Ask Jonathots… August 25th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I want my kids to have a spiritual upbringing but I don’t feel comfortable with a lot of the churches available to us. How do I ensure that I am instilling spirituality in their lives?

Your question is really in two parts.

First, what should I do about the church, and second, how do I instill spirituality in my kids?

Let me start with the second question. There are three steps to true spirituality:

1. What do I truly believe?

I will tell you something shocking. The less you believe in, the better the chance will be that you will follow it.

This is why, in the Good Book, the entire sixty-six units boil down to a single phrase: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The truth is, when you love your neighbor as yourself, you’re already putting into practice at least fifty principles. But if you focus on loving your neighbor as yourself, you will be honoring a thousand ideas.

2. How does what I believe affect me?

The absence of an abundant life is the presence of a crappy belief system. It was Jesus who said that fruit would be borne in our lives through what we believe. If you are miserable, irritable, grouchy, complaining, bigoted, self-centered, short-sighted and selfish, you probably need to go shopping for a new belief.

3. How does my belief affect others?

Our belief was never intended to be a preachy condemnation of the lifestyle of our brother or sister. It is a light that shines in place, available for those who wish to emerge from their darkness.

In other words, if you’re teaching your children to love their neighbors as themselves, use their beliefs to progress them emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically, and allot mercy and tolerance to others while affording a helping hand, then you have spirituality.

Now, when it comes to the church, the spiritual representation of that idea has been lost in the implementation of the organization. But here’s the truth of the matter: if you have a good heart, a willing spirit, an open mind and an active desire, you can go into any church and affect the theology simply by being a worker instead of a critic.

There is no way that people with true spiritual insight can be ignored in a religious system that stumbles over its own clumsy rules.

So once you get your children in an attitude of understanding what true spirituality is, then go to church and let your light shine–because that beam of confidence will soon put you in a position to change the mediocre surroundings.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant

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Our Redeemer… October 12, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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handsIt was a five-pound mini-barrel of pretzel chunks, stuffed with peanut butter, given to me by a friend who was beaming with delight when I opened it on Christmas morning and eyeballed the monstrosity for the first time.

He was nearly leaping with joy, explaining how he purchased the gift thinking it was ideal for me, in my travels, to have a ready-made snack which would last for quite a while–and to make sure that every time I grabbed a handful, I should think of him and know that he was praying for me.

Having some acting chops, I was able to feign great appreciation over the humongous container of over-salted carbohydrates and even dodge his ongoing discussion of it during the day over turkey and dressing.

Here’s the truth: nothing is more useless to a traveling person than a five-bound barrel of peanut-butter-stuffed pretzels. Even if you enjoy the flavor, lugging such a burden around is not worth the occasional benefit you would receive in tastiness.

I regifted.

That’s much the way I feel about the idea of heaven. Being informed by highly theological sorts that if I accept certain beliefs and receive adequate amounts of grace, that I will someday have an eternal home with golden streets and jasper walls just doesn’t get me through the daily chores of human struggle. I can’t become a better person by thinking about the day when I will no longer BE a person.Our Redeemer Lutheran Church

So as I head off tonight and tomorrow to Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in McMurray, Pennsylvania, I will tell you what I think of the word “redeemer.”

Candidly, if Jesus is no more than a sacrificial lamb for my sins, it will be difficult for me to conjure any sentimentality for him in the midst of a traffic jam in the Steel City. At that point, I will revert to my training, giving into my frustration and festering nasty notions of mythical murders of nearby motorists. Here’s the kind of redeemer I need:

First and foremost, he needs to be a friend.

  • A friend is someone who tells you the truth but you still like him enough that you want him to hang around.
  • A friend is someone who catches you on a bad day but still shows up at eight o’clock the next morning for the next round.
  • A friend is someone who sticks closer than a brother.

My redeemer also needs to be a spotter.

  • I’m referring to that person who stands nearby when you’re lifting weights in a gymnasium, just in case what you’re attempting to take on becomes too much, and he or she can walk over and help lift the danger from your head.
  • I need a spotter who knows that I’m constantly trying to lose weight, and gently nudges me towards less caloric choices.
  • I need a spotter who knows me, loves me, but also challenges me to not bathe in God’s grace, but instead, pursue excellence by multiplying my talents.

And finally, I do need a savior.

If I were to describe the journey we call human life, I would refer to it as “pulling up a little short.” There always seems to be a few feet necessary to complete the task just when exhaustion suffocates our soul. At that point, I could use someone to carry me across the finish line.

If all God has to offer is heaven, He’s going to have some awfully crappy followers on earth. But I believe there’s more to being spiritual than waiting to be “spirited away” to the angelic Holiday Inn.

I believe that our redeemer is our friend, our spotter and our savior.

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about personal appearances or scheduling an event

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