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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Jesonian: The Pro Cons… October 19, 2014

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jesus and woman caught in adultery bigger

There is something comforting about finding yourself in the care of a professional who is willing to clarify and make things easier.

It is a beautiful thing.

It takes what would seem to be insurmountable–or even punishing–and transform it into merciful and workable.

Jesus was a pro.

He was a professional savior who was well-geared for ministering to human behavior because he, himself, was human.

But the first difficulty he faced in procuring this acumen was dealing with four “cons:” condemn, confront, control and console.

For generations, religious fervor and political bondage had created a climate of condemning and controlling. Matter of fact, even to this day a large percentage of those who claim to pursue the faith of Jesus Christ do so by condemning what they have determined to be iniquity, teaching their congregations that “God is in control of everything.”

So talk about walking into a hornet’s nest, or better phrased, a gathering of “shewbread conservatives,” Jesus arrived at the pinnacle of this judgmental juggernaut.

For the Jews had a system for condemning people for breaking the least little Sabbath rule, and the Romans had created such fear in the populace that the masses were contained and controlled by perpetual apprehension.

Our “Pro” had to dispel condemning and controlling. Had he not succeeded at that, all he would have accomplished was a new sect of Judaism, which would have no chance whatsoever of gaining attention in the Gentile world.

So the ministry of Jesus consisted of a confronting consolation, or sometimes it was a consoling confrontation.

As in the case of the woman caught in adultery, it was necessary to free her of the condemnation of the Pharisees, while snatching her out of the control of the murderous mob in order to console her and tell her that she was not condemned and confront her–to go and sin no more.

And in the case of the disciples, he confronted them in the Garden of Gethsemane–to stay awake and watch with him one hour, only to return to find them asleep, and relent in consolation: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

There is a great sense of relief when you’re in the hands of a pro–when you know that the God who made you has become the God who is like you, and has shared a message that does not condemn your ineptness, nor does it control your destiny.

Jesus was a pro.

His philosophy cost him his life. So please honor him by doing the Jesonian thing:

  • Take the time to confront so that you may console.
  • Or console those who are already being condemned, so you can gently confront them to newness of life.

 

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Practical … October 24, 2013

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Nuts-and-Bolts1Meanwhile, back at our dilemma:

The problem we face here on the road at the end of our yearly odyssey will not disappear just because we throw some cynical attitude its way. Trials and tribulations are not impressed with our disgust. And also, you must understand that heavenly conclusions cannot be achieved without pursuing some sort of earthly application.

To put it bluntly, prayer becomes useless if we haven’t tuned our senses to the world around us and find ourselves ready to move out on the opportunities that come our way.

Therefore it is just as possible to pursue a darkened path by saying we have faith in God, but not taking the cues from the world around us, and instead, insisting that our particular miracle must float down from the heavens.

This lends a second possibility in approaching our human quagmires: practical.

Amazingly enough, the Good Book, which is often portrayed as ethereal, is actually better presented as a handbook for planet living. Practical divides into three parts:

  • Count
  • Contend
  • Control

First of all, we should count what we actually have. Don’t expect any progress to be made if you’re not willing to invest what you already possess. Much of the cynicism and darkened conclusions will depart when we realize we have resources.

Case in point: when you’re trying to feed five thousand people, five loaves and two fishes don’t seem like very much, but they aren’t nothing–and at least it affords the opportunity for in-depth conversation.

Secondly, after we know what we have, we need to contend. What does that mean? It means, “Where are we?” Knowing our resources will not always stimulate faith, but sometimes will weaken our resolve. There will be some human effort involved in achieving divine conclusions, so it is necessary for us to understand our emotional state, our spiritual belief, our mental awareness and our physical strength. If we are going to be an army, we need to be well-fed, well-trained and well-armed.

And finally–control. Sometimes the whole problem cannot be whipped in one whack, so we should work on our negotiation skills, to buy time to take on our difficulties one piece at a time.

For instance, here on the road, it is ridiculous for me to worry about what we’re going to do at the end of next month. Instead, I should focus on what happens today and at the end of this week. Won’t that get me closer to my goal?

Count: what do we have?

Contend: where am I emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically?

Control: can I divide this up into smaller pieces?

Pursuing this path removes the specter of darkened cynicism, which opens the door to our Creator being willing to link with His creation. Once that relationship is initiated, our third possibility comes to play.

See you tomorrow.

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Losing It … August 17, 2012

  • Loser — Part 4
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“He that would gain his life…”

Behold, my dear, sweet friends. We are a nation of control freaks. Unfortunately, we only recognize the vice in others while failing to acknowledge the behavior in ourselves. When we are accused of being manipulative, we respond by saying that we’re only trying to take control, maintain control and eliminate defeat. It has become a mantra–defending indefensible positions with the idea that he who yells the loudest and curses the most will win the day and therefore, be proven correct.

Here’s an insight: there is an actual truth that often exists outside of our willfulness. With that reality at work, we must understand that when we take control and we are erred, those around us–and we ourselves–are in danger and at the mercy of poor judgment. If we maintain control without allowing in fresh ideas, then we are trapped in the scenario of our own making, which has already been proven to be unsuccessful (just look at the economy). If on top of taking and maintaining control, we insist that the way to eliminate defeat is to prove that we are walking in a victorious life, we will find ourselves needing to deceive, embellish and lie to keep from being discovered as a failure. This philosophy, although popular, is not only fallacious, but dangerous.

” … shall lose it.”

Yes. “He that would gain his life shall lose it.”

When you try to take control and you, yourself, are not really in control, you end up losing out because you’re ill-prepared for the natural hassle that comes along to question your authority. Hassle is the great equalizer that bypasses race, ethnicity, religion and gender–and just makes us all wiggle and squirm under the same uncomfortable conditions.

If you’re trying to maintain your control, you will find yourself in the dastardly position of being unwilling to evolve with the revelation of truth. Isn’t it amazing that we have fought wars to defend concepts that were already against our better interests? Hundreds of thousands of Americans died between 1861 and 1865 over the institution of slavery, which had already been determined by many nations of the world to be immoral and arcane. But the war raged because men and women were unwilling to evolve towards inevitability.

And the final reason that “he that would gain his life shall lose it” is that rather than being challenged and enlivened by difficulty and defeat, we are taught to recoil, pull up lame and be bruised by our setbacks. I don’t know whether we get an opinion on anything–it is a luxury that ignorant people often take, delaying a better path–but I tell you this: you definitely do not get an opinion on your losses. The only thing you can do is acknowledge them, learn from them, adjust to them and grow through the experience as you try afresh.

As you can see, the greatest opportunities in life do not occur when we are winning, but rather, by the repositioning we do when confronted by inevitable failure.

“He that will lose his life …”

Now THERE’S something nobody wants to do. But we’re not speaking of totally forsaking all of our individuality, but instead, just taking a moment to count the cost of the pressing transition that is coming our way. Yes–actually thinking about what is around the corner and how it may be different instead of assuming that yesterday’s life will be Xeroxed. If we finally relinquish our pettiness to the joyful conclusion that life IS changing, we have the ability to begin to maintain our good cheer. Good cheer is just the awareness that nothing is going to be the same, but God will go with us as long as we don’t give up.

This grants us the flexibility to do one of the more intelligent maneuvers in life–adapt quickly. Everyone who stands against a reasonable premise ends up being ground under by the wheels of progress.

Count the cost of change. Maintain your good cheer and adapt quickly. It may feel like you’re losing your life, or at least your sense of domination, but it always ends up …

“…shall gain it.”

Yes, “he that will lose his life shall gain it” because he or she will avoid the delay caused by stubbornness. I’ve even seen folks who knew they would eventually have to give into new ideas continue to dig their heels in to make some sort of foolish point about their freedom to object. What a waste of time. If you’re not stubborn, you can actually join the committee and be involved in the process of the change.

I do not know what is going to happen in this country on any given issue, but there is one central theme that is universal in the United States of America: we never take liberty away from any individual without paying the price and feeling completely foolish afterwards. Every race and nationality has taken its turn at being the underdog, and those who stubbornly held that position and repelled these individuals always ended up looking like the villains in a Stephen King movie–black hats and all.

If you can be involved in the process of change, you get the privilege of surviving, to end up living better.

“He that would gain his life shall lose it, and he that will lose his life (for my sake),” Jesus said, “shall gain it.”

Losing is not painful. It is predictable. It is what we spend most of our time doing and the least amount of time training for. How ridiculous.

  • Just like the Olympic athletes who win bronze, we need to take as much out of the experience as we possibly can without insisting that we’re all equally winners.
  • Just like Jesus, who hung on a cross, sometimes the reasons for our affliction are not obvious on Day One. Often, it is on the third day that we will rise to the occasion.
  • And just like me, you don’t need to feel beautiful to do beautiful things. Apparently, only one person is the prettiest, so everybody else better get a grip, because beauty will not win the day. Wisdom always trumps comeliness.
  • And if you would gain your life, you must learn how to lose. Lose with style, grace, awareness, flexibility and good cheer.

May I close this whole series with three easy-to-remember thoughts?

1. Don’t be sure, be pure. (Be honest about what you know and what you don’t know–and be prepared to know more.)

2. Don’t resist, persist. (Keep moving towards liberty and justice for all. God is always right there somewhere in the midst.)

3. Don’t be right, capture the light. (The ability to win an argument is not a guarantee that you’ve won the day. There are principles at work that will always carry on no matter how well you argue and fuss about your own opinion.)

Losers–we share it in common. It makes us love each other. It’s what we all understand about each other. It’s what makes us all … brothers and sisters.

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Play Ball … February 28, 2012

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As far as I know, the only way to keep from being run down is to practice how to walk through.

I’m not quite sure why folks choose to live their lives like they‘re on stage in a comedy club doing improv–perhaps it’s because a certain number of us think that everything is dumb luck anyway, so why mess around trying to prepare for something that’s bound to surprise or disappoint you?

Others of the more pious sort believe that our entire destiny is laid out in the mind of God, as the angels act as our personal agents, arranging all of our circumstances to hopefully suitable conclusions.

It’s a fascinating dilemma. The Bible does offer both insights. One particular verse says that “our steps are ordered of the Lord.” And there’s another verse that proclaims that “time and chance happens to everybody.” So as I often do, I will defer to my good friend Jesus for his insight on the issue. He said, “It rains on the just and the unjust.”  

In other words, there are forces at work and we will find ourselves intertwining our efforts with those existing energies, so we might want to think about the subject of responsibility. I have realized that lots of individuals have only two thoughts as they being their day. (1) “Who will I meet?” and (2) “What will happen?” It is a popular way to approach the living process. We don’t consider it to be haphazard or lacking preparation because we have decided that we will avoid people we don’t like and cautiously and suspiciously stay away from any situation that seems foreign to us.

It probably was the thought brewing in the minds of those who boarded planes on September 11th, 2001. They certainly had no intention of interacting with suicide bombers and had not really alerted themselves to the dangers that might lurk in the sky above. Now before you think I am criticizing them for a lack of judgment, please understand, it is not only commonplace for all of us, but it actually seems sensible. If we can keep those we trust close to us and stay away from environments that are unusual, we should be able to plot our lives, right?

But once again, yesterday the dear souls of Chardon, Ohio, found out that insanity, frustration, stupidity and violence–perpetuated by a young man entering his school and shooting his classmates–cannot be relegated to one area and segregated from our safe havens. Life finds us.

So some folks smarten up and add a third consideration. “What will I do?” In other words, “Who will I meet?” (Let me try to control the guest list.) “What will happen?” (Stay away from weird opportunities.) Then additionally, “What will I do?” (If I find myself in a pickle, what’s my game plan?)

You have to admit, that has a bit more foresight to it than merely stepping off an airplane wearing a parachute that you didn’t pack. But here’s the problem–we really don’t KNOW what we will do. Most of us haven’t spent enough time in our own consciousness and emotions to really understand what freaks us and what tweaks us. Yes–there are things that really scare us to death and there are things that rejuvenate us to life. Do you know the difference? Can you identify them?

Because I contend there’s a fourth thing that has to be done–or what we do, what will happen and who we meet can be a precarious, slippery slope. And that fourth thing is, “Who am I–really?”

So since I believe that there’s going to be a game going on every day called life, and the stakes can sometimes be quite high, I want to make sure I’m quite acquainted with all the members of my team. I exercise my heart and emotions every day. I give my spirit a good running. I make sure my mind is well-oiled with reason, and I try to do my best to eat what’s cool instead of like a young fool. And then I do one more thing.

I rehearse.

That’s right. I rehearse. Rather than being afraid of terrorists, I take the time to put myself through the paces of what I would do if confronted in such a situation, based upon who I am. In the process I discover some hidden prejudices, some apprehensions and many inadequacies. So I rehearse.

I never go to meet somebody at a church who has been kind enough to invite me in to share without rehearsing how I would want to be treated, and considering what this fine individual may have been through in daily activity prior to my arrival. The most dangerous way to live on earth is without knowledge of oneself. To be so flippant and short-sighted as to think we can control who we meet, manipulate what happens or even guarantee what we will do is to weave our own spider web of self-entrapment. Who I am is much more important than anything else that will ever happen to me.

Let me give you an example. Yesterday, there was a news report about a man who was carjacked, suffered a broken leg and was crawling on the street. The broadcasters were appalled that people walked by without helping him.

Actually, it’s the identical scenario that Jesus told in the story of the Good Samaritan. In his tale, many people walked by a man who had been–well, in this case, I assume, donkey-jacked, and left for dead. They had their reasons for not stopping–mostly a determination that they had to be somewhere at some time as quickly as possible. The reason the story is called The Good Samaritan is that this Samaritan guy actually broke pattern, changed his plans and stopped, deciding to make this new situation his reality.

I will tell you this. He did not do this spontaneously. This man had rehearsed this many times before. He had thought over in his mind what he would do if he came across a traveler in distress. Spontaneity may be fun for sneaking up behind someone you love and giving them a kiss. But being spontaneous in life is acting as if we can actually manipulate all of our surrounding environment. It just won’t happen.

I rehearse. If I’m going to have dinner with my children, I rehearse complimenting the food, conversation I may wish to indulge in and inquiries which I will avoid (which make me the nosy father instead of the nurturing helper). If I’m going to go to the grocery store I make a list–especially of those items I am sure to forget–and carry it in my hand, so as not to walk out cursing the air because I forgot something.

Life is a performance–so rehearse. The heavens begin a new day with a rising sun and a shout of, “Play ball!”  You will quickly discover that who you meet is beyond your planning, what will happen is never completely within your grasp and what you will do might just shock you–unless you’ve already carefully considered who you are.

We’re going to do this thing called life once. We keep asking for do-overs, and when we plead, there is often an annoying giggle that comes from the sky. God is not mean, He’s just very practical. And if you let people be lazy and not aware of themselves, they will compound their own difficulties until they forfeit their free will. How unfortunate.

So feel free to go ahead and wonder about who you’re going to meet. Being human as we are, you might even want to muse over what will happen. It’s kind of fun to speculate on what you will do. But the most important thing is to know is who you are. And the only way to do that is by rehearsing courage, practicing concern and studying your own character–so you’re ready to play ball and pull out your best performance.

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

What You Get Is What You See… December 22, 2011

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Jonathan in Miami

He handed me a pamphlet. He was obviously very proud of it. It was an advertisement for a seminar on leadership–twenty-four weeks. I glanced down and read the first line written on flap one.  “Training leaders is a complex process.” I felt a big “uh-oh” shudder through my soul. I knew the gentleman was well-intentioned but he had committed the cardinal sin of motivating and working with people. He began his spiel by making it clear it was hard–or as he phrased it, “complex.”

I do not know when it became a symbol of intelligence to portray the follow-through on a plan as being difficult. I guess we feel more noble when there’s some pain associated with our ultimate pleasure. I suppose we fear that unless there are some bruises, there’s no evidence that we’ve survived a conflict.

It just doesn’t work.

When Jesus came to earth, he tried to explain to the religious leaders that they had made everything so difficult that no one could possibly achieve it, let alone desire to pursue it. Simultaneously these same religious leaders failed to offer assistance to their flailing congregations on how to survive the processes.

Jesus said his way was easy. He said, “Come and I’ll give you rest.” He told us to stop worrying. He encouraged us to count the cost and if we found out we couldn’t do it, just to discover a way to make peace with ourselves over our present lacking.

Making things complicated does not make them better. Do you hear that? It is a two-fold problem caused by a two-headed monster. The problem is that most people want to control their lives when the best we can hope for is to contribute. I am fully aware every day as I walk into the great arena of humanity that I certainly do not have all the answers and may not have any. What I have is a backpack of talent and a jug of grace. Those are my two great offerings to humankind–a backpack of talent, which hopefully I have tried and tested and can confidently assert as being intact and ready to go–and a jug of grace, which I am ready to pour out to others for their foibles (and to myself when some of my efforts turn comical).

I am a contributor, not a controller. I would dare say that most people are not happy unless they feel they have control over their lives–and the absence of control is not only inevitable, but may actually be necessary for us to maintain emotional balance, spiritual maturity and mental health.

The reason we feel that life is complex is that deep in our inner parts, we think that when push comes to shove, it will be all up to us. We do not anticipate that other contributors will come along and bolster our contribution to a mutual conclusion. Why is that?  It is caused by the two-headed monster which prompts us to believe that we need to control instead of contribute. Here’s why:

1. “I need to be perfect.” Of course, we aren’t. So when we fall short of the glory of our own expectations, we are forced into a profile of lying to make things look better. Even though people will say they are not perfect, they will go ahead and stomp and stump to make themselves look righteous in every endeavor. Freeing oneself of the need to be perfect–or even to come close–is allowing your being to contribute to a potential blessing instead of trying to control the final score.

But the reason we feel the need to be perfect is the second head of the monster:

2. “We believe that God has a plan.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? Almost Biblical. Part of us wants God to be manipulative so we don’t have any responsibility. But how could God have a plan?? He created human beings and gave them free will and then told them that He loved them no matter what, fully aware of their capacity to fall short of the glory of His ideal. If God really had a plan and we kept  turning in “incompletes” in His class, then aren’t we speaking of a salvation endeavor that is doomed to failing grade? God cannot work with human beings and have a plan. Let me reinforce that. I can’t work with human beings and have a plan! Can you? Because if I have a plan and insist on maintaining every iota of its premises, I will end up hating everyone I work with and privately want to kill them.

  • God gives free will.
  • Free will breeds eccentricity.
  • Eccentricity produces evolution.
  • Evolution sparks change towards the more workable.
  • More workable ideas lead to greater understanding and easier labor.
  • Easier labor lends itself to peace of mind
  • And peace of mind takes us right back to God.

This is the glorious circle of life.

So even though my friend thought he was being extraordinarily deep by claiming that training leaders was a complex process, unless he simplifies it down by teaching people to become contributors without needing to control, and that perfection is not necessary to participate because God has not locked into a plan, waiting for us to measure up, he will end up laying a foundation and never constructing a house.

Life is not “what you see is what you get.” Rather, life is “what you get is what you see.”

In other words, today’s opportunity shows up and the fruit of that possibility is borne out only through how we see it and decide to contribute to it. I realize this morning that my day will unfold. My reactions are unknown even to the heavens and the best I can do is contribute, surrendering the foolish notion of controlling.

Contribute. Don’t control. Stop trying to be perfect. Settle for using your talent and extending your mercy–and rejoice because God doesn’t have a plan.

Because if He did … He would probably have to snuff us.

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