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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Good News and Better News … February 22nd, 2016

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Composite with borders

Jesus never answered a question the way the asker hoped he would respond.

“Who is my neighbor?”

“It’s that guy laying on the side of the road wounded, that everybody’s ignoring.”

“Is it right for us to pay tribute to Caesar?”

“Sure–if it’s Caesar’s gig.”

“How many times should we forgive people?”

“490 seems fair.”

“What must I do to be saved?”

“Go give your money away to the poor.”

If you’re waiting for truth to emerge from the mass of human opinion, you will spend your life following foolishness.

Thus, the layout of the four pictures in today’s array.

Picture 1, with Jan on set. We arrived in Christ Lutheran Church on Hilton Head Island and set up our equipment. It was the first and best thing we could accomplish.

Because of the nature of the promotional beast in America, Janet and myself maintain obscurity. No one cared that we set up our equipment, but we knew it was important to do it well, and to be ready.

The next picture shows the ceiling of the beautiful church we were in. They are lovely people, but they are religious. It is my job to take that religious fervor and try to turn it into a common sense faith.

Then you see a picture of my wheelchair, sitting by itself in the parking lot. That’s to remind me that showing my weakness only lends itself to creating strength. No one is self-sufficient. We have weaknesses, and if we’re willing to admit them to others, we open the door to a mutual humanity.

And finally, there’s a picture of a rear view mirror. Honestly, I cannot go forward without understanding where I’ve come from, and learning from those experiences to benefit myself, and therefore enhance the life of others.

Humility is not an option we select when we are in a particularly good mood or have sung a moving hymn. Humility is survival–allowing ourselves wiggle room just in case our frailties show up instead of our strengths.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the people at Christ Lutheran yesterday. They were sparkling, delightful and intriguing.

And it was my joy, since I knew they were aware of the Christ, to reacquaint them with Jesus. Long before he got the promotion to be the Christ, he walked among us as Jesus, changing lives, challenging stereotypes and transforming the world.

That’s the good news.

The better news lies in a comment that the dear pastor made to me right before I was departing on Sunday. He said one lady had commented that the service was “the closest thing to a tent revival she had ever seen in the Lutheran church.”

I don’t know if she meant that as a compliment, but I do know this–I am moving ahead in my mission, looking forward to the day when we will be so hungry for revival that we won’t care whether it’s in a steeped-ceiling cathedral or a stained-canvas tent.

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Good News and Better News … February 21st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2852)

Composite with borders

Jesus never answered a question the way the asker hoped he would respond.

“Who is my neighbor?”

“It’s that guy laying on the side of the road wounded, that everybody’s ignoring.”

“Is it right for us to pay tribute to Caesar?”

“Sure–if it’s Caesar’s gig.”

“How many times should we forgive people?”

“490 seems fair.”

“What must I do to be saved?”

“Go give your money away to the poor.”

If you’re waiting for truth to emerge from the mass of human opinion, you will spend your life following foolishness.

Thus, the layout of the four pictures in today’s array.

Picture 1, with Jan on set. We arrived in Christ Lutheran Church on Hilton Head Island and set up our equipment. It was the first and best thing we could accomplish.

Because of the nature of the promotional beast in America, Janet and myself maintain obscurity. No one cared that we set up our equipment, but we knew it was important to do it well, and to be ready.

The next picture shows the ceiling of the beautiful church we were in. They are lovely people, but they are religious. It is my job to take that religious fervor and try to turn it into a common sense faith.

Then you see a picture of my wheelchair, sitting by itself in the parking lot. That’s to remind me that showing my weakness only lends itself to creating strength. No one is self-sufficient. We have weaknesses, and if we’re willing to admit them to others, we open the door to a mutual humanity.

And finally, there’s a picture of a rear view mirror. Honestly, I cannot go forward without understanding where I’ve come from, and learning from those experiences to benefit myself, and therefore enhance the life of others.

Humility is not an option we select when we are in a particularly good mood or have sung a moving hymn. Humility is survival–allowing ourselves wiggle room just in case our frailties show up instead of our strengths.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the people at Christ Lutheran yesterday. They were sparkling, delightful and intriguing.

And it was my joy, since I knew they were aware of the Christ, to reacquaint them with Jesus. Long before he got the promotion to be the Christ, he walked among us as Jesus, changing lives, challenging stereotypes and transforming the world.

That’s the good news.

The better news lies in a comment that the dear pastor made to me right before I was departing on Sunday. He said one lady had commented that the service was “the closest thing to a tent revival she had ever seen in the Lutheran church.”

I don’t know if she meant that as a compliment, but I do know this–I am moving ahead in my mission, looking forward to the day when we will be so hungry for revival that we won’t care whether it’s in a steeped-ceiling cathedral or a stained-canvas tent.

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 3) UnJudging … December 20th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesonian hands

Into a world filled with religious intolerance, promoted by souls who deemed themselves exceptional, Jesus arrived as a contrarian.

The Jews disrespected women, hated the Samaritans and despised the Romans. Not only did Jesus refuse to participate in this national pastime, but he actually propagated the notion that women were to be treated as equals, Samaritans deserved a revival and that Caesar was to be honored for what Caesar accomplished.

For this piece of insight, the Jews gave him a cross response.

Meanwhile, in the midst of our determining whether we have the impetus to stop judging other folks, a more serious situation has settled in on the children of the Kingdom.

At times we find ourselves uncomfortably linked with religious extremists who seem to share some of our batch of prejudice. After all, ISIS does not like women, ISIS has great fear and condemnation for sexual expression of almost any kind.

So until we wake up and realize that we not only need to cease judging the world, but also need to set in motion a path to “unjudge” what has already been done, we just may find ourselves irrelevant to the next generation of searchers.

I have never owned a slave but my ancestors did.

I do not treat women as weaker vessels, but I grew up in a church and a society where females were relegated to lesser positions.

I have never personally lobbied against homosexuals and their rights as American citizens, but I lived through a time when the Moral Majority was insulting and even threatening to these brothers and sisters.

So it falls my lot, mission and joy to repent for the stupidity of the past.

Yes–I get to unjudge the world.

  • I get to apologize for 400 years of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, racial profiling and alienation.
  • I get to act out acceptance and equality, to atone for the sins of mistreating women by refusing them rights and place.
  • And I get a chance to preach the Gospel and let the Holy Spirit do its work instead of deciding what is wheat and what is weeds.

It is a reasonable thing–the necessary step to becoming Jesonian.

Not only do we stop judging those around us, but we allow ourselves a season of sackcloth and ashes, to admit the evil that has occurred in our history, which has forbidden racial inclusion, female equivalency with males and social liberty for all Americans.

So I apologize for my brother Paul, who one day made some sideways comments about women which ended up in a holy book, producing hurtful results.

I’m sorry for Jerry Falwell and Anita Bryant, who used the Gospel to isolate people instead of including them in the fold.

And I’m sorry that we seem to be so afraid of the world around us that we cannot allow the mercy in our souls to realize that evil does have life, but a very short span.

It is time to unjudge the world.

If we do so, we have a message for the next generation, filled with promise.

If we don’t, our religion is the dinosaur that must die so people can walk in peace on the earth.

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Ask Jonathots … July 16th, 2015

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ask jonathots bigger

I love my church and my pastor, but every four years my preacher tells us who to vote for. I really don’t like this. Should I speak to him about this? Write an anonymous note? What is the best way to handle this? I don’t want to leave the church because of this one issue.

Well it really comes down to this point: does a minister of the Gospel have a responsibility to steer his congregation concerning a political decision?

It is not a question of whether he has the right. If a preacher insists he has a calling from God, then he can’t use the Constitution of the United States as proof of his legal authority to voice his opinion in the pulpit in political matters. If you’re going to claim a higher purpose, then you must live by the dictates of that higher calling, not merely the civil rights afforded to you by your government.

So it comes down to the question of how did the Good Shepherd handle the issue of political favoritism? And of course, when I say Good Shepherd, I am speaking of Jesus.

  • Jesus had a congregation.
  • Jesus had a flock.
  • Jesus had a following.

Unquestionably, they were swayed by his opinions.

Judea in the 1st Century A.D. was politically charged. It was Jews against Samaritans, Samaritans against Gentiles, Gentiles divided over their allegiance to Rome, and Rome basically swallowing up most of the air with its imperialism and desire to conquer.

There was tremendous pressure on Jesus to pick a side. For instance:

He was invited to the palace of Herod to discuss his work. He declined.

The woman at the well suggested that he should show a bit more favoritism to the Samaritans to balance things out. He didn’t.

And of course, the Jewish hierarchy wanted him to speak out against Rome. And his classic phrasing of “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” still remains as a guideline for those who preach the Gospel.

They even wanted Jesus to express sympathy for Jewish folk who had been killed by Pontius Pilate while merely worshipping in the synagogue. Although it would have been easy for him to do so, he remained neutral.

Since he taught that “the Kingdom of God is within us,” how we are governed doesn’t make nearly as much difference as the decision we make on how to live our personal lives. Your pastor has absolutely no right to color the vote of his sheep. But confronting him on such an issue is not only disrespectful, but would certainly be unproductive.

If your church does not use Jesus as the primary example, then your pastor will probably fall back on Old Testament nationalism to condone his choices.

At that point, you have to make a decision.

Do you want to be part of New Testament church that follows Jesus, or a church which haphazardly mingles Jesus and Moses together with equal authority and power?

I see nothing wrong with posing the question to your pastor, “Do you think Jesus would campaign for a candidate, and if you do think so, what story from his life do you use to confirm that?”

Even the Apostle Paul told us to pray for those who are in authority over us–not campaign against them.

The church will become a much more powerful unit for spiritual and social change when it pushes for separation from the state.

 

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Jesonian: Pillars… July 12th, 2015

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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: Judgeless… May 24th, 2015

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jesus and mary magdalene

At an early age, I awoke from a theological nightmare, quickly realizing that Christianity was not about relating to a composite of Moses, David, Abraham, Joseph, Jesus and the Apostle Paul, but rather, an intriguing study of the personality and character of a Nazarene carpenter, who became a philosophical, healing Redeemer.

I dubbed this pursuit Jesonian.

One of my earliest revelations in this quest was that Jesus did not judge.

This was not an assessment on my part or a consensus of his actions. He said it.

“I do not judge. If I did judge, it would be righteous and fair, but I do not judge.”

To confirm this, he dealt with Herod the Great, who as the story goes, was guilty of killing babies. Infanticide. Yes, it is said that Herod slaughtered all the children two years and under in Bethlehem. Jesus never mentions it.

Jesus also coexisted with the Romans, who arguably might be considered the most hedonistic and cruel dictators of all time. His response concerning them was, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

He was criticized for befriending tax collectors, who were traitors to their Jewish brothers and also thieves, levying extra penalties without legal right. He welcomed them as disciples.

He constantly had to dodge the attacks of the Pharisees, who had turned spirituality into an exercise for profit and gain. He told his disciples to “honor their position, just don’t follow their doctrine.”

And of course, his response to sexual immorality was to rescue a woman who was caught in adultery and was about to be stoned by the tenets of Mosaic Law. He snatches her from death, forgives her and gives her the opportunity to “go and sin no more.”

He further enraged the pious prudes around him by saying that the prostitutes would enter the kingdom of God before the religious leaders.

So surrounded by baby killers, hedonists, injustice, cheats, liars and sexual immorality, Jesus decided not to judge.

Stop and think about that.

You see, it’s not that I don’t have opinions.

It’s not that prejudices don’t scream inside me for justification.

It’s the fact that my example–Jesus–felt no need to judge the world nor condemn it, but instead, quietly offered a lifestyle alternative which he died to validate.

 

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