Jesonian … April 21st, 2018


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44 words.

Yes, 44 words that changed the realm of faith from a God belief to a source of relief.

Standing on a hill, Jesus of Nazareth explains to his disciples that the law they had been following was being fulfilled in the lifestyle he was teaching. It is a philosophy that no longer promotes worship, praying, fasting and trying to be better than other people. Jesus transforms the message from religion to reality.

And now for the 44 words:
“Therefore…”

In other words, in conclusion. If you were wondering where we were heading, here it is. What follows will be the prophesy of the day.

“…if you’re offering your gift at the altar…”

Church should no longer be your life. If you do go, then go with a good heart, but don’t go anymore because you’re afraid. Don’t go anymore because you think it makes you a cut above the rest of humanity. And make sure when you go, you’re offering something instead of demanding.

“…and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you…”

Tune your spirit. Stop waiting to hear messages from heaven. All the messages will be coming from the Earth. And by the way, get rid of your gender bias. Don’t think the Jesonian is just for the brothers and not for the sisters, or for the sisters and not the brothers. You’re listening because you know if you’re going to hear the voice of God, it will come from those around you. Often it will be expressed as a chunk of disgruntled dissatisfaction they may have with you. In other words, be prepared to change. Don’t think you’re going to participate on Earth without being revised.

“…leave your gift there, in front of the altar.”

Get the point? It’s not about the gift. It’s not about the altar. It’s not about the worship service. It’s not about your devotion. All of that can be left when there’s a need to be a person to another person, to generate something personable.

“…first go and be reconciled to them…”

Cease insisting that this is the hard part. Stop giggling as you pretend that it’s so much easier to love God than it is your fellow-humans. If that’s the case, you’d better start practicing, because God has no intention of accepting a congregation which gathers to criticize the people He loves.

“…reconcile…”

Learn reconciliation. Reconciliation is the measuring stick of the depth of your spirituality.

“…then come and offer your gift.”

It will wait. It’s not as important as the feelings and consideration of another fellow-traveler. This is no longer a reaching for the sky, but instead, reaching out to those around you, and in doing so, finding God.

The sermon that Jesus spoke on that mountain many years ago was based upon the concept that the best way to find God is to stop looking for God, but instead, discover His creation. In doing so, you will ask, seek and knock your way into the Kingdom.

For understand clearly: God will have a people who become people to honor people by working with people–to love people.

*****

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Good News and Better News… August 14th, 2017


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For some ridiculous reason, I occasionally get embarrassed by being happy. I give in to the pressure to act adult, disgruntled, and get tempted to complain about my problems. This is not my nature–I normally have a bubble in my soul which releases a fresh batch of ooey-gooey jubilation.

Yet this seems to bother those who wonder if I have any sensibility about the pain in the world or the suffering in some country they are barely able to pronounce.

I have been called to “brighten the corner where I am.” I am not in Afghanistan. I am not even in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Yesterday I found myself in Haines City, Florida, at the Lamb of God Lutheran Church with Pastor Joe, sitting and sharing with some of God’s wonderful flock.

I was not sheepish. I shepherded these dear souls through a journey laced with the human essential of good cheer. Say what you will about church but it has one function and one alone: find other human beings on the journey and fellowship with them.

Therefore, the byproduct of every experience taking you into into the House of God should be good cheer. For in the world, you only have tribulation, so we need some place to go where we can be of good cheer. It must be the church.

We must stop thinking that the arrival of Cring & Clazzy was a “breath of fresh air,” but instead, understand that stale air is not acceptable.

We cannot go from sucking in oxygen to inhaling fumes. As a congregation, as people, as children of God, as sane humans, we must stand up and demand good cheer:

  • Good cheer in the singing
  • Good cheer in the liturgy (if you have it)
  • Good cheer in communion
  • Certainly good cheer in the sermon
  • Good cheer in the benediction

And even good cheer when you reach the vestibule and discover that your favorite donut has already been eaten by the kids, who were released too early from children’s church.

I talked to some of the most intelligent, caring people you’d ever want to find. I just wonder whether they have the gumption to demand that the church be what it was meant to be–a safe place where we encourage one another, even so much more as we see the world going crazy around us.

The good news is that the world is full of tribulation, and therefore offers no harbor.

The better news is, we can be of good cheer if we start demanding purpose instead of settling for anemic programming.

 

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G-Poppers … August 11th, 2017


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Jon close up

G-Pop spends more time thinking than he does talking. Long before he offers a chat to his children, he tosses the ball of confusion around in his brain to see if he can get it to bounce right.

Such is the case between caring and involved.

Normally we think that if we care, we will become involved–but the danger of becoming involved is, with our assistance, we bring our opinion.

This year G-Pop has learned this lesson with great clarity. He aspired to be helpful and involved. Why? Because he cared.

But he did not believe that caring was enough–caring being that action of expressing concern and standing ready with prayer or even some financial support, to help those around him achieve what they set out to do.

  • “Caring” comes without interference.
  • “Involved” often brings a bit of nosiness and mouth along with the tender touch.

For instance, does God care for us or is God involved? And if He is involved, where does that place free will?

In other words, can you be involved in other people’s lives and still completely honor their choices, without displaying a disgruntled expression?

G-Pop believes the answer is no.

Here’s a truth: it’s better when people work out their own problems. We need things to be our idea. If possible, we need the idea to be born of our will.

Following advice does make you a follower.

G-Pop now realizes that he needs to care, but not get so involved. Caring will always be received well but involvement can be interfering.

So G-Pop says to his children, be careful not to intrude and then become offended because people treat you like you’re an intruder.

“All I was trying to do was help.”

What we should try to do is care–and encourage people as they find their path. Because if we stand afar and care more instead of involving ourselves, the number of people we can bless increases.

Because here’s the fact: involvement is downright exhausting.Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

 

Cracked 5 … May 16th, 2017


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cracked 5 logo keeper with border

Other Names Considered for Jesus (and also the ones who proposed the “handle”)

 

A. Temple Tumbler–presented by the sarcastic Pharisees after Jesus “turned the tables” on them.

 

B. Winey Boy–a quickly devised name by some very drunken souls in Cana who suddenly found themselves slurping a burgundy made out of water

 

C. Jim Bay Luben–a proposal by the Southern Galilean Baptists, who were hoping it might promote Jesus to be more like his cousin, John

 

D. Carpo the Carpenter–a business-package idea by the Nazareth Chamber of Commerce

 

E. Bastard–a never-dying rumor by old, disgruntled Nazarenes who were “month-counters” for Mother Mary.

 

 

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Three Ways to Parent Your Money… September 11, 2014


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disgruntled teenagerMoney is much like the disgruntled, snotty teenager who decides to get even with you by running away from home because you told him or her that the pair of shoes the young’un desires will have to be put off until the next paycheck.money

Also, money will embarrass by going out during this little misadventure and humiliate you, overindulging and even getting in trouble with the law.

What I’m saying in a nutshell is that money needs parenting. Without parenting, it begins to run your household with its bad attitudes, making you cringe in the corner of your bedroom, fearing a knock on the door.

So let me offer three ways to parent your money, making sure that you are still in charge:

1. Always be prepared to give an honest report.

Not only does money fail to grow on trees, but it never sprouts through lies. Pretending you’re something you aren’t is the quickest way to poverty. Failing to recognize the signs of difficulty is not optimism, it’s just stupidity with a smile on its face.

The best way to get in control of your finance and welcome money into your life is to assess your situation without becoming giddy with potential or suicidal with the facts.

2. An organized plan.

Give yourself the greatest gift you can–stop insisting that you’re not an organized person. It’s like taking a dagger and sticking it in your heart and reaching for the band-aids. Life without organization, a plan and clarity to your actions is like walking on the edge of a cliff blindfolded. It is much easier to be organized than it is to put out the brush fires ignited by too many spontaneous choices.

3. A slower pace.

It is a lie that the race goes to the swiftest. It doesn’t. The most important attribute in success is endurance, followed closely by foresight.

Slow down.

If you need five hundred dollars by the end of the month, try to make fifty dollars by the end of the week and see where it takes you.

Life is a much better teacher than opinion. So learn from experience.

And to do so, slow yourself down so you can enjoy the scenery and see the berries hanging from the trees as you go by, and never be hungry.

Just like a teenager, money will try to run your life if you don’t develop a sense of humor and know that you are in charge.

Teenagers don’t have to be insufferable brats. But to stop them, just like with money, you have to make it clear who’s boss.

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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A Spring in My Step … January 12, 2014


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Cypress Trails

Two words. Just a pair of words, which if applied well, makes life so much easier, happier and smoother.

Don’t complain.

“Easier said than done!” squalls the cynic from the back of the room.

Actually when it comes to complaining, the solution for this malady is easier done than said. For no single action has created more sour pusses, disgruntled souls and unwilling participants than complaining. It deteriorates every situation down to a sad conclusion, where you not only are failing to do what you want, but you’re miserable stuck doing what you’re doing. doctor tongue depressor

I would suggest we all become a doctor–an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist:

Eye: stop rolling your eyes and squinting every time something comes along that looks like it’s a little different from your normal purview, and instead, be flattered that you get to try something in a fresh way and maybe for a noble reason.

Ear: stop listening to negative sayers, who have lost all hope in anything excellent being achieved and settled in to pursue the mediocre, strongly suggesting that you join them.

Nose: get your nose out of the air and stop following the ridiculous notion that you are better than anybody else or that your pedigree gives you a pass on the kitchen duty often required in the household of humanity.

Throat: if out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, you might want to build a toll booth in your throat to approve all words passing northward which have an attitude to drag down everybody in the room, southward.

And by the way, you could work on the abundance in your heart. If you change it to good cheer and hope, your words will follow.

Complaining is the exhausting, unnecessary trip around the block, only to end up back where you started, more frustrated.

As I spend the day in Spring, Texas, at Cypress Trails United Methodist Church, I will suggest that they gain the ability to be doctors of the eye, ear, nose and throat.

It will give you a clean bill of health, free of complaining. And once you cease to have anything to fuss about, your load will be lightened and your steps will be more joyful … in Spring, Texas.

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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Unwise… December 23, 2012


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They followed a star. Folks thought that was crazy.

Folks be wrong.

They left their homes. The real estate community frowned.

Realtors were erred.

They went to a foreign land. The Chamber of Commerce was concerned.

The Chamber was short-sighted.

They were individuals who looked up to the heavens, believing that something better than what they had might just be hatching.

They were right.

How could they have possibly known? Knowing is over-rated. Believing and having the tenacity to follow your faith while simultaneously learning from your experience is the only path that really brings fulfillment.

Yet even though they were wise men, they did do one thing very unwise. Upon arriving in Judea, they decided to check in with the local king–Herod–to see if he knew anything about this magnificent vision in the heavens which was proclaiming the birth of a new king. I’m sure they weren’t ignorant–just naive. It’s really the only mistake they made.

And those people who believe in God today, who trust politicians to pursue noble causes, make the identical boo-boo. Politicians suck–and when they stop sucking, they get more money to make sure they can continue to suck. They struggle for power, with no idea of how they are going to use that energy to benefit mankind.

Even though the wise men try to later correct their error by avoiding Herod upon their exit from Bethlehem, they set in motion the wrath of a jealous political despot, who ends up killing children, saddening men and women, and temporarily exiling the hope of the world. It is important for us to learn from their misstep. So here is the greatest formula for finding the Spirit of Christmas: Follow the star. Ignore the king.

There you go. Take this wonderful season to find your faith–what you really believe is important–and then be wise. Don’t try to market your ideas to the kings of commerce, government and religion. They will just take the purity of your intentions and use it for disastrous conclusions.

So how can we follow the star? How can we keep our eyes lifted up to discover the light in dark circumstances? I will give you two philosophies to follow which will always lead you back to Baby Jesus. If you successfully stay away from the kings–that mainly being religion and politics–you will keep these nasty forces from slaughtering off the innocent souls of human beings. Here are the two principles:

  1. NoOne is better than anyone else.
  2. Don’t complain.

You put those two together as a lifestyle, and you will find yourself not only empowered with greater hope, but of deep value to those around you because you will abandon your agenda to be superior while simultaneously eliminating your annoying sensation to be cantankerous. What do religion and politics love? They love to make some people better than other people, while inciting their constituencies to complain about the condition of the world. The end result is disgruntled people who are looking for reasons to fight with others.

The wise men followed the star but tried to involve the king. It didn’t work. Neither can you propose to work in a religious system that is non-responsive to human need and a political one that is oblivious to truth, justice and the American way, and ever achieve anything wise.

Keep a good attitude, believe deep in your heart that no one is better than anyone else, do your best to stop complaining, and you will find yourself kneeling at the cradle of the Messiah.

Now, there’s a Christmas message:

Follow the star. Ignore the king.

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