Jesonian–Troubling (Part 9)… August 26th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Troubling.

Yes, it’s troubling to me that the American and the European church feel they can do what Jesus said was impossible to achieve.

When Jesus was confronted by a man with a complaint concerning a brother of his, who would not share the inheritance, the Nazarene refused to weigh in. He replied, “Who has made me a judge over such matters?”

He then offered a discourse on the dangers of greed.

So it is troubling that the present Christian movement believes it can negotiate the problems between the Jews and the Muslims–brothers–instead of declaring the feud to be exactly what it is.

Greed:

  • Greed over dominance.
  • Greed over money.
  • Greed over Jerusalem.
  • Greed over favor with Father Abraham.

Nothing can ever be accomplished unless we understand that Judaism and Islam are not religions–they are two different tellings of a mutual history. The feast days, rituals and story lines that are thrown in are established to add credence to a family squabble.

Christianity was never intended to be a religion either, but rather, a lifestyle.

The Jesonian–the life of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus and the heart of Jesus–is a lifestyle. It is an abundant life that was offered to counteract a historical squabble. When Christians side one way or another on this dispute, they err, failing to honor the mission of Jesus, who said that he was not a judge over such things–because the conflict was and is grounded in greed.

The Jews are my brothers and sisters by creation, but they are not my relatives in faith. The Muslims, likewise, are my brothers and sisters by genesis, but not my fellow-laborers in the matters of spirit and truth.

It is my job as a Christian to love these two factions into understanding that there are things more important in life than trying to possess control.

God favors neither Jew nor Muslim. The message of Jesus is “whosoever will may come.”

But they do need to come–instead of standing at a distance, screaming at one another.

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G-Poppers … September 2nd, 2016

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G-Pop considered a beautiful thought: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Suddenly a fresh breeze of wisdom blew across his mind. If we’re supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves, it certainly is much easier to love them if we believe they’re a lot like us. Actually, it becomes nearly impossible to express affection and respect if we find they differ too much.

So any attempt to make human beings culturally diverse is feeding the racial retardation. We first must become common, and then manifest our traditions and preferences.

But without discovering the common good, the common nature and the common cause of the human race, we open the door to giant chasms of misunderstanding.

Perhaps the most overrated and ill-founded notion is, “There’s no one in the world quite like you.”

Prepare yourself for a truth–there are millions of people in the world like you. You cannot establish uniqueness by your molecules or quirks.

You are part of a species.

As part of that species, the thought of loving your neighbor as yourself is the oil and grease that allows you to move among others without friction.

So the ignorant may express bigotry through racial slurs and feelings of superiority, but those who deem themselves intellectually astute also promote prejudice by trying to box the human race into little containers of culture.

G-Pop wants his children to understand that they will never be able to love their fellow travelers until they see these humans inside themselves, and see themselves inside their brothers and sisters.

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Good News and Better News … May 7h, 2016

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West Virginia Jon and Jan

Wedged, Virginia.

Yes, squeezed in between West Virginia and Virginia is the little village of Peterstown, where I was fortunate to spend my Mother’s Day Sunday with the fine brothers and sisters of the Mountaineer State.

I don’t know whether it’s the blessing of aging or a submission of my well-traveled soul, but I seem to be finding greater delight in the human beings around me instead of constantly taking an inventory of their deficits.

I don’t know if the world is getting better or not, but perhaps if I decide to get better, the world might just seem that way.

The good news is that I see a gradual awakening in the American population–an alarm clock going off, letting us know that we’re in need of a new morning. Honestly, no one is springing out of bed to face the day. Most of us are reluctantly reaching over to punch the snooze button, hoping to gain a few more moments of unconsciousness.

But the alarm continues to sound.

It rings in our politics, our racial relationships, our families, our educational system, and certainly in our churches.

As it pertains to the latter, we are mercifully beginning to understand that church is not a dining experience, where we perch, get served a meal, and sit around with our friends discussing the menu and the quality of the attention given to us by the waitress.

Church would be better described as a self-service gas station, where we roll in knowing we need fuel, but understanding that we’re going to have to give something to get it.

That’s what I sensed Sunday morning with the Peterstown conclave.

They might be willing to be served–but they also were completely open to the idea that it is their turn to give back to the system.

God did not create human beings to worship Him. The angels had already filled that position. God created human beings for companionship and to replenish the Earth.

So every minute we spend in His house, we should enjoy sweet fellowship among our friends and great conversation with our Heavenly Father, preparing ourselves to replenish the Earth.

And what does “replenishing the Earth” mean?

Giving back just a little more than we take.

So I come out of my experience in “Wedged, Virginia” rejoicing over the alarm that is awakening our culture from a deep sleep of emotional and spiritual lethargy.

That’s the good news.

The better news is that we human beings are always smarter, sharper and funnier when we’re involved–instead of sittin’ on our butts, waiting for the dinner rolls to be served.

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Good News and Better News … April 25th, 2016

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Salem United Methodist Church in Blountville, Tennessee.

It was my pleasure to be with the dear citizens yesterday morning.

“Salem” means “a peaceful completion.” Ironic, since it’s contained in the name of the city, “Jerusalem,” which is hardly peaceful or completed.

But as I looked out at my new friends yesterday morning, I asked myself, what is peace?

Because Jesus told us that we are certainly meant to be peacemakers. As in most things in life, I think we get confused as to where to start.

The more religious among us believe we should make our peace with God first and foremost.

Those who are more secular-minded contend we should make our peace with ourselves–find our inner sanctum of tranquility. Then we would be in a position to make peace with others.

Even though these two schools of thought are very popular, they have not brought peace to the world.

Often when we feel we’ve made our peace with God, it makes us prideful of our salvation and therefore critical of others.

On the other hand, when we make peace with ourselves, we tend to get a bit pompous over our own satisfaction, feel no need for God, and pity the weaker humans around us.

Yesterday, while sharing with the Salem gathered, I realized that our job is to make peace with others.

Jesus made this clear in the Sermon on the Mount. He said if you get to church and you remember that somebody has something against you–maybe a grudge–you should leave church and work that out first. Otherwise, nothing good will happen.

Conventional thinking is that going to church would soften our hearts to be more forgiving, or that the solitude of prayer would prepare our souls for a peaceful resolution.

But Jesus said nothing is really achieved until we make peace with the offended. (By the way, that doesn’t mean we have a bone to pick with them, but instead, we recall that they want to pick our bones.)

I’ve got to be honest with you–sometimes those around me get miffed at something I’ve done and I couldn’t give a hoot owl’s “who-who” over it. But that’s because I think I can have peace of mind and peace with my God without having peace with my brothers and sisters.

That kind of attitude is the formula for conflict, feuds and even wars.

God has peace with me. He knows who I am. He still hangs around.

Generally speaking, under normal circumstances, I find a way to love myself–even if it’s the “ooey-gooey” of self-pity.

But true peace is when I become passionately concerned over trying to understand the situation of the individuals around me.

I can’t get peace with God or really have legitimate peace with myself until I attempt to make peace with others.

That’s the good news. Here’s the better news:

If we believe this to be true, we can get a jump on the situation … before misunderstandings become lasting conflicts.

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Good News and Better News … March 7th, 2016

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2:42 A.M.

I am suddenly awake.

It is a ritual I follow every Saturday night before the Sunday morning sharing of my heart with a congregation. This week it was Lutheran Church of Reconciliation in Wilmington, North Carolina with Pastor Bill.

What wakes me up at that early hour is a mingling of excitement, inadequacy, a hint of fear and wonder. Yes, I wonder if I can get enough of “me” out of the way to be able to feel for those around me.

For I will tell you–the good souls of Lutheran Church of Reconciliation deserve more than a pompous ass. Even though I don’t view myself in that manner, it doesn’t hurt to take a few moments to scour the soul for hidden dirt in the corners.

That’s why I have posted a picture of my pillow. During those late night sessions, my pillow becomes my sounding board as I muse some important questions:

1. Can I get rid of my anger?

We’re all angry. We all have an axe to grind. We all have unrequited feelings that whine at us. But they are useless when we are interfacing with our brothers and sisters.

2. Can I find my weakness?

Jesus said when I’m weak I’m strong.

Why? Because talking about our strengths is easily misinterpreted as boasting instead of reality. Sharing our weaknesses links us with others who are duly reminded of some shortcomings of their own.

Which leads me to:

3. Exploit it.

Yes. Exploit my weaknesses. Giggle about them. Tell stories that show how these frailties have failed me–but the grace of God has saved me. This brings me to:

4. Chase away my fear.

My greatest fear is that I will be exposed for my foibles. If I share my own mistakes, the human race does not have to expose me. Which concludes with:

5. Let love laugh.

  • Love is fine when it speaks.
  • Love is better when it hugs.
  • But love is supreme when it laughs.

Yes, a full-hearted laugh at my humanity lets you know that I believe that God will see me through.

When I finally get peace over these five, sleep slips back in. I’m ready.

That’s the good news.

The better news is that when I take the time to prepare my heart, I have the right tool to open the hearts of others. These beautiful people in Wilmington did just that.

One man shared with me the spine-tingling story of his calling from God.

Another lady was dealing with a nasty email, which she decided to answer with gentleness.

Yet another gentleman came up with a memory of using his talent.

And there was a woman with a painful event from her past which had been eased by the sweetness of Spirit.

They tell us that people in America are angry. Here’s the truth: angry people attack, which causes other angry people to attack back. Disappointed folks hurt–but cheerful souls heal.

So what is my mission?

Get America to be of good cheer.

 

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 2) … December 13th, 2015

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Liberty.

Find God, discover liberty.

Stumble upon liberty, see God.

It was something that the Apostle Paul said. He equated God and liberty–an inseparable pair.

He also went on to intelligently point out that human beings initially use their liberty to generate sins of the flesh.

Yes, they do.

It does not matter. Just as free will is more important than love and law, liberty is the evidence that free will is in motion.

So what is reasonable? We deal with two dangers:

  • Being so meticulous in trying to control people’s choices that we suppress human passion deep inside, where it becomes perverted;
  • Or there is the danger of having an “anything goes” philosophy, which makes people think they have a free pass, creating equal peril.

Being reasonable is understanding what your job is, doing it well, and not assigning yourself the mission of quality control for others.

As human beings, we have two areas where we can interact with each other without fear or intimidation: the heart and the spirit.

At any time, I can cross paths with each and every one of you, and as long as I am trying to help you feel deeply about life or encouraging you to increase your faith, I am on solid turf, free of being a condemning force.

Yet I will tell you that your mind and your morals are your business and your business alone. I have no authority to control your thinking nor judge your choices.

The church should take this position.

We need to trust that exploding good emotion with spiritual renaissance is enough to allow human beings to renew their own minds and define their morality.

I have no intention of taking these daily essays which flow from my heart and do anything but stir your emotions and touch your spirit. It is up to you to use them to replace ideas in your brain and to reference your own behavior.

As long as we think we control the minds and morals of those around us, we are not only annoying to our brothers and sisters … but completely out of the will of God.

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Ask Jonathots … October 29th, 2015

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Are you supposed to like your siblings? I’m twelve and my sister is fifteen. She always acts like she’s better than me and I can’t stand her. My mom says that will change but I don’t see it happening anytime soon, if ever. How does this work? Nobody I know likes their brother or sister. I feel bad saying it, but it’s the truth.

There is an old saying which is basically true: “Familiarity breeds contempt.”

And as you probably know, the word “family” is at the root of familiarity.

There is absolutely no reason to believe that because people share certain aspects of DNA, they have natural emotional linkings to one another.

There is also historical fact that the heroes of our past had many problems dealing with their families, often having to go against those ties to achieve their purposes.

You don’t have to go any further than Jesus of Nazareth to discover squabbling among siblings. The Gospels make it clear that his family did not believe in him.

That being said, I contend that the purpose of family is to place us in a boot camp.

It’s a chance for us to find ways to get along with adversaries who live in our midst, eat at the same dinner table, share in grief and celebration, and acquire the ability to be merciful, gracious and forgiving, so that when we get in the real world, we are prepared to do so.

For this to work, we must be willing to admit that our families are not perfect, nor were they designed to be naturally connected.

In other words, if you were able to look at your sister as just another human being that you needed to deal with rather than some sacred creature born within your lineage, then you would have a much better chance to put your relationship in perspective, and maybe even understand her ways.

Brothers and sisters within a household fight with each other because we tell them they need to get along–simply because they’re related. It sets a horrible precedent, and we begin to believe that in the outside world we can avoid the people who disagree with us, and only hang around with those individuals who seem to be perfectly agreeable to our ideas.

What is your best procedure in dealing with your sister since you’re twelve years old? Do exactly what you’ll need to do when you’re 22, 32 or 72 years old: find common ground.

Don’t ever try to go beyond common ground. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself trying to change people, or worse, judge them because they don’t meet your standards.

If for some reason you cannot find common ground, then retreat to a position where peace can be achieved.

This is real life.

Forcing people to think they should love each other only leads to pent-up resentment, and worse, explosions of anger later on.

  • What do you like about your sister?
  • Is there anything you appreciate?
  • How is she valuable to you?

Try to pursue those areas, and avoid the parts that upset you.

This is called growing up.

The overemphasis on family in our culture has not created more loving people.

It is the promotion of loyalty–often without affection.

 

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“The best Christmas stories I’ve ever read!”

From the toy shop to the manger, an advent calendar of Christmas stories, beginning on November 30th and ending on Christmas morning.

We need a good Christmas this year.

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