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

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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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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Good News and Better News… January 16th, 2017

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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If you don’t have the right outlook, you better “look out,” because trouble’s coming.

Everybody knows that.

But sometimes we think we can maintain a bad attitude and still expect good results.

Or we believe it’s not necessary for us to do any more than we’ve already done. God, Nature and people should just be happy we showed up.

Jesus doesn’t mingle well with other religions.

For instance, there’s no such thing as a Christian Buddhist. Jesus taught us to feel; Buddha suggested it was completely unnecessary. Never the twain shall meet.

There is no such thing as Judeo-Christian. Moses espoused an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” and Jesus required that we creatively find ways to love our enemies.

And there is certainly no spiritual common ground between Christianity and the Muslim faith. Whereas the Muslims are the children of Abraham and the followers of Mohammed, Jesus was quite insistent that He existed long before either of them.

Christianity is not a temperamental faith, but it is a faith that addresses our temperament. And if you’re going to assist human beings in achieving their goals and becoming better citizens, you must first and foremost teach them to open their hearts.

Yes. We are all emotional people.

It doesn’t matter what culture you come from–any attempt to disguise or dampen the emotions will leave the individual imbalanced.

So if we try to have church without giving everybody an emotional experience, what we’re really advertising is a study group with hymn singing.

No wonder we’re having some trouble with attendance.

  • People need to connect.
  • They need to feel.
  • They need to realize that someone else in the room cares about them.

The Bible needs a face. Yours will do.

But right now, we spend too much time spiritualizing, meditating and promoting Zumba classes. All these things can be wonderful, if they undergird an emotional experience.

Our outlook comes from our feelings, maturing in our spirit, renewing our mind and affecting our life choices.

The good news is that Jesus said “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

The better news is that when we plump up the abundance of our heart with feelings of goodness, we just talk better.

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 19) Apolitical … April 10th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesonian hands

It is impossible to pursue the dictates of a political party and stay faithful to the Jesonian.

There. I said it.

Anyone who follows a political persuasion is bound by that party to defend the stances presently being taken in the moment instead of embracing a more historical and eternal view.

Politics are for those who have given up on the power of the Gospel.

It is a way of trying to convince Caesar to accept your principles, or a way of forcing your principles into becoming “the new Caesar.”

Let us realize–they were constantly hounding Jesus to become political. They wanted him to fly the flag of Judaism and reject the Samaritans, or criticize the Greek woman who came for healing, attack the tax collectors, who were considered betrayers to the seed of Abraham, and most certainly, deny Rome the authority to rule and reign.

He disappointed all of these factions by living off of two simple concepts:

  1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  2. Go the second mile.

There is no political party in the United States of America that fully lines up in agreement with either of these concepts.

For “do unto others” is a decision to include all of humanity into your circle instead of rejecting some. So as the Republicans are infuriated with immigrants and the Democrats despise the South, the Jesonian individual must remain apolitical–loving the new visitors to our country and honoring the brothers and sisters in the Southeast.

No political party in this country believes in going the second mile. Going the second mile is finding out what energizes us instead of exhausts us.

The constant debate, attacks, and gridlock caused by political maneuvering becomes a national fatigue which removes the initiative to do just a little better than we did the last time.

  • “Do unto others” is spiritual.
  • “Go the second mile” is practical.

But you will find that when you do unto others, it has a practical edge, making you a friend of all tribes.

And you will discover that when you go the second mile, you gain spiritual credibility, as bystanders view your endeavors.

It is not reasonable to be political.

What is reasonable is to maintain a profile that is apolitical, while doing unto others and going the second mile–allowing the future to be determined by the wisdom of inclusion and the impetus of excellence.

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 16) Purify … March 20th, 2016

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Jesonian hands

Jesus was not Jewish.

This doesn’t mean he hated Jews. He was like you and me. That’s what the Bible says.

Being like you and me, he was one-half jungle and one-half Garden. So he was Jewish on his mother’s side and Holy Spirit on his Father’s side.

It’s an important point.

Jesus did not come to Earth to confirm Judaism, nor was he a forerunner for Mohammed.

Yes, we must understand that Jesus did not establish his message in order to create a third generation for Abraham. He said quite clearly that “before Abraham was, he existed.”

He pre-dated the Patriarch of Judaism and the Muslim faith.

Why is that important?

Because Christianity is here to bring peace to the Earth, not pick a side in the fight.

Until we purify the Christian message, we will miss the essence of the struggle in the early church, when Paul told the leadership that they needed to stop acting so damned Jewish. The message needed to survive Jerusalem so that it would be well-understood in Hoboken and Siberia.

So if we’re going to be like Jesus, we must purify the mission in the following seven ways:

1. I am not political.

Whoever is the next President will be my President and I will honor him or her with my prayers.

2. I am not religious.

The simple truth is, God loves me and there’s no act of contrition or worship that will make that any better.

3. I am not a skin color.

God has vision for only one thing: He sees my passion because He looks on my heart.

4. I am not a culture.

The whole Earth is the Lord’s–therefore I am part of His greater vision, not His local flavor.

5. I am not confined to my nuclear family.

Even though I love my offspring, my real family is anyone who is interested in pursuing the Kingdom of God.

6. I am not afraid.

Fear weakens my love, so I choose good cheer as my refuge.

7. I am not better than anyone else.

There are no chosen people, just people who choose well.

Until the message of Jesus is purified as the “repairer of the breach” for mankind’s misunderstanding, we will be tempted to pick sides and will wage a political conflict…instead of welcoming a human unity.

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Jesonian: Pillars… July 12th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Three pillars

Anyone who is willing to spend 24 hours hanging out with me will quickly realize that I have three pillars that hold up the household of my faith and keep a roof over my personality.

  1. Be of good cheer
  2. Be creative
  3. Be honest

It doesn’t mean that I’m never grouchy, lazy or a liar. It just means that normally I reject those profiles and when I accidentally slide into them, I attempt to repent quickly.

So it should be no surprise to anyone that Jesus of Nazareth–the unemployed carpenter-turned-preacher–should also have such pillars.

If you ignore them, you will fail to understand his character.

So what are the three pillars of Jesus?

1. Be smart.

He told his disciples to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

In other words, not everything can be solved by the Bible, and certainly not every situation is covered by the Constitution.

Sometimes science has all the answers, and on other occasions, we must defer to the mystery of creation.

The true Jesonian person understands the importance of being smart–applying what is applicable instead of forcing something in that is irrelevant.

2. Be universal.

Jesus made it quite clear to the Jewish people around him that he was not Jewish. He told them that before Abraham existed, he was around. He interacted with Samaritans and outcasts.

If you don’t believe this to be true, then you have only to look at the reaction of those who were Jewish around him. They deemed him a sinner, a seditionist and a friend of those who were against Israel.

He didn’t care. He knew the power of his message was to package it for the whole world and not merely for a small portion of Mesopotamia.

3. And finally, Jesus made it clear that he expects his followers to be forgiving.

Every time he was confronted with someone who was faulty and that individual was willing to repent, Jesus never failed to forgive.

What is forgiveness? It is the realization that we don’t perform the job of God and that each one of us is so needy that we shouldn’t point out the need in others.

Those are the three pillars of Jesus:

  • Be smart
  • Be universal
  • Be forgiving

I’m terribly curious what would happen if the Christian church actually followed these pillars…and built their house on the rock instead of the sand.

 

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Jesonian: The Finisher (Part II)… June 21st, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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hands woodworking

Jesus of Nazareth arrived on the scene in a cluttered atmosphere of laws that he characterized as restrictions “that were grievous to bear” and that those who made the rules “didn’t lift a finger” to aid people in fulfilling them.

There was a need for an edit.

The document, the commandments and all the interpretations needed to be trimmed.

So just as there was a need for an author, now came the time for a finisher.

It all came to a head one day when a lawyer asked a question of Jesus, trying to make himself look extremely profound, and also in an attempt to trick the Nazarene into saying something renegade.

“What is the greatest commandment?” he asked, feigning sincerity.

Here it was–the opportunity to take thousands of years of legalism and brush it away to discover the hidden meaning, powerful and applicable.

Jesus responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and the second is like unto it: love your neighbor as yourself.”

Even though Jesus insisted he came to fulfill the law, the definition of fulfillment in this case was to simplify it down to a lifestyle instead of packaging it in a religion.

When we continue to insist that the Torah and the Talmud, and even the Epistles of Jesus’ disciples carry the same significance as these two simple commandments of Jesus, we force people into primitive spiritual caves, from which they seldom emerge, just sitting around cuddling by the fire, frightened of the outside world.

We have an edit. The author of our faith came to be the finisher.

So what is the message?

God wants to be loved:

First with our heart–our emotions.

Then with our soul–the part of us that lives on.

But also our mind–having the warmth and tenderness of His mercy affect our thinking.

And finally, our strength–taking words and turning them into actions.

Jesus’ message was profoundly clear. The way we prove we actually love God is by loving people.

To the average Jew, Jesus was a law-breaker:

  • He did not honor the Sabbath.
  • He did not cleanse his utensils.
  • He did not fast enough to meet the qualifications.
  • And he certainly did not believe that the Jews were special because they were the “children of Abraham.”

This is what got him crucified.

The Jewish Council did not trump up charges to present to Pilate. They believed that Jesus was a heretic, a criminal and a threat to Israel.

Actually, the Author came to finish His work.

So those who criticze people’s choices, personalities, doctrines, predilections and lifestyles … well, they always refer back to material which has already been edited out of the final manuscript.

What remains are two simple opportunities and responsibilities:

Love God.

And love people.

Anyone who does this is living out the dream of Jesus.

Anyone who doesn’t is trapped in a legalism…which has already been deemed worthless. 

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