The J Word … April 9th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

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THE

Image result for gif of letter j

WORD


Salt Lake City, Utah.

When the founders of this community came together to name their new home, they opted for an obvious and practical choice. Since it was located on the Great Salt Lake, it seemed natural to call it Salt Lake City.

Perhaps it was the same case with Little Rock, Arkansas. (I have no personal knowledge.)

But undoubtedly, the worst miscarriage of logic in naming any area is Jerusalem. It translates:

CITY OF PEACE

Yet there is no place on Earth, no ground, no terrain, that has been more blood-soaked than this domain. Almost every nation of the world that was once an empire has sent troops, conquered it and owned it for a season, only to have someone stronger, meaner and uglier snatch it away.

How it ever received the honor of being deemed “The Holy City” is far beyond this author’s comprehension. Because even though Christians joined with Jews and Muslims to tout the great significance of Jerusalem, it was the source—and the final execution arena—for Jesus of Nazareth.

Matter of fact, he wept over the city because it was so unable to repent of its self-righteousness and realize the futility of its direction. He closed his statement by saying, “Your house is left to you desolate.”

Desolate.

Empty.

Not worthy of habitation.

Even the great temple of Solomon, which is advertised by the local tour guides, is now just a piece of crumbling wall. Why? Because it was destroyed.

Then, in Crusade after Crusade, European Christians attempted to free this “holy of holies” from Muslim domination, as it was passed back and forth like a bloody hot potato.

There is nothing holy about this city. And let us not forget—the Bible warns that it will be at the center of the final last destruction of humankind.

It is a city of blood—the showcase of a great feud between the children of two faiths who should be brothers, but instead, struggle and battle like feuding rattlesnakes.

So the word that should never be spoken aloud because of its falsity, misleading nature and foul reputation is Jerusalem.

Yes.

J IS FOR JERUSALEM

And I, for one, can think of many other regions that are more deserving of the title, “City of Peace.”

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Salient … May 14th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

“With great regard.”

It is a phrase that was often used to describe the honor given to truth. “With great regard for the truth.”

Gradually, painfully, and almost silently, we have taken the truth and set it aside, believing it to be impractical. Lying seems to be a “second nature” condition of human beings. Folks feel more comfortable viewing it that way. Assuming people are lying takes away the responsibility to hear the truth.

Yet no lie survives history. In other words:

  • Alexander wasn’t so great.
  • The Third Reich did not last for a thousand years.
  • And the Crusades achieved nothing except the deaths of innocents.

All lies are eventually exposed.

So what is truth? Is the Bible truth? Unfortunately, the Good Book has been used for a lot of bad. There are doctrines which were promoted years ago, which have proven to be too stringent.

After all, there were no witches in Salem, there is no way to prohibit human couples from divorcing, and gay people can’t live their entire lives closeted.

So truth is not about laws or regulations from government or religion. Truth, very simply, is: “Based upon what we know, this is the way things appear to be.”

But we need a way to get there. Yes–we need a way to speak the truth that will give us life. Truth can never be achieved unless it’s greased by the motivation of love.

Truth told without love is vengeance.

Truth told without love reeks of lies.

And truth told without love takes life instead of giving it.

If we use love to humbly speak the best of our knowledge, we will gain life.

And what do we mean by life? Permission to continue our freedom as long as we grant it to others.

When we disregard truth and we begin to use pride, vengeance and selfishness to generate the lies that hurt others, we eventually will have our own lives snatched from us.

There is a way that leads to truth, which brings us life. If we use love to speak the truth we presently know, then we’ll be given a life we can live freely.

So here is your salient moment: Just because the inclination is lying, it does not mean that lying can ever settle in and find peace.

After all, it is the truth that makes us free.

 

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Jesonian … March 24th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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There is much to be gained by studying the lifestyle of Jesus.

It’s not just the miracles or the Messiah “rap.” It’s mostly his message and his management style. Since he was human, he was completely capable of error–to such a degree that the Good Book tells us “he learned through what he suffered.”

We also can garner great insight from the mistakes Jesus made.

One of those was Judas.

We will never know why Jesus chose Judas. It wasn’t because the Iscariot was predestined to be the betrayer of Christ. If you believe that, you should go home, don your Medieval helmet and launch a Crusade to take back the Holy Lands.

Maybe Jesus saw something in the young Judean. It never came to fruition–but there still is much we can curry from studying the relationship. It is a tenuous friendship which came to a head ten days before the Resurrection–in Bethany just outside Jerusalem.

Mary, the sister of Lazarus, who had recently risen from the dead, held a party. I think having a brother who survived “grave circumstances” is well worth some nachos and punch. At the height of the affair, Mary decided to crack open a family heirloom–a flask of expensive burial perfume reserved for the family–which she chose to use to anoint the feet of Jesus. It was an extraordinary, tender moment between Mary of Bethany and Jesus of Nazareth.

The aroma filled the room–an intoxicating fragrance.

But Judas was pissed. He had probably been pissed a long time–and he decided he had found an Achilles heel in the Master’s footsteps–perhaps a way to make Jesus look stupid.

So he complained that Mary had used such an expensive gift for such a trivial purpose. To accentuate his point, he suggested it should have been sold and the money given to the poor.

Judas was convinced he had ground an axe to a sharp point to swing at Jesus’ reputation.

I don’t know why he hated Jesus when he loved him so much. Or maybe he loved him so much that he learned to hate him. I am not privy to the mental state of Judas from Kerioth.

But I do know that Judas thought he was right, and he believed that others were going to back him up. Instead, Jesus rebuked him. I suppose you could say that Jesus did it nicely. (Perhaps you could explain what a “nice” rebuke is.)

Jesus said Judas was out of line–that he had lost the meaning of the moment, and had put a price tag on intimacy.

But here is where Jesus made his mistake: he allowed Judas to leave the room without resolving the conflict. He gave too much credit to the Son of Simon. He figured Judas had heard enough teaching about forgiveness that there was no need to pursue it any further.

Jesus was sadly mistaken.

There is no such thing as a misunderstanding. It is always “your misunderstanding and how right I am.”

Unfortunately, all misunderstandings end in betrayal. If they are not confronted, talked out and healed, the unresolved conflict will eventually open the door to one party or another striking out.

Then we have the scenario of feeling pressure to say “I’m sorry.”

It usually comes forth like, “I’m sorry if I offended anyone.”

Another possibility is, “I’m sorry, and please forgive me.”

It’s amazing how that particular statement, which seems to be filled with humility, can suddenly turn back into anger if the wounded individual does not proffer forgiveness.

The truth is, there is only one response that is correct when ignorance, wilfulness, short-sightedness and nastiness spring from our being and attack another.

“I was wrong.”

Not “I was wrong but…”

Nor “I was wrong in this case, but in another situation it would be different…”

“I was wrong” takes the risk that there will be no forgiveness.

This is what Jesus needed to hear from Judas–even if it required Peter, James and John physically holding Judas in place. Keep in mind–peace-making can be a messy business.

But misunderstanding, “I am sorry if…” and “I am sorry, please…” do not bring about reconciliation.

They are ways for us to maintain our solitary purity while seeming to appear transformed.

You might ask, how do I know this? Because the Good Book tells us that Judas left the party in a snit and went out and plotted with the enemies of Jesus–to betray him.

This was an expensive mistake:

If you leave misunderstanding unhealed, the wound may pour forth blood.


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Jesonian: Enlightened … September 20th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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enlightened thinking

The average man sitting in the audience listening to Jesus of Nazareth believed the following:

1. God was angry and manifested His displeasure through disasters, afflictions and plagues.

2. Nature was beyond comprehension, and to be feared because demons caused illness.

3. People were evil unless they were related to you or were part of your village. Any strangers who lived outside your enclosure were dangerous and needed to be killed.

How do you address such superstition and ignorance?

Here’s one thing we know for certain: Jesus did not cater to their bigotries, wave their flags or agree to their religious lunacy.

Jesus told them that God was our Father. As our Father, He is at least as nice as we are as parents.

Jesus told them that Nature was meant to be understood and discerned, and we can apply what we learn from that study to improve the quality of our lives.

And Jesus told them that we are judged by how we treat our enemies or those who are adversarial to our point of view.

It was an enlightened way of thinking, containing one solid eternal truth:

Where the Spirit of God is, there is freedom.

Every time we try to remove freedom from people, governments, spirituality or relationships, we place ourselves in a Dark Ages of misunderstanding, setting us back generations.

Unfortunately, those who followed Jesus did not remain enlightened.

  • They went on Crusades.
  • They bought human beings and used them as slaves.
  • They attacked their brothers and sisters who had different lifestyles, calling them abominations.

I don’t know where the Spirit will take us in the years to come, but I do know that the true gift of God’s presence will be granted to those who are enlightened.

And to be enlightened, you must believe in freedom instead of legalism.

 

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Populie: The Holy Land … October 29, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Isis, Jew and Crusader

Land: a retreating of the waters, leaving behind soil which is available for living and planting.

Holy: promoting, initiating and welcoming a sense of wholeness.

These are truths.

So what is the populie? Calling some region in Mesopotamia “The Holy Land.”

It is neither conducive to growing much of anything or welcoming wholeness. Even though it’s only the size of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, it has fostered more death, destruction, bigotry, selfishness, greed and lunacy than any other location on the face of the earth.

Yet the entertainment industry loves to make movies about the Crusades and supposedly deep insightful, flicks focusing on the conflicts between the Jews and the Arabs.

Politics certainly enjoys spouting the term “Holy Land” because it welcomes certain constituencies into the mix for large donations.

And religion adores the idea that this space of property has magical powers or is ordained by God to be the prophetic source of spiritual renewal.

The Holy Land is not. I have never had a desire to go there, nor will I ever, of my own volition.

It is occupied by inflexible souls who mysteriously continue to fight a battle among each other to honor their traditions instead of dealing with the realities of our time.

It is evil in the sense that it pulls down the rest of our brothers and sisters living with us on this planet, because supposedly Abraham said something thousands of years ago, which Moses confirmed and Mohammed contradicted.

They are quarreling brothers who bang on our door in the middle of the night because they’re fighting again, and somebody punched somebody in the nose, and we’re supposed to decide if we’re going to call the cops or just make a big pot of coffee.

I must tell you:

  • Jesus found nothing holy about that land.
  • Matter of fact, he prophesied that it would be left desolate.
  • He told them that even though they believed they were the “children of Abraham,” that he existed before Abraham, and therefore trumped the patriarch.
  • He warned them that their holy temple would be torn down.
  • He told his disciples to begin their work in Jerusalem but to get out of there as quickly as possible and take the mission to the more receptive parts of the world.
  • He explained that true worship of God would not be in Jerusalem, but would be achieved through spirit and truth.
  • And even though we try to make Jesus Jewish and connect him to the Holy Land, he made it clear that he wasn’t called to those who thought they were righteous, but instead, to those whom the righteous considered to be sinners.

We must begin to call this desolate, angry, self-righteous location the dark place it truly is, and stop trying to revere it as a special piece of turf. If not, we will perpetuate the myth that if we just send one more army in there on a crusade, we can finally win back God’s holy land.

For if Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Connecticut suddenly decided to start squabbling over land and spiritual heritage, we would go in there and tell them to shut the hell up, get it right or we would close off all supplies and sanction them from our country.

But even though we contend that God is no respecter of persons, we in the United States continue to treat Israel preferentially and look at the Arabs with a jaundiced eye. They probably won’t be ignored, but we need to stop giving them so much of the human stage.

It is not a Holy Land. Stop planning trips there, thinking you’re going to “walk where Jesus walked.”

Because true holiness is where God is.

And the Spirit of God always dwells where there is liberty. There is no liberty in the Holy Land. Even Israel, which claims to be democratic, has restrictions on spiritual expression and prejudice against their neighbors.

Go where there’s liberty, and there you’ll find the Spirit of God. Forgive me for a little bit of flag waving–but that’s why I’m glad to be an American.

And for me, today, as I travel, the Holy Land … is Roanoke, Virginia.

 

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You Just Can’t … June 21, 2013

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swastikaYou just can’t be a German citizen and praise the technological advances of Hitler during the Nazi regime.

You also can’t be a big, fat guy like me and think you’re going to help someone suffering from anorexia.

Also ill-advised is to be a Japanese-American commemorating the great victory of your people on December 7th, 1941, at Pearl Harbor.

May I suggest that you NOT live amongst the American Indians and open up a business selling t-shirts that read, Trail of Tears: Come on! Get Over It!”

Today is not a very good day to be a rapper insisting that the lyrics may SOUND violent, but they’re not actually intended for gangster activity, while simultaneously trying to honor the memory of Lil Snupe.

Even if you’re living in Mexico and have great national pride, it is probably still tacky to discuss how you really “stomped ’em at the Alamo.”

Just a hint to Paula Deen: you might refrain from admitting, with your thick southern accent, that you have used derogatory racial slurs when referring to a population which is growing in numbers, influence and strength.

Here’s a clue about an investment to avoid: don’t put your money into the John Wilkes Booth Theater, even if you believe he was a great actor.

Also wise would be to avoid opening a casino in the Black Hills called Custer’s Last Casino.casino

If you were a minister living in Massachusetts, you might not want to launch any anti-witch campaign.

Even if it was ordained by the Pope, giving a shout-out to the Crusades is very similar to praising Osama bin Laden for his aiming of aircraft.confederate flag

And quite bluntly, displaying a confederate flag while insisting that you’re merely tipping your hat to the heritage of the south does not address the sting of four hundred years of bigotry and abuse.

There are things you just can’t do because they’ve been tainted by the actions of those who came before you. You can feel free to scream about your liberty, but don’t forget: with liberty MUST come justice.

And justice demands we consider someone besides ourselves … while pursuing our individuality.

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Deciding… January 5, 2012

(1,384) 

Fear is the womb that births all indecision.

What makes us afraid?

It is the monsters we chased from our childhood closets, which now have mysteriously found “home” in our adult minds. Most people think the important thing is deciding to do right. Actually, the more valuable choice is landing on the right way to decide. 

I think there are six things that prompt us to “decide,” and the quality of your decisions will be based on which one of these frightens you–or excites you.

1. What’s up? There are many folks who make all of their major directional changes based on the climate of society, the mood of their surroundings or the popular choices of the day. They are literally “blown by the wind.” They move from one thing to another based upon the fad of the moment. They are at the mercy of trends. Of course, we know what the problem is with such a profile. What is presently in vogue will, within a matter of days or weeks, be considered foolish. So if you’re making your decision based on “what’s up,” half the time you’ll be hidden within a  host of adherents and the other half of the time, you’ll be considered out-dated and meaningless.

2. What’s proper? Propriety always harkens to a former time. Former times tend to bring habits to the forefront that are repetitive but not necessarily good. Bad habits breed repression. Repression welcomes sin–and sin ushers in a premature death. Making your personal choices based upon what is proper also puts you at the mercy of the opinion of the strongest and loudest screamer instead of the still, small voice of reason.

3. What’s hard? This is a tricky one–because some people avoid hard things and other people welcome them, feeling they’re very mature because they’re taking on difficult tasks. Can we make something clear? A thing is not better just because it’s harder to do. “Hard” is just a level of fussiness which exists, awaiting an intelligent mind to simplify it. Doing things the hard way is basically admitting you’re stupid–because if any “smarts” existed, a more proficient and easier path would be found.

4. What’s God’s will? This is the one that really makes me laugh. There are people who believe that through prayer, Bible reading or meditation, they are able to make decisions in their lives based upon their discernment of God’s will. This is scary. When I look back over the history of the Crusades and other causes launched in the name of God, a shudder goes down my spine at the notion of anyone believing they are tapping the present daily schedule of the Almighty to find the best approach in any given matter. Actually, God’s will is very simple.  It is: love your neighbor as yourself. And since love and fear cannot coexist and being uncertain of who your neighbor is might stall the process, and an unwillingness to embrace one’s own abilities and emotions could be a deterrent to the conclusion, those very religiously based individuals certainly will find God’s will a bit beyond their groping.

So there are the first four. As you probably can tell, I don’t favor any of them.

  • I will not decide anything based on the vox populi.
  • I certainly cannot condone moving forward on an idea solely determined by its propriety.
  • I am not inclined to pursue a project on the basis of how hard it is–either as a punishment to myself or a proof of my prowess.
  • And honestly, being a mere mortal, accessing God’s will in every matter really is just a case of playing “hot potato.” Because every time I try to toss it off to God, He throws it back my way.

That leaves the final two–and as you probably have guessed, this pair tends to be my favorite.

5. What’s next? Let’s be honest. There is a natural order to things which we sometimes deny because we have pet concepts we want to push to the forefront and often they tend to be out of the flow. On any given day, I know exactly what needs to be done first, second and third, but I may not want to do those things so I pretend they’re unimportant. Life pretty well gives you a “things to do today list,” which you can either ignore or put off–but it doesn’t mean they won’t reappear the following morning. There’s a power in knowing what’s next. Here’s my criterion for what’s next: Of what I presently can do or am willing to do, what is going to create the greater happiness? I will never choose to be unhappy. Even if I am inflicted by disease, my particular attitude will be to move towards happiness and contentment. If you want to know what’s next, find out what’s going to make you happy. If you remove happiness from your life because you think it is unnecessary or unachievable, you are at the mercy of society, propriety, difficulty or a misinterpretation of God’s will. Not a good place to be.

So even when I look at what’s next, I also ask myself, “Is this going to make me and other folks happy?” If the answer is “no,” I am suspicious that this intruder has jumped in line and is not really the next thing I’m supposed to deal with.

6.  And finally, what’s fun? In some ways, we were smarter when wearing short pants. When we were children, we pursued things that were fun and ended up at the end of the day well-exercised, giddy, exhausted and with many friends. What scares away excitement, giddiness and people? Any assertion that fun is not necessary. Because if you’re choosing “what’s next” based on being happy, then deciding what’s fun is just the procedure of making your happiness obvious. If you ask most people if they’re happy, they will say “yes” —  as they frown at you. I just happen to believe that happiness is better expressed through visibly having fun.

As we travel across the country, people will often explain to us that they have to make a decision on whether to have Spirited come into their church. I listen to the tone of their voices.

For some, it’s about, “What’s up?” In other words, “Is this in the flow of our people and will they think it’s a good thing?”

With others, it’s, “What’s proper? Is Spirited going to come in and suggest things we are not presently doing–that might be different?” It’s amazing to me that people expect to have revival in their churches without doing anything new.

Some people want to know if hosting Spirited is going to be hard. They’re afraid there might be a level of difficulty that may surpass their abilities, or that we might make it so easy that they will feel no sense of achievement.

And of course, there are those who think it has to be God’s will. You know, folks, I don’t think I could have traveled for forty years if I didn’t have God as my main investor.

Here’s what I think the basis of every decision should be: What’s next? Is it going to make myself and other folks happier? And: What’s fun? Is that happiness going to be obvious and make us grow into becoming more fruitful individuals?

The first four on our list are decisions based on fear. The last two are decisions of grown-up people who have chased away all the demons — and no longer believe in the Bogey Man.

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