Good News and Better News… August 7th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is truly amazing how God’s plan for my life works so much better when I make good decisions.

Maybe that’s because God, who gave every human being free will, does not “plan our life.” Instead, he offers wisdom, strength and grace to those who remain humble. I see this every single day of my time on Earth.

Some people are waiting for God to do what He’s already done.

Others take what God has done and go out and do something with it.

I was a blessed man to be granted the opportunity to share at the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Palm Harbor, Florida. I ran across people who were thinking about making good decisions.

One fellow candidly told me that when he walked in and saw that there were guest ministers, he wanted to walk right back out. But he decided to sit down –n a grumpy sort of way–and ended up being thrilled with his choice.

Another fellow was recovering from stomach problems and decided to come in spite of them, and departed exhilarated.

I ran across person after person who explained to me that the facts set before them did not necessarily warrant optimism or faith, but they chose to rearrange circumstances to their better advantage.

Jesus never criticized anyone for showing initiative to change his or her life. In our religion we often connote that too much ambition, or even an overload of passion, is detrimental to Godly humility. In the process, many of those who darken the door of the church are plagued by insecurity.

I am a human who truly has been granted a great opportunity of possibility–I get to go and share my thoughts, my songs, my words and my good cheer, with the aspiration of inspiring others. Did God plan for me to do this? He certainly is grateful for my efforts–and I, for His mission.

The good news is that we have been given the tools, the opportunity and the potential to make fruitful lives.

The better news is that our Father in heaven, from a position of support, is admiring our growth.

 

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Good News and Better News… July 24th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Sunday morning, bright and early, I headed off with my buddy, Janet, to St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Melbourne (even though the words “bright and early” should never appear in the same sentence.)

Over the years, Ms. Clazzy and I have learned a very important lesson: those who have gathered in a church are not there to see us, no matter how much we’ve been advertised. And they’re not necessarily there to learn about God, either.

They are accustomed to gathering. It is a tradition. Each one has his or her reasons for being there–ranging from preparing the coffee to loving the organ music, to appreciating communion, to getting stuck with usher duty.

So it is ridiculous for the two of us to think that we will come in and move mountains, or even rearrange dirt piles. Our job is simple–and made easier by the kindness of those who assisted us with our equipment and by the tender spirit of Pastor Blaine Johnson.

We are to be grateful for those who’ve attended, encourage what we see that’s positive, and gently address what’s missing.

Without the initial burst of gratitude for what is available, you immediately becomes the eternal brat who is never satisfied unless you get your own way.

Do I wish there were more people at St. Timothy Lutheran Church? I don’t give it a second thought, since there aren’t.

Do I wish I was going to larger churches than St. Timothy Lutheran Church? I don’t give it a second thought, because I’m not.

I am grateful for all the souls before me.

Then there are things that come out which are delightful and positive. There are people who greet you even though they have never seen you before. There is a sense of organization that lends itself to progress instead of chaos. Opportunities.

Yet in the midst of Jan and myself being grateful and reveling in the positives set before us, some missing spaces are obvious. Shall we refer to these as an absence of the presence?

  • An absence of the presence of jubilation.
  • An absence of the presence of radiant joy.
  • An absence of the presence of personalizing the message of Jesus to our own endeavors.
  • An absence of the presence of giggling.
  • An absence of the presence of the hand clapping which symbolizes confirmation of inner glee.

Just quietly ask the question, what’s missing?–and then allow the Spirit of God to offer suggestions.

So while grateful for the congregated and my celebration of the positives, I talked to them about passion–the ability for the heart to stimulate praise instead of relying on the memory.

Did we make progress? Will next Sunday’s service at St. Timothy reflect any of the energy of the visitation?

It’s a foolish question; irrelevant.

Because the good news is that Pastor Blaine and the fine folks of St. Timothy found it in their hearts to invite us to come and share our talents.

And the better news is that God, in His infinite wisdom, leaves it up to each individual soul to determine what he or she will do with what has been seen and heard.Donate Button

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … February 1st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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pohymn-what-is-kind

What Is Kind

Today I viewed a kindness

Which healed me of a blindness

For the lies make me weary

My soul dark and dreary

Drowning in the carnal swill

Cynical, angry, had my fill

When there it was before my eyes

The reason for learning, the essence of wise

All it was–opening a door

An insignificant, meaningless chore

Patient he was, allowing her to pass

Grateful she seemed, this aged lass

A smile passed between the two

“As unto others” is what we do

I stood and peered at the holy place

Where new friends came, face to face

And yearned to join their heavenly band

Find my place to lend a hand

I noticed a man with a cardboard sign

“Will work for food” read the line

I pulled a five from my stash

He popped a grin–so little cash

I nodded to him and sealed my mind

The only cure for crazy

Is to discover what is kind

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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 … July 29th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop has to be careful.

There are things he wants to share, but he desperately wants to avoid the possibility of thinking that his ideas are sparkling diamonds, when the younger generation views them as cubic zirconia.

Sometimes though, things are too important to avoid uttering.

After watching the conventions by both American political parties, one abiding realization came to the forefront:

  • Hypocrisy is never attractive.
  • Hypocrisy is never viable.
  • And hypocrisy is eventually exposed and tormented for its stupidity.

If we’re going to move forward as a nation, we have to understand, there is one enduring truth that runs like a golden strain throughout the human experience:

Don’t do what you don’t like.

If you’ve discovered that something is distasteful, don’t think that adopting the same indiscretion into your own actions suddenly purifies it. Even though the Golden Rule is powerful, this “Platinum Rule”–don’t do what you don’t like–procures a needful humility and allows your voice to be heard above the crowd.

Both the Democrats and the Republicans stumble in double-talk. They criticize one another for variations on the same things they, themselves, do.

G-Pop wants his children to know that mistakes are forgivable, but hypocrisy is unpardonable.

So G-Pop says:

1. Always be prepared to fail and change.

Failure is inevitable. Change, on the other hand, is the only thing that you personally control. You can’t stop failure, but you can initiate change, making yourself look ingenious.

2. Have compassion for all people.

The lack of consideration for one group of people immediately opens the door for you to be rejected by those who deem themselves superior.

3. Have a sense of humor about yourself.

Laughing at yourself a lot before you laugh with others a little.

4. Listen to people, especially if they’re smarter than you.

Of course, you would have to admit there are people who are smarter. But before you humiliate yourself and insist that you alone possess all wisdom, be prepared to notice those who’ve accumulated information which you require to do better.

Even though all four of these fall into the realm of common sense, until you make them common practice, you will not be able to achieve the common good.

 

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G-Poppers … July 22nd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop watches and listen intensely.

While confident of his intelligence, he still realizes that rich wisdom can be attained through great observation.

Once again the political parties meet to do battle, contending that the one left standing is superior simply because he or she has not been vanquished. Promises are made in the midst of an avalanche of accusations, tossed back and forth with a disregard that foretells ignorance of the beauty of consolation.

How many different things can we insist we’re going to accomplish, so as to make our opponent’s list seem puny? But once elected, every President of any party immediately discovers that life takes over–and the stumbling blocks that have been permanently established in the lethargy of legislation forbid much progress to pass through the gates. After all, in regards to Congress, any organization that operates by Parliamentary Procedure is in no hurry to achieve its aspirations.

So how should G-Pop’s children evaluate who to place in the position of prominence for our land?

They must look for the candidate–whether male or female–who:

1. Handles disappointment with grace.

Since we live in a democracy, nothing of original purity will ever pass muster without being manipulated. There will be disappointment. How that is handled will determine meaningful outcomes, especially if a split second of frustration causes our leader to take his or her eyes off the prize.

2. Discovers the better way to navigate reoccurring surprises.

After all, some of us fare pretty well if one blip comes on our radar screen, but when they start popping up all over, a disgruntled spirit can cause us to forsake our more clever and intuitive parts, and succumb to our more Neanderthal attitudes.

3. Has a great sense of humor.

What we “take personal” becomes personal–even if only in our minds. Once we feel we have been targeted, we tend to seek revenge. The President of the United States cannot have vendettas.

So even though a promotion of ideas is constantly flooding through stump speeches, once the election is completed, these wishes will have to take a back seat to the daily tribulation that the world threatens to afford.

Every once in a while, things calm down long enough that you might be able to fix a highway, start an after school program, or keep the country a little safer.

But most of the time, if you are President of the United States, you’re trying to maintain the purpose of our nation and the dignity of our freedom–in a world gone crazed.

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Good News and Better News … July 11th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reformation 2Yesterday I was bestowed the great honor of sharing my traveling message with the dear hearts of the Reformation Lutheran Church in Reading, Pennsylvania.

There are certainly folks who would contend that Martin Luther did very little to reform the Catholic Church, but instead, ended up starting his own ecclesiastical order. Matter of fact, some people will tell you that he retained the worst of the Mother Church while losing the more endearing portions–like Bingo and delicious fish frys.

But undoubtedly, there is a need for the religious system to be reformed and become more like the church that Jesus envisioned. What would that church be?

If you recall, after his resurrection Jesus gave Peter a simple instruction about how to empower the believers: “Feed my sheep.”

Although it’s true that politics, entertainment and religion attempt to feed the populace, each one tends to focus on only a part of the human experience, leaving other aspects unattended.

Humans are heart, soul, mind and strength.

Emotions need to be fed. This is what Jesus meant by “blessed are the pure in heart.” We must cease being afraid of our feelings, and air them out to see if they have any validity.Reformation 4

Feed the soul. The spirit of humankind lives off of a truth that makes us free to pursue wisdom. When the truth is diluted or hidden, we become religious instead of soulful.

Feed the mind. The brain retains. To get rid of faulty retention, there has to be a renewing, with fresh information and invigorating dialogue.

Feed the strength. We have bodies. They run on fuel. The more we feed our bodies the correct fuel and exercise, the healthier we feel.

As I spoke to the folks in Reading yesterday, I realized that they had arrived at the church weary from a week filled with bad news. They needed to be fed.

So emotionally, we told them that nothing happens until we show up, and nothing is over until we give up.

Reformation 3Spiritually, we shared that nothing of quality begins on Earth unless we understand that judging one another closes the door to fellowship.

Mentally, we challenged them that a God who loves us wants us to be happy instead of sacrificing our dreams to restricted religious regulation.

And physically? Well physically, we told them that the doorway to good health is to start off by enjoying the life God has given us and finding pathways to make it more abundant.

We can become the reformation church if we realize that those who come through our doors need to be fed–heart, soul, mind and strength.

That’s the good news.

The better news is that we don’t need to make up a program or draft a fresh constitution. Jesus has already laid out a terrific platform for complete human growth through his Sermon on the Mount.

Reformation 1

 

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