G-Poppers … August 19th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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As G-Pop sits down to write one of his children, he is suddenly aware that tears have come to his eyes, threatening to dribble down his cheeks.

He does not know why. Oh, he has some ideas–and in the midst of his own joyful pursuits, there is an aching sadness threatening his sense of well-being.

Yet he feels like an old fool.

Yes, G-Pop thinks if he shares his heart and the ache within, he will be viewed as some relic from the past. But the pain will not go away and his personal convictions persist.

The source of his tears is really simple. G-Pop just wants to know: where are all the good guys? And gals, for that matter?

Where are the people who take it for granted that loving your neighbor is essential instead of merely the duty of monks?

Where are the human beings who value the truth instead of acquiescing to deceit?

Where are the Olympic athletes who feel grateful for the opportunity to train and represent our country instead of tearing apart a bathroom and lying about their ordeal?

Where is a President who feels the confidence to tell his countrymen the complete truth concerning a transaction with Iran, hoping in his heart that they will understand his motivations and the difficulty of his choices?

Where are the people running for President who would rather lose than perpetuate a scandal?

Where is the sense of commonality among brothers and sisters that compels them to respect one another’s rights?

It is a worrisome thing.

It is difficult to live in a day and age when viewing pornography is accepted as a passing fancy instead of a weakness of character.

G-Pop feels ridiculous sprouting tears. He doesn’t want to be considered irrelevant.

But he fears hypocrisy.

For after all, lying is not really accepted. If you lie to your boss, you’ll lose your job. If you lie to a policeman, you’ll get arrested. And if you lie to your spouse about being unfaithful, you can pretty well guarantee a divorce.

Lying is on the march–trying to conquer honesty.

Can we stop it?

Can we find the good guys and gals?

G-Pop wonders.

Maybe it begins by humbly, carefully and faithfully trying to be one yourself.

 

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Ask Jonathots … March 31st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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My fiance was raised as a Catholic and I grew up Presbyterian. We plan to compromise after we’re married by going either to a Lutheran or Episcopal. But I don’t really like the solution. Neither one of us think the denomination makes any difference, but it did get me thinking. What do you think about this dilemma–especially since we want children?

I have always been of the contention that what you believe is much more important than where, when or even how you believe.

I think the problem with a compromise in spirituality is the notion that all outlets for the Christian message actually offer the heart, soul and mind of Jesus of Nazareth. They really don’t.

In the pursuit of finding the climate that suits a congregation, a church often has to place the more intense convictions of the faith on the back burner. It’s not a malicious act, but it is a purposeful one.

So I think it’s possible to visit every denomination for one Sunday or a couple of Sabbaths, introduce your own belief system into their atmosphere, and have an absolutely delightful time. But after a while, they will desire that you acquiesce to their cultural preferences instead of sharing your more basic beliefs.

So I think the decision of whether you go to an Episcopalian, Lutheran, Catholic or Presbyterian because you think they all believe in the same God is errant. What you want is to go to a church that understands the important values you treasure and leave there with a soul-satisfying experience.

I think many people think of going to church like they got a DUI and now have to do community service. They find it to be a duty, responsibility and now a sentence–to atone for a sinful nature.

I, for one, do not believe that such attendance to a religious service does us much good unless we actually find a way to become emotionally involved.

So my suggestion? The two of you should sit and write down the five things you agree upon, spiritually and emotionally, and then find a church of any denomination that agrees with most of them and grants you the conducive surroundings.

The sooner we understand that church is not about the delivery system of the worship service, but rather, the message and how it impacts our lives and touches our hearts, the better off we will be–and the less likely we will be to leave the institution because we find that Sunday morning family time is much more fulfilling.

 

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Good News and Better News … March 21st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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eggs

Yesterday my travels took me to “The Egg Church” in Driver, Virginia.

Thirty-seven years ago, this congregation began a yearly tradition of making the most delicious chocolate-covered cream-filled eggs you will ever put anywhere near your salivating taste buds.

They did so for two reasons: the church was languishing in a bit of the doldrums, threatening to implode financially. And also, thirty-seven years ago it sounded like a whole lot of fun. Of course, like most fun, it has turned out to be a lot of work.

Although these “Chocolatiers” are some of the most delightful people you’ll ever meet, they do lament that in their community, they are known for their confections instead of their convictions.

May I tell these enlightened souls that they have done something absolutely “Jesus like” through their efforts–they have born fruit.

Even better, their fruit is candy-coated.

They have made themselves accessible to their town. In other words, they are reaching out with a box of candy instead of an offering plate–and they have given a quality that far surpasses anything else I have ever eaten during the season of passion.

There are worse things than being known as the “Egg Church.” For instance, you could be known as:

The Prompt Church. (We’re very timely.)

The Prayer Church. (We ask God about everything.)

The Laughing Church. (Giggling in the Spirit.)

The Angry Church. (Somebody’s going to hell–and it sure ain’t me.)

The Pretty Church. (Our stained glass is the window to our soul.)

The Preaching Church. (We hate sin…and maybe you, too.)

The Music Church. (Our worship leader was once a roadie for the Red Hot Chili Peppers)

The Doctrine Church. (We are Biblically sure we would not like you.)

The Athletic Church. (Our gymnasium is the largest in the county.)

The Everybody Church. (We have changed the meaning of so many verses to include our congregation’s actions that we just don’t ever read the Good Book out loud.)

Do you see what I mean? The good news is that you are “The Egg Church,” and known for something positive.

The better news?

Beech Grove United Methodist Church, if you keep loving human beings, you’ll all end up looking like “good eggs.”

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 8) Priority … January 24th, 2016

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I am often reluctant to quote directly from the Good Book.

It is not due to a lack of respect or devotion to the volume. I would have a similar sensation about reading passages from Moby Dick if historically the Melville work had brought about horrific division and chaos.

But sometimes a particular passage from the Bible needs to be shared in its simplicity–and entirety–to point out how misunderstanding has driven us away from the consensus of what makes things good.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”

It is virtually impossible for a theologian to interpret that verse without adding his or her religious convictions, practices and pious overtones.

Yet it’s really quite simple. It’s divided into three sections:

  1. The kingdom of God.
  2. His righteousness.
  3. All these things.

To identify what these mean, you must have an awareness of the overall and abiding principles that are represented.

The kingdom of God is not a church, a belief system or a denominational approach to religion. Jesus made it clear that the kingdom of God is within us.

So the first step to establishing priority in our journey is to find ourselves.

The creation story tells us that God breathed into humans the breath of life and we became living souls. So if we can’t find that breath, we don’t know how to breathe. And all attempts we make to find the kingdom of God outside the confines of our own created space are not only futile, but often lead us in the wrong direction–trying to become sanctified without really being holy.

Here is the kingdom of God: I am happiest when I can be strong enough to help others.

  • We are not happy when we are weak.
  • We are not happy if we have sufficiency and choose selfishness.

The breath of God is the blessing of finding ourselves and then dispensing mercy to others.

We are told to seek this first.

Dare I say that many religious people are so riddled with insecurity and superstition that the only way they know how to express salvation to others is to load them down with guilt, intimidate them over their lifestyle, then stand back and judge their actions. It is a waste of time.

Get happy, be happy, and from that position of joy, find a way to make others happy.

Which brings us to His righteousness.

This is not my righteousness. This is not a general righteousness. This is God’s righteousness.

It doesn’t take too long in perusing the Good Book to discover that God is content when we grow in confidence so we can help others around us whom He would love to touch with His grace.

If you believe that God is stomping around Heaven, angry about the Ten Commandments being broken, you should probably read the Good Book a little more carefully.

“It’s not His will that any should perish, but that all come to repentance.”

Exactly.

Which brings us to the final thought: “all these things.”

While Wall Street and business tycoons try to figure out the secret to accumulating loot, the process is accessible. Satisfied souls who manifest a creative and passionate life become a magnet to material goods.

It’s just the way it works.

Everybody who chases money, fights for money or kills for money always ends up vanquished by those who are stronger. All the things we desire in life will be at our disposal when we find the breath so that we can breathe, become creative and allow our lives to be filled with passion.

So this little journey we have taken in the Gospel of Matthew is summed up best in this way to discover priority:

I will find the breath of God within me, which will enable me to breathe and become strong so I can help others. I do this because God has one great mission statement: help people. And in the process of finding my confidence, being creative and having a passionate life, the opportunity to gain what I need will be readily available.

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Confessing … November 28th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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XXX.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

For the sake of this essay and season of confession, let me refer to it as “Thanksbumping.”

It’s that uncomfortable moment when older folks such as myself decide to openly share some insight with younger folks who absolutely have no interest in the input whatsoever.

It is tricky. It can slip up on you when you merely believe you’re sharing your heart, and almost always is interpreted as intrusion.

I thought I had outsmarted “Thanksbumping” this year by controlling the amount of time I spent with my family, while also promising myself to keep my convictions to my own inner pleasure.

I did really well the first night, but at the second joining together, subjects came up for which I had great passion.

I spoke up.

It did not go well.

I quickly retreated and spent the rest of the evening trying my best to imitate invisibility.

At the Thanksgiving meal the next day I was much better, and had learned my lesson.

But I must apologize to myself, to my Father in heaven and to those who once sat under my tutelage, for accidentally continuing to “tutle.”

Before you become self-righteous and insist that you never do such a thing, let me gently and mercifully explain that our children perceive any intervention which they have not requested as a breach of their territorial waters.

So as I confess this to you–that I did better at “Thanksbumping” this year but am still not without reproach–let me give you three hints to keep you out of this iniquity:

  1. Avoid giving opinions without hearing a question coming your way.
  2. Don’t offer contrary views in a climate where well-established ideas are being revered.
  3. And certainly, don’t attempt to do any sideline parenting.

It may be difficult to succeed at being a bystander when you feel as if you should be included and treasured, but it is the nature of our species.

It is the changing of the guard.

And to have a good Thanksgiving, you must make sure you dodge the “bumping.”

 

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G-48: 1619… October 31, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Excitement.

  • A season of reason.
  • An hour of power.
  • A college of knowledge.
  • A start for art.
  • A relief for belief.
  • A release of peace.
  • A righting of the course of fellowship.

And then … 1619.

A Dutch trader, selling his goods along the African coast, runs across a tribesman who has no money, but is willing to give a cargo of human beings, his neighbors, as exchange for his merchandise.

The wayfaring seaman pauses, thinking. He knows he doesn’t dare return without some sort of remuneration, or face losing his job–maybe worse. He looks at the half-clothed, nervous, twitching beings in front of him. They don’t look like him.

His brain sets in motion a nasty logic:

  1. These people are vulnerable.
  2. Therefore, these folks are less.
  3. These souls are our servants.
  4. These creatures are our property.
  5. These possessions are our slaves.

Much to his surprise, when he returns from his journey, expecting a rebuke for his choice, he is praised for such an inventive idea and commissioned to return and do it again.

As often is the case, there is a market. Therefore we pursue it–without wondering about its ramifications.

A painful portion of poison is perpetuated upon peoplehood. They digress.

And then one day, in a crowded, heated hall, nervous men, trying to cover their apprehension with verbal boldness, agree to a document which states clearly, directly and without apology:

“All men are created equal.”

1776.

Perhaps it is the remedy for 1619.

We shall see what price they’re willing to pay…for their own convictions.

 

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