Jesonian … November 4th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3480)

jesonian-cover-amazon

On hundreds of occasions, I was sitting backstage in my Green Room in a church somewhere in America, waiting for the program to begin, when there would be a timid knock on the door and the sponsor would appear, and he or she would awkwardly and sheepishly say, “Well, there are not many people here, but it will be worth it if you reach even one person.”

I often found myself smiling approvingly, as if I agreed with the bizarre statement. Let me make it clear. It was never worth the effort, the spirit, the energy and the creativity that Ms. Clazzy and I mustered to reach “just one person.” It is ineffective, it is inefficient, and therefore it certainly is not the will of God.

Jesus punctuated this point in Matthew 23:15. If you ever read that chapter, you will find that Jesus is extremely pissed off. He has reached the end of his ministry and he’s nauseated by the religious system, which has not only blocked his efforts, but has left the people impoverished, physically and spiritually. He accuses the religious leaders of exhibiting great pretense over traveling land and sea to preach their foolish doctrines, and when they finally gain a convert, they turn the poor son of a bitch into “twice the son of Hell” as they are themselves.

Amen and Amen.

Our religious system has taken a message that God sent through Jesus to reach humans, and has replaced it with a human message which is continually trying to please God. Therefore, our congregations are emotionally immature, spiritually stunted, mentally confused, physically tempted, and pleading for other folks to come to the sanctuary and be equally as damaged, in order to help defray the cost of the mortgage on the church building.

Religion sucks. There’s no other way to say it.

God intended to bring an abundant life which was suited to humans, not abundant rules, regulations and commandments that scare them away.

Church has become a place where we train people to be so heavenly that they become hellish. It is a hiding place for the insecure, the demented and those who feel a need to establish their superiority over their fellow-man.

Are you religious? You should find out. Here’s what religion believes:

1. God matters more than people. (The Bible makes it completely clear that how we treat people is what God believes we feel about Him).

2. People are evil. (Actually, people are encumbered with the knowledge of good and evil. Through spirited instruction, they can let the goodness win.)

3. Evil is powerful and often wins. (Evil is trapped in the atmosphere of Earth, and historically never wins.)

If you believe any one of these three things listed above, you are religious, and being religious, you will develop a childish reverence to God and a growing distaste for people.

You will find yourself cast into the role of “twice the son of Hell.”

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Jesonian… April 8th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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The Disagreeable Disciple

Disciple: I love you, my Lord.

Master: Well, thank you. So let’s get to work.

Disciple: I’m all ears.

Master: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Disciple: I pick up that the key word there is “neighbor,” which connotes they’re neighborly. If you mean being kind to neighborly people, then I get it.

Master: Your neighbor is everybody.

Disciple: I understand your heart, but that seems a little unrealistic.

Master: Judge not lest you be judged.

Disciple: I hear you. Gossip is a horrible thing. But there are things that need to be spoken against. Things that you, yourself, certainly don’t condone. So I believe there’s a difference between speaking up against evil and judging people.

Master: What if I told you that I don’t make that distinction?

Disciple: Interesting.

Master: When you pray, enter your closet, and when you shut the door, pray to your Father in secret.

Disciple: At our latest prayer seminar, we were discussing the power of thousands and thousands of people praying together over a common theme. Sometimes my personal prayers seem so anemic–lonely, if you will.

Master: And the Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.

Disciple: Once again, interesting.

Master: In the Kingdom of God there is neither male nor female.

Disciple: Yet you want is to keep our social roles, am I correct? Women as mothers, men as fathers. Also good to study the different personality traits and emotional leanings. Is this true?

Master: Kingdom of God. Neither male nor female.

Disciple: Much to think about.

Master: And whenever you’ve done it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.

Disciple: Now I know we’re on page! We have a food pantry at the church and we take care of hungry kids in after-school programs. We’re tracking this one down.

Master: By least, I don’t mean social order or poverty. I mean the ones you personally consider the least among humanity. The prisoners, the terminally ill, the outcasts, the individuals who don’t necessarily conform to your moral code.

Disciple: Sounds like you’re suggesting we condone sin.

Master: No, I’m telling you that you’ll be judged by how you treat the people you have deemed to be least.

Disciple: Wow, you’re sure giving me a lot to ponder. But you have to be pleased when you see your people gather to worship you every week in church.

Master: In vain do they worship me, because they teach their traditions as if they are commandments of God instead of mere preferences of this generation.

Disciple: But you do like praise and worship?

Master: Worship should be in spirit and truth–a mingling of our hopes with the impact of reality.

Disciple: You know, I haven’t thought about these things from this perspective for a long time.

Master: I’ve never thought about them from any other perspective.

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 40) And With All Your Getting … February 5th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Reverend Meningsbee

Sluggish.

A solemn surrender to sadness.

After many weeks of a revival of human emotion, appreciation and pursuit of the general welfare, the Garsonville community gradually settled back into its traditional format of pending suspicion and growing apprehension.

It was actually rather sudden–a transition that occurred over a two-week period. One moment people were smiling, greeting each other warmly and taking an extra second or two while shaking hands. And the next thing you knew, they were creating distance, staking claim to their turf.

Meningsbee noticed it immediately. When he turned to face the congregation, they had stopped grinning. Now they were peering–that fussy, Midwestern squint, poised to offer disapproval.

He felt alone.

This reversion to blandness, which was so clear to him, seemed satisfactory to the rest of the gang, which had obviously decided that the resurrection in their spirits had merely been a Ferris Wheel ride of intrigue. Now it was time to return home from the circus, to do the chores and milk the cows.

Meningsbee thought to himself that over the years, many preachers from this community had faced this quandary–a burst of enthusiasm followed by creeping and crawling backwards, to a profile of preoccupation.

Those ministers may have decided to ignore the digression and accept the inevitable. Not Richard Meningsbee.

So on the ninth Sunday after the beginning of the town’s jubilation, he stood before the congregation and spoke.

“Rich. Young. Ruler.

“That’s how the Good Book describes him. Not a bad combo, do you think? I don’t believe there’s a person here who would object to being richer, younger or even ruling something.

“It also lets us know that this fella was intrigued by all things spiritual. His journey had taken him through the rigors of religion–following commandments, listening to sermons and abstaining from lying and adultery.

“Then he hears about a young man from Nazareth who has an earth-shaking rendition of God-talk. So the rich, young ruler–being rich, young and a ruler–goes out to see Jesus to ask a question. ‘What must I do to get to heaven?’

“From his perspective, that’s all that remained. He was set up for life with all the wine, women and song the commandments would allow. But he was curious how he could maintain that status in the afterlife.

“So when the boy was dissatisfied with Jesus’ response, Jesus gave him a truthful answer. You all remember that, don’t you? The truth? It used to float by every once in a while. Jesus told him, ‘If you want to go to heaven, go out, sell everything you’ve got and give it to the poor.’

“Was Jesus declaring some sort of war on poverty? Of course not. There were poor people when Jesus showed up and they were still there when he left. Jesus was declaring a war on selfishness. In other words, if you’re rich, you’re young, you’re a ruler and you’re following all the commandments and going to church like you should–and you’re still dissatisfied, the problem just may not be linked to your Bible study and prayer. It could be that you know you’re full of crap, but you just don’t like the idea of being full of crap.

“After all, Jesus only asked him to temporarily donate his wealth. He was young and he was a ruler, which certainly granted him the means to get funky and rich again. But to do so, he would have to admit that money was not the source of his power. The Good Book says he walked away sadly.

“Now, I’m lookin’ out this morning at sad people. Oh, you all would argue with me and insist you’re just fine. You would inform me that the boost of joy and gratitude our community experienced over the past couple of months was a shower of blessing, and now we’re just back to the heat of the day.

“You might even shake your heads and say, ‘Reverend Meningsbee, you just don’t understand us Nebraskan folk.’ But I’ll tell you–there are only three roads you can take.

“You can pretend there’s no heaven and just do whatever the hell you want to. You can pretend that heaven and hell is all there is, and make your reservation at the cooler place. Or you can believe that heaven and hell begin now. How we treat each other. How we approach our work. How we accept other people’s children. And whether or not we think God is smilin’ or frownin’.

“I will not pastor a church that thinks our journey is all about ‘making the pearly gates’ or ‘avoiding a devil’s hell.’ Yes, I will tell you plainly, if you don’t give a damn, then be damned with ya’. We’re gonna keep the revival alive instead of finding our hole and crawling in it.

“If you were that young chap, would you leave sadly? I guess the question is, will you leave sadly today?”

As Meningsbee finished, he jogged down the middle aisle, passing through the narthex, out the door, into the parking lot, jumped in his car, started it and left.

He didn’t want to hear opinions–and he didn’t want to be tempted to soften his words as the bruised filed by him on their way to mediocrity.

He would wait and see how the message of the day would survive the week.

 

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Good News and Better News… November 7th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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good-news-trinity-mansfield-sign-pic-1Autumn reminds me of getting older. It occasionally offers memories of the warmth of earlier days, but things start falling off your limbs.

As I woke up and drove to Trinity United Methodist Church in Mansfield, Ohio, it was a beautiful, sunshine-blessed fall morning–invigorating to the body and soul. I think other people felt that as well, because Pastor Bob and the congregation shared a gentle and kind greeting.good-news-trinity-mansfield-clouds-pic-2

I was also blessed to have my nephew and sister-in-law show up for the gig, and we had a few minutes in my green room to catch up and rediscover why we like each other (even though we’re related).

Then it was time for the service. I’m always intrigued by the fact that we pursue the traditions of religion without considering whether they are adequate for the needs of humans. What is the purpose of God putting together a ceremony which does nothing to enrich the lives of the participants?

What do we need from church?

First and foremost–good cheer.

Fortunately for us, Jesus said “he came that our joy might be full.” For after all, we cannot survive another experience that leaves us contemplating without rejoicing.

The second thing church should give us is fellowship.

Once again, God looked ahead and saw our need. Jesus proclaimed, “By this you shall know my followers–that they have love for one another.”

After good cheer and fellowship, we all desperately need forgiveness.

Jesus warned us that “except we repent, we shall perish. But if we do repent, “God is faithful and just to forgive us.” This pardon makes us a little bit more willing to consider being gracious to others.

So you can see, what we need out of church is also what God expects out of church.

Passing off the traditions of men and calling them the commandments of God is what really pissed off Jesus.

So the good news is that if we offer hope and cheer, fellowship and forgiveness, we will not only be doing God’s will, but we will be presenting an atmosphere which is conducive to the growth of human beings.

The better news is that it is a lot more pleasant to do this than arguing over hymns, trying to stay awake during sermons, and bickering over the color of the carpet in the vestibule.

good-news-trinity-mansfield-jon-pic-3

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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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G-43: The P Plan… September 26, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Damascus

 

As God, I don’t really have a wonderful plan for your life.

I am a Father and have no inclination to infringe on your liberty or desire.

What I do offer is a natural order in the Universe, which can be discovered and learned so that when you come to an impasse, you possess the tools and vision to perceive and take advantage of the ways of escape.

I rain on the just and the unjust–but if you pursue justice, you can use my rain to water the seed that you already have intelligently planted.

My sun offers equality in shining.

But there are occasions that I provide supernal grace to cover a multitude of mishaps. (But keep this in mind–you can’t really call it grace if it’s your idea.)

So as I departed Earth to ascend to the heavens, I realized that the friends I left behind had a daunting task:

  • Go
  • The world
  • Preach
  • Gospel
  • Teaching
  • Commandments

Huge undertakings. They would need help.They would soon be distracted by everyday life, trials and their own Jewish prejudice against the purported heathen.

Without discouraging their efforts or limiting their potential, and certainly not interfering in their free will, I have invited an additional advocate. Because I am no longer funding a “chosen race,” I need a messenger who understands Jews but will intellectually thrive and find footing with the Gentiles. (I feel a little awkward using these arcane terms, but for the sake of understanding, I shall persist.)

This new friend will also be a lightning bolt of stimulus for these ever-learning, ever-growing and sometimes ever-confounded Galileans.

  • He will be a Roman citizen, able to move freely in the Empire.
  • He will be fearless, which other mortals will assert is careless.
  • In placing my hand on his shoulder, I will also deter him from his present mission of murdering off all my followers.

I call this additional reinforcement Plan P:

P for Paul, who at this point thinks that he is Saul.

He will take my message from Mt. Sinai to every river basin, valley, plain, desert and forest across the circle of the earth. 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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Jesonian: Mothering Women … May 11, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2228)

Jesus with womenThe conservatives insist that they honor women by extoling the difficulty of being a housewife and a mother.

The liberals scoff at these limitations, claiming to offer choice and equality while promoting young artists who refer to their sisters as “chicks, hoes and bitches.”

We are in a perpetual cycle–which ends up being vicious, may I add–because it offers women sympathy and mothers them without ever pursuing parity.

Oprah Winfrey, who would certainly claim to be a twenty-first-century feminist, still giggles along with comedian Steve Harvey, as he segregates the sexes by their cultural predilections, maintaining that it is some sort of God-ordained division.

Meanwhile, we’re in search of humanity, since masculine and feminine restrictions are driving us off the road and into the ditch. We really don’t have to look far.

Jesus came along to set people free so they wouldn’t have to be victims. He did the same thing for the ladies.

1. Even though he lived in a male-dominated society which had created a system of divorce in which a man could abandon his partner over any whim that might cross his mind, Jesus insisted that women were not emotional ditzes, and that the only reason for breaking a marriage apart was adultery, committed by either party.

2. Jesus made it clear that there was no need to have two different gospels–one pink and one blue–but trudged through all the areas near his home with men, women and children listening to the same teachings and commandments.

3. Jesus also made it clear that women’s money was good. Matter of fact, Mary Magdalene, Susannah and Joanna, three of his more affluent followers, were listed as underwriters of his traveling outreach; no men were ever given credit for donating funds.

4. Jesus wouldn’t let women play the victim. Whether it was the woman of Samaria, who wanted to produce a little deceit about her marital status, or the woman caught in adultery, who was forgiven by Jesus but also told to “go and sin no more,” Jesus made it clear that the true path to equality is to shoulder responsibility.

5. Jesus believed that women could “carry the baggage.” It was Mary Magdalene who announced his resurrection. The Book of Acts is filled with women who befriended nomadic disciples and opened their hearths and homes to the message of the Nazarene. If you remove the women from the early church, you have a lot of sermons, but no follow-up for the converts.

Jesus never mothered women, making them feel less.

He would not permit a condescending tone in their direction.

He challenged them to achieve humanity.

As long as women are talking about glass ceilings, unfair pay, mistreatment in the workplace, and even sexual harassment, they will continue to place themselves in the back seat of the vehicle of commerce.

Jesus only made one mistake when it came to women: he ended up betrayed because he picked Judas instead of Judith.

It isn’t that women aren’t treacherous–it’s just that the Jewish Council didn’t allow females into their meetings … even if they were plotting murder.

 

 

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Arizona morning

After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

Click here to listen to Spirited music

Click here to listen to Spirited music

 

 

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