Jesonian … November 11th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Throughout the history of Christianity, a debate has raged over Jesus’ humanity and divinity.

Early in the 20th Century, a doctrine arose which found favor with many people because it stressed that Jesus was 100% human and 100% divine. The fact that this blending is ridiculous didn’t come to anybody’s mind at the time, and so the concept endures. If you study heresy and false teachings, you will find that most of the error centers in on trying to make Jesus too heavenly, instead of focusing on his humanity.

I think the clarifying statements are found in the Book of Hebrews. Allow me to give you three which center my mind on the fact that Jesus of Nazareth lived a completely human life, while filled with the Spirit:

1. “He was tempted in all ways like we are yet found without sin.”

2. “He was touched by our infirmities.”

3. “He learned obedience through the things he suffered.”

That list just describes a typical human life. After all, nobody talks about how grumpy Uncle Ed was after he’s dead; likewise, the notion that “Jesus was perfect” was not touted during his lifetime.

The truth is, Jesus’ actions were found to be perfect. In other words, after the passage of time and working out of circumstances, we can say that he lived a perfect life.

Needless to say, when we’re told he “learned obedience,” it is perfectly understandable that he did nor arrive with it. Like all of us, instruction was in order.

But if you go to the statement, “touched by our infirmities,” a definition is in order. What are the infirmities of all human beings?

A. We get physically sick.

B. We get emotionally depressed.

C. We get spiritually misguided.

D. We get mentally confused.

These are our infirmities.

And since Jesus was touched by them, if we would take the time to more carefully study his life instead of working so desperately to discover a new twist on communion, we might just welcome in a new generation that would be blessed and astounded by His choices.

Now, I will not bore you with my many rambling examples of how Jesus suffered under these infirmities. To me, that’s what church and your search should be about.

Christianity could advance its cause by studying Jesus.

Did Jesus become physically ill? There are numerous activities that have no explanations–like him slipping into the wilderness for seclusion, or the fact that he waited four days to come and tend to his friend, Lazarus. Was he sick? Under the weather? Fighting off the “Galilee bug?”

We can make a good case for him being depressed. After explaining to 5000 people that he was not going to be their caterer, but that they needed to come to “learn his ways,” the Bible says they all left him–except the twelve. In a moment of true humanity, he turned to those twelve and said, “Will you go away also?”

Was Jesus ever spiritually misguided? I think choosing Judas to be a disciple, and on top of that the treasurer of the troop, was at least spiritually optimistic. And the faith he put into the man at the Pool of Bethsaida, who didn’t really want help–but Jesus healed him anyway and then the fellow turned into a snitch and sided with the Pharisees–shows that he was a bit misguided.

Was he mentally confused? He certainly stayed too long in Nazareth–so long that they resented him and tried to kill him. And I think he was a little confused by his upbringing and prejudice, when he called the Syrophoenician woman “a gentile dog.”

The Gospel writers had no problem including the foibles of the personality of Jesus in their story lines–and he was apparently fully aware of some indiscretions, because he came to John to be baptized. Was it just pretense, or did he have things he regretted?

We are also told by Jesus that we would do greater things than he did–because he was going to the Father to cheer us on.

If the church wants to survive the present dispersion, it needs to bring the focus back onto Jesus–his style, his personality, and his humanity. In doing so, he can become the Elder Brother we so desperately need, and he can truly fulfill his mission … which was to show us the Father.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … September 14th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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pohymn-jans-hands

Invoking

It’s time for a blessing for this place

A smile bursting across each face

We’ve stayed too long in the grip of fear

The spirit is willing–please draw near

To resurrect our amazing grace

 

The young don’t know about the power

That love can bring to this hour

The older saints who still remain

Conjure the memory of the great refrain

Let the joy begin to shower

 

Jesus is more than Christ, you see

Our elder brother who came to be

Come and learn about his ways

Fill your life with hopeful days

Then say, “Free, yes me–I’m free.”

 

I am just a pilgrim voice

Escape the wrath, make a choice

The moment has come to be made whole

Heart, mind, body and soul

Children make a joyful noise 

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 17) Quietly … March 27th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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This morning I quietly waded into the deeper end of my thoughts.

Every spring leading up to Easter, I feel abandoned by my faith. I have a sensation of being orphaned from the Christian family.

There is a sharp turn made from the gentleness of Jesus to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. I fail to negotiate it.

It seems we suddenly go from believing in a savior of love to believing in a surrogate who came to fulfill ancient prophesy, to be the final blood sacrifice for the iniquity of us all.

I don’t understand the transition. Oh, don’t get me wrong–I’ve studied all the doctrines on the propitiation of sin and all the angles of blood atonement.

I just miss my friend, Jesus.

I want to rewrite the ending.

And I certainly can’t believe he was part of some cosmic design by an offended God who required plasma to confirm repentance. Not even God can plan without manipulating.

So I sit quietly.

This is the story I believe:

God loves us.

He yearns to be our Father.

As our Father, He is prepared to instruct us, but is careful to grant us free will.

Feeling He had abandoned us in the trap of our own indecision, He came to Earth to be one of us–to discover the sensations and assist in the confusion.

He took a risk.

For after all, there is a little bit of heaven in us, but also insecurities that can manifest treachery.

For thirty-three years, he learned, grew, analyzed obedience and was tempted as we are.

He taught us that we are brothers and sisters, not alienated by culture, but instead, united by a common creation.

Yet there were things he said we did not like.

We enjoyed conjuring enemies instead of acquiring neighbors.

We loved to assess blame instead of shouldering responsibility.

And we deeply revered the compartment of religion, keeping it separate from our daily decisions.

So we decided to kill off our elder brother, Jesus, in order to silence the incessant reminder of our greater potential.

Fortunately, God evolved with our free will.

What was meant for evil became good–because we are now united under one blood shed for our ignorance.

It was Jesus’ blood … and the blood of the Son makes us one.

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Trinity to the Third Power … September 29, 2013

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A Father who loves us.Circleville

A son who is our elder brother, to explain things in “people terms.”

And a Holy Spirit, to remind us about good things–and forgive us when we slip-slide away into the bad.

It’s a great system … unless you happen to teach that the father in question is really an abusive step-dad who hates you because you aren’t his kid. Or that the son is a jealous older brother, who constantly reminds you of the sacrifices he’s made for you. Or that Holy Spirit follows you around, critical of your every move, reminding you of only one thing–your inadequacy.

I guess it’s all how you teach it, right? Or maybe it’s how you view it.

I would not be interested in a God who was not my Father. As my Father, I ask Him to take responsibility for His part in creating me.

I would not be interested in a Jesus who was a son who suffered from a persecution complex and hung around the cross all day, just to punctuate the point about his martyrdom.

And I really cannot be interested in a Holy Spirit that IS more of a ghost sent to scare us away from a devil’s hell.

I go to Trinity Lutheran Church in Circleville, Ohio, tomorrow morning. I’ll be curious to see if they use the trinity to its third power–or if they have drained the juice and merely have a trinity by name.

But I will tell them about a loving Father, a friend who sticks closer than a brother and a Spirit that gives us wisdom in our hour of need.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll be interested.

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A New Trinity… March 22, 2013

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Trinity First UMC

The three men I admire the most

The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost

Lyrics from American Pie, written by Don McLean. I doubt if too many people remember it, but every time I hear the tune I get tickled by that passage.

The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit have been really good to me–mainly because I have escaped the futility of looking at them as religious icons and instead, have taken them into my heart.

My Father created me, was there at my conception and promises to stay with me until the end.

Jesus, the Son, is my elder brother, who’s gone before me and knows where all the pitfalls may be, and graciously has taught me how to avoid them and live successfully.

And the Holy Spirit, as promised, is a comfort to my soul, and gently nudges me, reminding me of the beauty of the message which gives me hope.

But as I said, there are those who have taken this Holy Trinity and used it for their own agenda or made it just some sort of repetition of worship that is visited once a week at the great museum of spirituality. Too bad.

You see, I find myself headed this weekend to Trinity, Texas, population 2,712 delightful souls, whose main industry is attempting to stay industrious in this tepid economy. I’ll be sharing over there Sunday morning, at the First United Methodist Church, with Pastor Russ and all the good souls.

I’m sure they believe in the Trinity–but I will be gently informing them that the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost needs to be translated more simply to our generation, which is quite reliant on visual aids to understand great concepts.

Truthfully, placed gently somewhere between Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore is the conscience and spirit of the United States of America. Most folks are not hyper-liberal OR conservative. Honestly, most of us are not righteous Republicans or determined Democrats. We are people, trying to do our best. And if we’re not trying to do our best, we at least are trying to remember what the best looked like when people were actually doing it.

So along with teaching the doctrines of the Bible and the beauty of the original Trinity, we should be aware that the average person is in need of a new Trinity.

Yes, the Father they need to see is a church in the middle of town that is a welcoming center for the children of earth. All of us know there are different types of fathers. There are grumpy fathers, who scream if the children run too loudly through the house. There are cheap fathers, who turn off every light when they walk through the home, frowning at everybody for using too much electricity. And then there are those young fathers, who like to giggle, run and play–and make their children feel loved while they push them in the swing or play a game of tag in the yard. Dare I say, I believe we might err in presenting too grouchy of a God?

So I will tell those good folks in Trinity this weekend that the house they’ve built to welcome the spirit of God should be a friendly place, where the people of the community can come and see their Daddy instead of being on a weekend visitation with their estranged Father who has divorced Mother Earth and reluctantly pays child support. Yes, the church at 131 North Elm Street in Trinity, Texas, needs to be a beautiful home for Daddy, where all of His children are welcome.

And when they get there and they feel comfortable in the presence of the Father, in His house, they should be able to see the Son. Not just hear about him through the parables and tales of the Bible, but they should see Jesus in the eyes of the congregation. It is why Jesus said that “greater things would we do” because he goes to the Father. He said we are “the light of the world”–and we are supposed to grow to “the fullness of the measure of his stature.”

No matter how good you teach the New Testament, people will believe that the Jesus you share is the Jesus you live.

And then, the Holy Spirit, which should fill that house of the Father, should be a warm blanket of mercy. Mercy is easy for me–it’s when I remember how much I am in need of grace before I ever start doling out judgment. The Holy Spirit, to our generation, is mercy. It’s what our people need. They are being bombarded with ideas and emotions from all sides, when what they require is a moment of peace and sanity, so they can hear the still small voice within them talk some sense.

So as I head off to be with Pastor Russ and all the gang in Trinity, I will tell them that they have the opportunity to present a new Trinity:

  • a Father who lives in the house they’ve built on Elm Street, who is more of a Daddy than a detached bread-winner;
  • a Son who is well-represented by a gathering of believers, who still think it’s important to live out the Golden Rule instead of just storing the gold in a safe somewhere;
  • and a Holy Spirit that leads with mercy, because each and every one of us sitting in the pews know that we need mercy ourselves.

If you add onto that a simple message–for instance, I recommend “NoOne is better than anyone else”–you would be surprised at how many folks will be drawn to such a sanctuary of hope.

The Father is God’s house located, in this case, on Elm Street.

The Son is Pastor Russ and all the good members of the church.

The Holy Spirit is the mercy we feel for those around us.

And the message is NoOne is better than anyone else.

We’ll be there on Sunday. We’ll be honoring the original Trinity of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, while also presenting our new “visual aid”–us.

I‘m looking forward to it.

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A Very Good Question… January 8, 2012

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After I set up my equipment last night at the church, the fine pastor posed a question. “How will you be sharing the gospel message in the morning?”

I understood. He was basically curious about whether I would be preaching or teaching. I don’t preach, although I admire and honor those who do. Preaching, to me, is like walking into a room with a loaded gun, convinced you’ve gained the advantage, only to discover that the room is filled with those holding pistols. Not for me. And, there is no more honorable profession than teaching, but my inclination lies in stirring the hearts of people instead of engaging their minds.

My message transformed when I did. It was when I finally accepted that God is my Father, earth is my mother, Jesus is my elder brother, you are my brothers and sisters and I am a child who is wanted, appreciated and granted promise.

Theologians and philosophers would listen to that profile and deem it child-like. To that I would respond, “Thank you.” It is not that I am incapable of studying or comprehending deeper matters of spirituality, theology or even church history. It’s just that my journey has caused me to doubt the value of such eternal introspection, which doesn’t offer much internal peace of mind.

I don’t know what God did before He decided to be my Father. I think it would be a very bratty thing for a child to investigate his parents to find out all the hidden secrets of their particular lives–exposing them for who they are. I know God has a history. I will leave that to Him, as fortunately, He has forgiven mine. I am reassured that at some juncture, He decided to become a Father instead of just a universal Creator or a “sin-thumper.” I am glad He got together with Mother Nature and birthed a son named Jesus who became my brother and the “first fruits of many creatures.”

I stay away from two subjects–God and heaven. The debate and frustration that human beings have over those topics has generated more wars and discomfort on this planet than any other argument. To me, God is my Father … and that’s the end of it.

If you want to bring up the Old Testament or the thousands and thousands of interpretations of His persona by other cultures, you may feel free to do so. But I believe that knowledge which only produces aggravation is useless to those who only are able to relish mortality. If you wish to speculate on heaven, you may proceed with all liberty to do so. But eventually you will end up discovering that heaven is a place beyond comprehension, individualized to each believer in some magnificent, unique way which is beyond our understanding and devoid of sight or hearing.

It is a human journey we are on and when we fail to study our humanity, we actually cease to comprehend our Father. He wanted to start a family. Maybe you choose to believe that He “settled down” from previous escapades. It makes no difference. True spirituality is the study of humanity without fear or condemnation. When you try to delve into the supernatural, you fail miserably because you quickly realize that you are not super and therefore have lost sight of all the beauty of our natural world.

I did not give the minister of the church this particular answer. But I share it with you today because his was a good question. What IS it we want to share with our fellow human beings? What IS the good news?

  • God is our Father.
  • The earth is our mother.
  • Jesus is our elder brother, who has already discovered the secrets of the household.
  • We are brothers and sisters.
  • And I, like you, am wanted.

Stay away from discussions on God and heaven. What we don’t know won’t hurt us. Because someday we WILL know.Am I afraid of the future and the unknown? No. Because after all, He’s my Dad.

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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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