Jesonian … September 11th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3892)

I think you’re right, Johann.

Turning the other cheek can be scary on many levels. Some people think it’s ridiculous–they contend that if you don’t fight back, you’ll be destroyed.

But here’s the problem with fighting: nobody fights to lose.

Did you hear that? That means if a discussion becomes an argument and ends up being a fight, the individual who is trained the most to be violent and has the greater stamina will win the day.

Do we really want that?

Some years ago I stumbled on a fist fight in an alley in a large city. A little crowd had gathered because two men who were obviously over-soaked in alcohol had decided to square off.

The whole affair lasted less than thirty seconds, because within fifteen seconds of swinging at each other–and mostly missing–they were so out of breath that they had to crumple to their knees just to gain air.

God forgive me–I laughed.

We want to come across so tough, yet are we actually willing to fight? And if we decide to fight, are we going to get ourselves in shape at a level of anger to win?

There are three things for certain:

If you’re going to destroy an eye in someone else, you have to be willing to lose one yourself.

If you’re going to kill the enemy, you must be prepared to die.

And if you’re going to get physical with your retaliation, you must have the skill to overcome the person that is coming at you.

Johann, Jesus said this was unrealistic. Who has the time, in the middle of trying to live a joyous, giddy and peaceful life, to go into the gym and train to be a killer?

So sometimes, instead of punching back, you lay back, and see if conversation can return instead of taking something to blows.

It is scary.

It’s scary for the person who has to do it, and it’s very scary for the person who is facing such courage.

Turning the other cheek is not an option. It is the only doorway available for most of us humans who don’t want to spend our lives lifting weights and punching bags.

*****

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Jesonian … September 4th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3885)

The religious system: a baffling, befuddled, faulted and failing attempt to turn the beauty of faith into a well-funded organization.

It contains two erroneous, if not evil, ideas:

1. Material that was written four thousand years ago doesn’t require any updating in the Spirit whatsoever.

2. The Spirit of God and the lives of believers can be capsulized into a corporate worship experience.

It is restrictive.

It is selfish.

It denies individuality in favor of blind compliance.

It turns Jesus into the sacrificial lamb instead of extolling his true measure as a Good Shepherd.

It wants its children to become advocates for printed material which comes out of old-fashioned boardrooms, ushered forth by spiritually vacant suits.

They envision their young children having a conversation similar to this:

 

Yet truthfully, children were never meant to contemplate the actions of impotent, aged patriarchs. They were intended to have life and it more abundantly. So actually, Sunday morning in America more resembles the following:

Although it would be impossible to limit the message of Jesus of Nazareth to one strain of thought or one stream of consciousness, it is undoubtedly true that he was the champion of children and the Great Equalizer when it came to women.

Because his message was visual and filled with stories, the children flocked to him. And because he refused to teach a Gospel that was just for men, the ladies came his way, bringing their money to support his work. That’s what it says in the gospel of Luke.

How will we know that we’ve escaped the religious system and have begun to be a household of faith once again?

When the children eagerly gather and the women are given their full rights as human beings.

*****

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Jesonian … August 28th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3878)

It was a nasty insult, compounded by the fact that it was delivered in front of an audience instead of offered privately behind the scenes.

It came from a friend–actually a relative–who had once made it clear that he was a supporter, a believer and prepared to do whatever was necessary to see the cause advanced.

Yet because he had recently been arrested for disagreeing with a king, he had lost some of his fervor, and had become jaded, lying in the moldy hay of solitude.

So the prisoner sent his followers off to his cousin with a little piece of fussiness.

“Are you the one we’re really looking for, or is there another one coming?”

His name was John and he baptized–matter of fact, he baptized the person he was questioning. So when these faithful couriers delivered his stinging words, the first reaction from Jesus was probably anger and resentment.

Jesus’ response to the disciples of John was, “Come along and follow me today, and see what I do.”

At sunset, he presented, “Go back and tell John what you’ve seen–how lepers are cleansed, souls are healed and the Gospel is preached to the poor.”

But before they could take off to deliver the message, Jesus turned to the crowd–the very same crowd who heard John doubt him–and he praised his old friend.

He said, “When you went out to see John, you didn’t go out to see somebody blown by the wind, wearing fancy clothes. You saw a prophet–and more than a prophet. John is probably greater than anyone born of a woman. But you folks need to keep in mind–in God’s eye, even the least of you is just as important as John.”

The crowd understood.

The crowd marveled.

The crowd was waiting for Jesus to kick John’s ass.

He didn’t.

Jesus found a way to praise the man for what he had done, while still pointing out that he needed to be more resilient.

So you see, President Trump, if you want to follow the Master, you must learn his ways.

And if you want to lead a country, you have to discover a pathway to praise your “John” for what he is due, while still wishing there had been more agreement.

*****

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Jesonian … August 25th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3775)

Jesus without religion--the mindset of Jesus

Temperamental.

Yes, I do believe that would be the word that the folks of our culture nowadays would attribute to Jesus if they carefully studied his actions and reactions with the human race.

He wasn’t always sweet.

He wasn’t always kind.

He wasn’t always compassionate.

But in reviewing his lifestyle and his personal moods, you get a good glimpse of what the Gospel is truly about instead of what it’s purported to be.

We take great pains to convince people that they’re sinners, but it doesn’t make any difference–God’s grace covers it all. But if the motivations of Jesus are any indication of the mind of God, I think we’re sorely mistaken. After all, Jesus did say he “came to show us the Father.”

Based on that premise, what do we know about God through Jesus?

Jesus had no mercy on incompetence.

When he told the parable of the virgins, he made it clear that they were foolish because they didn’t think ahead and provide enough oil for themselves to last until the bridegroom came.

He also stated that people laugh at anyone who builds a foundation but doesn’t have the time and money to finish it.

And of course, let’s not forget the basic teaching of “counting the cost” before leaping into a project.

Jesus had no mercy for judgmental people.

When the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, Jesus weighed the value of a human being against the sin of adultery, and determined that the soul was more important than the judgment.

He explained the same principle to James and John, who wanted to hurl fireballs from the sky down on the Samaritans. He challenged them, “You don’t know what spirit you are of.”

And Jesus certainly had no mercy on people who were self-piteous.

When the man at the pool insisted that he was too weak to get into the healing waters–that everybody beat him to it–Jesus later told him, “Be careful how you think and what you do, because something worse could befall you.”

And we must understand that Jesus never visited a leper colony. Those who felt sorry for themselves because of their disease never found the healing touch of the Master.

Christianity would prosper if we would let Jesus be Jesus instead of insisting that he fit into the mold of a Christ who salves the Old Covenant while initiating the new one.

Jesus had no mercy for the Old Covenant.

He told them their “house was left desolate,” and that they couldn’t put “new wine into old wineskins.”

Would you call that temperamental?

Maybe not–just impatient with those who make excuses and end up losing the opportunity to be fruitful.

 

*****

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Jesonian … August 18th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3768)

There was an old gospel song that used to get the hometown folks clappin’ and snappin’. It had a lyric which proclaimed, “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.”

I grew up in a small town that believed, like most small towns, that if the world behaved like they did, there would be eternal peace. But since the world didn’t behave, all the children needed to be careful going into the big city, or worse yet, into the world.

Matter of fact, like most small towns, over half of my graduating class still lives within ten miles of the place where they got their first kiss.

It’s easy for people who have religion to attack the world. Matter of fact, there are many preachers who wouldn’t have anything to share if they couldn’t criticize the world, sin and the souls around them. Even those practitioners of philosophies which portend to have more open-mindedness will still gladly join into a conversation of discussing how damnable things are on the planet.

Sometimes I wonder how it’s possible to be so in love with God and so hateful of the home He’s given us.

Now I remember. I forgot the lyrics: “This world is not my home.”

It makes me wonder why Jesus prayed that heavenly things be done on Earth.

God is a good Father. As a good Father, he knows His children. And the Earth is filled with His children.

He understands that the world is stuck in a rebellion resembling a sixteen-year-old: snotty, bratty, selfish, indulgent, unappreciative–but certainly unwilling to go anyplace else. That’s a sixteen-year-old.

So maybe we should walk away from our gospel songs and even our theology and take a careful look at what Jesus said about the world.

Two things:

1. “In the world you have tribulation.”

I suppose you could blame God for that–not because He steps back and lets things happen, but because He gave us free will. Honestly, if I had created beings that possessed as much intelligence as humans, I would have curtailed free will.

It doesn’t make sense. For people to have imaginations from the time of their youth, but for those musings to be generally evil, doesn’t bode well for blessings to flow across the land.

But it was God’s way.

He made us smart, with the ability to choose to be stupid.

Therefore, at one time or another, somebody is always being stupid, which makes it seem like all matter is about to fall apart. Jesus called this “tribulation”–a sense that things never find peace or settle down.

Now most religionists love that particular verse about tribulation in the world. Matter of fact, they stop right there and use it as a platform to preach against every sin that comes to their minds. They never factor in the second thought that Jesus had on the world:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. And He didn’t send His son into the world to condemn the world, but so that they could choose to be saved (paraphrase).

Of course, the key coupling there is “so loved.”

Not a passive appreciation.

Not a duty of being a parent of something you wish you could abandon.

But a deep emotional commitment, free of condemnation.

So here’s the truth of the matter, although I don’t want to anger some gospel song writer: this world is my home, for the time being, and I am passing through.

My job is to have good cheer when I see the tribulation, and make sure, through my face, my actions and my tenderness, that those around me know exactly how much they are so loved.

*****

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Jesonian … August 11th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3761)

Astonished.

It is the word that Saint Matthew selected, in his Gospel, to describe the reaction of the audience which heard Jesus of Nazareth share the Sermon on the Mount.

Some synonyms for astonished:

  • Shocked
  • Confounded
  • Bewildered
  • Astounded
  • Flabbergasted
  • Startled
  • Stunned
  • Dumbfounded
  • Blow your mind

Astonished is a word that combines impressed and alarmed.

It is the way Matthew perceived the mood of the hearers.

He added that they felt that Jesus had more “authority” than the scribes. As you probably know, the scribes were not the Pharisees. The scribes were the local ministers in charge of writing and reading the Law of Moses.

The style they imparted in sharing those ancient words was: read, said, dead. When the scribes read, they said what was exactly there–as dead as they possibly could, so as not to add too much flavor.

So as you can see, it was not a roaring accolade, to say that Jesus exceeded the knowledge or enthusiasm of the scribes.

The importance to the verse is that the people departing that day were “astonished.” What do people do when they’re astonished?

On the way home, as the afterglow disappears, they begin to pick at the corners of great ideas until they disassemble them, convincing themselves that these principles are implausible.

How do we know this is true?

Most of them do not follow Jesus down the hill, but instead, go to their homes, where they justify their disbelief.

Meanwhile, Jesus, who has just delivered the most radical, truthful and practical message ever heard on Earth, descends the hill, and is greeted by one leper, who asks for healing–who had probably missed the sermon.

After twenty-two years of traveling with my dear friend Janet Clazzy, to thousands of churches, I will tell you this:

It is very possible to stir up a congregation, and even their local shepherd, to the point of astonishment.

You can raise dead spirits that haven’t been alive since Grandma and Grandpa sat in the pews.

You can get people to clap, think, react, smile, and even do their best impersonation of loving one another. But you can’t go home with them.

And home is where they rationalize all their present actions–to avoid the horror of repentance.

*****

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Jesonian … August 4th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3754)

“No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other.”

The word “master” is such a nasty, archaic term. But basically, the message is that there is something that compels us. We fancy ourselves to be the compellers, but we actually spend most of our lives compelled. And when you take the word “compel” and look at the synonyms–constrain, enforce, urge, bulldoze, coerce and squeeze–you come up with a vision in your mind which gives you a sense of claustrophobia concerning being manipulated.

Perhaps that’s why people have trouble coming to terms with human life. They continue to pursue the fallacy that they call all their own shots and that everything is perfect if it is at their beckon command.

Unfortunately, Jesus was correct. From the time of our birth to the time of our death, we are obsessed with some compulsion. It is that compulsion that dictates our moods, our actions, our frustrations, our bigotry and to a large degree, our finance.

The reason I bring up finance is that the rest of the verse is a cold, hard statement from the Nazarene, telling us, “You cannot serve God and Mammon.”

Like master, Mammon is one of those words which is barely comprehensible to most of the population. Mammon is just a total obsession with things. Once we are obsessed with things, we are compelled to get them. Whatever stands in our way becomes the enemy.

I sat down before I wrote this essay and asked myself, “What is it that compels me?”

Much to the chagrin of my lineage, who may be waiting for an inheritance, profit and gain has never intrigued me in the least. I’ve had lots of money and I’ve had no money, and have found the two experiences to have little impact on my soul satisfaction.

So I would like to simplify this phrase down to one that may be easier to understand: You will be compelled, and the choice you are given is whether you are going to serve good, or goods.

Pause.

Your immediate instinct may be to say, “I’m not materialistic. I don’t want more than I need.” But there are three questions you can ask that will tell you if you’re being mastered by the good, or by goods:

1. Do you worry about money?

Since you know worrying about money doesn’t achieve anything, what is the purpose of worrying about it unless you’re compelled to do so?

2. Do you feel you would be happier and better off if you had more money?

Candidly, even though we don’t think money can buy happiness, we’re pretty sure it can rent it.

3. Do you have a wish list of things you hope to attain financially before the end of your life?

A large portion of the world will go to bed hungry tonight. In such an environment, having dinner makes you a rich person.

When you look at these three questions, you can ascertain whether you are being mastered by good or by goods.

What was the master of Abraham Lincoln? Saving the Union. To do so he realized he had to abolish with slavery. A double blessing.

What was the master of Napoleon? Conquering the world and proving that the French were superior. In attempting to do this, he ended up dying alone on an island.

What is the master of former President Jimmy Carter? This man just seems to enjoy helping other folks. He is well into his nineties and still keeps picking up a hammer.

You will be compelled, constrained, urged and coerced to do something from some thing which has gained the full attention of your passion.

Just keep in mind, it is impossible to serve the pursuit of good and the quest for goods.

*****

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