Jesonian… March 11th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Buyer’s remorse.

It is that eerie sensation that seeps into the human heart when the realization that the passion for the project, the person or the purchase has lost some of its original gleam due to the passage of time, and perhaps even the accumulation of disappointment.

It happened to a disciple named Philip.

He was one of the fellows on the ground level of the Kingdom Movement. Matter of fact, it’s believed that he was a disciple of John the Baptist and popped up right after Jesus popped out of the Jordan River.

He was thrilled. He was one of five of the Apostles present for the changing of water to wine. He was so encompassed with the potential of this new experience that he sought out friends, like Nathaniel, and told them that the Messiah had been found, and “come and see.”

But two-and-a-half years later, when there were five thousand hungry men in front of him, and Jesus put him on the spot, asking how Philip intended to feed all those people, he freaked out, explaining that it was too expensive, and ended up feeling like a fool when Jesus found a way.

So on the night of the Last Supper, a weary, flustered and maybe even disillusioned Philip posed a suggestion:

“Show us the Father, Jesus, and it will be enough for us to continue to believe.”

He is rebuked.

Jesus asked him why, after all these years of being in the presence of the Teacher and the teaching, he did not realize that to be part of this beautiful anointing was to be with the Father.

Philip had buyer’s remorse. He was not alone.

  • Judas betrayed Jesus in an extreme fit of buyer’s remorse.
  • Peter denied and decided to go back to fishing before being personally interrupted by Jesus, once again on the seashore.
  • And as you know, Thomas had his doubts.

This problem happens when what we expect is not delivered. It’s why many Christians have a Baptism certificate and a brief story of their salvation, but very little contentment brought about in their Earthly lives.

Jesus was both–he was both a Savior and a motivator.

Most of the churches in America preach him as a Savior. Those who don’t, but rather, present him solely as the motivator, fail to offer his saving grace and forgiveness. But it’s the balance.

Although your church will be quick to tell you what Jesus will do for you, they are not honest about what he will not do:

1. Jesus is not going to take away the problems.

He said, “In the world you have tribulation.” It’s not going away. But your defense is to be of good cheer.

2. Jesus is not going to do all the work.

He said, “You are the light of the world.” Men are going to see your good works. And it is up to each and every one of us to multiply our talents.

3. Jesus also wants us to know that salvation is not a one-time experience.

The remission of our sins is a cleansing, but we continue to experience the “graces of salvation” over and over again, as we walk faithfully through the power of the Gospel.

4. Jesus does not have favorites.

Although the religious system may tell you that the Jews are the “chosen people” or that Christians have become the new “royal priesthood,” Jesus said, “in the Kingdom of God there is neither Hebrew nor Greek, Jew nor Gentile.” God just does not look on the outward appearance.

5. So therefore, Jesus will not join you in hating people.

Matter of fact, if you make the foolish mistake of deciding that certain folks are lesser, those are the very ones he will expect you to love the most.

And finally:

6. Jesus demands visual love.

Not the cursory spoken kind or the single hug during greeting time in the sanctuary, but the temperate, compassionate affection that we grant to one another when periods of craziness seem to make us intolerable.

Are you experiencing some buyer’s remorse?

Are you afraid to admit it?

If you’re smart, like Philip, and you decide to hang around, there is always the possibility of a resurrection … and being filled with the Holy Spirit. 

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Jesonian: The Rule of the School … November 15th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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The latest piece of pseudo-intellectual drivel seems to be the jaded proclamation, “People don’t change.”

It’s especially disheartening when coming from the mouth of a prison warden, a psychiatrist or a minister.

I suppose we could take this entire essay to discuss the validity or over-simplification of such a decree. Matter of fact, as Christians we could cite that even though the disciples spent at least 38 months with Jesus of Nazareth, the amount of personality and ethical change inside each one of them was questionable.

Peter may have confessed his faith, but he was still prone to over-exaggeration and eventually, denial.

James and John may have ceased to be fishermen, but maintained much of their prejudice, wanting to kill a group of Samaritans.

Thomas certainly had a conversion experience, which he often chose to doubt.

And Judas was elected treasurer, only to betray his position… and his friend.

So it is obvious to me that Jesus was the Christ, but not necessarily able to completely change goats into sheep. No, it seems that we get lost in that process and end up basically being asses.

Yet I must tell you, if I thought that change was impossible, I would not be able to tolerate the mediocrity of the world around me.

So what is the truth?

Actually the truth is a coagulation of two principles. Whatever you are, whatever you were, whatever your inklings or whatever your genetics, you can be transformed by a pair of unchanging and necessary conclusions.

We call the first one the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Yet I must tell you, that single concept becomes merely idealistic if you don’t take the “rule to school.”

In other words, if you do not allow the truth of the Golden Rule to enter your daily activities, you will worship the premise as you simultaneously defile it.

There has to be an application for the cleansing power of “love your neighbor.” This is found in John the 8th Chapter, verse 15. Jesus makes a simple statement.

He says, “You judge according to the flesh. I judge no man.”

We do become different people when we realize that “loving our neighbor as ourself” is the survival mode for human interaction, and that the only way to apply it is to never judge anyone.

You may feel an inclination towards a lifestyle, a genetic predisposition, or have just developed habits which seem to cling to you like feathers in the wind, but you can still be completely reborn by realizing that loving your neighbor is refusing to participate in any judgment about him or her.

Are you ready for some truth?

  • Jesus did not believe in adultery, but he forgave an adulterous woman.
  • At no point in the Gospels will you find a situation when Jesus supported gay marriage, yet I guarantee you–he would never condemn a homosexual.
  • It would be difficult to make a case for Jesus being pro-choice, but it would be equally as difficult to think that he would forbid a woman the right to choose.

I am often confused why we think it is necessary to hold a conviction and then force others to comply.

For instance, I do not like alcohol and never have. Yet I would be completely against Prohibition.

I think smoking marijuana is granting yourself a license to be inept in the name of recreational drugs, but by the same nature, I think it’s wrong to condemn and incarcerate those who want to puff.

An obvious way we can all change is to admit that “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the essential chemical compound of life, but the only way to take that rule to school is to refuse to judge anyone.

It is never all right, and certainly is never God-ordained.

Even though the Apostle Paul had his experience on the road to Damascus, by the time he got on the road to Corinth, he had somewhat turned back into an officious, overly opinionated Pharisee.

But there is one thing he never lost: the realization that we are to love one another … which means expressing mercy instead of judgment.

 

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Scratchy… December 30, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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It had been nearly four years since I had been visited by the common curse of a cold. Even though I am around thousands of people who tote germs like little six-year-olds carrying backpacks to the first day of school, I am blessed with an immune system which bunkers me in safely to health.

That is, until I spent four days living in the same house with my children and grandchildren over Christmas. I followed this toxic exposure with a 900-mile drive to Houston, Texas.

So sometime on Thursday, right after I ate my Subway sandwich, the left side of my throat began to itch and tickle, radiating up to my ear.

I knew what this meant. I attempted denial, but when the right side of my throat joined the party, I knew I was in the first throes of incubating a common one.

Here’s the problem: I needed to share on Sunday morning at Bay Harbour United Methodist Church in League City, Texas.

I wanted to do a good job. I know everybody says that, but I like to use my talents at full speed, full throttle and full passion. They are my arsenal–to apologize for a mug that couldn’t win a beauty contest versus a coffee cup.

I was about seventy per cent. So what was I going to do?

Obviously, play to my strengths. For instance, talking is easier than singing.

Also, address the three demons that attempt to invade our foxhole in the midst of battle:

  1. Excuses
  2. Fear
  3. Disappointment

Excuses are the pavement on the road to failure. Fear is the rope that strangles the life out of hope. And disappointment is the drug that puts our effort to sleep.

  • I didn’t make excuses. The audience never knew.
  • I wasn’t afraid. For after all, the worst thing that could happen was that I talked and played the piano, without singing. That’s just not that bad.
  • And I wasn’t disappointed because I got sick. Remembering how mortal we are is what helps us assist other humans.

As it turns out, I had a little more than I thought–maybe 78%.  It was a glorious morning.

I don’t like getting sick. I fight it. But if I’m going to lose my faith, energy and direction every time I sniffle, I will probably not be worth very much and will snuffle out my possibilities.

Excuses, fear and disappointment–they arrive like a scratchy throat, making you believe that they’re here to stay.

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Five Moments … May 10, 2013

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In my not-always-so-humble opinion, there are five moments necessary to experience in order to generate a human life that is valuable and not detrimental to others. Without this quintet of encounters, certain levels of presumption, insecurity, arrogance and frustration overtake us, rendering us ineffective and at times, even nasty.

  1. “I am not God.”
  2. “I am not saved.”
  3. “I am not better.”
  4. “I am not guaranteed.”
  5. “I am not right.”

My particular disasters which instilled these important truths deep within my internal organs were terrifying and even life-threatening. Yet without them I would be a self-reliant egotist, determined to push my will to the forefront, even when it was of lesser quality than my peers.

I found out I wasn’t God when I was a nineteen year old kid. I wrote a series of bad checks, thinking that the Almighty would bless them, covering them at the bank because I was pursuing His will. Fortunately for me, before they bounced and turned me into a felon, I came to my senses, slapped myself around a bit and decided it was better to have money IN the bank when you promised someone he could retrieve it.

I found out I needed to be saved when I was in my early twenties. At the time I was constantly hurting people’s feelings, wondering “what the hell was wrong with them.” I was convinced I was talented and that this was all that was necessary, requiring no common decency or gentleness towards humanity. Fortunately again, God and His friends–people–gave me a very quick lesson in humility.

It became clear to me that I was not better than anyone else when I started to compete in the marketplace and realized there were many people just as good as me, and some even more accomplished. At first I was in denial, making excuses or even attacking my competitors to find holes in their abilities. But eventually I realized that the purpose for having those around you who are equivalent to you is to have collaborators, and the reason for having individuals who are more established than yourself is to have angels, promoting more heavenly results.

Likewise, my concept of feeling guaranteed that God’s grace was always sufficient for me was challenged one night in Mobile, Alabama, when I looked down at the body of my son, the victim of a hit-and-run accident. I realized that misery does not “passover” those who are called to minister, but instead, teaches us to minister more effectively.

And finally, every day of my life I find out that I am not right when my ideas are quickly shown to be errant, weak, outdated or ill-timed. At that point I have a choice. Do I persevere in stupidity, acting like I’m a resilient fellow? Or do I evolve and learn from my mistakes, discovering the beauty of transition?

If you haven’t experienced these five moments in your life, do not despair. Yet you should understand that each one of them is essential in forming a human being from the dust of the earth who truly is in the image of God instead of  one who merely munches on the knowledge of good and evil.

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