Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4126)

Sitting Thirty-One

And then all at once, an interruption came to rob the attention from the cause. The priest sank to his knees, seemingly overcome by the desert heat. He grabbed his head as the perspiration poured off his face. The gathered horde of critics moved to his side, deeply concerned for his well-being.

“You see what you’ve done, boys? I’m very tired of your disrespect,” said the suit.

The robe stepped forward threateningly. “You must learn to hold your tongue, young man.”

And the priest, still on his knees breathing heavily, voiced his objection. “My collar does not pinch me.”

He turned to those holding him up, finishing. “I will be fine, my brothers. Just a little too much heat.”

All the adults turned with one disapproving gaze in the direction of the pair of renegade escapees.

Pal stepped forward. “Listen, you should not be here. He’s sick. Just leave us alone. If you are truly men of God, as you say, you need to realize that there’s nothing wrong with love between two friends.”

“Honor your father and mother,” replied the suit.

All the men vigorously nodded their heads in agreement. They had finally found a common axiom which they could all agree upon.

Iz and Pal looked at the four men and then back at each other. Trying to talk to these immovable statues was a fruitless task. It seemed they were speaking different languages.

“Understand this,” said blue jeans. “We were sent to resolve this peacefully. We mean you no harm. We’re not trying to overtake you. But when they come with the rally, they will not be as nice as we have been to you.”

“Why can’t you just leave us alone?” demanded Pal.

“Because you are children,” responded the collar.

“Weren’t you a child once?” queried Iz.

Now standing solidly on his feet, he replied, “Yes. But I’ve put away childish things.” His face was still flushed with crimson.

Iz stopped and held his hands up in the air, requiring a reprieve. Several times the collar, the robe, the blue jeans and the suit tried to speak, but he covered his ears.

When Iz saw that their lips didn’t move any more and silence had settled in, he said, “I guess we’re just not ready to put away childish things—because you grown-ups pack away all of their dreams along with those childish things. We are not ready to be dreamless.”

The robe screamed at the top of his voice, “Is it true there’s a hand grenade?”

Pal was very nervous, but somehow or another managed to remain cool. He glanced over at Iz, who displayed an unsettling, icy stare. “Would you like to see it?” he asked. “Or would you like to hear it?”

The men were not willing to overwhelm the two boys—not at the risk of their own lives. The meeting was over. The committee stared at the unflinching features of the young men. One by one, the invaders turned and walked slowly down the hill.

Collar spoke as he left. “May it never be said that we didn’t try to warn you.”

Pal yelled after them as they trudged along. “How about Joseph and his brothers? They lived in Egypt and lived in peace—Jew and Arab. Did anyone hold a rally and try to stop them? Were they wrong, Mullah?”

There was no more response.

After all, the mission was not about discovering the truth or even discussing the facts. It wasn’t even about redeeming the time. The whole goal had been to get the little boys to do what little boys were supposed to do.

Yet what do you do when you’re old and the young will not listen? What is your recourse when boys grow into men without your permission?

Iz and Pal stood and watched as the men finished their walk and disappeared.

The rally would be in two days. That meant there were forty-eight hours of freedom left—guaranteed space for Iz and Pal.

They decided not to waste a second of it thinking about religious figures who frowned and never smiled…and also resembled melting snow that had no place in the desert.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4119)

Sitting Thirty

There was an attempt at a silent meeting of the minds.

Those melting in the desert heat who were over eighteen years of age peered at one another, trying to decide who should speak up next to foil the efforts of the little ingrates. In the meantime, Iz frowned. He had grown weary of the conversation.

Before the inquisitors could come to terms on whose turn it was to interrogate the boys, Iz spoke up. “Here—I have some questions. Listen, if you can answer them, then I will certainly stay silent and receive what you have to say. Let me start with you, Rabbi. Are Ishmael and Isaac brothers—both sons of Abraham?”

The shirt and tie cleared his throat. “Well, actually, half-brothers. Abraham had Ishmael with a slave girl and Isaac was born under the true promise of God.”

“E-e-e-e-h-h-h, there’s the buzzer,” said Iz. “Wrong again. They’re either brothers or they’re not. And actually, Ishmael was Isaac’s older brother. Don’t you think God knew he needed an older brother? Weren’t they supposed to stay together?”

The mullah stepped forward. “My answer would have been quite different…”

“Yes,” Pal interrupted. “I know your answer. I learned it early on. You believe Ishmael was a child of promise, too, and he was mistreated by the Jews and forced into exile, where God raised him up to be equal. But here’s my question, Mullah. Doesn’t that make him the underdog? Aren’t you always teaching that we have to struggle to live up to the same standard as the Jews instead of having our own identity, our own mission?”

The mullah chuckled. “You are so young. You do not understand, and I don’t have the time to educate you.”

“Next question,” said Iz, inserting himself. “This one goes to the guy with the funny collar. Was your Jesus a Jew, and if he was, why didn’t he come as an Arab instead?”

The collar spoke. “By the way, I am Father Shannon, and you’re right. I believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and we do believe Jesus was a Jew…”

Pal raised his hand. “So why should I care about him? Why do I want another Jewish guy to be in charge of me, telling me I’m not part of the promise of God?”

Blue jeans interceded. “Actually, according to Christian theology, Jesus was Jewish on his mother’s side, but spent most of his early years in Egypt, as an Arab. Lots of theologians believe God wanted Jesus’s disciples to take the message to the Jews, Arabs and Afrikaans first. Well, they really didn’t. They ended up taking it to the Jews, Greeks and Romans.”

“You see?” screamed Iz. “They screwed up, and because they screwed up, you all got different names for the same things that end up doing nothing for anybody. And Pal and I get messed up because we don’t get to be friends, ’cause you guys can’t even agree on what clothes to wear. One of you’s got a collar pinching your throat, another is dressed like a businessman, you over there—well, you’re wearing a robe like some sort of shepherd, and dude—you’ve got on blue jeans, trying to pretend like you’re young.”

“I hear a lot of anger,” said Blue jeans.

“I see a lot of stupid,” said Pal.

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Jesonian … March 31st, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3628)

 For thirty-six hours, God walked away and left humanity to dangle in its notorious decisions.

Long ago, from six o’clock Friday to six o’clock on Sunday morning, the conclusions derived by the honoring of religion, the promotion of politics and the inclusion of jealousy reigned supreme on the Earth.

In the process, a hapless lamb was slaughtered so that a less-than-noble tribe of Bedouins could believe they were special because their ancestors had the fortitude to escape Egypt.

A governor of Judea slinked away to Caesarea to spend a quiet weekend with his wife, only to discover that she was enraged because he had failed to take her dream into consideration when judging an innocent man.

A betrayer from Kerioth who was blindly jealous of his Master, his best friend, climbed a small hill, tied a rope around his neck and hung himself from a tree.

Soldiers were demanded to guard a tomb to make sure that nobody went in, or for that matter, nobody came out.

Disciples who had followed a messenger of love were scared into hiding because they simply believed that “loving your neighbor as yourself” was not a greeting-card sentiment.

Repairmen came to clean up after an unexpected earthquake shook the region, leaving behind great damage, even in the Temple.

The world proceeded with a nauseating sameness, which gained the smugness of superiority because it appeared that any variables were nailed down and silenced.

The kingdom of religion seemed to succeed–a philosophy contending that tradition must decide.

The kingdom of politics stomped around the Great Hall, believing that greed decides.

And the kingdom of jealousy slithered away to lick its wounds, confident of temporary victory because fear had made its decision.

For thirty-six hours, God removed Himself from the circumstances, leaving religion, politics and jealousy to win the day.

It seemed that the obvious forces in power were as formidable as advertised–because everything which had objected, contradicted or shared a different approach was beaten, crucified and buried.

At first sight, there was no light.

And then God returned.

Actually, it was the Kingdom of God, which is within us. It is a Kingdom where faith decides because we are the ones who offer the input.

Even though the disciples of the slain Master were still tucked away, three women bravely made their way to a tomb.

They were not expecting a resurrection.

They were not anticipating finding a miracle.

They did what women have done since the beginning of time–they viewed how men had screwed everything up and they came to clean up the mess.

No bands played, no dignitaries arrived with a key to the city, no men who had pledged eternal allegiance surfaced.

Just three women carrying a bunch of spices, which they immediately dropped when they saw an empty tomb.

Easter is a time when we celebrate more than a resurrection. It is a moment in history when God shows us that even though insanity may temporarily take control, His grace, mercy, understanding and wisdom are never far away.

It was not easy to survive thirty-six hours without God. But because those thirty-six hours showed us the foolishness of religion, politics and jealousy, we can now revel with great joy in the Kingdom of God, which allows our faith to decide.


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Jesonian … December 23rd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3530)

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A baby being born in a sheep stall in Bethlehem of poor Palestinian parents is not difficult to believe. After all, poverty extracts much of the comfort of good cheer.

Maybe the angels seem a little far-fetched to you (but you know how it is with stories about your young’uns.)

Believing that a year-and-a-half later, a troop of astrologers made their way into town to proclaim this child the hope of the world and the King of the Jews does seem highly unlikely–yet there are always people who have their eccentric ways and live them out because they have enough money to fund them.

Comprehending that there could be a leader of a nation who was so insecure that he was frightened of any competition, and scared a young family away, fearing for their lives, does not seem improbable. Matter of fact, it could be ripped from the headlines. One more refugee family ending up in a foreign land where they have neither kin nor kind is certainly well within the grasp of reality.

Having that young boy return to his alleged home town at age seven, carrying all the trappings and mannerisms of the heathen, would certainly make growing up difficult, not to mention the colliding wills of an every-growing collection of siblings.

Thinking that this boy would have no interest in carpentry, but instead, a precocious passion for humanity and the things of Spirit, is not implausible. After all, he’s the ugly duckling, whom we assume might one day become a swan. He grew in wisdom and stature, and even though he was a foreigner, gradually gained the favor of his neighbors.

It’s not difficult to believe that he lost his Papa, his only real connection with the village of Nazareth, and like many young men, launched out to find some purpose, ending up at the Jordan River, interacting with a wild and wooly cousin named John.

You can certainly believe he got baptized, and probably went out into the wilderness for a while, just to find himself, coming back with claims of interfacing with the devil. You might even forgive his youthful explanation, knowing that to some degree, we all wrestle with our demons.

But the story stalls.

He is rejected by his home town, moves to Capernaum next to the Sea of Galilee, encompassed by a sea of apathy, picks up some friends and followers, and starts traveling the countryside. It is hit-and-miss at best.

It is at this point that many folks who consider themselves to be intelligent and reasonable become cynical about a miracle-worker who calms the waves and casts out demons. But to a certain degree, even those sardonic souls might be able to explain away this and that, but still maintain their interest in the story–especially since he begins to hammer away at religion, loses the favor of the crowd and opens the door of the hierarchy to plot against him, find a betrayer, try him, beat him, nail him to a cross and kill him.

If the story ended there, the baby born in Bethlehem had a life that was a complete failure. His friends are scattered in every direction, his movement was about to become a joke–a piece of farcical history.

So this is where faith comes in. That’s right–you don’t really have to use much to this point. You can just glide along with the story, picking and choosing at will.

But the tale that unfolds, spoken of by those who claimed to be eyewitnesses, is that this baby of Bethlehem rose from the dead.

Now … faith is in full function and also full demand.

Did Jesus of Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth, Jordan River, wilderness, Capernaum and Mesopotamia end his life as a failure, beaten down by his critics?

Or did God, the power of the Ethos and the Spirit of the Universe, choose to resurrect him to give the message one more chance?

It’s a very important decision.

It changes this story from a baby shower to a heaven-ordained miracle.

For as we know, several weeks later, a hundred and twenty people in an Upper Room believed it was true. Twelve disciples gave their lives as martyrs, insisting they had witnessed a resurrection.

And at last count, 2.2 billion humans still living two thousand years later have taken their faith beyond the crib, past the crypt … and placed it in the Christ.

 

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Jesonian … December 9th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3516)

jesonian-cover-amazon

To the classic question, “Were you born in a barn?” I can truthfully answer, “Matter of fact, I was.”

Although my good friends, Matthew and Luke, did a charming job relating the circumstances of my coming into this world, many layers and textures of the actual tale were left out in favor of a concise sharing, a Hollywood ending with all the participants–shepherds, wise men, angels and Holy Family–lined up in a row for a photo op.

Certainly beautiful and even miraculous, the actual unfoldings were different. I did not learn all the factors of my birth in Bethlehem until I was twelve years old. Mary and Joseph wisely chose to withhold some of the more frightening aspects of the experience from my ears until I was of an age when I could at least attempt comprehension.

But following a trip to Jerusalem, where I was particularly disobedient to them by chasing my curiosity instead of using my common sense, they sat down one night along the trail and spilled.

First, let’s understand that a young girl getting pregnant without a husband was always met with shunning or stoning. Mary’s simplicity and piety did not spare her from the wicked tongues of the gossips.

Joseph felt pressure. We’re told that an angel spoke to him, but Joseph never confirmed that with me. He said he was tortured in his dreams and finally realized that he loved my mother more than he wanted the approval of the town elders.
He did not need to make the journey to Bethlehem with Mary–he could have represented on his own to give the information about the taxes. He brought her because he was afraid to leave her alone.

So they made a fifteen day journey to a little town outside Jerusalem, which had no significance in their lives other than the fact that some “Great-Great Somebody” was born there and Joseph happened to be part of that clan.

When Mother and Father were unable to access lodging in the houses surrounding the town square, they quietly slipped into the stable, hoping not to be discovered. The innkeeper found them huddled in a corner among the animals, and when he saw that Mary was hopelessly pregnant, he chose to leave them alone rather than interfering.

They were stowaways in an animal shelter.

The birth was difficult because Mary was so small, weary from the journey–and both of them completely inexperienced with the process.

No shepherds arrived that first night. No angels sang. Nothing but grunting animals, relieved parents because the baby actually came out whole, and a chill in the air disguised by the heated odor of the stable’s occupants.

The next morning Joseph went to try to find food, and both of them realized there was no place for them to go. They would need to stay where they were for eight days to fulfill the Jewish law on circumcising the baby, so they remained as quiet as possible, hoping the innkeeper would leave them alone.

Three days passed with them scrounging for food, tucking themselves away in the farthest corner of the manger. It was on the fourth night that some shepherds did arrive. They looked perplexed, abashed and completely out of their element. They explained that they had been spoken to from the skies and told to come to find a baby in a stable.

It made no sense. Matter of fact, there was a sniff of alcohol on all three of them which hinted that the visit from heaven might have come from a flask. But Mary and Joseph listened politely, and it made for great conversation over the next few days while they waited for the circumcision.

Arriving at the temple on the eighth day, they were accosted by two very old, wild-eyed individuals–one man and one woman–who claimed the gift of prophecy. They told Mary and Joseph that the baby was going to be great and amazing. Even though Mary and Joseph wanted to believe the words, they feared the utterings were coming from dementia rather than another dimension.

Then things became really difficult. There was no need to go back to Nazareth. The presence of the baby would only increase the gossip.

So Joseph talked to the local carpenter and secured a single room in his home in exchange for work. The job included repair work, masonry and even some garbage collection.

They found contentment, until Joseph was awakened by an angel. (This time he really believed it was an angel.) He was told to leave Bethlehem to protect me from danger. When Joseph told me the story, he said it was the hardest decision he had ever made. It seemed illogical, for they had been in the carpenter’s home for a year-and-a-half and had found some peace of mind. Leaving seemed futile, if not insane.

Before departure could be executed, there was a visit from foreigners–those wise men mentioned in the Gospel story. They brought gifts. They inserted finance into a family that was about to be on the lam from the law. It was certainly timely.

The visitors explained about a star in the sky, but Mary and Joseph never really understood the significance, nor the tie-in.

During the journey to Egypt and the next six years of exile, I developed a separation anxiety. I just never felt part of anything. When Mary and Joseph started having other children, I didn’t feel like a brother. It was more like I was an intrusive uncle or a foster child.

This haunted me my whole life. I never felt quite secure with my surroundings. There were times I left the fellowship with my disciples to slip away and get my head straight, so I wouldn’t come off like a crazy man, nervous and frustrated.

Even though Egypt saved me from King Herod, the rejection hung in my mind throughout my life. I had to be careful not to get offended by the treatment I received. I learned mercy because I had no sense of mercy being given to me.

It became especially strong, and nearly violent in my soul, when Nazareth rejected my ministry, and then my mother and family thought I was crazy. I had to walk away from them.

You see, Christmas is a different tale to me.

It’s a story like many stories in the sense that God’s hand is not completely obvious in the moment, and is only unveiled through the endurance of his followers.

God picked the right pair. For if Mary had been prissy, Joseph would not have been able to manage without her. And if Joseph had been too conventional, Mary would never have been able to muster a companion. They needed each other.

Christmas is a miracle story–about God allowing people of faith to use their faith to do faithful things, to see their faith make things whole.

So Merry Christmas.

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Jesonian… February 18th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3222)

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Christianity is not a religion–it is a lifestyle.

It is based upon the human example left behind by Jesus of Nazareth. Any attempt to build the Kingdom of God on doctrines, practices, rituals, worship, attendance, prayer, Bible study or fasting will flail, because the Kingdom of God is within us.

In other words, until we tap ourselves–our passions, our errors and get our questions answered–there really is no Kingdom of God.

Or maybe better stated, it’s a theory.

To emphasize this, Jesus told us that God is our Father.

Once we realize that He is our Daddy and not the smoke at the top of the mountain, an angry disciplinarian, the Force, or just karma, we can then predict what God’s reaction will be in situations due to His paternal instincts.

  • As a Father, He is certainly not going to plan our lives for us. Any dad who would do that would be considered a first-class asshole.
  • As a Father, He’s not going to give up on us, disown us, or throw us out in the desert with a canteen.
  • But as a Father, He will institute chores for us to perform–and by our faithfulness, evaluate our present mindset.

Jesus came to show us the Father.

We should be studying the life, ideas, tendencies and predilections of the Nazarene. Instead we focus on His arrest, trial and death.

In doing so, we attempt to divert the Christian message from being a revelation of the Father to a pre-destined, pre-ordained human execution in order to acquire blood atonement.

Actually, the crucifixion makes so much more sense when you realize that the Father was hoping his children would be more receptive–but still made a pathway of salvation for all of us through the courage and sacrifice of our elder brother, Jesus.

It is not that dissimilar to the story of Joseph in the Old Testament, who is thrown into a pit by his brothers, left for dead, only to redeem those same brethren in Egypt after he gained power, rescuing them from destitution.

Nothing good happens in the Christian church until we realize that the entire ministry of Jesus was about showing us the Father.

Even in the midst of the agony of the cross, he said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

So if you’re wondering why religion is leaving you flat, and church seems redundant and meaningless, it’s because invented ideas have been passed along and given primary importance, while the congregation thirsts for the relationship with their Father promised to them by Jesus.

It is time for us to show Jesus to the community–so he can reveal the Father to all of us.

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 18) Wounded … April 3rd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2893)

Jesonian hands

He asked me if he could have a moment of my time.

We went into his office, shut the door and he sat down in his over-stuffed leather chair behind his huge mahogany desk. With a gentle, understanding tone, he said, “I’m just concerned that you’re ministering from a wounded place.”

I gathered from his approach and facial expression that he thought doing so was a mistake.

I replied, “Yes, I am. I wouldn’t trust any ministry that wasn’t.”

Jesus was the greatest minister of all time.

He was also very wounded.

Long before they hammered nails into his hands and feet, he was born of a virgin, considered a bastard, chased out of Bethlehem, exiled in Egypt, rejected by his home town, denied by his family, criticized, mocked, marginalized, cast out, called a sinner, a drunkard, a glutton and even proclaimed to be Satan.

These things hurt.

The truth of the matter is, none of us are worth a damn to be healers until we’ve survived the wounds.

For lacking the experience of transformation, we have a tendency to be impatient with those who have difficulty getting over the pain.

Life is not about whether you’ll be wounded or not.

You will be.

It’s about what you do next.

And the first thing you should do after being wounded is bleed.

Not a lot. You don’t want to pour out all of your life flow and confidence–just enough to dispel infection. Then stop the bleeding, cease the self-pity and clean the wound.

Take what you know to be true–memories of how you’ve been blessed–and tenderly use all of these affirmations to expel the dangerous rot that would attempt to infest you.

Bandage it.

Your healing process is nobody else’s business. It could be ugly. Other folks do not need to see your scabs. Take a private moment to heal–and then, when you’re all done, remove the bandages and proudly display your scar.

A scar tells everybody that you’ve been through the battle but you’ve endured the wounds and are coming out on the other side, healed.

No human being can escape the wounds.

Jesus didn’t.

But we become reasonable to one another when we allow the healing process to move forward, while simultaneously offering to others exactly what Jesus said to Thomas:

“Come see my scars.”

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