Ask Jonathots … September 3rd, 2015

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I like animals more than people. I own four dogs and volunteer at the animal shelter once a month, and regularly canvas my co-workers to donate to the shelter and also to other animal charities. I dress my doggies for the weather and buy them special cakes for holidays and their birthdays. Two of my co-workers referred to me as “unbalanced” because I treat my dogs like they’re my children. I told them that I think animals are more trustworthy than humans. What do you think?

I am curious about the way you have framed your paragraph and question. In other words, if you had begun your statement by telling me about your delightful four dogs, your work with charities and the fact that you treat these animals as your children, I would have said,”Absolutely fabulous.”

But the fact that you chose to begin your feelings by saying that you like animals more than people does warn me that you are dealing with a neurosis.

I would feel the same about someone who led off by saying they liked people more than animals. My question would be why?

If you truly contend that animals are part of God’s creation and therefore deserve our respect, tenderness and appreciation, that is one thing. But to isolate them off as superior to people–another part of God’s creation–is no different from someone telling me they like gay better than straight, white better than black and female better than male.

The unbalanced part of your personality lies in your need to prefer instead of just honoring.

Honestly, animals are not more trustworthy than humans. I have very few friends–or even enemies–who would eat my dead body if they were locked in a room with me for three days without food.

But animals not only have a purpose, they are symbolistic of what Jesus called “the least of these, my brethren.” They need our care, they need our attention, they deserve our respect, and they also anticipate that we will have the insight to place them in the correct position in our lives.

It’s not that people are better than animals or animals are better than people. It’s just that when you set apart some segment of creation as superior to another segment, you are on the slippery slope of bigotry which lends itself to tyranny.

  • I love animals. I love animals to let them be animals.
  • I love people. I love people enough to let them be people.
  • And I love God. I love God enough to let Him be God.

Because in your hour of need, you can certainly believe that God cares about your situation and will help. There is also the potential that people will come along and assist, based upon their compassion.

But if you’re broken down along the side of the road, your dog will just sit there and bark, waiting for a treat.

 

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Jesonian: Pillars… July 12th, 2015

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Three pillars

Anyone who is willing to spend 24 hours hanging out with me will quickly realize that I have three pillars that hold up the household of my faith and keep a roof over my personality.

  1. Be of good cheer
  2. Be creative
  3. Be honest

It doesn’t mean that I’m never grouchy, lazy or a liar. It just means that normally I reject those profiles and when I accidentally slide into them, I attempt to repent quickly.

So it should be no surprise to anyone that Jesus of Nazareth–the unemployed carpenter-turned-preacher–should also have such pillars.

If you ignore them, you will fail to understand his character.

So what are the three pillars of Jesus?

1. Be smart.

He told his disciples to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

In other words, not everything can be solved by the Bible, and certainly not every situation is covered by the Constitution.

Sometimes science has all the answers, and on other occasions, we must defer to the mystery of creation.

The true Jesonian person understands the importance of being smart–applying what is applicable instead of forcing something in that is irrelevant.

2. Be universal.

Jesus made it quite clear to the Jewish people around him that he was not Jewish. He told them that before Abraham existed, he was around. He interacted with Samaritans and outcasts.

If you don’t believe this to be true, then you have only to look at the reaction of those who were Jewish around him. They deemed him a sinner, a seditionist and a friend of those who were against Israel.

He didn’t care. He knew the power of his message was to package it for the whole world and not merely for a small portion of Mesopotamia.

3. And finally, Jesus made it clear that he expects his followers to be forgiving.

Every time he was confronted with someone who was faulty and that individual was willing to repent, Jesus never failed to forgive.

What is forgiveness? It is the realization that we don’t perform the job of God and that each one of us is so needy that we shouldn’t point out the need in others.

Those are the three pillars of Jesus:

  • Be smart
  • Be universal
  • Be forgiving

I’m terribly curious what would happen if the Christian church actually followed these pillars…and built their house on the rock instead of the sand.

 

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G-34: Punishing Absence… July 25, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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black shirt

Four hundred years.

A “non-prophet” business.

The messengers sent did their very best, many of them giving their lives for the cause, only to be killed by those who heard.

Everything fell into a malaise of three reactions:

  • Deny: “There is no Creator.”
  • Ignore: “What has the Creator done for me lately?”
  • Fear: “I am frightened of the Creator.”

A very dissatisfying conclusion for One looking for intimacy. It was time to review.

Billions of years of evolution had culminated in the creation of human beings. They were placed in a Garden of ideal circumstances for fellowship and pleasure. It failed.

Once separated from their Creator, the creations over-simplified their lives and over-complicated their emotions. All the indecision led to violence, and the Creator, in a foolhardy moment, destroyed His own work.

He regretted it.

So He tried to become a Father, even though He was guilty of abuse.

A provider.

Then a protector.

And culminating by sending prophets to be the mouthpiece of the deep affection of the Creative spirit.

Nothing worked.

When failure is the conclusion of your efforts, you have a choice of either becoming defensive or admitting the inadequacy and allowing for healing.

Four hundred years to think about it.

Something needed to be done. If human beings could not comprehend the tenderness of their Creator through Eden, provision, protection and prophets, then a much more personal solution would be required.

During the four hundred years, kingdom rose against kingdom, nation against nation, until finally one empire nearly encompassed the entire earth: Rome.

It was time to do something. It was time to be something.

It was time, once and for all, to show the creation … the Father.

 

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The Universe Sandwich… March 17, 2014

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Big BangLiving in an era when literally dozens and dozens of television channels are at the whim of my choice and the thrust of my thumb on the selector, I stumbled across two programs promoting ideas on the origin of the universe.

One was on a Christian broadcast and was making a divine appeal about the creation of the universe by God. The other, more secular, was called Cosmos, and was explaining the Big Bang theory, with very expensive graphics and computer-generated images.

They shared only one thing in common: they both ignored each other.

I thought how foolish it was for us to choose sides when it comes to discussing the origin of our species. Here’s what I think:

The universe is a sandwich: you have bread, meat and if you’re smart, a really nice condiment, like mustard.

  • I happen to believe that God is the bread of life.
  • Science is the meat, providing the protein for our meal.
  • And nature is the mustard, tying the two together and granting us flavor.

All you have to do to understand evolution, and even consider something like the survival of the fittest, is allow for the concept that there was an “Our Father who art in heaven,” who provided the “ready, set, go.” Feeling the need to eliminate “Dad” baffles me.

By the same token, believing that the earth was created in six actual days so that you can tout how powerful your Divine Being truly is, is equally as obtuse when there is ample evidence not more than seven miles down the road from me that the rock formations have been around for more than seven thousand years.

Stubbornness is the best way to remain ignorant. Whether you’re a preacher displaying that nasty vice or a scientist with a multitude of degrees, “stupid” is still pretty ugly.

I believe that God is alive and created everything.

I also believe that evolution was His choice in doing so.

I also contend that the process seems to have actual, factual basis — up until you arrive at the time of the creation of human being.

Why is it so difficult to think that a creative God could use science until He wanted to create personal caretakers in His image — a little less than the angels and a little smarter than the monkeys?

So here’s what I hold out as reality to you this morning:

A. I want a Creator

B. I need science

C. I will listen to nature.

To me, this three-step process permeates every piece of truthful knowledge that’s ever been propagated in the human race.

Without a Creator, we’re stuck with science and nature–educated but lost.

Without science, we have a Creator and nature, and we become smug in our lack of information.

And without a Creator and science, we worship nature and become overly superstitious.

So when the logos, which is the word of God, meets up with the cosmos, which is science, you have our atmosphere–which is nature.

The universe is a sandwich–bread, meat and mustard.

And you and I, just like at Subway, get to decide for ourselves what other fixins’ we want to put on it.

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G8: Sink or Swim … January 24, 2014

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current ripI discovered that the correct term is “rip current.” In my innocence and ignorance I’ve always referred to it as “undertow.”

I only experienced it personally one time, while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean near Jacksonville Beach. It had taken me a couple of days to get up the courage to get into the water, because I had heard all the rumors about sharks and all sorts of foreign life forms swimming around you while you decided to play in the tide.

So gradually I inched my way deeper into the sea, when all at once I was propelled–not viciously, but certainly purposefully. I’d heard of the rip current, so I knew not to fight it, but I could not remember what to do to overcome it.

In just a matter of a few moments I found myself about two hundred and fifty yards from the shore, deposited in a shallow patch of water about six-and-a-half feet deep, where I was comfortable treading, but not standing.

My heart was racing. I was frightened. Land seemed so far away.

Yet the water around me was calm–actually rather peaceful. I experienced a strange sensation–I just wanted to stay there. Since I didn’t know how to get to shore anyway, and the surroundings were not threatening, my heart’s desire was to leave well enough alone and just float and stroke.

I don’t know how long I stayed in that position. What was really odd was that for a brief moment, I wished I could become a fish so I wouldn’t have to make any more decisions about saving myself. Just swim away to my new destiny.

I was at peace.

Yet it was an insecure sense of well-being, because obviously, I was not a fish, did not belong in the ocean and needed to swim away from my circumstance to evolve back into my real life.

I didn’t want to. Matter of fact, nobody even knew where I was. Nobody knew I was missing yet, and there was something comforting about the waves splashing against my shoulders as I moved my arms back and forth and bicycled with my legs to stay afloat.

I don’t know how much longer I would have remained in my indecision, but suddenly another human being swam up and asked if I was all right. I nodded, but in truth, I wasn’t.

I was afraid to change my situation, even though my position was detrimental and would eventually cost me my life. After all, there was nothing to eat, no drink and assuredly, exhaustion would overtake me and I would drown in six-and-a-half feet of water.

I listened as my rescuer explained how to swim through the undertow. I think he realized I was dazed, so he joined me on the journey to my real home. I was reluctant the whole way.

That is, until I got onto the sand, looked out at the billowing waves and realized how foolish I was to think that I belonged there.

Creation is necessary. To believe that everything around us appeared from nowhere would actually be the greatest step of faith that anyone, anywhere could ever muster.

Somebody created the foundations of the world. Likewise, evolution is obvious. No master designer would create a prototype and then not improve upon it with detail and subtleties.

We have one unique job in life–and that is to recognize that just because we’ve been deposited into a foreign environment and it feels welcoming, does not mean that we are to remain there.

We must evolve to where we can grow. I had no life in the haven of liquid. I just had temporary reassurance.

  • My purpose was on land.
  • I could only grow on land.
  • I could only succeed on land.
  • I could only be happy on land.

To achieve my next place of expansion, I had to swim–because without swimming, I would eventually sink.

What feels secure is rarely the answer. There’s a certain amount of swimming against the tide that is necessary in order for us to land … where we belong.

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Hastens and Chastens … November 29, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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stocksThe quickest way to manufacture an agnostic is to allow false doctrines and teachings about God to continue to be propagated without challenge. Religion struggles under the burden of traditions rather than experiencing the power of transition.

This is definitely exemplified in the old-time Thanksgiving hymn, which begins: We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing.

The next line continues: He hastens and chastens, His will to make known.

He hastens?

May I explain to you that God is in no hurry. Being a creative sort, he is fully aware of the gifts and limitations of His creation. Human beings are intolerable when they’re in a hurry. The best advice we ever give to each other is “slow down.”

Speed kills–and not just because it takes away the ability to control direction, but also because it removes the pleasure of scenery along the journey. I will guarantee you that God is not hastening.

If God believes that a day is as a thousand years, then He certainly doesn’t expect you to accomplish everything in one morning. If you want to find God, calm down. For I will tell you–Type A personalities never make it to Z.

He chastens?

For those of you not familiar with the Old English term of “chastening,” it means discipline or correction. I suppose you could consider life, Mother Nature and the way things work as a form of punishment–unless you were just smart enough to learn them and stop resisting what all of us have to live under in order to be part of the family of humankind.

  • God doesn’t discipline anyone.
  • He doesn’t tempt anyone.
  • He doesn’t punish anyone.

Built into the ecological and physiological nature of our planet are the guidelines and systems that rule the roost. Learn them. Then you won’t have to paint a picture of God with a wicked handlebar mustache tying you to the railroad tracks to be hit by the train.

His will to make known?

A true revolution in spirituality will occur when we stop believing that God has a perfect plan for everyone’s life and that He weeps crocodile tears over our inferior efforts.

God has given us a life where we can slow down, learn how things work and then possess the free will to pursue our dreams as we respect others.

So you can understand why people get so overly zealous promoting an angry God–and how those fed up with such an Abominable Snowman have run from the church in search of other comforts.

A quick review:

  1. God isn’t in a hurry, so why are we?
  2. God doesn’t punish; He instructs through life.
  3. God’s will is that nobody perish but that all people learn the power of repentance (change).

It’s so much easier to believe in God when you’re not religious.

He’s the Creator … who just keeps on creating.

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

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God Needs a Job … September 6, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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now hiringHe has an impressive list of abilities and accomplishments.

After all, He created the universe, and even if you only want to give Him credit for portions of that process, it’s still pretty magnificent–if He only came up with the idea of evolution.

I think every child of earth should be appreciative of His ingenious proposal of sexual pleasure leading to procreation.

Sunrises and sunsets would be very difficult to duplicate.

Needless to say, the Fellow (or Lady, depending on your sentiment) is predisposed to creative bursts of energy and rejuvenation. So it’s fascinating to me that we take this well-qualified candidate and limit His job description to “bless” and “damn.”

Truthfully, the only time we ever invoke His name, other than the Facebook “OMG,” is when we’re asking Him to bless something or we get in a fussy mood and require His damnation skills.

How odd.

But I’ve always believed that if you want to understand the nature and future of a society, you should study both it’s prayers and it’s comics.

When the prayers are insipid–lacking mercy, justice and practicality–you can tell that the spiritual systems that exist will not have the energy to lift the burdens they’ve levied upon the people.

When the comics are more preoccupied with silliness, foolishness or just a general spirit of grumpiness instead of leading us to do something rather than damn one another, then you pretty well know there is no common enlightenment of the people in store.

Thus, OUR time. We choose to bless things, and if we don’t feel we can do that, we damn them. So we take the greatest intellect imaginable–and relegate Him to ceremonial acts of bestowing mystical fairy dust on certain projects, only to bring down the thunder of Thor on those who would dare to disagree with us.

To say it is childish would be an insult to children. It is worse than that.

It is short-sighted.

And people who possess that lack of vision always perish by falling off a nearby cliff.

I’d like to give God a job. I am hiring Him, as of today, to do four chores for me:

  1. Show me where I’m stupid before everybody sees I’m stupid, which makes me feel really, really stupid.
  2. Lead me to one person in this twenty-four hour period who needs help, so I can feel good about myself and he or she can have a meal in their belly.
  3. Let me stay current with world events without becoming cynical or escaping into fantasy.
  4. Let me notice the natural order already exists and has lasted a long time. The more I learn it, the smarter I appear.

The wage I will pay for this magnificent list of accomplishments?

  • My devotion.
  • My “thank yous.”
  • And my reasonable conviction that You not only exist … but You would love to do something other than bless and damn.

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