Iffing Way (Part 7) Nic at Night … December 1, 2014

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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If bigger

What if a voice of sanity had risen up at various stages in the story of human history, to offer a challenging view when craziness was about to win the day?

If …

He was summoned, forcibly invited.

He felt like a schoolboy under the control of the master, with no will of his own. But he knew what it was about.

The head chair on a committee where he sat had a vendetta. Now, the distinguished leader would choose to call it something else. Perhaps “a needful intrusion.” “A holy mission.” Or even, “a matter of course.”

He knew better.

He wasn’t sure if it was jealousy on the part of the chair person, ignorance, or even something as simple as an ongoing tiff with his wife which had left him grumpy.

It wasn’t the first time there had been a summons. No, many times the subject had been discussed and debated, but finally tabled, with everyone leaving in a huff, unfulfilled.

But this time was different. Apparently the boss now felt he had the votes to pull off his will.

It was all so bizarre.

In the midst of a decline of popularity of the national faith, a young man from Nazareth had arrived on the scene and re-energized the populace. Now, an intelligent conclave of distinguished fellows might have seen this as an opportunity to bring in fresh blood and move people to spiritual awareness. But this particular gathering of theologians and pseudo-politicians lacked vision.

He was preplexed. What was even more confusing to him was that he had made a journey by night to visit this young man who was stirring up the religious system. He clearly remembered two words from their discourse:

“Born again.”

The carpenter-turned-preacher had told him that he needed to be “reborn” to be in step with what was going on. He was offended. So because he considered himself to be a dynamic debater, he tried to make the young Galilean feel stupid or awkward by challenging the meaning of the term. Facts are, he knew what this young Jesus meant by “born again.”

Everything around him reeked of old–ancient ideas and meaningless practices.

Yet that night, he’d found himself walking away–trying to include the message of the Nazarene instead of being born again into it.

But this was different.

He knew that Caiaphas was in charge of the board, and was seeking to levy punishment against this innocent unaware.

What was he going to do?

He prided himself on the fact that he was smarter than Caiaphas because the officious leader was so headstrong that he frequently left himself wide open for counter-point.

Yet he had grown weary of argument and become known as a sympathizer, which was now rendering him ineffective among his peers. After all, it was not only improper, but illegal to be a follower of Jesus.

Arriving at the meeting, it quickly became obvious that Caiaphas had a death warrant for Jesus.

What was he going to do? Should he remain silent, and still curry the favor of his fellows? Or was it time to be born again and use the wisdom and style that he had developed over years of practice, to help save the life of the freshest idea to come around in decades?

It was nighttime again. But this time he would not walk away and pretend he didn’t understand.

He made a case against Caiaphas–quietly, reverently, but also with a conniving purpose. In no time at all, the stubborn Pharisee was speaking double-talk and the committee dismissed itself to go back to their homes, unresolved.

Jesus was saved for another night.

Jesus would be able to continue to teach.

And Nicodemus would be able to hold his head high and just maybe start the process in his life…of being born again.

 

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Iffing Way (Part 6): I Quit … November 24, 2014

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If bigger

What if a voice of sanity had risen up at various stages in the story of human history, to offer a challenging view when craziness was about to win the day?

If …

He asked for a private meeting.

It is very difficult to spit out your feelings while swallowing your pride.

He was insulted. Being a fully grown man, he had been called down in front of his colleagues with no regard for his position.

It was certainly improper. If there isn’t a free flow of ideas, then there is tyranny.

Yet somehow or another he had succeeded in calming his spirit to request a moment of time with this friend who had offended him.

It was all a little silly, yet grounded in a principle which was important enough for making a stand.

Mary had no business taking such an expensive amount of ointment and pouring it out on the Teacher’s head and feet. Three hundred dollars! Did he have any idea what three hundred dollars could do to aid at least five hundred families in this poverty-stricken area?

Yet when he lodged his objection, he was tersely set aside and told that he shouldn’t criticize Mary for her deed because she was anointing him “for his burial.”

What a drama king! What burial? He was thirty-three-and-a-half years old and as healthy as an ox.

Judas could not understand why the Teacher was pulling up lame at this point instead of standing strong and propelling the mission to a glorious conclusion. It was ridiculous.

So feeling confronted, Judas had stomped out, not wanting to say something he might regret later.

Judas chose to be the mature one. But now what was he going to do? He would not play the role of the bruised puppy who had been slapped on the nose by his master.

He had been taught by his father Simon to stand up for himself–to find what was important and risk humiliation and even alienation to defend it.

Once, when he was a kid, one of his playmates had stolen some toys from him and he was in the middle of plotting for the young fellow a painful retribution. His dad stopped him, telling him never to betray his own conscience and soul, but instead, to confront his adversary and try to find terms of peace.

So Judas decided to talk to Jesus.

“Listen, I was really offended by what happened last night.”

Jesus remained silent.

Judas continued slowly. “I want us to be able to discuss this without me playing the part of the disciple and you being the big boss.”

Jesus continued to listen.

“You see, Jesus, my problem is that I don’t think we should waste money and then preach a message of taking care of the poor when we, ourselves, are squandering cash.”

Jesus sat quietly without moving a muscle.

A bit frustrated, Judas pushed on. “Are you listening to me? Do you feel what’s in my heart? Do you appreciate my opinion, or since it’s different from yours, is it irrelevant?”

Finally Jesus spoke. “What is it you want, Judas bar Simon?”

“That’s easy,” replied Judas. “I want to be heard.”

Jesus paused and then looked into his eyes. “I can hear you–unless what needs to be done is more important than your words.”

“Are you pushing me out of this?” demanded Judas with a bit of heat.

Jesus sat quietly, without speaking a word.

“Then I quit,” said Judas. “I cannot stay somewhere that I’m not respected, and my father taught me not to seek revenge or betray people just because they disagree with me.”

“Your father taught you well,” said Jesus.

“So this is it?” punctuated Judas.

“That’s up to you,” said Jesus.

“It doesn’t seem to be,” replied Judas. “It seems like you want me out.”

“No,” said Jesus. “There are just certain things that have to be in my message, in timing and in the flow. Your comments were not within those boundaries.”

Judas wanted to continue to argue but found it difficult to do so because Jesus was still warm, but no longer open.

“I guess this is it,” said Judas.

“I guess so,” said Jesus, and inserted, “I wish you well.”

Judas turned and walked from the room. He should have known it wouldn’t work out–he was from Judea and the rest of the followers were from Galilee. It wasn’t an issue of prejudice–rather, culture.

He went back home to South Judea, to Kerioth, where he settled in, started a family, but tried to keep up with the affairs and times … of the every-growing Kingdom Movement.

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Iffing Way: (Part 5) Rhea’s Decision… November 17, 2014

 

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If bigger

What if a voice of sanity had risen up at various stages in the story of human history, to offer a challenging view when craziness was about to win the day?

If …

Rhea had a problem.

She made a promise to follow a path of abstinence and now found herself quite pregnant.

Initially, she did pretty well with her chastity until she met Herc, from the mountains. He was a hunk of a man, and his brawn turned her head and made her soon forget a pledge made to grumpy adults.

Rhea and Herc had fun.

At the end of their little fling, Rhea discovered she was pregnant. When Herc found out, he boogied out of the scene back to his mountain home.

She was left alone. There obviously had been no birth control. Plan B was not available, nor was a women’s right to choose a matter of course.

She was frightened to admit her condition, since she felt that one particular adult presence might try to harm the offspring. So she slipped away, gave birth and found out that “it” was twins.

She affectionately referred to them as Rommy and Reemy. But after they came into her life, she began to doubt again. How would she be able to take care of them? What would people think? Where would the money come from?

Being just a young lass, she even had notions of taking them down next to the river and dropping them off, whimsically believing that perhaps wolves would come and suckle them and woodpeckers would feed them, until such time as they would maybe be found by…well, some farmer couple, who would raise them to adulthood.

Even though her thoughts were immature and crazy, she planned to pack them up to take them to the river to implement her vision.

But as she was coddling them in blankets, she looked down into their little faces and realized that she would never be able to let them go.

It was never easy. She was never able to reconnect with the adults who would have certainly been critical, if not dangerous, to her offspring.

But she loved them. She taught them to appreciate nature and to value their relationship as brothers, and to never give up on one another.

There would be no wolves in their lives. She made sure of that.

No need for woodpeckers to bring food. Somehow or another she mustered the funds to survive.

And that other couple never needed to be surrogate parents, because she was enough.

She raised two strong, sensitive, yet powerful young men, who were inseparable.

They gathered a following, never jealous of one another, and even when people did try to infringe on their relationship, they dispelled their critics.

Romulus and Remus founded a city and they called it Rome. The goal of their Empire was two-fold: to spread throughout the world the doctrine that nothing is impossible and that if mankind pursued knowledge and wisdom, we could all get along.

Some countries were conquered and some came on board the Empire joyously.

But Rome became a symbol of the relationship of two brothers, linking all mankind into a common “human-hood.”

 

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Iffing Way–Part 4: UnPharoah … November 10, 2014

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If bigger

What if a voice of sanity had risen up at various stages in the story of human history, to offer a challenging view when craziness was about to win the day?

If …

It all revolved around a game of intimidation.

The only way to protect your particular parcel of land from intrusion and invasion was to convince other kingdoms nearby that you were well-established, well-fortified and darned well intent on fighting to the death to “keep your own.” Thus the purpose for building huge walls, great monuments and fortifications.

Thutmose III was well aware of the situation.

As Pharoah of Egypt, it was his job to maintain the order of his domain and keep his citizens safe from the marauding hordes. Any sign of weakness was an invitation to be destroyed by the stronger villains of the desert.

To build such huge constructions took man power. Now, society was divided into four sections:

  • royalty, which would never lift a finger for such tasks
  • farmers, who raised the food which kept the citizenry in bread and wine
  • soldiers, who protected the sovereignty of the turf
  • and slaves, the cheapest labor possible, to perform the most arduous duties

After many years of peaceful coexistence with the Jews, the Egyptians grew tired of this clan of immigrants who seemed to be overtaking the social order of the land. A movement began against them. It was decided that the free meal ticket provided by the previous Pharoah, out of loving deference to Joseph, should be terminated and that these people should be put to hard labor, working for the state.

The pressure was immense.

Matter of fact, sitting in front of Thutmose III was an edict to proclaim all Jews as slaves. All that was needed was his seal. Then the document would become a holy edict, enforced viciously by the taskmasters against these people without a country.

He delayed.

He stalled so long that his critics began to call him a coward, and even a traitor. Thutmose III tried to draw a deep breath of wisdom and sanity. For after all, what seems prudent today has arms, legs, breath and anger in the future generations subjected to the treatment.

What should he do?

After many nights, lying sleepless in his bed, he devised a plan. He decided to alternate his work force–take the relocated Jews and put them in the fields for part of the year and bring the field workers in to build the walls and monuments necessary to maintain a sense of control.

He also concluded that it was unnecessary to build many pyramids–one for each Pharoah who died. Why not one gigantic pyramid for all the rulers who had gone on? It would be just as intimidating and beautiful, but more easily conceived and carried out by the workers.

When Thutmose III presented his plan to the council they immediately rejected it, which made no difference whatsoever, since he was a dictator.

Reluctantly, the plan was carried out and the Jews, rather than being slaves, were turned into brethren with a variety of tasks to contribute to the cause.

After many years and much success with this new plan, the Council of the Jewish people, under the leadership of a man named Moses, came and asked for permission to emigrate to another land, where they would take the experiences of Egypt and their own faith, and build a life.

It was negotiated. It was agreed.

The transition was smooth because it was not the escaping of slaves, but rather, the releasing of friends to their new mission.

Thutmose III died a happy man, interred in the greatest pyramid ever constructed, having saved a whole race of people from slavery and allowing for that same tribe to find their God and their expression.

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“Ifing” Way: Part 3… November 3, 2014

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If bigger

What if a voice of sanity had risen up at various stages in the story of human history, to offer a challenging view when craziness was about to win the day?

If …

He called a family meeting.

Such gatherings are essential–otherwise misunderstandings will turn into squabbles which eventually spill out into the community as a whole. The dilemmas we now consider to be international were once mere unresolved conflicts between brothers and sisters.

Sitting before him was his wife and the surrogate mother of his other son. He had two boys.

For when his wife decided that she was too old to bear children, she offered her servant as a stand-in for the opportunity of procuring a lineage for her beloved husband. The young man was born, and everything seemed fine for about thirteen years–until the Mama of the house got pregnant.

After she birthed her son, she felt threatened by the presence of another male offspring, and also by the female who deemed herself important because she had contributed in such a personal way.

The two women fought.

At first it was what you would call “quibbling”–a nasty glance followed by exiting the room in a huff.

But eventually the wife made it an issue with her husband, that the other woman and her child must go. He was tempted. In a moment of weakness, he considered sending the surrogate away with a bit of cash and a heartfelt apology.

Then he stopped to think–one of the more powerful things that human beings do.

He made a decision–one he was about to share with the two dear ladies.

“We are having a problem,” he stated clearly. The two women looked at each other, feigning a bit of surprise. It was so phony he had to giggle.

“Oh, don’t try that with me. You both know what I’m talking about, and frankly, I am in no mood to discuss the specifics of your feelings or misgivings. Let me explain my position. I have two sons. I love them both. I also am deeply appreciative of the two women who bore these sons. I don’t care if anyone understands our relationship. And I am certainly not going to try to please one of you to destroy the other. Here’s what I know: if my two sons cannot grow up together and be at peace because their mothers are being silly, then what would make us believe that their children will get along with each other any better?

He paused, gazing into their eyes.

“In no time at all, a couple of generations pass, and the story of your little tiff with each other is completely blown out of proportion, and rather than being a family foible, it becomes a national offense, leading to war. For my dear ladies, all wars begin in the kitchen. They spread to the dining room, and are further inflamed in the bedroom before they head out the door and hurt the innocent.”

“So it would be unfair of me to call this a discussion. I am telling you that my name is Abraham, and for me and my house, we will have two sons, and we will serve the Lord together.”

Sarah and Hagar looked at each other, knowing the resolute will of the man before them. He would certainly follow through on his words.

They were not happy … but they knew they needed to learn how to be so.

 

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“Ifing” Way: Part 2… October 27, 2014

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If bigger

What if a voice of sanity had risen up at various stages in the story of human history, to offer a challenging view when craziness was about to win the day?

If …

Dad arrived just in time.

His youngest son was already primed and ready to run out the door to go see his older brother to try to reconcile hurt feelings. The siblings had never really been close, yet the bond of family had always meshed them with a sense of loyalty. But recent events had exacerbated the tenuous feelings, generating a volatile situation. A simple misunderstanding had turned into a sense of rejection, culminating in a looming burst of rage.

When the incident happened, Dad stepped between them to prevent violence, but the younger son, having a more optimistic nature, believed all that was needed was a good conversation. So he had privately decided to go off on his own, without any counsel, to see his brother at the work site so they could “rummage through their feelings” and arrive at resolution.

Fortunately, Dad came on the scene–just in time.

“Where are you going?” Dad asked.

The young man paused for a second, wondering if he could possibly deceive his father and achieve his own purposes, but then realized that was contrary to his heart.

“You know where I’m going. I’m going to make peace with my brother.”

The father smiled. “I know that seems like a good idea to you, and far be it from me to be against peace, but your brother is a complicated man and his emotions and thoughts are not privy to you, and therefore not available.”

The young man frowned.

Sensing his son’s disagreement, the father continued. “We could talk about this all day and we wouldn’t agree. What I would like you to do is trust me. If I end up being wrong, I’ll be the first to admit it. But I would like you to leave your brother alone for a while, until you and I agree on a better time. Because if you go and see him now, all you’re going to do is remind him of the pain of the conflict, and perhaps incense him over the idea that you appear to be the better brother because you’re trying to make things right. I want you to promise me–based upon our friendship and bond–that you will stay away from him until things are better.”

The young man objected. “But how can things get better if we don’t make them better?”

The father patted him on the shoulder and said, “Son, sometimes things don’t get better. But if we interfere, we can make them worse.”

He gave his younger son a hug. The boy agreed to stay away from his older brother until such time as was deemed appropriate.

As it turned out, the conversation never actually happened. The two brothers, who had never been particularly close, maintained a distance throughout their lives. They learned how to be appropriate during family gatherings, and gave each other proper respect and space.

Cain and Abel never became close friends.

But because Adam took his position as a father and intervened in a dangerous situation … no one had to die.

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“Ifing” Way: Part 1… October 20, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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If bigger

What if a voice of sanity had risen up at various stages in the story of human history, to offer a challenging view when craziness was about to win the day?

If …

It was the third night in a row she had returned home from work brooding. It wasn’t that she was always a sparkling conversationalist, but now a sadness had etched its way onto her features, making her apppear continually unhappy, which left him a little disgruntled, feeling that he was somehow at fault.

Tired of being uncertain of her feelings and attitudes, he broached the issue.

“What’s wrong — and before you tell me nothing, let me tell you that I know there is something, so let’s work with it from that angle.”

She looked surprised.

He laughed. “So now you’re gonna act surprised,” he said. “I know you’re not surprised. You probably just don’t want to talk about it.”

She took a long pause–so lengthy that he almost inserted another opinion, but restrained himself to allow her space.

“I have something to tell you,” she began, tears forming in her eyes.

He squelched an internal flinch, wondering how this could end up with anything good.

She continued. “You know that tree we were supposed to avoid?”

He thought for a second, then remembered and nodded.

She went on with her tale. “Well, I was a little confused about it. Maybe even a little frustrated. So I spent some time down there, just checking it out. I immediately discovered it wasn’t that different from any other tree on our land. Matter of fact, it was rather pleasant looking. Appealing.”

He resisted the instinct to interrupt and just nodded again.

“Well, long story short, I got tempted, maybe even urged, to eat the fruit. And ever since then, I’ve felt guilty and naked.”

“What do you mean by naked?” he inquired.

She squinted. “You know. Without being covered.”

“Covered with what?” he asked, frowning.

“I don’t know. This is why I didn’t want to tell you. I knew you wouldn’t understand. You are so much a man…”

“Now I am confused,” he inserted. “We’ve never talked like this before. It was never ‘man’ and ‘woman.’ Just us. What’s going on?”

“I ate the goddamned fruit,” she screamed. “There! You’ve got it.”

Adam took a deep breath. He knew the next thing he would say was crucial. “So that’s why you feel bad?”

“No!” she said emphatically. “I feel good! Alive! Alert. Just confused. Maybe if you ate the fruit with me and shared in the experience we could work it out together. Aren’t you self-conscious about being naked?”

“Actually,” he replied, “I’m baffled about the concept. I just thought this is the way we came.”

She sighed, frowned, hissed and grumbled all at the same time. At length she spoke.

“So are you gonna eat the fruit with me or not?”

He took her by the shoulders, pulled her close and kissed her on the forehead.

“No. What we’re going to do is take you to our Creator and explain what happened.”

She pulled back in horror. “No damn way! He’s gonna kill me. Isn’t that what He said? If you eat the fruit you’ll die?”

“Yes,” said Adam. “But I didn’t know what it meant, so I just kind of ignored it.”

“I don’t want to die,” said Eve.

“I don’t want to lose you,” said Adam. “But … I don’t want to lose Him either. Don’t make me choose.”

She burst into tears. He embraced her and held her close.

“Listen,” he said. “If He loved us enough to make us, He sure can love us enough to forgive us.”

“Us?” she questioned.

“Yes. We’re in this together. And together, let’s go talk to Him.”

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

Click here to listen to Spirited music

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