Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4078)

Sitting Twenty-Four

Pada was surprised at how easy it was to acquire the address of the gentile boy’s father. He drove to the home, walked up and knocked on the door.

When it opened, a man stood there in front of him, not that different from himself, both in appearance and in countenance—not a mirror image, but still—more alike than different.

Pada spoke deliberately. “Are you the father of Amir?”

“Who are you?” the man responded.

“I am the father of Jubal.”

“And who is Jubal?” he countered.

Pada drew a deep breath. “He is the boy with your son, in the desert.”

The man in the doorway vigorously shook his head. “You mean the boy who has tricked my son into disobeying his father, and who is living like an animal in the sand?”

Pada was up to the fight. “That’s strange. I thought it was your boy who deceived my son.”

The two men eyed each other.

There was no semblance of friendliness—no indication that an invitation would be extended to enter the home. This conversation certainly would be conducted standing in the doorway.

Pada continued. “I didn’t come here to argue with you, but I guess, to ask you, overall, what do you think we should do?”

The man smirked. “You want my opinion?”

Pada pursued with more vehemence. “Actually, I want an answer. Your opinion will suffice.”

The man leaned in a little closer and responded coldly, “I think until my people are given their freedom and the land they deserve, such atrocities by the children will be rampant.”

Pada sighed. “Ah. Politics. Must it always be politics? I am here to talk about our children, not the condition of our people.”

Amir’s father raised his finger and pointed at Pada’s face. “But it is about our people. It’s about thousands of years of you Jews arrogantly believing that you are the only sons granted inheritance in this land. I am a son of Abraham.”

“I am, too,” insisted Pada. “But that can’t be possible, because there’s no way that the two of us could actually be brothers.”

Amir’s father stiffened. “I do not want to be your brother. I just want my father’s inheritance.”

Pada stepped back to escape the intensity. “Why can’t we speak of our children?” he pleaded.

“What children?” the man asked.

“Your son—Amir, am I right? And my son, Jubal.”

Amir’s father shook his head. “I don’t know if you have a son named Jubal, but I have no son named Amir. You see, disgrace has no name, and dishonor cannot live in my house.”

Pada shook his head. “Nor will I allow it to live in mine,” he retorted. “Jubal is a shame to me. Yet he is my shame.”

The angry man moved as if he was going to close the door but stopped short of completing the deed. He spoke through a smaller crack. “I have no shame, for I have no disgrace, for I have no son named Amir.”

He was about to finish closing the door but stalled, inserting a thought. “Do you really expect to come to my house as a Jew and talk to me of earthly things? Family and children? If we do not agree on the heavenly, how can we ever discern the earth? You are not my enemy. You are just nothing at all.”

Having completed his speech, Amir’s father slammed the door Pada’s face. He stood for a moment, wondering whether to pound on the door until the man responded, but finally turned on his heel and made his way down the steps to his car.

For a moment, he wondered if he had a part in causing the rage in Amir’s father, or bringing about the disrespect he felt from Jubal.

Then all at once he remembered his own father’s words: “The Palestinians will serve us, just as our children are born to do so.”

Pada smiled and nodded his head. So it was, so it is and so it shall be.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3966)

Sitting Eight

By midday, Iz and Pal had developed a brand-new game. They called it, “Your Book, My Book.”

They mentioned the various names that were in the Talmud and the Koran, and were shocked to find out how many were the same. Abraham was in both, as was Joseph, Isaac, Ishmael, Noah, Adam, Eve, Moses. Yes, they were all there.

Iz’s book had some other different names and Pal’s mentioned both Jesus of Nazareth and Mohammed, but it was really quite surprising. Kind of freaky.

They also realized that the two of them looked much the same. By now they smelled the same. They both believed in God. Both had never touched pork and had strict families. They came from desert Bedouins and they both really, really liked Hershey chocolate bars with almonds.

Aside from Iz being shorted by circumcision and Pal not really having a country, they should be brothers.

It made them wonder if anyone had ever thought of it before. They were so preoccupied with their new game that neither noticed the arrival of a guest—a slender, lanky young man with dark brown skin, curly hair and pieces of coal for eyes—piercing but still permitting some of the warmth of childhood.

Iz did not recognize the stranger but Pal knew him.  He spoke quietly. “Hello, Talsan.”

The young man stood tall, staring off into the distance. “It is hot, my little brother. You will sicken yourself in this heat.”

“I drink as much as I can,” said Pal, continuing his calm tone.

Talsan chuckled. “In the desert, by the time you think to drink, it is already too late.”

He sat down next to his younger brother.

Iz spoke up. “I am Jubal,” he stated. “Amir’s friend.”

“So,” asked Talsan, “are you the trouble-maker?”

Pal interrupted. “No, I am the trouble-maker. No, I mean—there is no trouble. We are just enjoying being together.”

Talsan shook his head. “Papa is worried. He has talked to the elders.”

Pal quickly shifted to his haunches. “Why did he talk to them?”

Talsan raised his voice. “Because he wasn’t going to talk to you out here in the desert, running from family and Allah.”

“I’m not running,” said Pal. “All my life I’ve done whatever I was told to do, even though there were questions exploding in my mind.”

“Questions?” scoffed Talsan, “what questions?”

Pal paused as if deciding whether to continue the conflict. “All right, Talsan,” he said with intensity. “Answer this. Why do we live in a religion, in a culture, that speaks so highly of family, friends and love, but then teaches us to hate these people walking nearest to us in the village?”

“We do not hate them,” Talsan spat. “They hate us. We are merely protecting our lives.”

Iz jumped in. “I don’t hate you. I don’t hate Pal. I don’t hate your father. I would just like to live—and have some fun.”

Talsan laughed scornfully. “Now I know you are a boy. Fun is out of the question. We are to become men and take our place—first at the universities and then, in leadership of our communities.”

“Without fun?” asked Pal.

Talsan heaved a deep sigh. “Papa has explained all of this to you. It is time for you to come home. He will not pursue you. He will pray for you but he will not come to you. It is a shame and a disgrace that you would wish him to defile himself by chasing his son down in the desert.”

“I don’t want him to chase me,” shouted Pal. “I want him to leave me alone and let my friend, Iz, and me, start a new life. Maybe a new town.”

“Or even a country,” piped in Iz.

“Iz,” said Talsan. “Listen to yourself, little boy. Our country has existed for thousands of years, filled with tradition and rich spirituality.”

Iz interrupted. “But how can it be spiritual when it is so full of hate?”

Talsan shook his head. “Do you hate the lamb when you take the wool? Do you hate the chicken when you collect its eggs? Do you hate the animal when you spill its blood to provide meat for your table? What you call hate is merely the way of nature. Things that are alike seek their own. In the process, they reject different species so as to keep purity within the ranks.”

Pal screamed at his brother. “You make no sense! Is this what they teach you at the university? These are just weird stories that don’t mean anything. My friend, Iz, here, is not a chicken. And I’m not an animal stuck in some herd. Talsan, you cannot tell me that you believe this.”

Talsan drew a deep breath. “What I believe has no power if it cannot change what I see. All of my wishes for peace and love are meaningless when I live in a world of bigotry and intolerance. I don’t want to change the world. I just want to keep the world from changing me.”

Both boys squinted at him, confused.

Talsan grabbed Pal’s arm, pulling him to his feet. “You will go with me,” he stated.

Pal collapsed, forcing his body to the ground, as Iz grabbed the grenade.

Talsan spied the weapon extended in the young boy’s hand. “So this is your answer to violence?” he posed. “How are you any different than anyone else? You would kill me to maintain your little society?”

Pal, lying face-down in the ground, spit back, “Talsan, I don’t want to kill you. You are my brother. I just don’t want you to decide my life.”

Talsan released his hold on Pal’s arm and stepped a few paces away, then turned and said, “I will tell Papa that your mind is deranged by the desert sun, and that you are under the power of some evil spirit. This should comfort him.”

He continued. “My little brother, I do not know what you’re doing. I do not know what in the hell this ‘Iz and Pal’ business is all about, but you are skin of my skin and blood of my blood. I will not hate you because I do not understand. This is where I am different from Papa. I pray you will change your ways, but I do not want you to starve and die of thirst. I will have food and water delivered here every morning until you decide to come to your senses. You are a childish idiot—but that should not be a death sentence.”

Pal stood to his feet and gingerly gave his brother a hug. Talsan nodded at Iz and concluded, “I do not hate you Jews. I just don’t believe that God chose you any more than He chose me.”

“No argument from me,” said Iz simply. “And thanks for the food.”

The boys perched in silence and watched as Talsan made his way down the hill. With each step he took they realized they were growing further and further away from their families and communities. Soon there would be nothing but the sand under their feet and the love they had in their hearts.

Still, it seemed like enough.


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Jesonian … October 23rd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3834)

It is thoroughly possible, plausible and even necessary to separate Christianity from Judaism without being considered an anti-Semite.

Jesus spent the majority of his ministry providing parameters for a New Covenant, which was followed by the Apostle Paul becoming downright blunt over the need to extract the message of Jesus from the Jewish tradition.

Yet most evangelicals and many mainline denominational churches continue to foster a sense of equivalency between the Old Testament and the New Testament simply because they know two important factors about their congregations:

  1. They don’t want to lose the ability to seek revenge with “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
  2. They need Jesus to remain the “Lamb that was slain” instead of the Lion, roaring out his commands.

INFUSION OF JESUS

So actually, the teachings of Jesus, the personality of the Nazarene and the mindset of the Christ are often considered to be an intrusion to the organized church instead of welcomed as an infusion.

Simply put, Jesus did not come to contradict the Old Testament–but he certainly did arrive to countermand it. If you’re not familiar with that word, it is most often used in military circles to explain why some officer, usually of a higher rank, comes along to revoke or change the orders of the previous commander. It’s a nice way of saying, “We’re going to change things up.”

MEN OF OLD

Jesus cleverly referred to it as “fulfilling the law.” What an excellent, political word! He then turns around, and in fulfilling that Law, disassembles the instructions of Moses by referring to those who founded Oral Law and taught it as “men of old.”

If we want to become a Jesonian church, infusing the lifestyle of Jesus instead of viewing it as an intrusion, we must understand that, as Hebrews the First Chapter explains, God used to speak through Moses and the prophets, but not anymore. Now He speaks through Jesus.

So stop using Old Testament patriarchs to try to countermand Jesus.

Case in point: it is no longer the Kingdom of Israel–Jesus describes it as the Kingdom of God, which is located inside each and every believer. The new Holy Land is within your soul.

The challenge in this generation is to cease looking at our example, Jesus, as an intrusion, and begin to take his choices and use them as an infusion into our everyday existence.

It should keep us busy–because it’s very difficult to insist that Jesus was a Jewish prophet when he said things like:

“Before Abraham was, I am.”

“God can take stones and make children of Abraham.”

And “Your house is left to you desolate.”

Jesus was a new day.

Jesus was a new way.

And he came along proclaiming

“What you say? Go my way.”


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Jesonian … May 19th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3677)

With all the focus being placed on Jerusalem, dubbed “the Holy City,” I thought it might be fascinating to take a look at what Jesus felt about this newly-proclaimed capital of Israel.

For instance, his mother and father visited there before his birth, ended up stranded in the suburbs in a little town called Bethlehem, where there was no room for them in the Inn, and there they birthed their first-born in a barn.

When Jesus was twelve he visited the city, asking lots of questions which produced no answers. The fussy religionists basically told him to “go back home, little boy.”

Although he didn’t make many trips to Jerusalem itself, he frequently encountered a stony-headed group of followers of the Law of Moses who were more concerned about his eating habits than his message.

One day, while visiting the Temple with his disciples and realizing that they were enamored by all the gold and architecture, he explained to them that very soon “there would not be one stone left on another.”

Jesus was very upset about how Annas had turned the Temple into an unrighteous trading center, cheating the visiting pilgrims out of their money on goods and exchanges. He took a whip, beat the money changers and drove them out of the Temple.

When he raised Lazarus from the dead, not far from Jerusalem, spies and assassins were hired to plot the death of the resurrected man because it was bringing much notoriety to this upstart Galilean movement.

Eventually the religious leaders found a fellow-Judeean named Judas to betray Jesus. They put Jesus on trial, lied to Pontius Pilate about him, pretended that they were disinterested in having a “King of the Jews” because they were satisfied with Caesar, screaming for the Nazarene to be nailed to a cross.

On his way to his death, women who were weeping for him were rebuked by Jesus, who stated, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me. Weep for your children and yourselves.”

I believe at this point he might have flashed back in his mind to several days earlier, when he looked over the city of Jerusalem, and with tears, lamented, “How often I would have gathered you under my wings, like a hen does its chicks, but you would have none of it. Your house is left to you desolate.”

If you’re curious about the definition of “desolate,” it is “a place deserted of people, with a dismal emptiness.”

Even after they killed him–murdered him on the cross–the Jerusalem leadership was still afraid that the disciples might steal his body, so they placed guards in front of his tomb.

When he rose from the dead and ascended to the Father, Jerusalem continued to persecute the disciples and early church members, killing and scattering them into the world.

So there weren’t many Christians left in 70 A.D., when Jesus’ prophesy about the destruction of Jerusalem came to fruition, with the Roman Legions destroying the Temple and the town.

As you can see, Jesus had no love affair with Jerusalem.

He angered the Jewish people because he told them that he existed “before Abraham,” and that “God had the ability to take stones and make children of Abraham.”

So it is a good idea for us to check out the Jesonian view of Jerusalem instead of joining the pandering that is done in this country under the auspice of “Judeo-Christian.”

I will tell you, certainly Jesus was not anti-Semitic. He loved the whole world.

But I also must tell you, he certainly was not pro-Israel.

 

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Jesonian … December 16th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3523)

jesonian-cover-amazon

A day in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

Although most theologians would like to focus on the 24-hour period leading up to his crucifixion, the Gospels do offer us other examples. One of the primal outlines is found in Matthew, Chapters 12 and 13. You may feel free to read it–I will not tax your spirit or patience by parsing it verse by verse–but there are six things that become clear from perusing the story line.

1. Jesus was not a theologian.

His disciples walked through a field of corn, and even though it was forbidden by religious edict to eat it–especially on the Sabbath–they partook. Jesus defended them to the Pharisees, who were ready to leap upon the activity to prove the unworthiness of Jesus’ Kingdom movement. During this exchange, Jesus makes a profound statement: “The Sabbath is for man.”

It is geared for us, in order to replenish, rejuvenate and renovate our thinking.

2. Jesus was not a rabbi.

He strolls into a synagogue and disrupts the service by healing a man with a withered hand. He is accosted for this untimely interruption, and replies, “Each one of you will save a donkey from a trench, but you won’t do anything to help this fellow.”

Yes, Jesus was guilty of interrupting the flow of worship.

And contrary to the common patter:

3. Jesus was not a Jew.

Not only did he break the Jewish laws, taunting them in doing so, but we are informed that he was a voice, a spirit and a teacher in whom the “Gentiles could trust.”

Even though his proximity to Jerusalem might generate the assumption that he was a Son of Abraham, he made it clear that he was around “before Abraham.”

Shall we press on?

4. He was certainly not a traditionalist.

The religious leaders believed he was satanic. They swore he was casting out demons by the power of Satan. Of course, none of them could cast out a demon, but Jesus made it clear that he had come to destroy the works of the devil and that they needed to be careful not to mock the moving of the Holy Spirit just because it was inconvenient to their case.

So Jesus is not a theologian, a rabbi, a Jew or a traditionalist. And by the way:

5. Jesus was not a family man.

When interrupted by his mother, brothers and sisters during a time of ministry (because they wanted to take him home, thinking he was crazy) Jesus turned to the crowd and claimed them as his new family.

Yes, Jesus might find it difficult to be in a church service, welling up over allegiance with people simply because of shared DNA.

So as Matthew describes a day in the life of Jesus, when he defies theologians, upsets a rabbi, walks away from Judaism, breaks traditions and sidesteps family involvement, he ends the discourse by establishing who the Nazarene really was.

For the Master sat down and told a story: “The sower went forth to sow seed.”

6. Jesus is a sower.

He’s not concerned about isolating off perfect soil, but merely casting the seed in the direction of any possibility.

A day in the life of Jesus will let you know that his message was human, geared for humans, addressed to humans, human-friendly and human-saving.

He discarded religion in favor of the reality of those souls God sent his way.

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Good News and Better News… August 21st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3406)

I had the night off from my gigs.

I decided to take in a church service at a small pioneer work where I’m staying. It is called Renaissance Fellowship. It touts the uniqueness of being a Christian church focused on the arts. Since I’ve been known to have a brain cell or two tuned in that direction, I was titillated.

The church is held at a community center and has about twenty-five folks who attend. The people are typical “church.” About 35% of them are excited, involved, busy scurrying around, and the rest of them have the appearance of folks arriving for a seminar on an unknown subject, with the promise that they might get free passes to a restaurant at the end.

Renaissance suffers from what every church suffers from. In trying to find God, they accidentally kill passion.

The pastor, a young man in his early forties, has a delightful desire and talent for sharing his thoughts. You can tell he is still deeply involved in the pursuit of God and the salvation of human souls, but growing a bit worn around the edges in all the well-doing. It happens to all of us.

But I heard something I liked. I heard rumblings that sounded like possibility.

Even though his message was plagued with too much preaching to the soul and teaching to the brain, I sensed that he’s beginning to reach for the heart.

For you see–human beings are not really spiritual. We aren’t thoughtful. We are emotional.

It doesn’t matter if it’s about work, play, a football stadium or church–the evidence that we are impacted is always an emotional outburst.

So I speak with great clarity to this pastor and tell him to keep reaching for the heart. Go ahead and abandon preaching to the soul and teaching to the mind. No one cares what Abraham, Moses, Joseph or any of the old patriarchs did. If the stories do not relate to family, Wal-mart and the Internet, they will not touch the hearts of American people.

Instructing the brain by pointing out clever pieces of information may once have been a path of probability, but no longer. Our brains are inundated with too much information, and of course, way too many posts on Facebook about nothing.

  • Reach the heart.
  • Touch the heart.
  • And demand a heartfelt response.

It is the only way people are healed. As Jesus said, “If you say to this mountain, be removed, and you do not doubt in your heart, it shall be done.”

The soul, the brain and the body have nothing to do with moving mountains. It is a heartfelt action.

Although I’m sure they are delightful and blessed people, many of the folks at Renaissance were doing their best imitation of being church cardboard cutouts. But becoming a church of artistry will require that the congregation that’s already there–tiny as it is–become emotionally excited with its own faith.

If it doesn’t, they will be just an average church that occasionally puts on plays.

The good news is that the Gospel is an experience of the heart.

The better news is, the pastor of Renaissance Fellowship and his congregation have a great opportunity to become heartfelt.

I have confidence in them.

For you see, the pastor is my son.Donate Button

 

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 8)… August 19th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3404)

jesonian-cover-amazon

I am wondering if Christianity can become a mission, cause and lifestyle instead of slinking back into the profile of being “one of the major religions of the world.”

The decision lies around the word “learning.”

For some reason we have taken the simple message of “love your neighbor as yourself” and complicated it with doctrines, forming a morass of misunderstanding.

If we think that faith and hope are even close to charity, we have misconstrued the message of Jesus. Jesus came to turn love into a lifestyle.

He taught in parables whenever he was with the masses, expecting to motivate them to believe for mighty things. Only when the disciples complained about being confused by the stories did Jesus teach them further. His goal was to get these disciples out on the road as quickly as possible, to share their hearts with other people.

Otherwise we have the quandary found in II Timothy 3:7, which describes a church which is “ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.” Jesus said his “way is easy and his burden is light” and that the Gospel is so simple that a “wayfaring man” can understand it.

Why do we believe that writing 3,000 new books on church practice will promote revival?

Perhaps I am the hypocrite speaking to the hypocrisy, because I, too, scribe my essays, trying to uncover some hidden meaning.

There is no hidden meaning. Just as we would not hide the groceries from our children to find out how determined they are to avoid starving, God certainly has not withheld peace of mind, contentment and joy from his offspring.

The church spends too much time teaching and not enough time sharing.

That’s troubling.

We keep studying the Old Testament–which really wants to study the New Testament. As Jesus said, Abraham yearned to see the Messiah. Yet we think one more classic tale, another seminar or a sermon series taken from a different angle will suddenly alert the congregation to its true soul.

There are three things that matter. They are what make you a Christian or separate you from the Kingdom of God:

  1. Love your neighbor as yourself.
  2. Don’t judge people.
  3. Multiply your talents.

The pursuit of these three things will keep us busy for a lifetime. Trying to figure out what the Apostle Paul meant or what I Peter was connoting or if Hebrews was really written by Timothy will not make good disciples.

We think interactive church is having people stare at a screen and sing songs. Interactive church is actually when humans offer a testimony, which builds up other brethren to share, embracing and encouraging each other.

It is troubling.

We have become a church of learning instead of a body of sharing. Until that changes … we will be as boring as we seem.

 

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