Jesonian: The Original Millennials… October 11th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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millennials

Using information provided and having a general understanding of the longevity of their lives, we can pretty well assume that Peter, Andrew, James and John were somewhere between the ages of 15 and 25 when they met Jesus of Nazareth.

And since they ended up living in the 1st Century A.D., they are “the original millennials.”

So it’s very intriguing to consider how Jesus handled these young men, who obviously had little interest in religious matters, God, traditions or anything but fishing.

Yes, they were typical young folk:

  • They were fishing for purpose.
  • They were fishing for compliments.
  • They were fishing for ways to avoid responsibility.
  • And in their case, they were literally fishing for fish.

They would never have encountered the Nazarene if he had held meetings at the local synagogue or started a store-front in Capernaum. So how did Jesus handle his millennials?

We find that answer in the Good Book, in Luke the 5th Chapter.

1. He went where they were.

They lived by the sea, so he went to the sea.

2. He worked with what they knew.

Since their business was fishing and they were accustomed to boats, he asked to borrow their boat so he could teach from it, which in turn created a climate for:

3. A captive audience.

Yes, to a certain degree they were trapped in the boat, doing him a favor, but at the same time, hearing the message. Yet Jesus did not stop there and make it a theological encounter. Instead:

4. He profited them in a way they could understand.

After the sermon he told them to take their nets and cast them into the water for a great haul of fish. Thus he proved that the best parts of believing in God are the benefits that come through practical application. Which ended up with:

5. Jesus joining them as they joined him.

And instead of holding a revival at the synagogue or storefront, Peter’s home became their headquarters. It’s much easier to minister to people in an environment where they feel comfortable taking off their shoes.

It is unlikely we will be able to conventionally reach a younger generation that has already given up on the idea of organized religion. Perhaps it is their mission to show us the fallacy of religion without reality.

So if you’re a minister, stop inviting people to church and instead, write a blog reviewing movies, TV shows or video games.

Meet the millennials at the sea, where they’re doing their fishing.

And benefit them by showing them ways to enhance their relationships, children and families.

And then, don’t force them to come to your institution, but instead, set up a way for them to have faith … in their own homes.

 

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Enlightened … October 25, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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child-prayingThere may be nothing more pitiful than a believer who has ceased to have faith in the power of prayer, yet continues to mumble the words,  fearing sacrilege.

Even though churches continue to host seminars on the precepts of prayer, thinking they will unlock some magical formula, the true essence of communicating with the Father as a child is to be forthcoming, and to make sure you arrive at the meeting with all your chores completed.

Did you follow that?

If you will allow me to continue my story concerning arriving at the end of our year in solvency, you will agree with me that being darkened, or cynical, about our problems, is not only useless, but veers toward destruction.

So being practical–counting the cost, finding out how we can contend, having all the ends meet, and controlling as many factors as we can–is ALWAYS the preamble to prayer. After all, any child in a household who shows up asking for more, having not completed the agreed-upon household activities, is certainly headed for a rebuff.

You can’t remove the practical and think you’re going to arrive at the spiritual.

You can’t be Andrew, from the Good Book, asking Jesus to feed the five thousand, without letting him know there are five loaves and two fishes available.

After we finish the practical aspects of counting, contending and controlling, we are ready to have a great one-on-one with our Father in heaven and boldly enter His presence–because we KNOW we have done all we know to do and we can stand.

Then prayer works.

About three years ago I realized that telling people I was going to pray for them without  doing something to assist, was worthless. Even if it was just an encouraging email, a few dollars sent their way, or linking up other people to help them, prayer works best when people have let God know they are invested by offering what their possessions and talents.

Why would God want to invest in a project that we’ve decided is not worth our own time and effort?

Sometimes, for me, it can be hearing about someone who has a brain tumor and putting myself back in a hospital room so many years ago, recalling the sensations of fear that flooded my soul.

It is my investment. So then, when I pray, I am merely trying to get God to follow up on my backing.

It creates a sensation of being enlightened.

I would describe that jubilant revelation as the result of a four-step process:

1. I refuse to focus on the problems and become cynical.

2. I have become practical by counting the cost, deciding how I will contend and taking control where necessary.

3. I am satisfied that my contribution is complete, yet I find there is still a need.

4. I rejoice that I can solicit God to come in to the project and cover the need that is beyond my scope.

There it is.

I feel a great confidence that our traveling team will end this year in total victory. Avoiding the darkened countenance of cynicism while applying the practical of what we have available, we can come with assurance to our heavenly Father and ask Him to contribute.

It’s a great way to live.

The best way to become an agnostic is to pray thinking that God manipulates everything. You will soon become a liar who pretends to be faithful–or you will walk away from your belief because you childishly thought that your Daddy should take care of everything while you watched.

Prayer is powerful because it asks God to believe in what we have already decided to pursue.

Make up your mind:

  • you can follow the world and be darkened and cynical.
  • Or you can apply the practical, which is necessary to fulfill the natural order in which you live.

Having completed that task, you can become enlightened by including your Father in everything you do.

I am confident–not because I’m a religious man, but because I have escaped religion and have begun to move out in everyday workable faith.

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Andrew It Out … April 27, 2013

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fiVe loavesAs I get older I realize it more and more.

The game is not fame. The game is not acclaim. It’s about leaving behind a plain path of understanding concerning your life so that others can study it, follow it and progress the idea.

Imagine how excited I was when I discovered that my Sunday would be spent at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in San Antonio, Texas. Andrew is one of my favorite Bible dudes. He is one of a quartet of fishermen from the little town of Capernaum who Jesus welcomes into his “kingdom dozen.”

Andrew was among the first to discover the message of Jesus.  Here’s an interesting fact: even though he was one of four fishermen, three of them–Peter James and John–became what we refer to as the “inner circle.”

Andrew was not included.

We do not know why. We don’t even know if there is a “why” to it. But there is no incident listed in which Andrew pitched a fit or ended up betraying Jesus because he felt cheated. What we have is a man who found his place, occupied his space, made his case and finished the race.

Andrew did three really notable things.–and as I said, as the years pass, I realize that I want to have more of the spirit of Andrew in me, and not insist on being a Peter, James or John.

1. He came early. Dear God, may I learn that in the matters of spirit, justice and equality, to arrive first and jump on the bandwagon of freedom instead of dragging my feet because my culture and prejudice have taught me to be reluctant. Andrew met Jesus and went with it. How amazing. Come early, folks. It’s not as crowded, and you get to share beautiful moments with something beginning instead of later on just being part of the maintenance crew.

2. He brought a friend. Yes, the Bible tells us that Andrew brought his brother, Peter. Every night when I walk onstage and share my thoughts, I realize that they may never gain international attention, but there is always the possibility that I will inspire the mind and spirit of someone in the gathering who has the capability of doing things much greater than me. Sometimes the best thing you can do for the world is to stimulate somebody else who has the power to change it.

3. Andrew encouraged young humans. When it was discovered that five thousand men needed to be fed, Andrew was the one who found a young lad with five loaves and two fishes and brought him to Jesus. He gave this fledgling kid a chance to be the hero of the day. He gave him a lifelong memory. He gave him a place in the Bible.

There are two ways to become old: you can become old and grouchy or you can become old and hip. If you’re old and grouchy, you think everything young people do is stupid. If you’re old and hip, you look at what young people do, remember what you did, laugh and encourage them in their better choices.

I want to be Andrew. I want to ignore the inner circles of life. I want to show up early, bring a friend and encourage young humans.

If that’s what’s going on at St. Andrew Lutheran Church, they are on the verge of revealing the Kingdom of God.

Andrew: enjoying your portion without needing the whole platter.

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So … they made Andrew a saint … April 23, 2012

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“Bring it.”

That was his philosophy. He was a young fisherman who was searching. He was tired of religion–or he would have ended up at the local synagogue, passing out shewbread. Instead, he found himself at the Jordan River, chasing down the latest crazed prophet who was dunking people in the muddy water to change their lives. When that same grasshopper-eating preacher told him that one of the people who was just baptized was the Messiah, he picked up his belongings and followed the new trend.  He was so impressed with what he heard that he got his brother and brought him along. That led to two other brothers joining up pretty quickly–also fishermen.

He got voted in, to be part of the top twelve, but soon saw the honor diminished when the dozen honorees were basically shrunk down to three of an inner circle–he not being one. His brother was, though, and his other two fishing buddies. Apparently, there was something wrong with him.

But he didn’t let it get him down. When five thousand people needed to be fed, he was the one who found a kid who had the only food available to even begin to address the problem. He brought it.

We don’t know if he was miffed because he wasn’t part of the inner circle; we don’t know if he resented his brother for seemingly being favored over him. We know this–he hung in there. He knew that religion didn’t have anything for him, fishing had lost its hook and the crazed prophet had lost his head. The only place to go forward was in the direction of the teachings, the love, the ideas and the spirit of the Nazarene.

So yesterday I went to a church called St. Andrew‘s. You see, it turns out that this guy who “brought it” put up with being left out of the inner circle, hung in there, lived and died long enough to be called a saint. I met some enlightened people. But I must tell them that it wouldn’t hurt them at all to study the life, style and mindset of the individual after whom they named the church. Andrew was not religious. Yes, I will tell you right now that belief in God would be a wonderful thing if it weren’t so damned religious.

For instance, my daughter-in-law, who has come over here from China to study business at UCLA, invited some of her friends out to see her father-in-law perform while in Los Angeles. All of her comrades were greatly enthralled with the possibility of the encounter until they found out it was going to be at a church. They refused to come. Now, I know this would make some people think that these little renegade agnostics need to “open their hearts to God” and receive the truth. But honestly, it’s not what Jesus would do–nor Andrew. Jesus would find a way to change the wording, the approach and the atmosphere so that those who need the help would be comfortable enough to receive the message.

There are just too many words in churches that are never used any other time during the week. There’s a stuffiness that makes you anxious to leave quickly and even causes the congregants to collect in the BACK of the auditorium–to prepare for a hasty retreat. No, I will tell you, St. Andrew’s, that your namesake, Andrew, would never have allowed a religious service in which he was participating to be so eclectic that people who need the message the most would be frightend to indulge.

Until we understand that we need limited use of religious jargon–just enough to communicate the ideas as quickly as possible–we will just have our little cult of the unrenewed, who cannot draw to the side of Jesus the people he desires the most.

It is in the heart of the folks I met yesterday to be real. All of them lead real lives with only a brief interspersing of religious rites and practices intermingled on Sunday. So why not make the leap? Why not do what Andrew did?

Bring it.

Stop apologizing during the confession of sins for not loving your neighbor as yourself–when we all know that it is the primal directive and the mindset of Jesus. You simply cannot keep coming every week to apologize for the same inadequacy when that particular flub is at odds with the entire mission statement of the gospel.

My words are not a critique, but rather, a challenge to intelligent people to be intelligent. When you spoke to me at the table or in the vestibule, you were delightful, engaging, beautiful, humorous and expansive. So why do we have to change when we enter the sanctuary and sit in the pew? Is God really so insecure that He needs to make us bow down in abstract brokenness before we are worthy to be heard? As you well know, ninety-eight percent of the things we do in churches are less than three or four hundred years old in practice. We can change them–not because we want to be nefarious or revolutionary, but because we would like to let those students at UCLA know that we are a congregation that speaks human and does it plainly–and like our friend, Andrew, when we get together, we “bring it.”

There are two concepts that make life work, whether you’re religious or not. (1) Bring it; and (2) be prepared for it to change. Andrew had both concepts down. He “brought it,” and when it ended up that he was one of the top twelve but not the “magnificent three,” he evolved. And because of that, we call him a saint.

We should, you know. He learned how things worked and rather than resenting it and hiding behind religious fervor or false humility, he changed.

So St. Andrew’s, I love you. And there are so many more people who would love you also if you just spoke your heart instead of the musings of the Common Book of Prayer. I will tell you this–you would have had a half-dozen more student there yesterday. And who knows what might have happened?

Who knows what can occur when you’re intelligent enough to put your five loaves and two fishes into the right hands?

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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