies nor did it spring forth from the dirt floor of the hut in which they celebrated.

It began in a pot which was filled with water.

May I make the point that 85% of wine is water? So 85% of the miracle was achieved simply by having large pots filled with water. More importantly, Jesus is making it clear that you shouldn’t show up to God with empty pots.

  • There is no feeding of the 5,000 without the disciples providing five loaves and two fishes.
  • There is no healing of ten lepers without them hunting Jesus down, finding him and begging for rejuvenation.
  • And there is no woman with an issue of blood healed if she had not come up with a great plan, crawled on her hands and knees and touched the hem of his garment.

Heaven is very responsive when Earth has brought its best.

God is very merciful when His children are willing to lay what they have on the line for a common good.

While we sit around waiting for God to make wine, we might want to realize that the problem may be that we have not yet found a pot and filled it with water.

We have not found the best of our efforts, our heart and our supply to bring to bear, to confirm our investment in the endeavor.

I don’t think Jesus could have made it any clearer: all wine has to come from water. God may be willing to add the fermented grapes, but 85% of it needs to be supplied by people of faith taking the steps to bring all they have to the situation.

It’s Co-Cana: God and me.

If you don’t believe this, you will often find yourself praying to a heaven which is not deaf, but feigns dumbness, waiting for you to bring some supply.

Don’t bring empty pots without water and ask for wine.

God has no intention of ignoring Earth, Mother Nature or you to do His will.

He is quite satisfied with the way the system works.

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Chair Person… November 6, 2012

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Here’s how it works.

With the present condition of my lower limbs, I basically divide my life into two segments. For short efforts, jaunts or tiny toddles, I get up on my pins and hobble along, trying to maintain as much of a stride as humanly possible, to exercise those muscles and let those joints know that we haven’t settled next to a pool in Boca Raton. For longer distances, shopping excursions and moments when I am not sure where I’m heading, I opt for the wheelchair. It’s a pretty good system–especially when you consider that it’s the only one available.

So last night when Janet and I took the stage and I rolled up to the front to our set, I discovered there was a dear lady also in a wheel chair, sitting close to where I would dismount from mine, to assume the piano bench. So I rolled up next to her–similar to being in a gridlock on a San Francisco freeway–and we had a moment of delightful eye contact. Then I eased out of the chair and onto my musical perch. She was not more than four feet away from me.

She was a chair person.

It’s a title we normally grant to someone in charge of a meeting, so that is why it’s so applicable, because this dear soul was in charge. All through the presentation, she whispered her approval, appreciation, encouragement, joy and admiration. I think some of her friends and other members of the audience privately desired that she remain a little more quiet. (*Isn’t it interesting that “normal” people always want to stifle what they consider to be extreme outbursts of praise? It happened at the triumphal entry of Jesus and it occurs every day when we all become more concerned about being “civilized” than appreciative.)

There are seven steps involved in being successful at what I do. I honestly don’t think this would be much different in any occupation, but I could be wrong, as I often am just to confirm my status in the great race.

The first step is always overcoming disappointment. After all these years of travel and experience, conventional wisdom might say that I should be performing to packed houses. They rarely are. I normally receive a congregation that consists of the chosen few minus those who have previous plans or a great excuse for absence. It doesn’t bother me. It really doesn’t. Usually it is of more concern to the sponsor, who is horrified that his or her efforts rendered such a trickle. We have to be careful about disappointment–it often can be arrogance wearing a mask of piety.

The second step, for me, is being grateful for each and every face that has come out to beam in my presence. Many of them don’t smile at first because it is too heavy a commitment. I am patient.I can’t expect them to grin at me in approval simply based on my comely features.

Which leads me to the third step, which is finding a door. Yes, all of us human beings have a door–and it’s somewhere near our hearts. Trying to communicate to human beings on a spiritual level is comical. They are preconditioned to throw their religious attitudes your way and block any attempts at revision. Coming at them from a mental angle can be baffling, both to me and to them. I talk about human things in a human way to human beings seeking out human answers. It’s a great door.

And when I finally find that door, I get to my fourth step–I always try to enter with love. God does not give me permission to be a grouchy, fussy bigot to His children. If I can’t encourage, edify and exhort people, my best profile is to shut the hell up. I try to find a way to love everybody in the room. (It’s made so much easier when I have my fellow-chair-person not four feet away from me, leading the charge for acceptance and inclusion. She was precious.)

After I enter with love, the fifth step is to be patient and wait for those who are drawn to me and feel they might benefit by rubbing up against my spirit. There is nothing more intrusive than insisting that you’re right and deciding for other people that they need what you’ve got. They will find you. It’s why you must let some people leave your presence hurriedly–almost rudely–because there is absolutely nothing you can do for them right now.

And when these souls DO show up at my table, my sixth step is to listen. My dear God, they were courteous enough to open their ears for me for an hour–it won’t hurt me to give them sixty seconds or so. After the show, my dear lady who created her own front row of observance came to the table and we chatted for quite a while. Her life has not been easy. The wheel chair is just an outward sign of a life that has been crippled by difficulty. But she was hopeful. She was joyous. She had a great sense of humor. And she even boldly piped up at one point that she thought one of the best things in life was enjoying a Miller Highlife with a bologna sandwich. This might have embarrassed some overhearers, who thought it inappropriate to say such words in God’s house, but since Jesus turned water into wine, I think she was on safe turf. Yes, the sixth step is to listen.

Do I always like what I hear? Of course not. But God hasn’t made me a judge. It isn’t my job to decide who makes it into the camp and who ends up sleeping in the woods. I’ll leave that to the Republicans, Democrats, conservatives and liberals. Don’t ever forget–if you think one group of people is smarter and better than another, you’re just a bigot. You may be a well-educated one, but it doesn’t mean you’re any prettier.

Finally, the seventh step in my journey on any given night is to leave humbly. For naked I came into this world and in a similar unclothed fashion I will depart. My strength is not in my talent or my spirituality, but rather, in my humanity.

I am a chair person.

Right now I am rolled in, to roll out what I have. Last night I met another chair person. She lives that way all the time and still loves being alive.

I can recommend this seven-step process. Shall we review?

  • Step One: overcome disappointment.
  • Step Two: Be grateful for what is set before you.
  • Step Three: Find a door.
  • Step Four: Enter with love.
  • Step Five: Wait for those who are drawn to you.
  • Step Six: Listen to them.
  • Step Seven: Leave humbly.

Much thanks to the folks in Brookville, Ohio. Much appreciation to my fellow chair person. She confirms that the seat of power is not in how we stand, but rather … in what we feel.

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