Jesonian … July 28th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3747)

Today I’m doing something a little different. I’m sitting here with the Good Book open, peering down at John the 7th Chapter.

I have no intention of trying to impress you with my Bible knowledge nor attempt to turn some passage into a magical expression of salvation.

What I want to share with you is a pattern.

I would like to find an adjective to describe this pattern. Foolish comes to mind. Perhaps dangerous. But certainly repetitive.

The pattern is the ongoing belief in every generation that you can evaluate something by the numbers–“the bottom line.”

Ironically, it was verbalized perfectly over two thousand years ago by the brothers and sisters of Jesus of Nazareth when they critiqued him on his approach to promoting the message he had chosen to share.

Their insights are frightening to read because they are so current to today’s ignorance. They spoke the following to Jesus:

“For there is no man that does anything in secret but instead, wants to be known.”

Have you ever heard that philosophy?

“Promote yourself.”

“Get it out there.”

“Showcase it.”

“Use your tools.”

“Adjust your intensity to the present flow of thinking.”

Amazingly, through the whole 7th Chapter of John, this repeats over and over again. For later on in that same passage, the audiences that come to Jesus muse whether he could be the Messiah, because they’re concerned about where he was born.

Added pressure.

Not only do you need to promote yourself well, but you need a certain look–maybe even a color. How about a culture to back you up?

We have the mistaken idea that Jesus always had great multitudes following him. There were times that people hung around for a while–after all, if you turn water into wine and can take a Happy Meal and make a buffet, you will gain some attention.

But the truth of the matter is, as soon as Jesus started teaching, the crowd thinned, and on one occasion totally disappeared.

For after all, what concerned the average Jew was whether God would send a military man to destroy the Romans and establish the Kingdom of Israel.

On the other hand, Jesus came to bring the Kingdom of God, which was within us, and would enable us to get along with everyone, including the Romans.

Conflict.

Yet it is best capsulized in that same chapter in a meeting among the Jewish leaders.

When they sat discussing the phenomenon of Jesus of Nazareth, what finally made them decide he was a joke, a hoax or at least a light-weight was the fact that none of the hierarchy of their religion–those considered intelligent, educated and astute–believed in him.

The premise was, “If you really are somebody, all the “somebodies” will recognize and promote you.”

“If you really are talented, you will be discovered.”

“If you really are bringing a possibility of hope and salvation, eventually you’ll be offered a platform instead of a cross.”

It didn’t work out that way.

Nowadays, I often sit around with my children, explaining to them that success is meaningless. In my lifetime, notorious people, who appeared to be powerful and everlasting, bit the dust and became cautionary tales of stupidity.

You can’t look at the numbers.

If you had lived in 1st century Palestine and looked at the numbers, the popularity, the acceptance, the blending and the support of the people in the know, you would never have found Jesus.

If you want to find out what is going to last, be helpful, truthful and carry the touch of God, do one thing–simply watch and learn.

How resourcefully does he, she or they use the resources?

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Acada-not me … March 3, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog  

(2165)

Academy AwardsThomas Jefferson was a fascinating gent. Attributed with the main authorship of the Declaration of Independence, he established a precept–“all men are created equal.”

Although he did not follow this philosophy through by freeing his slaves, he did contend that elitism and segregation by the hierarchy from the average man was anti-American.

So after I finished having a wonderful evening with fine folks in Chino Valley, Arizona, I arrived home just in time to see the last hour of the Academy Awards.

I nearly gagged through the whole experience. The presumption, pomp and circumstance and “holier-than-thou” attitudes expressed by Hollywood are so contrary to the Jeffersonian approach to freedom that this institution of the Academy of Arts and Sciences is more suited for the court of King George.

Let’s look at the basic premises.

Hollywood makes movies because they are artistic. So in the first premise is the notion that most people aren’t as gifted and talented as those living on “the coast with the most.”

Secondly, Hollywood makes a certain type of movie because they are superior to the masses, who may require some inspiration with their entertainment, but those wishes must be ignored in favor of more high-minded goals.

And finally, the masses are so ignorant and unable to assess quality that those in the Academy vote on their own material within their own ranks–because certainly John Q. Public is too dense to comprehend the subtle nuances of art.

Would you explain how this is any different from our two-party political system, which nowadays only marches to platform ideals, rather than to the heart of the people, or the religious system, which proclaims that the people’s desires to be ministered to in a certain way is childish, and therefore more pious avenues must be pursued?

Candidly, anytime a committee gets together and decides what anybody else thinks–other than the people on the committee–you are dealing with an arrogance which will certainly turn around and bite you in the ass.

And even though the same Hollywood that criticizes the National Rifle Association for being backwoods in their philosophy about guns takes those same guns and put them in their movies, with violent and bloody conclusions, under the guise of “realistic entertainment.”

I, for one, am weary of such hypocrisy.

I know it is considered to be intellectual and open-minded to view the movie “Twelve Years a Slave” as an exposition of the debauchery of slavery in this country, but here’s the problem: the subject is not new and we are not any less racially divided because these movies are made. The people who are already angry over slavery become angrier and the people who are defensive over the issue just become more defensive.

Hollywood continues to make movies they like without asking me–or you, for that matter. We are supposed to sit at home in our underwear watching the show, submitting to the supposed supremacy of the tuxedo-clad crowd, knowing that we have no business challenging their predilections.

I am against elitism in all of its forms. It turns our country into arrogant, bratty children, who stand across the playground from one another behind their makeshift forts, hurling snowballs.

  • The Academy is not for me. It is a self-indulgent buffet for fat cats.
  • The religious system is not for me. It is a cloister of over-educated religionists who have lost contact with the congregation.
  • And the political system is not for me. It is a conglomeration of competitive children trying to get voted into a club that doesn’t do anything but make s’mores in the treehouse.

Can we do better?

Not until we admit to ourselves that we are not great. It is not necessary to be great. It is only wise to realize what Thomas Jefferson shared–that no one is better than anyone else.

 

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click to hear music from Spirited 2014

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Free Indeed … September 5, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1997)

Zion“We’re all believers.”

Those words were spoken to me last night by four souls who had come out to hear our concert from surrounding towns. They went on to lament that the confusion of religion, the inflexibility of faith-based individuals and the entrenched nature of traditionalism is leaving us without a path to find communion with one another.

In my early years, I did some work in prisons. After one of my presentations, a guy in his early twenties came up to me and asked for a moment of my time. He explained that he was in jail because he had stolen a car. Since arriving, he had repented and was trying to educate himself. He said he had four more years inside, and that the greatest gift he had received since arriving was the extra privilege of being able to go to the lounge and watch television one extra hour a day.

You know what struck me? Here was a gentleman who was free of the guilt and pain of his childish error–but was still trapped because he was in prison.

If church is not making us free of self-imprisonment, insecurity and frustration, then just to have more privileges–even if one of them is salvation–does not remove the bars and take away the guards.

Jesus promised me that I could be “free indeed.”  What does that mean?

It means that even though people have a testimony and a religious conviction, they can still suffer from four terrifying evils that lurk at the corners of their souls:

  1. I’m afraid of failing.
  2. I demand praise.
  3. I’m trying to fit in.
  4. I need to be wanted.

Facts are, you will never be free as long as you’re afraid of the powerful gift of failure. It is a gift because it eliminates useless choices that will hinder our ultimate victory.

In like manner, it is difficult to gain independence as long as you’re stomping about or peeking around the corner looking for praise.

Likewise, if you feel the need to fit in, you will find that you constantly need to trim the corners of your life because some new trend will require you to be different.

And finally, the best way to be wanted is by taking care of somebody else’s need instead of your own.

I believe in spirituality and a lifestyle brought by Jesus. That kind of lifestyle creates a confidence that says:

  1. I welcome the ups and downs–I look at it as emotional exercise.
  2. I love the work–if you praise me for it, it’s just gravy. I’ve already got my mashed potatoes.
  3. I am supplied. I don’t need you to tell me what’s currently “in vogue” or what you deem old-fashioned.
  4. I bring something. I never arrive anticipating to eat off the communal buffet without contributing to the spread.

If what those four people said last night is true–that we’re all believers–then let’s start believing in being “free indeed.”

Free indeed happens when we realize that the kingdom of God is within us …  and any time we crawl on our knees to find it we create distance from our own solution.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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It’s My Party … July 29, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1958)

party hatI went to a party last night.

Some of you might not consider it to be that type of gathering–perhaps not festive enough for your taste. For instance, there was no alcohol. Nobody was smoking. As far as I know, the only pills popped were four Tylenol–by me, for my achy knees.

Laughing was available but not because somebody made a funny bodily noise and because the joint was inebriated everybody burst into guffaws. People at this party laughed just because things were funny.

There was no big stereo system in the corner, piping out the latest hits at ear-piercing decibels. Just music. Maybe to some people, simple music.

No huge buffet of food spread so that everybody could overeat as they complained about their waistlines, vowing to do better on the morrow.

No one was getting high–except for the fact that spiritually, they were being filled … as promised by their heavenly Father.

Yet it was quite a party. The kind where designated drivers were not demanded. Part of the joy was reveling behind your wheel about the fun you had.

It wasn’t even a party of friends who had known each other for years, so comfortable with one another that they can resort to personal insults and call it “poking fun.” No, most of the people at my party were strangers to each other except for embracing ideas like brotherhood, love, peace and joy.

  • The world has its own way of doing things.
  • The world lets you think that you’re an individual and your opinions are welcome–until you dare to disagree with the mentality of the mob.
  • The world is more than happy to have you in its conclave as long as you don’t excel too much, step out of the box or dare to suggest some sort of more righteous approach.
  • The world is selfish but hides behind the notion of “freedom for all.”
  • The world is uncaring but tries to take the sting of that revelation away by offering you a “swig.”
  • The world preaches individuality yet extols and advertises conformity.

It’s not that my party was better than the party down the street, where they drink, smoke, carouse and curse. It’s just that after a party is over, what remains becomes our lives. We can either have memories of tender thoughts filtering through our minds, enlightening us, or a series of regrets that we try to assuage by going to the next party.

“In the world you have tribulation.” That’s what Jesus said.

So once the world realizes that everything will be in a constant state of upheaval, it tries to intoxicate itself and warm in a blanket of self-love.

Jesus said this was not a good idea. He said the only way to handle the uncertainty of this world is to “be of good cheer.”

Start a party in your emotions.

Invite your spirit.

Welcome your mind.

And encourage your strength.

I went to a party. I wake up this morning rejuvenated, not hung over. I wake up this morning with everything the world promises me from its party–individuality, freedom and acceptance.

Those waking up from the party held by the world are lamenting it’s over and hoping that another one will come soon, to take away some of the confusion and pain.

Thanks to Faith Lutheran.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

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