Good News and Better News… April 17th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3280)

Jesus was the Good Shepherd. (Well, I guess He still is, since no one else is qualified or particularly interested in the job.) He spent his whole life trying to find a way to be a caretaker for sheepish human souls.

It began with thirty years of family life–a mother, father, sisters and brothers trying to get along in cramped quarters, being hunted down daily by poverty.

Then, when he felt a stirring in his soul to do more, his desires were struck down by the locals, who insisted he should remain the “carpenter’s son.”

So he moved a little bit down the road to a town called Capernaum, and started a house-front church–Peter’s house. It became very popular–so much so that the folks literally started tearing the walls out.

But then his family got wind of his doings, thought he was crazy and came out to take him home. A little bit of scandal. Suddenly the citizens of Capernaum were not quite as interested anymore.

So Jesus turned to his handful of disciples and said, “Well, let’s take the show on the road.”

He became an evangelist. Since he figured no one in Galilee or Judea was particularly interested, he went to Samaria. He met a woman who helped him build energy and in no time at all there was some excitement and thrilling deeds in the works.

Unfortunately, when he returned back to Samaria shortly thereafter, they wouldn’t let him share anymore because they found out he liked Jews–and they hated them.

He decided to return to Galilee to live off the land and just see who came in. Eventually there were seventy of them–one of those church sizes that is so common today.

Jesus motivated them, sent them out two by two, and their work was so successful that within a few months, Jesus found himself teaching five thousand people–an unbelievable growth spurt.

Jesus had himself a mega church. He was not only leading them but also feeding them. But when he began teaching them about personal responsibility, and the fact that his congregants needed to be on a spiritual journey to have the heart of God toward humanity, they objected. Matter of fact, they got angry, started “splits,” and before you know it, Jesus lost 4,988 members.

He was left with twelve.

That’s a pretty drastic dip. I would think he would have had a tendency to question his technique, method or even wisdom. But Jesus went the other direction. He continued to minister to the twelve disciples, but he focused on three: Peter, James and John.

And although the Good Book says that five hundred witnesses saw him after the resurrection, only 120 were around for the Day of Pentecost.

But Jesus had even shrunk his vision of the three “best friend” disciples down to one.

Yes, on a cool morning by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus stood by the water with Simon Peter and said, “Feed my sheep.”

When it turned out that Peter got a little weary, Jesus appeared on a back road near Damascus and told a chap named Saul of Tarsus, “Stop fighting it. You are meant to be a messenger.”

So even though thousands and thousands of people came Jesus’ way, encountered his message, some even walking away with miraculous healings, he intelligently placed focus on two fellows, who made it their mission to teach the parishioners around them to become disciples–and to change the world.

The good news is that the Gospel is not about building churches and getting attendance. It’s about making disciples.

And the better news is that a contented, fulfilled, excited and creative disciple can reach millions.

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Jesonian: Reverend Meningsbee (Part 17) Parking Lotsa… August 21st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3040)

Reverend Meningsbee

It was apparently the Sunday that would never end.

As Meningsbee headed out the door of the church, evicted from the House of God by Sister Matrisse, standing next to his car was a smiling Sammy Collins, with all the jovial attributes of a freshly pardoned Thanksgiving turkey.

Sammy rushed toward him, vigorously shook the pastor’s hand, and gave him a huge “Day of Pentecost” bear hug–the kind that leaves you torn between appreciation and embarrassment.

Releasing his grip, Sammy blurted, “Are you prepared to take in about fifty ready-to-go souls who already know where the exits are and the location of the bathrooms?”

With this he laughed–very pleased with his joke, which he obviously had rehearsed.

Meningsbee crinkled his face. This gave Brother Collins permission to continue.

“Whoo-ee! We had a big blow-up this morning down at the church at the Holiday Inn Express–so much so that the front desk lady came and told us to tone it down. We were bothering the other guests who were still enjoying their continental breakfast.”

“What was the problem?” said Meningsbee, concerned.

“I confronted him,” said Sammy. “Yes, I confronted Patrick Swanson about what he said to you in my living room the night I invited you over to fellowship in my home.”

“You heard?” asked Meningsbee.

“Yes. I snuck in the dark room where my kids keep their toys–nearly tripped over a Tonka truck–but I was curious why Patrick wanted to talk to you. Never one to be shy, I decided that since it was my home, I had the right to know.”

“So you’re the one who told everybody in the church about our conversation.”

“Absolutely.”

“Well, he thought it was me,” cited Meningsbee.

“Sorry about that, but I had to let him think that way until I could get all the friends and neighbors organized for the revolt, and the opportunity to return to the Garsonville Church–our home church. Preacher, most of my kin is buried out there in the back section of the property. I could show you their gravestones. This is my church. This is where I want to live. This is where I want to die. So we’re comin’ back.”

Meningsbee stood quietly. The joy on Sammy’s face had disappeared quickly as he told his tale of dissension and vengeance. He was now flushed and also a bit bewildered about why the good reverend was not jumping up and down for the chance to include more sheep and coffer stuffing.

Meningsbee realized he had to say something. “Sammy, Sammy, Sammy. I love ya’. But the church is not a club, though it might seem that way since we collect weekly dues. It’s not a game. The choices we make are often life and death. You must believe me when I tell you that the church also is not a family reunion, though we are all part of the same bloodline. God knows, it’s not a political party. We’ve already chosen our leader. Sammy, well…it’s an adventure. Or maybe a competition. Yes, it’s an adventurous competition, to see who can love their neighbor as themselves the most and still remain deliriously happy.”

Sammy’s dark cloud burst. “Listen, Meningsbee, I didn’t come for a sermon.”

“Oh, you’ve gotta forgive me,” said the pastor. “I didn’t get to preach one today so I guess I felt a little cheated.”

Sammy frowned like a frowning man frowns when frowning is in order. “So you don’t want us?”

“I don’t get to choose,” said Meningsbee. “I was just explaining to you how we view the kingdom of God.”

So … Sammy Collins turned on his heel and walked back to his car sadly because he was very religious.

 

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Jesonian: Fire, Wind and Water … July 13, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2290) 

PentecostFire, wind and water–the three ingredients of the Day of Pentecost.

It was the appointed time in the history of human kind when God once and for all infused His spirit inside our spirit, to create what He hoped would be a spirit of revival.

  • The fire–the spoken word through our tongue.
  • The rushing mighty wind, displaying the power of God.
  • And the water of baptism, to wash away the enormity of sin.

But you see, this all just sounds like a sermon–the kind of clever parallels that ministers and theologians put together in the privacy of their “den of simplicity,” to try to impress congregations with a bit of insight to mingle with their devotion to God.

Honestly, it’s just too religious. Truthfully, it bores.

Because if you get fire, wind and water out of order, nothing is effective.

To lead with fire–or talking–burns everybody up.

Too much wind of religious practice blows out the fire, leaving just a hint of smoke.

And water can just drown us, dousing everything so that it’s impossible to ignite the flame.

What I would like to do is take the religion and holiness out of all this speak and instead, make it clear exactly what it means to be Jesonian, a follower of Jesus, instead of a generic Christian–one who reveres Christ.

HandBecause if the ideas of Jesus of Nazareth did not set us free by offering truth, but were just another path of righteousness, then perhaps the notion that one well-beaten path is as good as another would be well-founded.

But Jesus didn’t come to start another religion. He came to generate a reasonable and transferable lifestyle.

So here’s the real fire:

No one is better than anyone else.

These words set ablaze all the prejudice, superiority, self-righteousness and arrogance that exist in our world, and purge the forest of misunderstanding.

Here’s the wind:

Find out what you can do and do it well.

After all, just speaking, promising, blustering and preaching don’t carry any mighty effect. But the confidence you gain by realizing that you have a talent and purpose, and then multiplying that ability to the point where you believe you can do it well, creates a breeze of creativity and hope to those around you.

And the water:

Get what you need out of life and then share the balance with everyone else.

Life is neither about fasting nor is it about hoarding. It is about securing the air mask on your own face before you try to help others breathe.

It is knowing exactly what satisfies your soul and not feeling the need to have more–or less–but if you do have more, strategically getting rid of it to the souls that God sends your way.

The Jesonian lifestyle is realizing that the power of God is in the fire, the wind and the water. But rather than teaching about it figuratively, we go out and speak and live that “no one is better than anyone else” as we find out what we can do, discover opportunities to do it well, and in the process get what we want–and give away the rest.

It is why I am a follower of Jesus. Every other philosophy and religion deals in too much symbolism.

These three abide.

These three can change our world.

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