G-Poppers … October 13th, 2017

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In the course of human humblings, it becomes the responsibility of sane souls near and far to pose the blessed question: “What is truly important?”

Without pursuing this answer, we are soon bumbling, fumbling and stumbling our way to utter dissatisfaction, leaving us…well, grumbling.

Unfortunately, the answer to “what is truly important?” can not be derived by forming a committee. Committees critically over-analyze, dismiss with no resolution, to sip bitter coffee and crunch day-old Danish.

Some brave individuals seek solution in politics–but anything that has to be voted on can be controlled by either buying off the voter or fooling the electorate.

Pious souls across the globe go to prayer, asking God to bring solutions, believing their praise is sufficient involvement. But as most of us find out, God rarely does a one-man show. He works with an unrehearsed cast on an available stage.

I guess some people believe money is the most important thing in the world because it can buy the things we want, which keeps us from feeling in need. Yes–we are scared to death of being without. But then we encounter those souls who possess it all, who end up feeling they have nothing.

What is really important?

What is the reason for us to still be here in the midst of a common struggle for a common good?

For we do find some things to be self-evident.

Since God created us all, we have a common Father. It is a good place to start.

Since science and Mother Nature are at work in our world, there is much we can learn about ways to get along just by studying the atmosphere around us.

But it is the territory within our three square feet–where we live, breathe, eat, think and wrestle with our own appetites–that determines our true sense of worth.

So what is really important?

  • Find what you can do.
  • Do it well.
  • Let other people do the same.
  • Help out where you can.

Like so many solutions, it may seem simple and inadequate to cover the variety of conflict that threatens us. But when you look it again, you will grasp its scope.

Wisdom begins with knowing what is important:

This is what I can do. I will work on doing it better. I will give you the freedom to do the same. And if something comes up within my ability, I will try to help out.

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Good News and Better News… October 9th, 2017

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This weekend was the Fall Festival at the Emmaus Lutheran Church in Orange City, Florida. Also appearing, on the under card, were Cring & Clazzy.

Please understand, I am not lamenting having second billing. After all, the church does use the occasion to raise funds for a very worthy cause.

It’s just that in this season of mediocrity colliding with confusion, the church can no longer take an approach of “business as usual,” as it prepares for the Pumpkin Patch sale, while the huge hand basket arrives to take everybody to hell.

What are the needed adjustments?

What is the responsibility of the fellowship of the followers of Jesus in this season of turmoil and tribulation?

The first and foremost principle that we as Christians and churchgoers need to understand is the power we possess, instead of complaining over our inability to affect circumstances.

One of my sons contacted me this weekend in frustration and said, “Pop, what can we do?”

From his message I sensed that he had a real heart to make a difference, but all he sees are gray walls of discontentment closing in on him. Perhaps the answer is so simple that it escapes those who are trying to participate in complex study. Here’s the path:

Stop trying to do what you can’t do.

In the pursuit of equality, we believe that everybody, everywhere, has equal ability for everything. What could be more ridiculous?

About fifteen years ago, I was traveling with my family band. During a performance, I turned to the audience in speaking about my oldest son’s bass guitar playing, and shared that Jesus was impressed, because “my boy plays bass guitar better than Jesus.” It was a jocular toss-off, based upon Jesus himself saying that “greater things would we do because he goes to the Father.” But it offended the pastor, who insisted that if Jesus wanted to play bass guitar, he’d be the “best bass guitar player in the world.”

We have become defensive. Desiring to do everything, we’ve ended up doing nothing. Keep in mind that perseverance is a virtue–but “stubborn” is a vice.

God the Father has given Mother Nature to us to clarify what we are good at and what we aren’t. If you have tried to do something five or six times and failed on each occasion, number seven is not going to work either. Although you may find testimonials of people insisting it was on the 28th occasion of launching their idea when it finally worked, God is pretty merciful. He lets us know when something is growing and when something is dying.

So that’s my message to the people of Emmaus and also to the folks who faithfully read this blog.

Stop trying to do things you can’t do.

It opens the door for others to perform their talent and magic, while you watch. And then they can step back and allow you the platform for your gifts.

We will continue to flounder in a series of projects, proposals and even prayers–unless we begin to assess what we do that actually works, and what we continue to chase, hoping it will catch fire.

The good news is that each one of you has gifts that have market quality and human ministry.

The better news is, if you will stop trying to do what you can’t do, you’ll have so much more time for what you do well.

 

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 2)… July 8th, 2017

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If Jesus is God, He had a lot of things to say. But if God is Jesus, there’s just way too much material to sort through.

Perhaps that’s why the writer of the Book of Hebrews pointed out that “now God only speaks through Jesus.” No prophets of old. No patriarchs–just Jesus.

And one of the first things you’ll notice–Jesus wants to be known for his words. Matter of fact, he told his disciples if they loved him, they would follow his teachings.

Do we? Or have we placed Jesus in a position to perform a human sacrifice, and then only give a cursory study of his thoughts and wishes.

For the sake of brevity (and also because I know that the subject of religion cuts our attention span in half) let me tell you the three things Jesus wanted us to know as he came to speak the mind of God. I refer to these as the “more than likely” approach to life.

1. More than likely, God is a Father instead of a prick.

As a Father, He does not deny, condemn, criticize, destroy, rebuke or disown His children. He hangs in there with us like a good Daddy should.

2. More than likely, it’s my responsibility instead of yours.

If I’m going to wait for you to change, react, initiate or create, I’m going to be constantly upset and full of antagonism. Here is a brain-cleansing notion: if I take on more responsibility for what’s going on, I don’t have to complain about you.

3. More than likely, being kind is going to work out better than trying to be tough.

You may initially strike a pose of power by being vicious, angry or intimidating, but eventually you will come across someone who has perfected nastiness. Kindness, on the other hand, buys time and gives us a chance for circumstances to change instead of finding us over-reacting to the present moment’s threat.

The problem is, these three principles are not taught in the church.

We are much too busy trying to make Jesus fit with an Old Testament God, and therefore we rationalize chapter after chapter of Old Covenant, which has absolutely nothing to do with New Spirit. As Jesus so eloquently said, “You can’t put new wine into old wineskins.” In other words, trying to stuff the Christian mindset into an Old Testament cranium is going to fracture the skull.

But when you believe Jesus is God, you can begin to decipher the message of the Nazarene, who came as the “only begotten of the Father,” to tell us what more than likely will work.

Untrouble yourself on this one.

Jesus wants to be more than the Lamb of God.

He wants to be your life coach.

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Ask Jonathots… September 1st, 2016

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I have a friend who is not a believer. He loves people, is kind-hearted and generous. In other words he acts like a believer who follows Jesus. How can I convince him that Jesus is the way? P.S. I have done my best to “shine my light” before him, but he doesn’t seem to budge.

I assume you’re talking about the standard Plan of Salvation:

God sent His son in the body of Jesus of Nazareth to come to Earth to give himself as a human sacrifice for the sin of mankind, so that if anyone accepts him as Savior, they can be redeemed and guaranteed a home in heaven.

I will tell you that if your aspiration is to see your friend follow this step-by-step procedure to attain eternal security, you probably will be greatly disappointed. The amount of anger, disaster or devastation that comes into one’s life before reaching the “end of the rope” that is required to comply with this particular enacting of salvation is not very common–and not something you would actually wish on your worst enemy.

So let me offer you a different insight.

Your friend has the power of knowing where the switch is, to turn on the lights. That’s pretty special. What he doesn’t have is the awareness of how that light works or what to do if the switch is broken.

Once we understand that God is not only our Father, but is the Creator of Earth, and therefore the Initiator of science, technology, atmosphere and logic, we have a much better comprehension of the mission of Jesus.

Jesus basically grants human beings two things they do not have without him:

  1. Don’t worry about life.
  2. Don’t worry about eternity.

He made it clear that we should not sit around “taking thought” about what we shall eat, drink and wear because it is all built into God’s system if we keep our eyes open and pursue opportunities.

And Jesus made it equally understandable that eternity was prepared for us, and that he would be there to meet us.

The rest of the Gospel is merely explaining how the juice gets to the lightbulb–so just in case our light switch stops working, we can ask the “Master Electrician” to join us in reconnecting.

Is there truth to the Plan of Salvation about a human sacrifice?

When mankind was given the freewill choice of accepting the teachings of Jesus, and rejected, murdering him, God chose to use it as a means of forgiving us for our shortcomings.

Pretty powerful.

So what should your profile be? Make sure that your friend is fully aware that the Creator is also the scientist, philosopher, musician, technologist and free thinker that he requires in his everyday life.

Remember, Jesus wanted to be known for his words.

The religious system honors him for his blood.

But the average person is not nearly as intent on finding a sacrificial lamb as in discovering someone who can understand and show compassion.

Case in point:

When Zacchaeus gave his money back to those he had cheated on taxes, Jesus said, “Salvation has come to your house.”

Zacchaeus didn’t confess, he wasn’t baptized and Jesus had not yet died. But salvation was there because Zacchaeus welcomed the wisdom of awareness and mercy for others.

Stop being in a hurry to get your friend to sign on the dotted line, and instead, give him more “lines” of appreciation to his Creator.

 

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 1) … December 6th, 2015

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Reasonable: being able to reason.

It seems like a noble idea until you realize it requires you to sift through your beliefs and discard the unreasonable portions.

The process of becoming a good Earth-citizen is acknowledging that there are billions of others, and the goal is to find a way to peacefully co-exist with your brothers and sisters without compromising the power of truth.

So what is the first step to being reasonable?

Free will.

We are not on Earth by God’s plan, by luck or to be guided by superstition. There is a way things work and a way they don’t, and the first step in understanding that process is comprehending that every human being has free will.

1. God died for free will.

Using the flesh-and-blood passport of Jesus of Nazareth, God came to Earth and submitted to the decisions of arrogant religionists, who gave a verdict of death because he preached love.

God did nothing to stop the process. But after it was completed, He used the bravery of Jesus as evidence of salvation.

2. You have free will.

Don’t ask God to live your life. He won’t.

You may convince yourself that certain events link together to form a plan, but actually, they happened because of your action or inaction.

Jesus characterized God as Father, and no good parent would ever try to control the life of His child.

3. Human beings have free will.

Therefore you can’t force your beliefs on others.

We have to learn the power of influence.  And how do we influence people? By making them jealous of our success–so jealous that they imitate our actions in their own way, without ever giving us credit.

4. Because free will is immutable, if we’re going to impact others, we need to make sure that we’re constantly making our choices simpler and easier.

I can always tell when I’m in the presence of someone who is a novice to the human experience.

They talk about complexity.

Becoming mature is resisting difficulty.

We make progress by using our free will to find paths to greater ease and simplicity.

You will never be reasonable until you understand that human beings have been granted free will, and therefore will quite often choose ignorance over wisdom.

Selecting to blame God for this malady is not only a waste of time, but also puts you in a world of superstition … where you nervously await the next disaster. 

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Confessing … September 26th, 2015

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XXI.

I confess so I can heal.

If I deny, I remain sick.

  • He was 69 years old and I was counting down the days to my 18th birthday.
  • He was slender and I was fat.
  • He was a veteran of World War II and I was trying to figure out how to get out from under the Vietnam draft.
  • He was an agnostic and I was “Little Charlie Church Chum.”
  • He was a psychiatrist and I, on the other hand, was impatient.
  • He loved his daughter and I was having a high school affair with her.

This man and myself shared absolutely nothing in common, which became obvious whenever we were left in a room alone together.

But despite all these differences and the fact that he did have a reputation for being a curmudgeon, he allowed the two of us to take his Corvette convertible to the prom. He gave me about three minutes of instruction, and with that exhaustive training, I went out in the middle of the night on the 3-C Highway to see how fast the car would go. When it hit 105 miles per hour, I chickened out, slowed down and went home.

I think he felt fairly confident in being supportive of his daughter’s present romantic choice because he knew that in a couple of months, he was retiring to Mexico to live by the ocean, taking his little family with him.

What he didn’t know was that his daughter was pregnant.

I wish I had been man enough to sit down with him and own up to the situation, but I was frightened over my actions and also feared that he would send her away to New York to get an abortion.

So instead, we plotted against him. And just a month and a half later, when my girlfriend was supposedly safe at the University of Arizona, learning how to be a freshman, I flew out, grabbed her and we took off to start a life together.

He was furious.

He was so upset that he called the Tucson, Arizona, police department to stop us, but of course, there was nothing they could do.

He disowned her.

Being a young foolish boy, I cast him into the role of the villain, easily fitting him with the required black hat.

I wish I could tell you that things worked out.

They didn’t.

Seven years later, he died of cancer in Mexico, having never reestablished contact with my wife nor having ever seen his three grandchildren.

I suppose I could tell you the reasons for my action or convince you of her father’s more sinister side.

But you see, that’s not what Confessing is about. It is not being apologetic while simultaneously trying to explain away your motivations.

I was young, dumb, careless and unappreciative to a man who could have used the image of a responsible Christian fellow.

I failed him.

Whatever he’s doing, wherever he is, I want him to know today that I’m very sorry that I interrupted his plans.

 

Confessing Leonard

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Ask Jonathots … July 9th, 2015

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I am the mother of two boys, age 5 and 7. I got divorced four years ago. I am trying to bring my boys up to be Christian young men, but my ex-husband is not a Christian and lets them watch movies I don’t approve of and play all kinds of video games. But the court says he has visitation rights. What should I do?

You cannot approach a childish situation by trying to come up with an adult solution. Somehow or another, you have to transfer a childish situation into a child-like format. Otherwise, your children will start picking sides based upon the perks they get with visitation.

If Dad gives them more freedom to do what they want, then Dad will be the cool parent–until they get in trouble, and then you’ll be stuck with the bail ticket.

There are some key words in your question that bother me. The first one is “ex-husband.” You should probably cleanse your soul right now by ceasing to call this gentleman that you were married to at one time your “ex-husband.”

He was never a good husband or you would still be married to him. So you can call him the man you were married to at one time, the children’s father, or whatever respectful name you can come up with, which will prevent you from feeling that you still have a bond with him personally.

When your children are sure that you have moved on with your life, they will be less likely to play you guys against each other. (And yes, kids are much smarter about that kind of stuff than you would think.)

The second word that bothers me is “Christian.” Because of the perversions, misrepresentations and fanaticism that exists in our religious community, the word itself has become almost meaningless.

What you want to teach your young men is how to be honorable. Fortunately for you, that kind of insight is found in the teachings of Jesus.

So don’t make a stand about movies or video games, but instead, teach your sons how a woman should be treated, how they should respect other people’s rights, and mostly, they need to understand that the blessing of money comes from work.

When they value these three concepts, they will begin to make better decisions–even at this early age.

So don’t be so concerned about what’s going on during their visitation times, but rather, about the values held dear in your home.

Don’t take them to a church that preaches instead of provides. If the church in the United States is going to survive for another generation, it will have to stop preaching its doctrines and begin to provide an atmosphere where human beings can prosper and get along with each other, developing the kind of tolerance that teaches us to cease being judgmental.

Whether you like it or not, your children are part of two households. Yet it is virtually impossible for people who are divorced to come up with a parenting plan on which both agree.

Just make sure that when your sons are home with you they see principles that are not only taught, but are also honored by their mother. And keep in mind, since children think life is a game, maintain the joy and fun in the experience.

So in conclusion, you don’t have an ex-husband, you have a man you used to be married to.

And you’re not trying to raise “American Christians,” you’re bringing up two sons who need to respect their own bodies and the rights of others.

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