G-Poppers … April 7th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Pop listened very carefully as the commentator attempted to explain that the “culture of the Syrian government” is what brought about the use of poison gas on the people.

G-Pop frowned.

Evil is not a culture. Also not a preference. It’s not a religious institution nor a political profile.

Yet we have taken the past fifty years to qualify the choices of folks who live in different countries by attributing questionable actions to their culture.

It’s time for a bold statement. There is only one culture, and that is love your neighbor as yourself.

Within that culture, there are people who have different traditions, cuisine, mannerisms, guidelines and even morals. But there is no way to continue human life on Earth without consenting to a mutual consideration to each other’s feelings. G-Pop thinks we should carry it even further:

  • Love your Earth as you love yourself.
  • Love the animals as you love yourself.
  • Love the atmosphere as you love yourself.

It’s not a bunch of liberal hogwash just to make things prissy. Here’s the truth G-Pop wishes to share: if we do not have an awareness of other people that’s equivalent to the awareness we have of ourselves, we begin to believe they are not flesh and blood like we are, but instead are surrounded by tissue which feels no pain–therefore we can inflict at will.

There is no room for gender bias.

There is no acceptable occasion for prejudice against gays, lesbians and different races. Why? Because that breaks the cultural rule.

Whether you’re from China, Canada, Zimbabwe or Albuquerque, New Mexico, you are sharing a planet that requires respectful give and take.

If you happen to like your beans with jalapenos or if your rendition of Christmas is called “Kwanzaa” or “Hanukkah” that is absolutely fine.

But when your definition of culture differs from the toleration necessary for us to get along with each other in equity, then you’re no longer expressing a regional phenomenon, but instead, a cover-up for iniquity.

 

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Jesonian… March 25th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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jesonian-cover-amazon

When John, son of Zebedee, sat down to pen his recollections of traveling with Jesus of Nazareth, he had two goals in mind:

  1.  He wanted the reader to know that Jesus was the only begotten son of God.
  2. He also wanted the reader to understand that Jesus was a flesh and blood human being.

So the same Jesus who raised Lazarus from the dead often finds himself trapped in squabbles with disciples and Pharisees who totally misunderstand his motives.

Nowhere is this clearer than in John the 7th Chapter, when Jesus is once again thrust in the middle of a squall with his Nazareth family. Since he spent his first thirty years in the household of Joseph the Carpenter, one might think that many of these misunderstandings would have been worked out, and that smoother paths would have been pursued.

But as soon as Jesus decided not to be “normal,” his family dubbed him “weird.”

  • They sought him out to bring him home because they thought he was crazy.
  • They stood idly by when the townspeople of Nazareth pushed him to the edge of the cliff, threatening to cast him to his death.
  • And in John the 7th Chapter, they taunt him about his newfound fame, asserting that if he really wanted to “promote his gig,” he should do it at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, where there would be large crowds.

It is a nasty and bitter piece of resentment and jealousy. Some theologians even think that his family members may bave been paid to intimidate him into going to Jerusalem so that assassins lying in wait could kill him on the journey.

We know that Jesus is still trying to work out his own feelings about this nuclear family, because he speaks back to them just as bratty as they spoke to him.

Paraphrasing, “Since you are common laborers with nothing special about you, you can go to the feasst anytime you want and no one will care one way or another. I, on the other hand, wait on instructions from my Father.”

It is one of those examples where Jesus breaks pattern with the conservative Christians of our generation today. On any given Sunday, almost every minister will tout from the pulpit the importance of our personal families–the beauty of fellowship involved in those relationships. But even with a cursory look, we quickly discover that Jesus loved his family, but not more than he loved his fellow humans.

Cases in point:

When they told him that his family had come to see him, he pointed to the crowd and said, “These are my family–those who do the will of my Father.”

When Mary asked him to do something to provide wine for the Cana wedding feast, he called her “woman” and said that he was not at her bidding, but waiting for the right time.

Of course, in the Sermon on the Mount, he says, “If you only love those who love you, you’re no better than the heathen.”

And he goes on to say that if you don’t “hate your mother and father, you are not worthy of the kingdom”–not because he was trying to pull families apart, but rather, trying to break curses, genetic trends and predilections which cause children to become just like their parents, choiceless.

And on this occasion in John 7, he makes it clear that he will not be intimidated by his brothers and sisters just so they can force him to become “one of the clan.”

Later, he does attend the Feast of Tabernacles–but on the bidding of the Spirit, not the coercion of family.

What can we learn from Jesus about family?

You can love them, trust them and listen to them as long as they do not steal your identity and your calling. Then, if they choose to do that, for a while you can just love them–until the day that they finally understand.

Even though Jesus died, rose from the grave and went to heaven without the support of his Nazareth home, we know that at least three of them–James, Jude, and of course, Mother Mary–ended up becoming ardent followers of his message. 

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I’m Really Not Sure… October 15, 2012

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Live from October 1st filming

I do believe that the Apostle Paul was mistaken.

He insisted that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. Instead, he contended that the earthly journey is more or less we humans being stuck in a comic battle between good and evil. You’re welcome to agree with him if you so desire. I don’t.

My discovery of life on terra firma is that we are dealing with flesh and blood issues. Bluntly…us. Appetites, genetics, weaknesses, insecurities, frustrations, indignities, victories, defeats… and of course, worst of all…pernicious apathy.

For about fifteen years I’ve been struggling with leg and knee pain. There are times when it’s been worse than others, but for years, I have been the chooser of the closest parking space at the shopping mall.

I am not lazy. I have crisscrossed the country at least a dozen times, shared thousands of shows in front of tens of thousands of people and marched through airports to get to those destinations–most of the time, in some sort of pain. It’s a flesh and blood issue–and it happens to be mine.

Since January and the passing of my sixtieth birthday, the problem has settled in as a permanent occupant of my daily schedule. In the past two weeks it has gotten even worse than that. Finally, I found myself basically unable to walk–cramped up and with the dark notion that I was finished and would need to seek other ways to express my mission, my message and my heart.

You see, that’s more of that flesh and blood problem. It doesn’t matter how many times we have seen miracles, God move, or the universe tip a little bit to the right to our advantage. For some reason, we all tend to go a little dark whenever anything lands in our toy box and we don’t know exactly how to play with it.

Matter of fact, I was ready to cancel all of my dates last week and “nurse myself back to good health.” Can I tell you something truthfully? I have never gotten over any ailment by lying around. Even when I have a cold, I am better off getting up, moving and redistributing the mucus than I am by letting it settle into my chest, as I pretend to recuperate. I have sprained my ankle, iced it and rested it–but the first time I stepped down on it, it still felt sprained. I don’t know how long it would take to get better laying down on the job.

So I woke up in the middle of the night–early Thursday morning, actually–and realized that my calling is not to sit in a motel room, prop my feet up and lament not being able to go out and share. I decided to rent a wheelchair. I had no idea what I was doing.

I really wasn’t sure.

Now, some people, when they’re not sure, feel they have walked into a deep, dark cave and they’re frightened of the attack of blood-sucking bats. I don’t feel that way. Matter of fact, sometimes I think it’s impossible to know what you really have until you lose what you don’t need.

When I went to the church in Fremont on Sunday morning and was rolled in in my wheelchair, I was convinced that everybody in the world was turning his head to peer at the freak. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. I have never been embraced, loved, assisted, confided in and included as part of a family the way I was yesterday. In both the church in Fremont and the church Sunday night, in Port Clinton, the folks rallied around me and helped me do whatever it is that I do–and never were they ashamed of my lacking.

I’m really not sure. You see what I mean? If I had not come to this crisis in my life, would I ever have set in motion a plan to try to rectify my chronic pain? Would I ever have gone on a food regimen again–now in my eighth day–which is already helping both my energy and my blood sugar? Would I ever have made myself vulnerable enough that my needfulness gave me the space for humanity to enter without apologizing for intruding? Would I ever have planned every step of my day so meticulously because I was learning my wheels?

I’m really not sure you can live a successful human life if hell is your fall guy and heaven is your only safe place. Sometimes the best way for God to love you is to allow you to reap the fruit of your labors–and see if you can’t grow out of your pain instead of just miraculously relieving it.

I’m driving to Indianapolis today. I feel absolutely great–except my legs just don’t want to balance and help me walk. I’m not sad; I am not looking for demons which have caused this interruption. And I certainly am not blaming God for failing to deliver my latest care package of grace.

What I am doing is stopping to realize that there is nothing happening to me right now that isn’t better than if I were still hobbling along, pretending I was all right, but wracked with pain.

  • How can God express His love if He’s not allowing circumstances to generate a better world for me?
  • How can God be God and not honor the principles of His own creation?
  • And how can God be God if the resolution to my situation is not improving my station?

It’s a powerful day, my friend.

I’m really not sure–and in the midst of that unsureness, I find the origins of my joy.

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