Good News and Better News… April 24th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3287)

I’m a sucker for kindness.

If you’re going to give me some bad news, do it with a smile. I just don’t buy into this concept that the more grumpy, frowny-faced and serious you are, the better chance you have of passing for a grown-up–or for that matter, making God think you’re truly an observant disciple.

I once wrote a gospel song which had a line about arriving in heaven, which was, “Bursting through the gates, a’laughin’…” (Now whether that will be a chuckle of relief or a belly laugh of victory, I plan on arriving to meet my Father with good cheer.)

So when I came into the doors of Wesley United Methodist Church in West Melbourne, Florida, and saw four beautiful human beings sitting there just smirking, with joy in their eyes, welcoming me–well, I felt good. There’s nothing wrong with that, is there?

Sometimes I think we believe church is a place where we need to feel bad before we feel good. I’d like to skip that step, if you don’t mind.

Now, the church building itself is wide open, like it wants to wrap its arms around you and give you a hug.

Yet it started the day before at sound check when I got to meet Pastor Doug. He’s one of those guys that when you encounter him, you immediately realize you like him simply because he doesn’t lead with a bunch of suspicion, and he actually appears to have an interest in your life. I got tickled because they were having a spaghetti supper on Saturday night and Doug was going to be imitating Elvis Presley.

Now, can you beat that? A good preacher who loves people and doesn’t mind a nice pair of blue suede shoes.

So the next morning, when it came my turn to share my little piece of myself with these darling souls of the kingdom, I just decided to be joyful and honest. My dear Lord, what we could do in this country if our leadership would be honest and joyful, and if that didn’t work real well, they became joyful and honest.

The people of Wesley UMC allowed themselves to be touched so then they were ready to reach out and touch others. I even had one lady who gave me the “Grace” of a wonderful shoulder rub. I can’t guarantee that you’ll get the same treatment–I mean as far as therapeutic muscle relaxation–but I will tell you this: Pastor Doug has these people ready to enact what the Gospel is all about: Love your neighbor as yourself with a special emphasis on making sure that those who love Jesus double-love one another.

So, for convenience, let me box up my conclusion.

Here’s the good news: you should arrive at church with a heart ready to be encouraged.

And the better news is, if we start preaching the Gospel again the way Jesus taught it–which is mingling our own humanity with mercy for others–then we’re going to have a great opportunity to leave encouraged.

Donate Button

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

 

Jesonian… April 8th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3270)

jesonian-cover-amazon

The Disagreeable Disciple

Disciple: I love you, my Lord.

Master: Well, thank you. So let’s get to work.

Disciple: I’m all ears.

Master: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Disciple: I pick up that the key word there is “neighbor,” which connotes they’re neighborly. If you mean being kind to neighborly people, then I get it.

Master: Your neighbor is everybody.

Disciple: I understand your heart, but that seems a little unrealistic.

Master: Judge not lest you be judged.

Disciple: I hear you. Gossip is a horrible thing. But there are things that need to be spoken against. Things that you, yourself, certainly don’t condone. So I believe there’s a difference between speaking up against evil and judging people.

Master: What if I told you that I don’t make that distinction?

Disciple: Interesting.

Master: When you pray, enter your closet, and when you shut the door, pray to your Father in secret.

Disciple: At our latest prayer seminar, we were discussing the power of thousands and thousands of people praying together over a common theme. Sometimes my personal prayers seem so anemic–lonely, if you will.

Master: And the Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.

Disciple: Once again, interesting.

Master: In the Kingdom of God there is neither male nor female.

Disciple: Yet you want is to keep our social roles, am I correct? Women as mothers, men as fathers. Also good to study the different personality traits and emotional leanings. Is this true?

Master: Kingdom of God. Neither male nor female.

Disciple: Much to think about.

Master: And whenever you’ve done it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.

Disciple: Now I know we’re on page! We have a food pantry at the church and we take care of hungry kids in after-school programs. We’re tracking this one down.

Master: By least, I don’t mean social order or poverty. I mean the ones you personally consider the least among humanity. The prisoners, the terminally ill, the outcasts, the individuals who don’t necessarily conform to your moral code.

Disciple: Sounds like you’re suggesting we condone sin.

Master: No, I’m telling you that you’ll be judged by how you treat the people you have deemed to be least.

Disciple: Wow, you’re sure giving me a lot to ponder. But you have to be pleased when you see your people gather to worship you every week in church.

Master: In vain do they worship me, because they teach their traditions as if they are commandments of God instead of mere preferences of this generation.

Disciple: But you do like praise and worship?

Master: Worship should be in spirit and truth–a mingling of our hopes with the impact of reality.

Disciple: You know, I haven’t thought about these things from this perspective for a long time.

Master: I’ve never thought about them from any other perspective.

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

Iffing Way (Part 6): I Quit … November 24, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2423)

If bigger

What if a voice of sanity had risen up at various stages in the story of human history, to offer a challenging view when craziness was about to win the day?

If …

He asked for a private meeting.

It is very difficult to spit out your feelings while swallowing your pride.

He was insulted. Being a fully grown man, he had been called down in front of his colleagues with no regard for his position.

It was certainly improper. If there isn’t a free flow of ideas, then there is tyranny.

Yet somehow or another he had succeeded in calming his spirit to request a moment of time with this friend who had offended him.

It was all a little silly, yet grounded in a principle which was important enough for making a stand.

Mary had no business taking such an expensive amount of ointment and pouring it out on the Teacher’s head and feet. Three hundred dollars! Did he have any idea what three hundred dollars could do to aid at least five hundred families in this poverty-stricken area?

Yet when he lodged his objection, he was tersely set aside and told that he shouldn’t criticize Mary for her deed because she was anointing him “for his burial.”

What a drama king! What burial? He was thirty-three-and-a-half years old and as healthy as an ox.

Judas could not understand why the Teacher was pulling up lame at this point instead of standing strong and propelling the mission to a glorious conclusion. It was ridiculous.

So feeling confronted, Judas had stomped out, not wanting to say something he might regret later.

Judas chose to be the mature one. But now what was he going to do? He would not play the role of the bruised puppy who had been slapped on the nose by his master.

He had been taught by his father Simon to stand up for himself–to find what was important and risk humiliation and even alienation to defend it.

Once, when he was a kid, one of his playmates had stolen some toys from him and he was in the middle of plotting for the young fellow a painful retribution. His dad stopped him, telling him never to betray his own conscience and soul, but instead, to confront his adversary and try to find terms of peace.

So Judas decided to talk to Jesus.

“Listen, I was really offended by what happened last night.”

Jesus remained silent.

Judas continued slowly. “I want us to be able to discuss this without me playing the part of the disciple and you being the big boss.”

Jesus continued to listen.

“You see, Jesus, my problem is that I don’t think we should waste money and then preach a message of taking care of the poor when we, ourselves, are squandering cash.”

Jesus sat quietly without moving a muscle.

A bit frustrated, Judas pushed on. “Are you listening to me? Do you feel what’s in my heart? Do you appreciate my opinion, or since it’s different from yours, is it irrelevant?”

Finally Jesus spoke. “What is it you want, Judas bar Simon?”

“That’s easy,” replied Judas. “I want to be heard.”

Jesus paused and then looked into his eyes. “I can hear you–unless what needs to be done is more important than your words.”

“Are you pushing me out of this?” demanded Judas with a bit of heat.

Jesus sat quietly, without speaking a word.

“Then I quit,” said Judas. “I cannot stay somewhere that I’m not respected, and my father taught me not to seek revenge or betray people just because they disagree with me.”

“Your father taught you well,” said Jesus.

“So this is it?” punctuated Judas.

“That’s up to you,” said Jesus.

“It doesn’t seem to be,” replied Judas. “It seems like you want me out.”

“No,” said Jesus. “There are just certain things that have to be in my message, in timing and in the flow. Your comments were not within those boundaries.”

Judas wanted to continue to argue but found it difficult to do so because Jesus was still warm, but no longer open.

“I guess this is it,” said Judas.

“I guess so,” said Jesus, and inserted, “I wish you well.”

Judas turned and walked from the room. He should have known it wouldn’t work out–he was from Judea and the rest of the followers were from Galilee. It wasn’t an issue of prejudice–rather, culture.

He went back home to South Judea, to Kerioth, where he settled in, started a family, but tried to keep up with the affairs and times … of the every-growing Kingdom Movement.

Donate Button

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

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

*****

Check out Mr. Kringle’s Tales…26 Stories’Til Christmas

The Best Christmas Stories You’ll Ever Read!

Click on Santa to browse "Mr. Kringle's Tales ... 26 Stories Til Christmas"

Click on Santa to browse “Mr. Kringle’s Tales … 26 Stories Til Christmas”

Jesonian: Good Christian Folk … February 9, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2146)

better Conestoga WagonIt became very obvious to me that I needed a new word–a different term to express the faith I hold dear and the devotion I feel as a disciple of Jesus.

The signature title, “Christian,” had lost its impetus, credibility and definition. Too many people had attached themselves to it like leeches, sucking the blood of Christ out of the experience and leaving behind all the powerful notions of brotherhood and human excellence.

There was a time when “Christian” was a magnificent proclamation, producing clarity in the minds of those who heard it. When the American pioneers were making their way West across the mountains in their Conestoga wagons, the phrase, “good Christian folk” was an oasis of hope and a promise of tenderness.

Matter of fact, when informed that people were “good Christian folk” you knew four things:

  1. These were people who would give you a chance and not judge you.
  2. If you were hungry they would feed you. Thirsty, they would give you drink, and if you didn’t have a place to sleep, they would provide a bed.
  3. They would always turn the other cheek instead of getting pissed off and allowing their emotions to overrule their devotion.
  4. They were determined to work hard without bitching.

Somewhere along the line, each of these principles has been abandoned, a generation at a time, until the term “Christian” has transformed itself into a safe word, to be interpreted as either “a patriotic American” or an individual who goes to church.

  • For instance, we have exchanged the lack of judgment of others for a moral majority.
  • We’ve made feeding the hungry and helping the homeless a “bleeding-heart liberal” sentiment.
  • “Turning the other cheek” has been rejected in favor of standing up for yourself, whether you’re right or wrong.

And hard work has been displaced by seeking ways to gain finance by keeping money away from those trying to ascend

We need a new word.

So one day I just decided to invent one. I didn’t do it to be revolutionary. Nor was I trying to be merely clever. I wasn’t attempting to attack the religious convictions of others.

I just could no longer call myself a generic Christian, and allow you to quietly fill in the blanks based upon your observations or prejudices.

The word I came up with was “Jesonian.” It is taking into consideration the sentiments, the heart, the mission and the ministry of Jesus instead of trying to balance the entire Bible as a unit for mutual appreciation.

It was my way of saying that what Jesus did is more powerful than the Book of Deuteronomy.

It was my way of proclaiming that I was not a Jew nor a Muslim, but rather, an individual who follows Jesus because he respects the pursuit of information without embarrassment, and gives freedom to others, even when he was denied it by their bigotries.

I would love to go back to a time when the phrase “good Christian folk” was not only significant, but also let everybody know the true extent of your passion.

But until that becomes true again, I am Jesonian. And Jesonian means to be a follower of Jesus, while honoring knowledge and giving place to the liberty of others.

Donate Button

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

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Duck for Cover… December 21, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2097)

Duck DynastyHere was my plan.

Having grown sick of seeing people park at shopping malls in total disregard to the rules and regulations, in a fit of what I would call righteous fury, I decided I would go out and make a citizen’s arrest of individuals who were impinging on the rights of others by where they perched their vehicles and even how they decided to wiggle into spaces.

I found myself a fake prop gun and headed out toward my local shopping establishment. Of course, it didn’t take me any time at all to locate transgressors. If you’re looking for people who make mistakes, who are breaking the law AND you have enough pickiness in your own soul to incriminate them, you can quickly discover a whole prison-load of infractors.

Lickety-split, using my fake gun to intimidate, I wrangled up fifteen perpetrators and forced them to get into my big, black van, slamming the door, locking it, intimidating them with my presence, and gleefully dialing the police department, to inform them that I had faithfully executed the mission of honoring the laws of the land.

To my surprise, when the police arrived, rather than cuffing these illegal parkers, they instead placed the shackles on my wrists and led me away as I screamed my objections to such foul treatment for a faithful disciple against moving violators.

The individuals I had detained were released and offered apologies by the police department, as I turned to one of the nearby officers and said, “What did I do wrong? I just followed the letter of the law and discovered those who weren’t, pointed it out and detained them until such time that YOU could offer sufficient punishment.”

He replied, “The law has justice and justice has mercy.”

So true.

Of course, I didn’t actually go to the mall with a fake gun. I share the story to make a point.

It’s something that Phil Robertson forgot a few days ago when he ran into the public square and insisted that people listen to the law of religion and theology and follow it because it was written a certain way at a certain time.

Mr. Duck Dynasty forgot that God often contradicts His own edicts by offering grace for a multitude of sins. Even if Phil feels that homosexuality is a sin, he didn’t take into consideration that Jesus, when confronted with the blatant interpretation of Mosaic law concerning stoning a woman caught in adultery, turned his back on the commandment and rose up and forgave her.

In the process of pursuing justice for each and every one of us, God frequently contradicts the laws that mankind interpreted to be His will–in order that He might rescue people from destruction.

Because it’s not just about the law. Justice comes to play.

And justice is when we’re each given a chance, individually, to be viewed by a loving Father who evaluates us personally. And even then, when justice has had its day, mercy is greater than all of it.

My advice to anyone who thinks they understand the Bible, especially as it pertains to someone else’s life, is to just shut the hell up.

Because even though people may commit indiscretions by your standards, God does not look on the outward appearance.  He looks on the heart.

And if He peers, from His heavenly home, on the hearts of two people in love, don’t you ever assume that he turns them over to check what gender they are.

My brother, Phil, is probably a good and kind man in his normal moments, but he mistakenly thinks he can detain others because there may be some sort of law permitting him to do so.

Justice and mercy always trump the cold reading of heavenly commandments.

 

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

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: