Jesonian–Troubling (Part 4)… July 22nd, 2017

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Still a bit troubled.

It’s this whole thing about salvation: “By grace you are saved through faith.”

The Apostle Paul shared this sentiment, and it set in motion the essence of the Protestant movement, so that today we are most concerned about the salvation of the soul.

Meanwhile, the emotions, the mind and the physicality of the church members wane, having no better effect than those in the world.

I suppose a case can be made that once we are eternally rescued and given a place in heaven, temporary years on Earth don’t seem quite as valuable.

Of course, one could have that opinion if one had not read the Gospel of Jesus. Jesus was intent on having God’s will done on Earth as it is in heaven.

He believed in personal responsibility.

He challenged his followers to go the second mile.

He told us that those who have purity of heart– emotional clarity–would see God.

He asked us to think about the world around us and how it works.

And certainly, he challenged us to be born again–not merely accepting the frailties of our genetic code, but rather, setting in motion a transformation which makes us “new creatures.”

The church offers soul salvation and then wonders why many people opt for “off-campus” emotional healing, renewing of their minds and physical exercise with healthy eating.

If salvation is a gift, why are we told to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling?

If salvation is a gift, why did Jesus tell Zacchaeus that he had “achieved” it by giving back the money he had stolen?

Imagine how powerful the Christian church could become if we simply taught that the salvation of our souls is an eternal work, demanding the grace of God to inaugurate our emotional healing, renewing of our minds and enhancement of our DNA.

It is troubling.

It is troubling that the church contains people who are going to heaven … yet having a hell of a time getting there.

 

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 3)… July 15th, 2017

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I must apologize. I’m still a bit troubled.

It’s the whole “Abraham” thing.

There are supposedly three religions–Judaism, Muslim and Christianity–that are knit together in a quilt based on a person named Abraham. If such a weaving is true, it is sewn with a dynamite fuse, ready to be lit at the least provocation.

A very simple study of the Gospels about Jesus will tell you that he was neither a practicing Jew nor did those around him deem him to be. If he felt he was Jewish, he certainly failed to convince anyone, and if they believed him to be their brother, they probably should not have crucified him.

On one occasion the Jews called Jesus a “Samaritan and a demon” while proclaiming themselves to be “children of Abraham.”

He alarmed them by stating that before Abraham existed, he was around. They did not muse his statement nor ask for evidence, but instead, picked up rocks to kill him, and he barely escaped with his life.

Christianity has many benefits but one of the main missions is to gently untangle itself from the Abrahamic family tree, so as to be able to make peace between these two feuding brothers–the followers of Abraham’s son, Isaac, and those of Abraham’s son, Ishmael.

Where would we begin?

We can commence this very worthwhile journey by understanding that Judaism is a culture, Muslim is a culture, but Christianity is a lifestyle.

So whether you’re from China, the Netherlands, Russia or Argentina, the ideas and message of Jesus will fit into your surroundings. Judaism basically works around Jews, and the Muslim faith has the greatest appeal to those who are Arab. That’s because they are cultures, not lifestyles.

As American Christians, we favor the Jews, not because they have any affinity for Jesus. Actually the Quran contains more respect for Jesus than the Old Testament. No, we favor the Jews because they were dispersed into Europe and they seem more American. Yes, it is another one of our racial bigotries–and when Jews look like Arabs, we are much less likely to be tender in their direction.

So let’s get over the foolishness and back to our theme:

If Jesus is God, then Jehovah and Allah are not.

If God is Jesus, then maybe there might be a little bit of Jehovah and Allah lounging around His man cave.

Christianity has the opportunity to heal one of the greatest family squabbles of all time. We cannot do so by saying we are “children of Abraham.”

In the Gospel of John, he clearly states that we are not born of flesh and blood, but of the Spirit. As followers of Jesus, we are not part of a lineage, but instead, linked by a salvation into what truly can be called the greatest opportunity for peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.

 

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 2)… July 8th, 2017

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If Jesus is God, He had a lot of things to say. But if God is Jesus, there’s just way too much material to sort through.

Perhaps that’s why the writer of the Book of Hebrews pointed out that “now God only speaks through Jesus.” No prophets of old. No patriarchs–just Jesus.

And one of the first things you’ll notice–Jesus wants to be known for his words. Matter of fact, he told his disciples if they loved him, they would follow his teachings.

Do we? Or have we placed Jesus in a position to perform a human sacrifice, and then only give a cursory study of his thoughts and wishes.

For the sake of brevity (and also because I know that the subject of religion cuts our attention span in half) let me tell you the three things Jesus wanted us to know as he came to speak the mind of God. I refer to these as the “more than likely” approach to life.

1. More than likely, God is a Father instead of a prick.

As a Father, He does not deny, condemn, criticize, destroy, rebuke or disown His children. He hangs in there with us like a good Daddy should.

2. More than likely, it’s my responsibility instead of yours.

If I’m going to wait for you to change, react, initiate or create, I’m going to be constantly upset and full of antagonism. Here is a brain-cleansing notion: if I take on more responsibility for what’s going on, I don’t have to complain about you.

3. More than likely, being kind is going to work out better than trying to be tough.

You may initially strike a pose of power by being vicious, angry or intimidating, but eventually you will come across someone who has perfected nastiness. Kindness, on the other hand, buys time and gives us a chance for circumstances to change instead of finding us over-reacting to the present moment’s threat.

The problem is, these three principles are not taught in the church.

We are much too busy trying to make Jesus fit with an Old Testament God, and therefore we rationalize chapter after chapter of Old Covenant, which has absolutely nothing to do with New Spirit. As Jesus so eloquently said, “You can’t put new wine into old wineskins.” In other words, trying to stuff the Christian mindset into an Old Testament cranium is going to fracture the skull.

But when you believe Jesus is God, you can begin to decipher the message of the Nazarene, who came as the “only begotten of the Father,” to tell us what more than likely will work.

Untrouble yourself on this one.

Jesus wants to be more than the Lamb of God.

He wants to be your life coach.

Now, let me see. What else is troubling me … ?Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

 

 

 

Jesonian–Troubling (Part 1)… July 1st, 2017

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“Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.”

These are the words of Jesus.

But you see, there’s my problem. Believing in Jesus is simpler for me. It’s believing in God that itches my brain.

You see, God has a lot of history–thirty-nine books of Old Testament, filled with murder, mayhem, racism and contradictions–before we arrive at the doorstep of the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth, where Jesus emerges and begins to speak to the world.

Every once in a while, I’m sitting in a room by myself and a sudden gust of realization sweeps in and blows my mind.

God?? What in the hell am I thinking? How could there be a God?

And this isn’t because there are bad things happening–it’s just that the stories told about this god are similar to the Greek mythology concerning Zeus. All at once, I am inundated with feelings of foolishness and slowly, bitterness jumps into my heart, mocking me for following such ancient tales.

Sometimes the Holy Bible reads like a Grimm fairy tale, full of witches, warlocks and little boys and girls threatened because they’re on their way to grandma’s house.

But then I pause. Why? It’s the chimpanzee.

Although I believe that science is the favorite hobby of the Father in Heaven, the order in the Universe, even in the midst of chaos, and the fact that human beings exist, hearkens to the presence of a Universal Creator. Feel free to try to deteriorate the human spirit, soul and intellect, and place it side-by-side with the animals–but if any one of us spent a week trying to reason, infiltrate and dine with chimpanzees (supposedly our closest relative) we would quickly return to the human race with newfound appreciation.

I’m sorry–animals are animals and people are people. There’s a huge gap. Somebody–did you hear me?–somebody put that gap there.

On the other hand, upon spending several weeks with the chimpanzees of theology, I am equally as baffled by the fact that for some inexplicable reason, they want to blur the God of Judaism with the person of Jesus.

So if the proclamation is, God is Jesus–I’m there, and the spiritual evolution from God and the devil playing poker with Job’s soul, to “love your neighbor as yourself” was needed and makes complete sense.

But if Jesus is God, I really have to include stories from the old volume, which are absolutely implausible, without merit and of no benefit to any creature on heaven or Earth.

It is troubling.

Without being accusatory, may I suggest that all of us, to some degree, are turmoiled by this mish-mash and collision of meaningless facts being thrown together into one book called the Bible and then dubbed “Holy.”

If you will allow me, over the next couple of weeks, I would like to deal with this troubling situation–because to a certain degree, all an atheist has to say to any Christian is, “Really???” and we are immediately defensive.

Because we possess our own doubts.

So doubts be damned and discussion begun, I will see you next week.

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Jesonian… June 24th, 2017

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“Go.”

But where?

Into all the world, Jesus said as he was about to ascend into Heaven.

Although most theologians like to focus on the Ascension based upon Jesus’ arrival to “sit at the right hand of God the Father,” I would like to discuss what we have called the “great commission”–to go into all the world.

Was it not actually the ludicrous commission? After all, Jesus had traveled with his twelve disciples for three-and-a-half years. He knew they were Jewish, bigoted, disrespectful of women, indifferent to children and completely bound to their home base. How could he possibly anticipate that these immovable religious boys could ever take a message anywhere?

There were three keys to the success of the early church:

  • The Holy Spirit
  • The Apostle Paul
  • The destruction of Jerusalem

If you remove any one of these elements, Christianity becomes a cult of Judaism, therefore suffering the fate of the Jews when the Romans destroyed their Temple.

Peter, Andrew and John had no intention of doing anything but hanging around Jerusalem and aggravating the Pharisees. (You may notice that I left out James because early on he mouthed off and lost his head–literally.)

So the Holy Spirit arrived on the Day of Pentecost and gave Peter the boldness to speak about the murder of the Messiah in front of Jews visiting from all over the known world. Three thousand of them were saved that day, went back to their homes and began the process of reaching the entire planet.

Meanwhile, a Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus became quite adept at killing Christians, therefore terrorizing them. He was on his way to crippling the movement when Jesus signed him up on the road to Damascus, to take the message to the Gentiles. Why? Because the original twelve were not going to do it.

And even though Paul was a Pharisee, he was a rabble rouser–a fire-brand of intellectual and spiritual energy. He found himself criticizing the original disciples because they would not eat with the Gentiles, deeming themselves better.

Paul took the Gospel to the Greeks, and since the Romans always followed everything the Greeks did, they made excellent evangelists. He ended his life in Rome, teaching, knowing that the Romans were going to reach the Germanic tribes and the Germanic tribes would evangelize the Angles and Saxons, and the Angles and Saxons were going to climb into boats, land on rocks near Plymouth and begin a new nation called America, which would generate the technology to reach the whole world.

To ensure that those “stay-at-home disciples” would eventually leave Jerusalem and follow in Paul’s footsteps, Jesus warned them about the coming destruction of Jerusalem–to make sure they left town before the Romans arrived with their deadly foreclosure.

By 70 A. D. there was no Jewish synagogue, race or movement. Christianity survived because the followers of Jesus literally “headed for the hills.”

In the process of touting the power of prayer, the value of meditation and the worth of Bible study, we need to understand that Jesus intended us to be a “go” people.

He wanted us to view the world as a whole instead of just our little village, and he desired that his children would be the most tolerant, non-bigoted, caring and clever people on the face of the Earth.

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Jesonian… June 17th, 2017

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Leprosy is a loser.

You lose feeling. You lose your fingers and your toes; you lose your friends. You lose interaction with the world around you. You lose control of your life. At least, that’s the way it was in Jesus’ day.

That is why it’s so remarkable that ten lepers got together and overlooked their angst to come up with a plan. They decided to go see Jesus.

I’m not so sure lepers do a whole lot together. I suppose there would be the fear that the infection in your brother or sister might even be worse than yours.

But ten of them planned a road trip. They even included one Samaritan, which all the Jews hated. I guess they gave him a free pass since they shared dying in common.

Ten lepers traveling together caused quite a stir. Everyone was frightened of the disease. Multiply that fear by ten. Therefore, getting anywhere near Jesus must have been a feat, and being granted an audience–the first miracle.

So when Jesus tells all ten lepers to go and show themselves to their priest, they launch off together on a mission of questionable potential. They are not immediately healed, nothing is changed and they’re on their way to see an aged rabbi who certainly possessed no remedy..

But along the way, suddenly each one of them is restored to wholeness, with beautiful pink flesh (or whatever color they originally had). We don’t know how long it took.

But being faithful, and even more aggressive to achieve their mission because of their restoration, they plunged ahead to come in contact with what would surely be a dumbfounded clergyman.

All except one.

The Samaritan–that renegade outsider–decides to turn back to see Jesus and thank him for the miracle. The other nine shake their heads in disbelief. They view themselves “the good ones”–the souls being obedient. They trudge on, praying for their errant companion as he races back to express his gratitude.

When the grateful, healed man from Samaria arrived and worshipped Jesus for giving him back his life, Jesus had a very interesting response.

First, let’s look at what he did not say. Jesus didn’t say, “Why are you here? I told you to go to the priest. Just like you Samaritans to not follow the rules.”

Or, “Because you didn’t do what I said, here’s your leprosy again.”

No–Jesus says something surprising. “Where are the other nine?”

This strikes me as a bit hypocritical, since Jesus sent them on a specific task to show themselves to a religious fellow to confirm their healing. But Jesus not only asks where they are–he mocks the nine for not having the gumption of the Samaritan, to return and express appreciation.

I view this as a warning–a gunshot in the air for all the righteous rowdies in our world who think because they follow some verse of scripture or some isolated command that they are viewed by the heavens as supernally superior. They tell you everything they are sure God finds unfavorable, and cite verses to prove their point.

They are wrong.

Jesus makes it clear–there is something greater than the written or spoken Word of God. It’s called “being led of the Spirit.”

And when the Spirit confirms to you that you’re healed and no priest had anything to do with it, and that the most valuable thing in life is to be grateful, you will bypass the initial command in order to follow the greater calling.

You don’t have to look very far in the life of Jesus to see that the scribes and Pharisees constantly reminded him that he was breaking Jewish law. His response was always basically the same: “You pursue the traditions of men instead of the heart of God.”

A Samaritan former leper broke a rule to fulfill a promise. Because he did, he was praised. And those who did everything by the book were mocked.

If you’re not prepared to go against the rules to fulfill the righteousness of where the Spirit is leading, don’t call yourself a follower of Jesus.

 

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Jesonian… June 10th, 2017

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Sex, money and family.

These are the three topics that encompass the majority of conversation for the average American.

Sex, discussed in the context of portraying ourselves as studly and virile while simultaneously pointing out the sinfulness in others.

Money, a perpetual complaint because we all feel we should have much more than we do.

And family because somewhere along the line we’ve convinced ourselves that our particular brood of offspring has a special place in the universe because we spawned them.

Matter of fact, I can pretty well guarantee you that if you wade into the horde of humanity, you’d better be prepared to talk about one of these subjects–probably all three.

I offer this preface because Jesus avoided these three subjects like a religion.

When they tried to get him to gossip about a woman caught in the act of adultery, he turned away, stooped down and fiddled in the dirt like he didn’t even hear them.

He certainly made the point to a bunch of pious Pharisees that because prostitutes were coming into knowledge of the Kingdom of God, they were going to enter heaven much sooner than the religious leaders. (This wasn’t very popular.)

When it came to money, he was confronted by a gentleman who wanted Jesus to be an arbiter in an inheritance squabble with a brother. Jesus curtly replies that “no one has made me a judge over such matters” and then proceeds to tell a parable about the dangers of greed. Probably not what the young fellow was looking for when he advanced his question.

And as pertains to family, Jesus made it totally clear to those around him that when his kin came to see him with the intent of returning him to Nazareth because they thought he was crazy, Jesus explained that his family was “anyone who did the will of my Father.”

So if you remove the subject of sex–which is often judgmental condemnations about the preferences of others; and money–which seems to be a perpetual lamentation over not having enough; and family–the extolling of our particular procreation due to sexual prowess–you really don’t have much to talk about, even in the lobby of a church.

Jesus had other topics that interested him:

Mercy.

Justice.

Compassion.

Faith that was ready to move mountains and those individuals who broke out of the pattern of the “sex, money and family fixation” to find a way to get along with everybody on the planet.

If you’re going to progress as a Jesonian individual–someone who pursues the heart of Jesus and not just his sacrifice–you need to realize that Jesus is not worried about your sex organs, your financial status nor how cute you think your grand-baby is.

This would probably cause him to receive some very critical glances from the Mens Fellowship and the Ladies Auxiliary. He did not care.

If you can’t get your mind out of the gutter, your brain free of feeling financially cheated, and your heart devoted to something other than those living under your own roof, you probably will back your way into a tragedy.

At that point you will have a choice.

Will you take responsibility for it due to your short-sightedness, or will you wonder why God didn’t do something to stop it?

 

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