Good News and Better News … February 22nd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2852)

Composite with borders

Jesus never answered a question the way the asker hoped he would respond.

“Who is my neighbor?”

“It’s that guy laying on the side of the road wounded, that everybody’s ignoring.”

“Is it right for us to pay tribute to Caesar?”

“Sure–if it’s Caesar’s gig.”

“How many times should we forgive people?”

“490 seems fair.”

“What must I do to be saved?”

“Go give your money away to the poor.”

If you’re waiting for truth to emerge from the mass of human opinion, you will spend your life following foolishness.

Thus, the layout of the four pictures in today’s array.

Picture 1, with Jan on set. We arrived in Christ Lutheran Church on Hilton Head Island and set up our equipment. It was the first and best thing we could accomplish.

Because of the nature of the promotional beast in America, Janet and myself maintain obscurity. No one cared that we set up our equipment, but we knew it was important to do it well, and to be ready.

The next picture shows the ceiling of the beautiful church we were in. They are lovely people, but they are religious. It is my job to take that religious fervor and try to turn it into a common sense faith.

Then you see a picture of my wheelchair, sitting by itself in the parking lot. That’s to remind me that showing my weakness only lends itself to creating strength. No one is self-sufficient. We have weaknesses, and if we’re willing to admit them to others, we open the door to a mutual humanity.

And finally, there’s a picture of a rear view mirror. Honestly, I cannot go forward without understanding where I’ve come from, and learning from those experiences to benefit myself, and therefore enhance the life of others.

Humility is not an option we select when we are in a particularly good mood or have sung a moving hymn. Humility is survival–allowing ourselves wiggle room just in case our frailties show up instead of our strengths.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the people at Christ Lutheran yesterday. They were sparkling, delightful and intriguing.

And it was my joy, since I knew they were aware of the Christ, to reacquaint them with Jesus. Long before he got the promotion to be the Christ, he walked among us as Jesus, changing lives, challenging stereotypes and transforming the world.

That’s the good news.

The better news lies in a comment that the dear pastor made to me right before I was departing on Sunday. He said one lady had commented that the service was “the closest thing to a tent revival she had ever seen in the Lutheran church.”

I don’t know if she meant that as a compliment, but I do know this–I am moving ahead in my mission, looking forward to the day when we will be so hungry for revival that we won’t care whether it’s in a steeped-ceiling cathedral or a stained-canvas tent.

Donate Button

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

 

Good News and Better News … February 21st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2852)

Composite with borders

Jesus never answered a question the way the asker hoped he would respond.

“Who is my neighbor?”

“It’s that guy laying on the side of the road wounded, that everybody’s ignoring.”

“Is it right for us to pay tribute to Caesar?”

“Sure–if it’s Caesar’s gig.”

“How many times should we forgive people?”

“490 seems fair.”

“What must I do to be saved?”

“Go give your money away to the poor.”

If you’re waiting for truth to emerge from the mass of human opinion, you will spend your life following foolishness.

Thus, the layout of the four pictures in today’s array.

Picture 1, with Jan on set. We arrived in Christ Lutheran Church on Hilton Head Island and set up our equipment. It was the first and best thing we could accomplish.

Because of the nature of the promotional beast in America, Janet and myself maintain obscurity. No one cared that we set up our equipment, but we knew it was important to do it well, and to be ready.

The next picture shows the ceiling of the beautiful church we were in. They are lovely people, but they are religious. It is my job to take that religious fervor and try to turn it into a common sense faith.

Then you see a picture of my wheelchair, sitting by itself in the parking lot. That’s to remind me that showing my weakness only lends itself to creating strength. No one is self-sufficient. We have weaknesses, and if we’re willing to admit them to others, we open the door to a mutual humanity.

And finally, there’s a picture of a rear view mirror. Honestly, I cannot go forward without understanding where I’ve come from, and learning from those experiences to benefit myself, and therefore enhance the life of others.

Humility is not an option we select when we are in a particularly good mood or have sung a moving hymn. Humility is survival–allowing ourselves wiggle room just in case our frailties show up instead of our strengths.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the people at Christ Lutheran yesterday. They were sparkling, delightful and intriguing.

And it was my joy, since I knew they were aware of the Christ, to reacquaint them with Jesus. Long before he got the promotion to be the Christ, he walked among us as Jesus, changing lives, challenging stereotypes and transforming the world.

That’s the good news.

The better news lies in a comment that the dear pastor made to me right before I was departing on Sunday. He said one lady had commented that the service was “the closest thing to a tent revival she had ever seen in the Lutheran church.”

I don’t know if she meant that as a compliment, but I do know this–I am moving ahead in my mission, looking forward to the day when we will be so hungry for revival that we won’t care whether it’s in a steeped-ceiling cathedral or a stained-canvas tent.

Donate Button

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

 

Day 504… February 24, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2160)

Day 504Seems like an odd landmark, doesn’t it? Day 504.

But it came to my mind, and when I counted up the days, that’s the number I ended up with.

It is exactly 504 days since I woke up in Fremont, Ohio, with my legs so stiff, sore, cramping and aching that for all intents and purposes I was not able to walk. Therefore I thought it was time for an update.

Let me start with one of the greatest statements that can ever be made by a human:

It’s not worse.

After 504 days, that original cramping and debilitation did not place me permanently in a wheelchair, unable to move, travel, interact with human beings or even dress myself. I think we miss a rare opportunity in life when we don’t celebrate the absence of things getting worse.

Because quite bluntly, my friends–they can. There are diseases, problems, afflictions and habits that are avalanches toward disaster. It did not get worse.

Secondly–it’s better.

How is it better? I’m walking more than I was before. The stiffness is not as bad. The knees are still achy, but somehow or another, the beautiful construction of my human anatomy has enabled me to get accustomed to it, and I am able to perform all of my tasks with the same vigor I had in my twenties. Now for a third thought:

I am better.

Here is something I want you to consider: we are temporarily blessed in pleasure but perfected in pain. Why is that?

If we don’t feel a sense of our own mortality and are unaware of our own weaknesses, we begin to think that everything that comes into our minds is valuable instead of in need of a good interrogation.

I am better because complete mobility and self-sufficiency is not at my fingertips–or in this case, my toe tips.

  • It makes me appreciate everything more.
  • It makes me plan more efficiently.
  • It causes me to be sensitive when I look across the room and see someone with a cane, a walker or nursing a limp.
  • And finally, it has transformed my meager thinking into the understanding that life is about “better.”

Although I hear both religious and secular people lamenting the condition of the world around them, our thermometers should be set to notice the slightest change in degree of improvement.

Those who have the sensitivity to peer through the darkness and find one candle of light are the souls that sustain us to a better tomorrow.

So on day 504, I am happy to report that my condition is not worse. It’s better.

And because I have gone through it, I am better, converted to the philosophy–and powerful it is–that life is about better.

Donate Button

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-Pop’s Coming … November 24, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2077)

G-PopThree hundred and thirty-three days ago, I checked out of a Red Carpet Inn in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, climbed into my big, black conversion van and set out on my fourteenth crossing of the United States to share my life and heart.

I had just finished a three-week stay with family and friends for Christmas and had completed recording my latest album. The process of being with these lovely folks was exhilarating, enlightening and challenging.

Exhilarating because it’s always a welcome reminder to my soul that I was miraculously a patron and contributor to the formation of what has turned out to be a glorious gathering of geniuses and goofballs.

Enlightening because they continue to surprise me with both their achievements and progress in maturity, which varies in speed from the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars to the common inchworm.

And challenging. Even though I made a promise to all my friends, children and all the folks they have introduced into our conclave, granting them autonomy and individuality, I am a human being and occasionally I will see them take on attitudes or ideas which I find obtuse.

But when you blend exhilarating, enlightening and challenging all together, you get more “yea” than “nay.”

And I have to admit, as I drove across I-75–Alligator Alley–to begin “Tour 2013,” I was a bit wistful and maybe a little melancholy about leaving, to ship off to projects and people quite unknown.

I know my family loves me. I know my friends feel the same. But it isn’t quite like it was when they relied on me for their sustenance and needed my approval to gain permission to use the car keys on Saturday night.

Honestly, it’s much better the way it is now than when our relationship could quickly be tainted by a dust-up or a festering fussiness.

But as I prepare to join my kin in the Nashville, Tennessee, area for Thanksgiving, I know they will want to ask the normal questions:

  • How are you feeling, G-Pop?
  • Do your knees still hurt?
  • How much do you have to use the wheelchair?
  • Tell us a story about your trip this year.
  • Are you going to go out again?
  • Do you ever get tired of it?
  • Do you miss us?
  • Did you lose any weight?
  • Are you getting exercise?

You see, some of the questions are natural and others are based on the fact that as they become more adult, they also view me as getting older and decrepit. So sometimes it’s difficult for me to understand why they anticipate my taking a sharp left turn into “geriatric,” when they know I’m still writing, sharing, singing and performing all across this great country.

But after all, they’re just people. They really need me to be a grandpa–and I’m more suited to be the aging Grand Poobah of a gypsy band.

What will I tell them?  What will I say when they ask me, “G-Pop, what have you learned?”

Well, you see, I learned …

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

Shell-rocked … July 27, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1956)

faithlutheranshellrock

  • The me you see
  • The me that’s me
  • The me I’m freed to be

 It’s three different people, you know. Maybe success in life is about getting that trio of personalities to blend into oneness—for if they stay separate, there can be a lot of frustration.

As I head off tomorrow morning to Faith Lutheran Church in Shell Rock, Iowa, I am completely aware that God was speaking the obvious when He said that “man looks on the outward appearance.”

Honestly, my dear friends, my outward appearance has never been my “best foot forward,” unless you are fond of stumbling:

  1. I am fat.
  2. I am certainly NOT tall, dark and handsome.
  3. The aging process has relieved me of my hair.
  4. And I don’t seem powerful because my knees are pretty bad and I utilize a wheelchair to cover long distances.

Now at first reading of this description, you might be sympathetic, or even feel that I need your pity. But that’s the me you see. That is not the me that’s me.

The me that’s me is a father who has raised six sons, traveled the country many times over, written symphonies, books, movies, and has performed in front of hundreds of thousands of people.

I learned early in my life that my best shot was to abandon beauty, my “good looks,” and instead, take a good look at myself and find the best way to be of benefit to others, and therefore find great prosperity in my soul.

new jon and janSo what does that mean?

It means that I’ve developed a sense of humor about how I look, a sense of passion about what I do and a deep abiding gratitude for who I’ve been freed to be.

For you see, that is the third process. God has come along and given me permission to be a new creature—born again, as it were. He has implanted in my spirit notions, ideas and promises that don’t always jibe with my reality, but still remain available if I’m willing to accept them by faith.

Take salvation, for example. I’m glad He handles that particular arena. If I were in charge of salvation, I would first of all have to always be a good person, saying all the right things, while being that guy who believes in life after death even in moments of doubtful consideration.

But I don’t have to worry about that.

The reason most people get shell-shocked on their way to Shell Rock is because they become anxious about what other people are going to think about them and they don’t have much confidence in God pulling off His part. They have bookends of insecurity, making them very nervous about their own package of talent.

I fully expect the people in Shell Rock to initially see me as a fat guy rolling along in a wheelchair. In fact, if it were a silent film, that would be it. But life isn’t a silent film:

  • We get the chance to have a voice.
  • We get the chance to express ourselves.
  • We get the chance to be loving.
  • We are afforded the opportunity to be generous.
  • We are provided moments when we can be confrontational in a way that benefits the common good.

And I am not about to ever forget that even though people may have an immediate visceral reaction to me and I may have gifts that can overcome that prejudice, it still holds no candle to how much I am loved by my Father.

If you’re going to be successful on Planet Earth, you have to realize that the me that people see can never, ever be perfected. No matter how many times you lift your face, tuck your belly or comb your hair, someone will have a problem with your appearance.

So spend more time with the “me that’s me,” and perfect the art of being yourself. And don’t be afraid to move towards excellence.

Because when it’s all done, even when people reject your offering as a whole, you can come home to the “me you’re freed to be” … in the arms of your Father in heaven.

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

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

Common “Since” … December 31, 2012

(1,745)

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Layovers.

For several years I toured the country by air–right before flying the skies began to resemble a prison transfer bus, complete with cramped quarters, armed guards and frisking. Like everyone else, I always found layovers to be unpleasant. After all, getting into that big, long tube once to fly non-stop to your destination is the ideal, but is occasionally impossible because your destination may be a smaller city or you may need a more reasonable ticket.airplane on the tarmac

So rather than complaining about layovers, I tried to start using them as a vehicle to attempt a productive project. Sometimes I tried to hook up with the people I knew in the town where I was going to spend a couple of hours and have conversations, or purposely plan a writing pursuit to fill the time. I became very aware of a phenomenon in human life which we shall refer to as the “since-then” syndrome.

“Since I’m stuck in an airport, then I choose to do the following…”

“Since my tire is flat and I’m going to be late, then I will change my plans and do this different thing…”

“Since I didn’t get the original amount of money I intended to receive, then I will adjust my budget to make it appear that I’m solvent…”

It is probably one of the most powerful principles you can teach to yourself and others in order to maintain the decorum which allows you the dignity to survive adversity and await the next opportunity that sprouts the unplanned-for blessing.

I ran across this same philosophy yesterday in Boynton Beach, Florida, at my gig. The pastor of the church told a story about a woman with a brain tumor, who developed the further complication of bleeding on the brain. The family, rather than looking on it as a setback, was grateful–because the bleeding was treatable, and in the process of taking care of that particular difficulty, they were praying that in some way the brain tumor itself would be addressed or perhaps even eliminated.

Now, the normal reaction from the average person to this kind of idea would range from admiration to mocking. But really, neither of those takes on the situation are on point with the value of their thinking. What I heard was that this family understood the “since-then” concept. We all have things happen to us that we have little control over–except to meter our reaction in the direction of the continuation of life rather than complaining about our lot.

I thought it was brilliant. It is actually a perfect example of faith. For after all, faith is not a foolish whim spoken into the wind in a dreamy sort of psychotic haze. Faith is accepting what has come our way, yet believing that God is looking for a path to increase our possibilities instead of limiting us.

I went Christmas shopping three times this year. I haven’t done that in five years. I gleefully go grocery shopping every week now. I found that very painful to accomplish over the past couple of years. All of these things are made possible because when I discovered my knees were failing, rather than giving up on my potential, I merely sat down in a wheelchair, and in so doing, increased my range. Since I am presently mobile only by using wheels on a chair, then I will take that new mobility and use it as proficiently–and frequently–as possible. I could even fly again if I want to.

See how it works? Since I am here, then I will do this. Since I write a daily column, instead of fretting over whether anybody reads it, then I will do my best, knowing that at least I have a strong readership in the heavens.

Of course, the supreme example of this is Jesus, who was given a cross–and since he was, then he turned it into salvation.

Layovers–you can either take the time to look at your watch … or use the time to watch and look.

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

Sixty-Eight Days… December 16, 2012

(1,731)

Jon Signing

In search of a miracle.

Which one of these better defines a miracle? A left-legless man grows a new limb, or a left-legless man grows the will and intelligence to still find a way to get around and be valuable. Probably some of you may try to be cute by saying, “Both would be miracles. One’s just bigger.”

There IS only one miracle–it is called life.

But don’t take my word for it. Just drive to Connecticut and ask any of the young parents who lost children this week through the injustice of the murdering rage of an infidel in Newtown. They will tell you. The miracle is life. They would love to have back every annoying question posed to them at inopportune times by their over-curious young’uns.

Yet short days earlier they would have told you that a miracle would be an improvement on their finance or maybe getting that second mortgage on their house–or picking up a couple extra thousand dollars for Christmas.

Sixty-eight days ago I realized that I could not walk anymore. I mean, I could still kind of creep along, but it was painful, ugly and too slow for even Joe. And my balance was gone. I prayed. Yes–unashamedly, I besought God for a miracle.

Sitting here this morning, I can tell you that I have received it. The miracle is that I’m alive. A second miracle is that I’m healthy and still doing what I’ve always done, with just as much panache and style.

The ability to define “miracle” may be the most important step any one of us takes. It leads us to the doorstep of another important revelation: understanding responsibility.

I have been 175 pounds overweight for my entire adult life. If you multiply that 175 pounds times even twenty years, you come up with 3500 extra pounds of pressure that has been placed on my knees in just two decades. That would be similar to walking outside and putting a car on my back and trying to take two steps. You see what I mean?

I have a responsibility in my own need for a miracle. It is the fruit of repentance that I must bring to confirm to myself, the world around me, and ultimately, to God–that I am serious about receiving newness of life.

For sixty-eight days I have stayed faithful to a plan of eating that has now benefitted me with weight loss and less pain. This ushers me into a ballroom of blessing, where I may celebrate progress. I may never tap dance again, (which is fine–because I never did before.) But I am finding it easier to do everything in my life than I did sixty-nine days ago. I am sleeping better, I am thinking better, I am creating better, I even have a better disposition. I am landing exactly where I need to be: in reality.

For after all, an optimist is someone who just hasn’t yet tried out his or her ideas. And a pessimist is someone who has tried out his or her ideas, but is unwilling to evolve them. I am a realist. I do not have functioning knees. I have remarkably strong thighs, calves and feet. Three-quarters of my walking mechanism are intact and ready to pick up some of the load. Amazing. But the reality is that right now, I am able to get around much more fluidly by occasionally perching myself in a wheel chair to get from Point A to Point B so that I can do Activity C.

I learned a long time ago that life is not a marathon–it is a sprint. I am prepared for the sprint. Please don’t sign me up for 26.2 miles.

After sixty-eight days, my sweet friends:

  • I have learned to define a miracle. It is called life.
  • I understand responsibility. Do what you can and don’t complain about the rest.
  • I celebrate progress: feeling better certainly does seem to be an answer to prayer.
  • And I stay real. I am neither a pessimist or an optimist, but rather, find great joy in what is afforded me by the privilege of still breathing.

Just an update from the front lines of my life. No bullets are flying … I’ve just dug into the trenches for the siege.

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

%d bloggers like this: