Salient … April 9th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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A couple of months ago I began a weekly podcast and decided to name it “Good News and Better News.” Of course, I was already using that title for my Monday segment of the Jonathots Daily Blog, but I knew it was time to find a different emphasis for my Monday endeavor–and therefore, a new name.

So the podcast remains goodnewsandbetternews.com, and today I am introducing my fresh Monday format, entitled “Salient.”

Please don’t feel I’m shooting over your heads with an unusual word. I didn’t know what it meant myself. For you see, this weekend, as I slept, having flashes of dreams and insights in my nighttime hours, this word–“salient”–popped up in one of those visions.

So I got up from my bed, pulled out my I-pad and looked it up. I discovered that “salient” is defined as “something notable and important.”

Then a simple bolt of wisdom from the heavens cracked across my brain. I realized that this is the problem in our country.

So much unimportant, non-valuable, meaningless, uncaring, vicious and selfish data is thrown at us daily that we begin to believe that things that don’t matter actually have some significance because they are over-touted.

We have forgotten what it important.

We have grown fearful of the practical because the arrogant have told us that pursuing such goals is the essence of ignorance.

Our survival is at risk. I don’t mean that we’re teetering on Armageddon–rather, I’m declaring that what makes our human survival special is often left at the curb as we dash into the street dodging traffic.

Therefore I would like to take each Monday and garner the experience of my weekend, explaining in gentle, common-sense terms a single piece of great humanity which has been sacrificed for the blare of over-production.

Perhaps in doing this, you and I can consider “salient.” We can once again become people who are energized by the goodness of the journey, the twists and turns of discovery and the overwhelming blessing of time and chance that happens to us all.

Salient: to pursue what is notable and important.

Please join me each and every week.

And be at peace, knowing that “Good News and Better News” has not gone away–just found a new, green pasture.

 

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Good News and Better News … April 2nd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Little Jonathan, Jonny, Precious, Jon, Big Jon, Rock, singer, artist, Jonathan Richard, lover, boyfriend, daddy, Papa, father, traveler, performer, controversial, G-Pop, blogger, songwriter, friend.

These are all names associated with me over the years. What a list.

I am not that significant. But I also must tell you that Alexander the Great was not that great, and Ming the Merciful was often fussy.

Names are bandied about to explain what we feel rather than to clarify what someone or something is. This came to my mind last night when I watched the NBC version of “Jesus Christ, Superstar.”

Not only did he need to be “Jesus,” but someone required him to take on the name “Christ.” And not only “Christ” but now, by reputation, he has become a “Superstar.”

A list of such names and adjectives is accumulated in Isaiah from the Good Book.

  • Wonderful
  • Counselor
  • Mighty God
  • Everlasting Father
  • Prince of Peace

I suppose most people would proclaim that Jesus was all of those. But I’m sorry. “Wonderful” just does not do it for me. Sitting around and praising a deity for his goodness does very little to enhance my life.

Some folks would find it essential to establish that he is a “Mighty God,” but I think mastering the rising of the sun and the setting of the same makes that pretty clear.

“Everlasting Father?” I actually need a father here. I don’t know if I need one for eternity.

“Prince of Peace?” That’s cool, but the Prince of Peace also required that I be a peace-maker.

As I look at all the superlatives used to describe the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the one that stands out to me from the list is “Counselor.”

Jesus is my counselor. He has kept me out of jail. He has assisted me in maintaining my fibers of sanity. He has led me in understanding how to become more valuable to the human beings around me. He has informed me on discovering when a door is closed and when it is open.

He taught me to ask and seek and knock instead of complaining about the menu that life has thrust at me.

Because I have accepted him as my counselor, wonderful things have happened. I have been able, through my testimony, to confirm that he is a “Mighty God” and an “Everlasting Father.” And peace? He has been a Prince.

But more importantly, he is my counselor because he is my confidante, and for those who pursue the path of atheism, he is my invisible friend, whom I frequently talk to. And if he doesn’t exist, he’s still a great therapy session. After all, not everyone can afford two hundred dollars an hour for a professional.

I do believe that what you call Jesus does determine the level of religiosity which plagues your soul–because every drop of traditional religion that inhabits us also inhibits us.

So the good news is that Jesus, being versatile, has many names, and just like you and me, has taken on a variety of personas.

And the better news is, you can feel free to call him anything you want.

 

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Good News and Better News … March 26th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I was honored to spend a week high in the mountains of Colorado with friends. It was many years ago, when I was traveling all over the country, pretending I was significant and well-known.

Although I was grateful for the invitation, within the first 48 hours I realized that the altitude was making me uneasy. It was a weird sensation.

I was breathing but it seemed I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. It made my backbone tingle with apprehension. I couldn’t sleep because I was a bit frightened that I was breathless, even though there was no evidence of that fact.

The air was too thin–at least, for me.

When I finished the visit and descended, I immediately lost all my symptoms and felt like I was actually getting air into my body. It was markedly different.

Emotionally and spiritually, I feel much the same way in our country today. I am still getting some respiration to my heart and spirit but it is not a sensation of breathing. It’s more like suffocating. The climate is too thin with substance to sustain any of us.

Human beings are not complicated–if you think they are, you should go back to the drawing board and view their inception.

Humans require two distinct pieces of input:

1. To be inspired

That means the things that come into our lives should enrich us. Even if we find them challenging, we should be fully aware that our experiences are lifting us up on the shoulders of new possibilities. There is no replacement for this.

What we are given in our culture is a warped representation of reality, which we are supposed to accept as inevitable evidence that human beings are nothing more than animals. It is demeaning. It leaves us gasping for hope.

2. To be entertained.

By entertainment I am referring to finding joy in what we do instead of trudging along in an “adult life” which is predetermined to be problematic.

It is the joy of the Lord that’s our strength. Even though weeping may come into our lives, it should not endure. There should be an awakening every morning, to fresh ideas.

We are not allowed to be entertained anymore, but instead, overwhelmed. The powers that be tout that we are in the “information age,” but the data provided is rarely uplifting, but instead, debilitates us with the wickedness of the world around us.

Just as I had to escape the thin air to be able to breathe again, it is the responsibility of sane men and women everywhere to refuse the inadequate sniff of experience being proffered as truth.

The good news is that we are human beings, and therefore we need to be inspired and entertained.

The better news is, the God who created us sent His son to tell us to “rejoice and be exceedingly glad.”

 

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Good News and Better News … March 19th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I can be a brat.

I must confess it, because sometimes it’s obvious. I get used to my own voice, own thoughts, own beliefs, and then everything else seems to dim in comparison.

I know a lot of bratty Christians. They are people, like myself, who are quite dissatisfied with the religious system and its cantankerous and stubborn practices, which keep people from pursuing personal excellence.

I can be a brat. I even caught myself criticizing the inception of “Christian movies” that offer an alternative to existing Hollywood fragmentation, presenting my thesis that these religious flicks are too filled with pat answers and unrealistic scenarios.

Actually, I suffer from the mindset of a predecessor who also had the name John. John the Disciple came to Jesus, explaining that they had come across a man who was casting out demons in Jesus’ name, and when the disciples demanded the gentleman come and join their flock and follow, he refused.

John was infuriated. Not only did this gentleman rebuff any attempt to get in step with the program, but he felt he had the right to have a separate outreach other than theirs.

When I read this, I had to giggle. At this point, Jesus hadn’t died or resurrected, but there was already an independent work based on his teachings. We were already starting denominations before there was even a church.

When I read John’s complaint, I feel great empathy.

Why can’t this guy just come and be part of us? Certainly Jesus will be pissed off by this rip-off artist and sue his ass!

You see, John was being a brat, too.

Jesus gives a fascinating response. It’s in two parts:

1. Leave him alone.

2. Those who are not against us are for us.

My dear friends, I don’t believe in either of these statements. I am convinced that if you leave false ideas alone, they just get “falser” (which, by the way, I know is not a word.)

And I don’t believe that simply because someone uses the name “Jesus,” they are my brother or sister.

But I am wrong. I’m also a brat–because there is one thing we know for sure:

Whatever rendition we have come up with of the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth is the daily comedy material shared by the angels and God in heaven. They certainly laugh at us.

For no one will end up being right. We’ll all be surprised at how the universe actually functions and “clicks together.”

So what is the point of getting self-righteous and bratty? I have developed two guidelines:

A. Love your neighbor as yourself

B. Don’t judge and don’t even think about judging others.

Those who do not hold these principles in supreme position are not my enemies–just not my comrades. Jesus tells me to leave them alone. It will play out.

He’s so right.

So the good news is, since every one of us is basically ignorant, there’s no need to be a brat.

The better news is, if we leave people alone who don’t agree with us, it gives us more time to enjoy the fellowship with those who share our hearts.

 

 

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Good News and Better News … March 12th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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“There’s blues in the pews.”

A quiet resignation to what is deemed to be an acceptable despondency: “Just a few more weary days and I’ll fly away.”

Motivated to only share a Gospel that gets us to heaven while maintaining a cultural grouchiness on Earth, the church is not ready to tear down the gates of hell.

Instead, the American church spends too much time tearing down one another. Congregations often act like they’re in the middle of a mine cave-in, where there’s a shortage of oxygen and those around them seem to have too many nostrils.

Abundant life and an existence filled with joy seem to be Biblical promises of a coming kingdom instead of the Kingdom of God, which is declared to be within us.

There’s blues in the pews.

It won’t do any good for us to ignore it. There’s no reclamation by refusing to discuss the problem out of political correctness. After all, there are some subjects we are not supposed to broach. For instance, it’s not proper to complain that a funeral is too long nor that Grandma’s Thanksgiving turkey is too dry. And it’s completely unacceptable to insist that for some reason, this year Santa Claus was too cheap.

But if we are willing to quietly consider the situation, we could come up with three realities which create some of the blues in the pews:

1. This is what we do.

Even though the Bible says “the Lord’s blessings are fresh daily,” we continue to warm up leftovers and pass them off as new recipes.

2. This is who we do it with.

We get to know each other too well. It invites criticism. And because no fresh blood is being infused, we “clot up” in disrespect and confusion.

3. Simultaneously, we are defensive about how it is done.

It may not make us happy, but “God bless America, we’re gonna keep on doing it because we’ve always done it this way.”

There will be blues in the pews until we realize that church is not meant for God–it’s meant for His people. It’s a place intended for fellowship–where folks can mourn, consider and embrace.

The good news is, Jesus left us a beautiful example of what church should be–for those around him said, “We have never seen it in this fashion before.”

The better news is, it stands to reason that if we follow the example of Jesus, we just might start getting “Jesus results.”

 

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Good News and Better News … March 5th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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A Jesus mask: Putting the face of Jesus on things we have decided are nice, easy, positive or comfortable.

In doing this, we attempt to transform the Gospel into a social message which is palatable for our chosen lifestyle, never really asking ourselves if it has a universal flavor.

Honestly, I almost didn’t write about this today–there are so many examples that I didn’t know how to isolate them off to the number of paragraphs you would be willing to read–but I trust that you might be willing to do some investigation on your own. So let’s look at three of the masks:

1. If you work real hard, you can get whatever you want.

You hear this on every talk show. During the Olympics it became a mantra. The variations, like “dream big, get big” pepper the common dialogue of the average day.

We put Jesus’ face on it. We decide it sounds like Jesus. But Jesus spoke a startling phrase: “To those who have, more shall be given, and to those who have not, even the little they have will be taken away from them.”

2. Giving to the poor is the highest form of charity.

It makes for a great nightly news story–some individual or organization passing sandwiches out to the homeless, complete with a hygiene kit of toothbrush, toothpaste and a small washcloth.

We’re moved to tears. We put a Jesus mask on it.

But Jesus said “the poor you have with you always.” They’re not going to go away. “Do for them what you can” but don’t make it an all-encompassing mission.

Poverty is more than a lack of things. It is often a lack of understanding.

3. God has a wonderful plan for your life.

Now we’re really crying, because even though we’re going through these huge problems, in the long run God will pluck us out of our pain and place us on higher ground. Unfortunately, although we put the Jesus mask onto this concept, his message was quite different.

Jesus said, “Except ye repent, you will perish.” In other words, ladies and gentlemen, you are in the middle of an evolving situation and an evolving planet, so you’d better evolve or you will dissolve.

Jesus is not against positive thinking. Jesus just wants us to understand that thinking good thoughts and clinging to them by faith is not the same as “letting your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and glorify the Father in heaven.”

The good news is that the Gospel is meant for humans.

The better news is, the Gospel makes us better, not things better.

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Good News and Better News … February 26th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I dig faith.

It’s what I claim to believe. My belief, though, is constantly challenged by problems and fatigue. Truthfully, faith does not sustain me. Rather, it is there to energize my hope. It causes me to reach for more.

I live off perspective. I do not see faith. Perspective is what I do see, and how I process it.

It begins with tinglings and inklings in my being, whenever I hear the word “Earth.”

What is the Earth to me? Is it an accident? Is it a punishment? How about a planet that is damned?

The Garden of Eden–a hopeless experiment? An orb floating through space, in rebellion to the Force, waiting to be disintegrated if it doesn’t comply?

My perspective of Earth is also my passion for life. If I think that I’m stumbling–trembling my way through 70-plus years of sorrow, to finally be rewarded with a heavenly utopia, then I will claim to be a person of faith, while acting like a miserable son-of-a-bitch.

On the other hand, if I try to make the Earth the center of the Universe, the Great Mama to be worshipped and honored, I will soon become angry with all the Homo sapiens who infest my surroundings as they gradually destroy our Mother.

Now, this could make me nasty.

People often wonder why there is so much belligerence on Earth–why folks seem so cranked and ready to fight.

It’s because their faith is greater than their perspective.

It’s an easy thing to believe in God. It’s not so easy to find God in what surrounds us. To achieve this, we must gain the correct perspective:

  • We must realize that the Natural Order is geared to rain on the just and the unjust without apology.
  • We must understand that whatever we sow we will certainly reap, even if we just came back from a seminar on grace, informing us that we are free from responsibility for our actions.

What is your perspective?

To be a Jesonian person is to understand the heart of Jesus. Jesus was thoroughly committed to the notion that the Father’s will could be done on Earth as it is in heaven. He put it right in the middle of his favorite prayer.

If the Earth is cursed, then aren’t the inhabitants equally doomed?

Will there be only 144,000 people salvaged?

Is everything meaningless?

Are we just here to confirm our salvation, awaiting the gates of heaven?

The good news is, I have faith. It bolsters my hope.

The better news is, my perspective tells me to value this planet, with the understanding that my passion for my life and work here will be infused into Eternity.

 

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