Good News and Better News… March 27th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3259)

In the midst of the morning prayer at the First United Methodist Church in Port Saint John, Florida, I peeked from my bowed-head position out at the congregation. It was a small gathering.

The church as a whole has been losing folks over the past few years. We could probably do a whole article on that subject, but let’s just work on the basis that there is an “exodus of the chosen people.”

So the denominations step in–Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals and the like–and offer their remedies to try to plug the dike of leaking souls. The answers they come up with are rehashing of former traditions or speculation on how better to use social media.

What they fail to consider is that church is dying because the reason for church has been crucified.

  • Church is for people.
  • People are the church.

When the church does not relate to people, but instead, makes some arrogant attempt to reach God through vain repetition, then people run away to brighter prospects for encouragement and a chance to access their better selves.

People often ask me if I am anti-church. Quite the contrary. I think church is our last bastion of hope to retrieve community among all living creatures.

It’s just that we need to be willing, for a season, to be awkward.

We don’t know what we’re doing.

We don’t know how to reach people.

And we certainly cannot figure out a way to escape our vague practices to translate them into real “soul food” for the everyday consumption of our brothers and sisters.

And for those who have left the church–citing hypocrisy, boredom, indiscretions and scandals–I must say to them: well, it certainly doesn’t bother you that your politicians, your entertainers and your movie stars are riddled with unholiness.

We need people who feel awkward about returning to church to join with those who are awkward about being in church, to laugh and cry their way about coming to church.

Folks, it’s gonna be ugly.

But yesterday morning I watched beautiful, insightful, gentle human beings come together with two strangers and create fellowship in an inspired, clumsy way.

It made me cry–it can be done. But we need to get our heads out of religion and our eyes on the prize of finding new ways to love one another and repent of our foolishness without shame.

The good news? It’s just like when we were learning to date in high school and survived our feeble attempts, to eventually end up in a relationship.

The better news is that if we stop trying to be godly, and just start looking for the goodness that has been placed around us, we literally can become a community of faith that “comes, communes and creates unity.”

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Jesonian: The Finisher (Part II)… June 21st, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2619)

hands woodworking

Jesus of Nazareth arrived on the scene in a cluttered atmosphere of laws that he characterized as restrictions “that were grievous to bear” and that those who made the rules “didn’t lift a finger” to aid people in fulfilling them.

There was a need for an edit.

The document, the commandments and all the interpretations needed to be trimmed.

So just as there was a need for an author, now came the time for a finisher.

It all came to a head one day when a lawyer asked a question of Jesus, trying to make himself look extremely profound, and also in an attempt to trick the Nazarene into saying something renegade.

“What is the greatest commandment?” he asked, feigning sincerity.

Here it was–the opportunity to take thousands of years of legalism and brush it away to discover the hidden meaning, powerful and applicable.

Jesus responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and the second is like unto it: love your neighbor as yourself.”

Even though Jesus insisted he came to fulfill the law, the definition of fulfillment in this case was to simplify it down to a lifestyle instead of packaging it in a religion.

When we continue to insist that the Torah and the Talmud, and even the Epistles of Jesus’ disciples carry the same significance as these two simple commandments of Jesus, we force people into primitive spiritual caves, from which they seldom emerge, just sitting around cuddling by the fire, frightened of the outside world.

We have an edit. The author of our faith came to be the finisher.

So what is the message?

God wants to be loved:

First with our heart–our emotions.

Then with our soul–the part of us that lives on.

But also our mind–having the warmth and tenderness of His mercy affect our thinking.

And finally, our strength–taking words and turning them into actions.

Jesus’ message was profoundly clear. The way we prove we actually love God is by loving people.

To the average Jew, Jesus was a law-breaker:

  • He did not honor the Sabbath.
  • He did not cleanse his utensils.
  • He did not fast enough to meet the qualifications.
  • And he certainly did not believe that the Jews were special because they were the “children of Abraham.”

This is what got him crucified.

The Jewish Council did not trump up charges to present to Pilate. They believed that Jesus was a heretic, a criminal and a threat to Israel.

Actually, the Author came to finish His work.

So those who criticze people’s choices, personalities, doctrines, predilections and lifestyles … well, they always refer back to material which has already been edited out of the final manuscript.

What remains are two simple opportunities and responsibilities:

Love God.

And love people.

Anyone who does this is living out the dream of Jesus.

Anyone who doesn’t is trapped in a legalism…which has already been deemed worthless. 

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G-50: Going Forward… November 14, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2413)

better garden sized

That pretty much concludes everything. At least for now.

Every intelligent creature willing to move toward wisdom is learning. And all learning requires both a willingness to make mistakes and a desire to repent.

After billions of years, the process continues.

It’s not so much that we search for knowledge as that knowledge is waiting for true searchers. And what makes a true searcher?

That’s easy.

Not being afraid to be wrong–or at least mistaken.

Good will come. Evil will challenge. Kingdom will rise against kingdom and nation against nation.

Those who get caught up in the temporary conflict of the moment will soon be forgotten.

The earth is stronger than any of its occupants. The universe has more purpose than any poet can imagine.

But when all has been said and done–and that is unlikely to happen soon–the desire of the heart of the Creator is to bring us back to the Garden.

So how can you make sure that you’re moving toward the Garden instead of glorifying the arid desert?

1. Find enjoyable work.

Stop hanging on the cross, trying to suffer for being a grownup. Once and for all, a crucified man set us all free. Anything you do that avoids joy is wasted breath and exhausting effort.

2. Be equal partners.

Avoid those who make distinctions between men and women, colors and races, religions, sexuality and just general preferences. Equality is the only form of humility that has everlasting power.

3. Honor nature.

The Earth brings forth fruit of itself. Stand back in awe. You are not absent from the process, but rather, included. Don’t abuse your Mother and expect your Father to stand idly by, approving.

4. Meet your Creator at the end of the day and enjoy the cool of the evening.

Life is not a perpetual prayer session nor is it a fit of anger, shaking a fist at the heavens. It is understanding that there is a time for work and a time for commiserating.

5. And finally, choose life over knowledge.

As beautiful as knowledge can be, and as essential as it is to your well-being, it is life that brings you abundance.

So I speak to you:

  • Use life to pursue desire.
  • Employ your desire to acquire knowledge.
  • Let knowledge advance science.
  • Realize deep in your soul that science will always lead you to God.
  • Worship God for the purpose of loving humans.
  • And finally, enjoy humans to better your life.

 

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I’m One of Them … November 26, 2012

(1,711)

He was very serious.

It was the kind of somber, cranky style that gives me the creeps. Maybe it’s the furrowed brow. It could be the long pauses between sentences to connote deep thought in the process of excavating some powerful piece of truth from a private cavern in his brain. I don’t know. I just don’t like it.

Here’s what he said: “The trouble with people of faith is that they like Christmas more than Good Friday–and unfortunately, our world is geared more to the latter.”

I turned it off. For you see, I was watching another talking head on TV expound upon his particular revelations–to sell a new book. When did smart become so complicated? Why can’t smart be simple? Why do we have to establish our preeminence through the surrender to sullenness?

I said to myself, I’m one of them.

Yes, I am one of those knuckle-headed “people of faith” who’s a sucker for a good baby-in-the-manger story over the mauling of a human being on a cross. Shoot me. Or better yet–cover me in tinsel.

I don’t like Christmas better than Good Friday because I’m stupid and vacant of a world vision. I like Christmas because it’s the only time of the year when we actually focus in on what Jesus really came to do instead of commemorating what he ended up accomplishing. I love Christmas because it tells us that God was smart enough to realize that commandments, voices from mountains, burning bushes, and even prophets were not getting the job done.

The message of Christmas is that God became human because human beings only speak and understand that language.

When I was a blessed man yesterday and had a chance to perform in front of the inspiring Tennesseans at Beaver Ridge United Methodist Church, I could see it in their faces. Written all over their beautiful countenances were the words, “Tell us something good.”

Even though my friend on the TV would probably call them shallow or ill-prepared to handle the tribulations of the world, I truthfully have never seen anyone who’s more prepared for battle simply because they wear armor.

So here we go–into another Christmas season. I’m on my way to North Carolina to tell people, without apology, that Christmas IS better than Good Friday.

And if we will take this season and learn the message of the angels and start spreading a little “peace on earth, good will toward men,” maybe by springtime a few less brothers and sisters … will end up crucified.

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

I’m One of Them … November 26, 2012

(1,711)

He was very serious.

It was the kind of somber, cranky style that gives me the creeps. Maybe it’s the furrowed brow. It could be the long pauses between sentences to connote deep thought in the process of excavating some powerful piece of truth from a private cavern in his brain. I don’t know. I just don’t like it.

Here’s what he said: “The trouble with people of faith is that they like Christmas more than Good Friday–and unfortunately, our world is geared more to the latter.”

I turned it off. For you see, I was watching another talking head on TV expound upon his particular revelations–to sell a new book. When did smart become so complicated? Why can’t smart be simple? Why do we have to establish our preeminence through the surrender to sullenness?

I said to myself, I’m one of them.

Yes, I am one of those knuckle-headed “people of faith” who’s a sucker for a good baby-in-the-manger story over the mauling of a human being on a cross. Shoot me. Or better yet–cover me in tinsel.

I don’t like Christmas better than Good Friday because I’m stupid and vacant of a world vision. I like Christmas because it’s the only time of the year when we actually focus in on what Jesus really came to do instead of commemorating what he ended up accomplishing. I love Christmas because it tells us that God was smart enough to realize that commandments, voices from mountains, burning bushes, and even prophets were not getting the job done.

The message of Christmas is that God became human because human beings only speak and understand that language.

When I was a blessed man yesterday and had a chance to perform in front of the inspiring Tennesseans at Beaver Ridge United Methodist Church, I could see it in their faces. Written all over their beautiful countenances were the words, “Tell us something good.”

Even though my friend on the TV would probably call them shallow or ill-prepared to handle the tribulations of the world, I truthfully have never seen anyone who’s more prepared for battle simply because they wear armor.

So here we go–into another Christmas season. I’m on my way to North Carolina to tell people, without apology, that Christmas IS better than Good Friday.

And if we will take this season and learn the message of the angels and start spreading a little “peace on earth, good will toward men,” maybe by springtime a few less brothers and sisters … will end up crucified.

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

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