Additional Christian Speakers, Musicians and Entertainers for your Consideration

Friends, I am beginning to promote some other Christian speakers and artists, assisting in helping them find bookings where they can share their message and use their God-given talents to share Jesus. Along the lines of what I do with Paraphrase, but in their own way. If you are looking for a good speaker or artist for a church event, retreat, conference, etc… I encourage you to check out these gifted people. I will list them here, and then post links to their websites below, in the individual comments section. I will soon be adding them to my Paraphrase website and will list additional information there as well.

JANA SWENSON2015-08-02 19.46.39Yep.. my wife. I am kind of partial to this one. We are beginning to share the story of Jana’s battle with cancer and our journey as two pastors.. and two people of faith… as we took that journey, twice now. We share openly and candidly about the fears, joys, struggles, doubts and how God has carried us through.

DEBBIE GRIFFITH –   Debbie Events Photo                 Maybe you have heard her on the radio, with her ministry, “Everyday Matters”. Debbie is a spunky, creative and down-to-earth truth-speaker who blends dramatic characters into her talks. She would love to come to your event! Debbie was recently the keynote speaker for our fall women’s retreat here at Mount Carmel, and people loved her. Her positive, fun-loving message of the Gospel will grab your heart and refresh your spirit. www.debbiegriffith.com

CURT CLONINGER – This is the amazing artist who has been the backbone behind my ability to launch Paraphrase Theatre. The playwright of Witnesses and Celebrate the Child, Curt is nationally and internationally know. He has several other pieces he performs beyond the two you may know through what I do. Curt is a legend in the Christian Drama Ministry world. Why would you not bring him to your church or event? www.curtcloninger.com

THEATER OFF THE CUFF12226879_10153330396923160_1470790187_nThese guys are hilarious. They are a dynamic duo of Christian entertainment. They travel throughout the country appearing at churches and cooperate events alike faith-based… get this… musical theater improv. Check out their website. If you are looking for some fun for your event that has depth to it as well, this might be who you want to bring in. Good, clean fun served up by two men who love the Lord.  www.theateroffthecuff.com

JESSY VERA  – Jessy is a gifted Christian artists and worship leader. I hired him at the church I was serving several years ago, and he is rock solid both in his hard work and integrity and with his worship leading giftedness. He is most often committed to his work at the church, but now and then may be able to join you for a special retreat, event or conference where you need a guest worship leader and/or speaker. www.jessyvera.com

The Lord is using these folks for good things. I know they would be a blessing to you. Send me a message at jonathan@paraphrasetheatre.com if you are interested in connecting with them.

And, by the way, I am still available to come to your event too. I trust God will get us all to the right places and events to serve His purposes at the right time!

+ Jonathan

FOR THOSE WHO HURT. WHO GRIEVE. WHO DOUBT. WHO BELIEVE.

Life is full. God is good.
Life is hard. God is good.

Sometimes, God shows up in powerful and obvious ways.

God is good.

Sometimes, though, I wonder where God is.

God seems unresponsive. Or uncaring. Or uninvolved … at least in the ways I would like Him to be.

In those moments, I need help believing… or trusting… that God is good.  

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And yet, I DO believe this to be true.

Even when God seems absent.

So, Lord… I believe. Help my unbelief.

For you ARE …  Good.

This I believe to be true, even when I do not. And this, too, is your gift.

And so… even as I wrestle with faith…
Even when the questions and the void seem bigger than the answers
or my definition of proof…. even then….  I know…  by your Spirit…    I KNOW…    that You …   are good.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. For you are good.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. For you are good.

You are good. You are Good.

You are …  Good.

I am not Religious

I AM NOT RELIGIOUS

I am not religious.                                                                                                                               I AM a Christ-follower.
                                                                                                      There is a difference.

I hope, when you meet me, you will see JOY.                     
                                           Invitation, not condemnation.
                                                                                             Spark, not cynicism.
                                                                                                       Energy, not apathy.                                                                                                          Hope, not despair.
                                                                                                    Confidence.. not ego.                                                                                                  Assurance, not pride.

That being said..                                                                                                                       I am a Sinner.

Imperfect.                                                                                                                        Stained. Hurtful, at times.                                                                                                  Angry. Bitter or Passive-aggressive.                                                                              Insecure. Prideful. Self-destructive.                                                                                        In need of forgiveness.                                                                                                        Yet, at the same time, knowing…                                                                                         I… am… FORGIVEN.

Graced. Given a fresh start.                                                                                                 Each time. Any time. Every time. I ask.

And THIS… enables me… compels me…. directs me … frees me… lifts me…                     to LOVE.

I am not religious.                                                                                                                     I am a Christian.                                                                                                                 There is a difference.

live laugh love

MORE OF YOU

Lord, more of You. Less of us.
More Grace. Less Judgment.
More Humility. Less Self-Justfication.
More of your Calling. Less of our “Personal Journey” or Agenda.
More of an Embrace. Less of a Wall.  Cross by Chapel
More Given Away. Less Possessed.
More Truth. Less Opinion.
More Kindness. Less Suspicion.
More of your Word, Your Wisdom. Less of our Insight.
More of YOU, Lord.
More of You.

A Wednesday Morning Blessing

Live Well.
Awake to God’s Grace.
Realize the Beauty All Around You.
Be Still In Him. Receive His Delight in You.
Dedicate Your Day to His Purpose.
Walk in Peace.10494933_10154349376585711_6881386430041141523_o
Listen to the Spirit.
Be Slow to Speak.
Seek to Understand.
Speak Truth in Love.
Offer Forgiveness.
Receive it.
Forgive Yourself.
Let Joy Be Your Core
And the Light of Christ…
Your Essence.

Singing in the Rain

Singing in the RaidSinging in the Rain has always been one of my favorite movies.

I have a very distinct childhood memory of staying up late into the wee hours of the morning, with my Mother, watching Gene Kelly, Donal O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds sing and dance their hearts out in this movie during a PBS special broadcast. I was quite young at the time, but it made a permanent impression.. and helped shape my life-long love of musical theater.

Like everyone else who loves this movie, my favorite scene is the actual “Singin’ in the Rain” song and dance by Gene Kelly.  It’s a celebration of life that seems to be universally beloved.

Last night, as I sometimes do, I made a “spontaneous chat” video and posted it on my Facebook wall. Thought I would share it with you here as well.  If you watch it, you’ll see why my appreciation of this iconic scene runs deep. It means a great deal to me.

Hope you are doing some singin’ and dancin’ today yourself… whether in the rain OR the sun. It’s all good. And it’s all a gift.  Enjoy!

Here’s the video clip…

Singin’ in the Rain

Empty Nest

Jana and I spent the summer and early fall at Mount Carmel Family Camp and Retreat Center in Alexandra, MN.  I have been the Interim Director of Programming there the last two years and Jana has been working as their Director of Development.

As a result of being away from our home in Cedar Rapids until just a few days ago, we are aware that our empty-nesting phase had not really begun until now.  It was easy to feel like both our daughters were just “away at camp” this summer … or like we were were all on some sort of “extended leave of absence” from normal life.  Swenson_0031

So this past Thursday was our first full day back in Cedar Rapids… and thus, the first official day of Jana and I being empty-nesters in our actual home…. and under “normal” conditions. We did enjoy the six weeks of early fall quite a bit … going on several long walks, dating more than we have been able to do… talking and dreaming about the future … but we also realized we were not yet fully experiencing life, emotionally, without the girls around. Now that we are home, it is feeling more real.  The days of watching those two little blondies, loaded down with backpacks, heading off to school… are now a thing of the past.  Good… no….  GREAT memories, but memories nonetheless.

And so, a new chapter begins…

Thoughts at the two month mark of empty-nesting? Though it is less crazy-fun and more quiet, I do like getting to know my wife again. I feel like we are EACH getting an old friend back. Not that that person ever left, but the reality is… one’s attention is divided the from the moment the first baby is born, and this is as it should be. But, truth be told, I DO like getting my friend back. (I THINK Jana does too.) 

So, here’s to the new phase… and whatever life will bring. This much I know… though we drive each other crazy at times… the truth is… I love my wife.

I do miss those Blondies somethin’ fierce.. but this is okay. I’ve got a good roommate to keep me company.

So, here we go, Jana Swenson. Let’s do this thing…