Jesonian … August 11th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3761)

Astonished.

It is the word that Saint Matthew selected, in his Gospel, to describe the reaction of the audience which heard Jesus of Nazareth share the Sermon on the Mount.

Some synonyms for astonished:

  • Shocked
  • Confounded
  • Bewildered
  • Astounded
  • Flabbergasted
  • Startled
  • Stunned
  • Dumbfounded
  • Blow your mind

Astonished is a word that combines impressed and alarmed.

It is the way Matthew perceived the mood of the hearers.

He added that they felt that Jesus had more “authority” than the scribes. As you probably know, the scribes were not the Pharisees. The scribes were the local ministers in charge of writing and reading the Law of Moses.

The style they imparted in sharing those ancient words was: read, said, dead. When the scribes read, they said what was exactly there–as dead as they possibly could, so as not to add too much flavor.

So as you can see, it was not a roaring accolade, to say that Jesus exceeded the knowledge or enthusiasm of the scribes.

The importance to the verse is that the people departing that day were “astonished.” What do people do when they’re astonished?

On the way home, as the afterglow disappears, they begin to pick at the corners of great ideas until they disassemble them, convincing themselves that these principles are implausible.

How do we know this is true?

Most of them do not follow Jesus down the hill, but instead, go to their homes, where they justify their disbelief.

Meanwhile, Jesus, who has just delivered the most radical, truthful and practical message ever heard on Earth, descends the hill, and is greeted by one leper, who asks for healing–who had probably missed the sermon.

After twenty-two years of traveling with my dear friend Janet Clazzy, to thousands of churches, I will tell you this:

It is very possible to stir up a congregation, and even their local shepherd, to the point of astonishment.

You can raise dead spirits that haven’t been alive since Grandma and Grandpa sat in the pews.

You can get people to clap, think, react, smile, and even do their best impersonation of loving one another. But you can’t go home with them.

And home is where they rationalize all their present actions–to avoid the horror of repentance.

*****

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Jesonian … June 9th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3698)

It wasn’t a “God-storm.”

The disciples were wrong. They were wacked-out–frantic over a poor use of faith.

They were probably reflecting back to several weeks earlier, when they were in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, got swatted by a cloud burst with huge waves, thunder and lightning, were surrounded by other little boats, and Jesus walked on the water to save them.

Now, that was a “God-storm.” In other words, a storm that required the hand of God. But the little squall that blew up on this night was not a “God-storm.”

The disciples should have known–for Jesus was sound asleep on a pillow in the boat.

Let’s keep in mind–you’ve got four fishermen on this craft–at least that many. This isn’t their first raft trip. It’s not the first time they saw the waters well up around them.

But back before they were disciples–when they were men–they handled it. If they didn’t, they died.

But now, you see, they had faith.

And their faith, instead of making them whole, had made them lazy.

They didn’t need to wake up Jesus. They had just grown accustomed to the Master handling all the difficulties, and they were in no mood to put themselves in jeopardy by practicing what they had been taught.

They didn’t want to “take no thought” about the storm.

They didn’t want to be the “salt of the Earth and the light of the world.”

They were completely content being followers–while Jesus was trying to make leaders.

They were lazy.

This is the same problem we have in the Christian church today. The faith we espouse is making us lazy instead of whole.

For I will tell you–I cannot attest to the fact that the Christians I know are the nicest people I know.

I cannot testify that these same Christians are the smartest, most generous, most open-minded and most forgiving people I have encountered.

They are simply too damn lazy from living off grace to use their faith.

Somehow or another, Jesus had called men to be on his team, and they had all turned into little children: “Daddy! We’re gonna drown! Don’t you care?”

Even two ounces of faith would tell you that if Jesus is asleep on the pillow, this must be a livable situation.

Maybe it’s a “Me-storm.” That’s one that only requires “me” involved to produce a safe conclusion.

Maybe it’s an “Us-storm.” That would include my partner and myself, working together to provide energy, brains and faith.

Perhaps it’s a “We-storm.” We might have to beckon the whole family, maybe the congregation, the town, or who knows? The nation.

But when it’s not a “God-storm,” don’t expect God to take care of it.

Jesus wanted his disciples to trust him. But he wanted to trust them, too.

So if you want to have a Christian walk and you want to be Jesonian, you’ll have to learn the difference between a “God-storm” and a “Me-storm.”

After all, it’s not that God fails to answer your prayers. He just wonders why you’re so lazy, and don’t answer your own.

*****

If you like the mind of Jesus without religion, buy the book!

                $7.99 plus S&H

*******

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

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Good News and Better News … January 1st, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3539)

“When life gives you lemons…”

Hold out for some nice oranges. See if you can’t pick up some fresh strawberries. Even some marked-down bananas would be better. Lemons need too much sugar to be drinkable–and often still end up tart.

It was my deep, abiding pleasure and joy to begin our 2018 tour across this great nation by sharing my heart at Saint Andrews United Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

It is ably and gently pastored by an open-faced and friendly brother named Brad. He sent along Jim, Chris and David to help us set up on Saturday, and they all treated us like kings instead of the vagabonds we be.

As I sat behind my keyboard before the service began and watched the congregation gathering, my heart was ablaze with the blessing of contentment. Even though I have lived for a decent season on Earth, I am still jubilant and optimistic over the possibilities of seeing humanity achieve its better potential by negating the available lemons and shopping for more fruitful possibilities.

And the lemons are available.

So my message to all I will encounter this year will be very simple:

  • Stop believing that lying is acceptable.
  • Mean is not and never will be good.
  • And prejudice is not common–just prevalent.

Once we accept these lemons, attempting to sweeten them, we can find ourselves frustrated and stuck with a drink that is still sour. Why? Because it’s got lemons in it.

So stop accepting the social lemons that make us believe we are trapped in our humanity instead of blessed by God to revel in it.

The command for this year is monumental: We will be kind to those of our own kind.

Of course, I’m talking about people. You may feel free to enjoy your pets, you can admire the wonders of nature, you can insist that you have the loveliest home in town, but we will be evaluated on how kind we are to our own kind.

The good news is, Saint Andrews has got the message.

The better news is, they don’t have to make lemonade.

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 8)… August 19th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3404)

jesonian-cover-amazon

I am wondering if Christianity can become a mission, cause and lifestyle instead of slinking back into the profile of being “one of the major religions of the world.”

The decision lies around the word “learning.”

For some reason we have taken the simple message of “love your neighbor as yourself” and complicated it with doctrines, forming a morass of misunderstanding.

If we think that faith and hope are even close to charity, we have misconstrued the message of Jesus. Jesus came to turn love into a lifestyle.

He taught in parables whenever he was with the masses, expecting to motivate them to believe for mighty things. Only when the disciples complained about being confused by the stories did Jesus teach them further. His goal was to get these disciples out on the road as quickly as possible, to share their hearts with other people.

Otherwise we have the quandary found in II Timothy 3:7, which describes a church which is “ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.” Jesus said his “way is easy and his burden is light” and that the Gospel is so simple that a “wayfaring man” can understand it.

Why do we believe that writing 3,000 new books on church practice will promote revival?

Perhaps I am the hypocrite speaking to the hypocrisy, because I, too, scribe my essays, trying to uncover some hidden meaning.

There is no hidden meaning. Just as we would not hide the groceries from our children to find out how determined they are to avoid starving, God certainly has not withheld peace of mind, contentment and joy from his offspring.

The church spends too much time teaching and not enough time sharing.

That’s troubling.

We keep studying the Old Testament–which really wants to study the New Testament. As Jesus said, Abraham yearned to see the Messiah. Yet we think one more classic tale, another seminar or a sermon series taken from a different angle will suddenly alert the congregation to its true soul.

There are three things that matter. They are what make you a Christian or separate you from the Kingdom of God:

  1. Love your neighbor as yourself.
  2. Don’t judge people.
  3. Multiply your talents.

The pursuit of these three things will keep us busy for a lifetime. Trying to figure out what the Apostle Paul meant or what I Peter was connoting or if Hebrews was really written by Timothy will not make good disciples.

We think interactive church is having people stare at a screen and sing songs. Interactive church is actually when humans offer a testimony, which builds up other brethren to share, embracing and encouraging each other.

It is troubling.

We have become a church of learning instead of a body of sharing. Until that changes … we will be as boring as we seem.

 

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Good News and Better News… June 5th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3335)

It was my distinct honor to join forces with Ms. Clazzy to share at the Village United Methodist Church. The congregation is pastored by a firebrand voice of our generation named Andrea.

As she prayed, spoke and exuded, there was a spirit of anticipation mingled with anxiety, letting me know that she was of a mind to see our world experience a true revival of sanity.

Yet, as is often the case, we human beings tend to get tripped up in the trappings. We stumble.

We become convinced that something which has lasted no more than a couple of decades was imparted by God Himself, and that we have the responsibility to follow it with divine accuracy.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I think Pastor Andrea fully understands that church is a decision to lose fear to choose cheer.

It’s what Jesus instructed people to do. When they came to him, trembling, frightened and glum, he repeatedly told them, “Be not afraid. Be of good cheer.”

Nothing of any quality happens in the human experience as long as we’re fearful and it deters our cheerful.

So how do we lose our fear?

How do we lose anything? We lose things because we accidentally forget them or we decide to forget them.

The same thing is true with fear. Although we’ve acquired it, it has proven to be ineffective for daily use. We can get sentimental about it, we can accidentally forget it, or we can decide to forget it.

To accidentally forget it, just get yourself involved in something that is earnestly interesting and proves itself to be enriching to your feelings.

To decide to forget it, find a good burial place. Have a ceremony. Invite others to be there when you walk away from what terrifies you.

There is so much maintenance required by fear that it smothers our love. Once our love is destroyed, we become timid animals living in the jungle.

Once you lose your fear, then you can choose cheer. And the best way to do that is liven up the efforts that you enjoy, and when given opportunities, pick the happy one.

Even if for a season you put issues on the back burner that other people think are very important, you should pick the happy ones. You’re trying to train your heart to rejoice again. To do that you have to rid yourself of unnecessary causes.

I can truthfully tell you, I was thoroughly impressed and blessed by being in the presence of such delightful saints on Sunday, and I can also honestly tell you that I hope Pastor Andrea will teach these people to lose fear and choose cheer.

The good news is that the loss of fear is a doorway to love.

The better news is, a life of good cheer allows us to share our love without any fear.

 

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 56) Merry Christmas… May 28th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3320)

Reverend Meningsbee

Pas Carl was nervous.

This particular Sunday fell on Christmas Eve, and big plans had been made, choir numbers prepared, and even a special video tribute to the birth of Jesus had been filmed by Russ and Tracy (who by the way, had recently gotten married.)

The sanctuary was packed. Where was Meningsbee?

Pas Carl called his house. No answer. He kept looking out the window, gazing past the four inches of snow that had fallen two days earlier in honor of the season, for signs of his friend. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful, frosty Nebraska morning.

Yes, all that was lacking was one minister.

Everything was in place. Everything was prepared.

There was an understanding between Pas Carl and Meningsbee that if for some reason the senior minister was late, or out of town, that the associate would be prepared to step in and take his place.

So as the assistant looked out the window, waiting for his mentor, he saw a young boy coming up the steps, carrying a red envelope. The boy opened the door, entered the church and said, “I’m looking for Pas Carl.”

Carl raised his hand, and the little boy handed him the envelope. “What is this?” asked Carl.

“I don’t know,” said the boy. “Some old man gave me ten dollars to bring it here.”

The lad started to walk away, then stopped and turned around.”Oh, I almost forgot. The old man said not to open it until the end of the service.”

Pas Carl did not know what any of it meant, but it was time to begin, and Meningsbee would probably do one of his slip-ins about twenty minutes after the start, and everything would be fine.

The Christmas Eve service was gorgeous. A decision had been made to blend the best of contemporary music with traditional by placing a rock and roll band, which now attended the church, onstage with the piano, organ and a string quartet, especially hired for the occasion.

Everybody was excited, thrilled and filled with the music and joy of the season. Still no Meningsbee.

The service was completed, and Pas Carl stood to his feet. He was about to apologize and tell the visitors that they had missed the pastor, and what a great man he was, when he realized that he still had the envelope the boy had brought.

He opened it up and unfolded a letter. At the top, written in magic marker, was “PLEASE READ TO EVERYONE.”

Pas Carl glanced down and saw that it was signed by Meningsbee, so he obediently commenced to share.

“To my dear friends, church family, souls who have struggled with me and to the visitors who have always brought such blessing to this house, I apologize for not being with you this morning.

“I have taken my leave. I realize it is not ideal to do it this way. I probably should have given much notice, visited each one of you individually and sat through a tribute dinner, where each of you would have told sweet little lies about how good you thought I was.

“But that’s not me. Some of you may think it’s selfish for me to leave without notice, but I leave as I came–a surprise–with a deep love in my heart for each and every one of you, and a stronger conviction than ever before that possessing the mind of Christ is the only way to save the church.

“I can’t tell you what the past three years have meant to me. I cannot possibly measure the value each one of you has to my soul. But I have literally sat around for the past sixteen weeks–eight of them in a cast–watching this beautiful unit function without me, and with such a magnificent sheen of glory that I realized that it was time for me to find my next adventure.

“For after all, I’m really not a pastor. I am an explorer. I don’t know how you would classify that in Biblical terms, but I’m on Earth not just to be a Christian, but to be a follower of Jesus, who takes His heart everywhere.

“It would be my great suggestion that you hire Pas Carl as your new leader. He’s young. He will make mistakes. When you see him do things that remind you of Jesus, encourage him. And when he doesn’t, pray for him.

“I might drop in from time to time. I’m not sure. I’m not even sure where I’m going. But wherever it is, it’s going to be very difficult for them to be smarter, more loving, more generous and more human than the saints I’ve met here in Garsonville.

“It was an honor to be your pastor. It was more than an honor to be your friend. Pray for me as I pray for you.

“So my Christmas gift to you this year is to graduate you onto the next phase of your journey. We shall not do it together, but nothing can separate us.

“And my gift to myself is to go out and explore.

“With all my heart, with all my devotion, with all my hopes, with all my dreams, and with all my strength,

Reverend Richard Meningsbee”

Pas Carl finished the letter and fell to his knees in tears. The congregation wept, but there was also a great joy.

Each one of them knew that Meningsbee would eventually have to leave. He was a restless soul, whose itch was set by the Divine. They were just fortunate that for a blessed period of time, they were able to feel his warmth.

The congregation departed hugging each other. There were 345 human beings present that morning, and all of them left having felt a little bit of Jesus.

THE END

 

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

*******

To our friends at Roseland: click the piano for information on Cring & Clazzy

Reverend Meningsbee (Part 56) Merry Christmas… May 28th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3320)

Reverend Meningsbee

Pas Carl was nervous.

This particular Sunday fell on Christmas Eve, and big plans had been made, choir numbers prepared, and even a special video tribute to the birth of Jesus had been filmed by Russ and Tracy (who by the way, had recently gotten married.)

The sanctuary was packed. Where was Meningsbee?

Pas Carl called his house. No answer. He kept looking out the window, gazing past the four inches of snow that had fallen two days earlier in honor of the season, for signs of his friend. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful, frosty Nebraska morning.

Yes, all that was lacking was one minister.

Everything was in place. Everything was prepared.

There was an understanding between Pas Carl and Meningsbee that if for some reason the senior minister was late, or out of town, that the associate would be prepared to step in and take his place.

So as the assistant looked out the window, waiting for his mentor, he saw a young boy coming up the steps, carrying a red envelope. The boy opened the door, entered the church and said, “I’m looking for Pas Carl.”

Carl raised his hand, and the little boy handed him the envelope. “What is this?” asked Carl.

“I don’t know,” said the boy. “Some old man gave me ten dollars to bring it here.”

The lad started to walk away, then stopped and turned around.”Oh, I almost forgot. The old man said not to open it until the end of the service.”

Pas Carl did not know what any of it meant, but it was time to begin, and Meningsbee would probably do one of his slip-ins about twenty minutes after the start, and everything would be fine.

The Christmas Eve service was gorgeous. A decision had been made to blend the best of contemporary music with traditional by placing a rock and roll band, which now attended the church, onstage with the piano, organ and a string quartet, especially hired for the occasion.

Everybody was excited, thrilled and filled with the music and joy of the season. Still no Meningsbee.

The service was completed, and Pas Carl stood to his feet. He was about to apologize and tell the visitors that they had missed the pastor, and what a great man he was, when he realized that he still had the envelope the boy had brought.

He opened it up and unfolded a letter. At the top, written in magic marker, was “PLEASE READ TO EVERYONE.”

Pas Carl glanced down and saw that it was signed by Meningsbee, so he obediently commenced to share.

“To my dear friends, church family, souls who have struggled with me and to the visitors who have always brought such blessing to this house, I apologize for not being with you this morning.

“I have taken my leave. I realize it is not ideal to do it this way. I probably should have given much notice, visited each one of you individually and sat through a tribute dinner, where each of you would have told sweet little lies about how good you thought I was.

“But that’s not me. Some of you may think it’s selfish for me to leave without notice, but I leave as I came–a surprise–with a deep love in my heart for each and every one of you, and a stronger conviction than ever before that possessing the mind of Christ is the only way to save the church.

“I can’t tell you what the past three years have meant to me. I cannot possibly measure the value each one of you has to my soul. But I have literally sat around for the past sixteen weeks–eight of them in a cast–watching this beautiful unit function without me, and with such a magnificent sheen of glory that I realized that it was time for me to find my next adventure.

“For after all, I’m really not a pastor. I am an explorer. I don’t know how you would classify that in Biblical terms, but I’m on Earth not just to be a Christian, but to be a follower of Jesus, who takes His heart everywhere.

“It would be my great suggestion that you hire Pas Carl as your new leader. He’s young. He will make mistakes. When you see him do things that remind you of Jesus, encourage him. And when he doesn’t, pray for him.

“I might drop in from time to time. I’m not sure. I’m not even sure where I’m going. But wherever it is, it’s going to be very difficult for them to be smarter, more loving, more generous and more human than the saints I’ve met here in Garsonville.

“It was an honor to be your pastor. It was more than an honor to be your friend. Pray for me as I pray for you.

“So my Christmas gift to you this year is to graduate you onto the next phase of your journey. We shall not do it together, but nothing can separate us.

“And my gift to myself is to go out and explore.

“With all my heart, with all my devotion, with all my hopes, with all my dreams, and with all my strength,

Reverend Richard Meningsbee”

Pas Carl finished the letter and fell to his knees in tears. The congregation wept, but there was also a great joy.

Each one of them knew that Meningsbee would eventually have to leave. He was a restless soul, whose itch was set by the Divine. They were just fortunate that for a blessed period of time, they were able to feel his warmth.

The congregation departed hugging each other. There were 345 human beings present that morning, and all of them left having felt a little bit of Jesus.

THE END

 

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

*******

To our friends at Roseland: click the piano for information on Cring & Clazzy

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