Jesonian–Troubling (Part 10)… September 2nd, 2017

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Troubling.

In the Gospel of John, the 9th Chapter, the disciples of Jesus get into a rather frumpy, cheesy, theological mood and approach Jesus with a question.

They had come upon a gentleman who was blind from birth, and they officiously asked the Master whether this happened to him due to his own sin, or the sin of his parents?

Keep in mind–these are the same fellows who had seen water turned into wine, five thousand folks fed with five loaves and two fishes, demons cast out and the dead raised. Yet when it comes to discussing the nature, tenderness, mind-set and intellect of God, they revert back to their small-village, Sunday School mentality.

They made two errors:

First, they contended that God punishes people for their sins. Nothing could be further from the truth. And Jesus made it clear–good things happen to good people and bad people, and bad things happen to everyone equally. (Otherwise, there would be great impetus to be good instead of bad, just to garner the material blessing.)

The second mistake was that they believed that people were “born a certain way.” Obviously, this notion permeates our society as well. We are convinced people are born athletes, born musicians, born leaders, born dexterous…shall I go on? We take comfort in the assertion because it gives us all an excuse for not taking the abilities we see in ourselves and multiplying them to make our lives more abundant.

These two completely errant ideas were put forth by these Galileans two thousand years ago–ideas which are still an intricate part of the doctrinal DNA of the average Christian.

  • “Don’t sin or God will punish you.”
  • And “you are destined to be something by birth.”

I think it is important to note Jesus’ response. He completely dismisses both possibilities. He makes it clear that God doesn’t punish people for their sins–and especially not for the sins of their parents. And he also says that destiny is a myth because free will is extolled throughout the Universe as the “go-to plan.”

You can’t have both free will and destiny. They do not co-habitate. Even though you may have a certain genetic makeup, it does not overtake you and turn you into something you do not choose to be.

It is also why the Bible makes it clear that part of the salvation experience is to be “born again”–becoming a new creature in Christ.

Jesus said that God was not punishing anyone, and that the man was not born blind. He said that blindness was in his life so that God could be made manifest through him in a unique way.

There’s nothing wrong with taking what seems to be a weakness and turning it into a strength so that God might receive glory. This blind man is not complaining; he is not joining into the theological discussion about his plight. Matter of fact, he’s not even begging to be healed.

He has found a place in his place to make a place for every place he goes.

That’s our job.

I was dealt a certain hand and so were you. Now, through the blessing of free will, I have the ability to turn those circumstances to the positive instead of internalizing them to complain about my pain.

It is troubling that we still have a church that believes if bad things happen to people, the people must be bad–and that we live in a society which insists we were all “born” with a certain destiny.

God gave us free will. We can deny it and wait for Him to plan our lives, only to discover that He doesn’t do that, and our time on Earth has slipped away.

Or we can take a look at what we have–an inventory, if you will–and see what great things we can accomplish–simply by stepping forward instead of backward.

 

 

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G-Poppers … August 11th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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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

 

Jesonian–Troubling (Part 6)… August 5th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is troubling.

Yet I must profess to you that no one has greater joy and regard for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross than I do. It is my salvation and it rattles my consciousness to a sensibility of my own sinful nature and the grace of God.

That being said, I fear that the church has become “atone-deaf.”

Nearly desperate to land on a universal message for Christianity which can be compactly shared at a moment’s notice, we have placed too much attention on a hill called Golgotha, and not nearly enough tender loving care with a Sermon shared from a Mount. In doing this, we have contradicted things we know about the nature of God in order to fulfill the doctrine of the propitiation of sin.

For instance, God ordained free will for humans. Yet we’re led to believe that “from the foundations of the world” it was pre-destined that Jesus would be killed on a cross.

When God spoke through the Old Testament prophets, He declared that He wanted mercy, not sacrifice. Yet for some reason we decide that He changed His mind and adopted human sacrifice as the symbol of His covenant.

As a writer, the first thing you learn is to be faithful to your characters. You can’t manipulate the plotline by causing your character to do something completely beyond the scope of his or her nature, just so you can advance your story.

God gave us free will. We chose to kill Jesus.

God hates sacrifice. He took the death of Jesus and transformed it into our salvation.

What was meant for evil, He made good.

Atonement should be a central theme in the Christian message. It is powerful. It is priceless. But by no means should it be preached so loudly that it makes us deaf to the greater matters of the kingdom–tenderness, responsibility, excellence, consolation and tolerance.

What can we do to keep the death of Jesus in perspective?

I have always received the gift of Calvary as my salvation and a license for me to go out and salvage. How? First, deal with my own appetites and also multiply my talents. Once I become the salvager–the “light of the world” and “the salt of the earth”–I have the ability to transfuse the energy of salvation, pass it along to others and see them reborn.

The conclusion? As a saved soul who has become salvaged and a saver, I fulfill the purpose of me being rescued.

We’ve got to start listening again. We have to stop trying to fulfill denominational doctrine and instead, emphasize the character of God.

Jesus lived for thirty-three years to give the human race a chance to accept his message. He used stories; he used confrontation. He used healing; he used mercy.

And at the end of it all, we used crucifixion.

God, in His infinite grace, chose to take the blood that we shed and make it a symbol of our salvation rather than a further curse of our rebellion. It’s remarkable.

But if we want to find the heart of Jesus, it is not at Calvary.

It is in the words, deeds, actions and anointing of his life.

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Jesonian… June 3rd, 2017

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This week, one of my sons will celebrate his birthday. He is the pastor of a church. Like most children, he has grown up to be his own man and sometimes listens to my counsel, but many times opts to pursue different voices.

It is the way of our tribe.

But as I considered his birthday, I realized that he does not require a new shirt, pants, tennis shoes or a subscription to “Boys Life.” He has the ability to get all of those things on his own.

What he needs from me is what I have always given him–an honest report. So as a gift to my son, and maybe even a piece of usable information for you, I present the “Seven Practices of a Good Shepherd.”

I use Jesus as my example. If you’re going to be a Good Shepherd–a pastor or leader of human souls:

1. Don’t mess, interfere, refer to, question or condemn anyone’s sex life.

When a crowd of people tried to get Jesus to discuss adultery, he turned away, stooped down and fiddled in the dirt as if he never heard them.

2. Stop trying to make friends.

You’ve been called to make disciples. That is the root word for discipline. As a shepherd, your journey will be to guide people in the direction of their better possibility. Sometimes they will be grateful; sometimes they will be temporarily offended. But they must always know that your heart is to see them “grow to the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ.”

3. No preaching, a little teaching, tell stories, make it visual.

Jesus never preached a sermon. He took time to teach his disciples. He told stories to the masses. But most importantly, he gave visual evidence of the power of his word by transforming lives.

4. Family is not everything.

Although we seem trapped in an overly sympathetic mood toward those who share our DNA, Jesus was faithful to his kin until his kin refused to be faithful to his mission. When his family thought he was crazy for preaching the Gospel, he walked away from them until they could grow up.

5. Touch the heart, stir the soul, renew the mind, strengthen the weak.

If you’re not emotionally connecting with people, you can never stir their souls. Therefore their minds will remain concrete, and they will be weakened by their own lack of maturity.

6. Respect free will.

Although you may be tempted to tell people that God has a wonderful plan for their life, the truth of the matter is, God has a wonderful life for their plan. There’s only one thing greater than love–that’s free will.

Even though God loved the world, when the world did not love Jesus, he granted free will to them to make their own decision. From that poor choice–to crucify–He granted them salvation through Jesus’ blood.

If God gives free will, a Good Shepherd can never take it away. So when people decide not to like you, honor their decision.

7. Religion kills.

If you don’t know what religion is, it can be defined simply as a belief in some sort of plan to reach God.

God does not need to be reached. He has done all the reaching. God needs to be acknowledged. God needs to be included. There is no magical plan of salvation. Salvation is when we finally grow permanently comfortable with the fact that God loves us.

So there’s my gift to my son, which I hope you may find of interest also.

I shall tell him that this is his birthday present from his dad, and I hope he likes it … because I didn’t keep the receipt.

 

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G-Poppers … September 23rd, 2016

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When G-Pop was a younger man, some of his friends suggested that he go seek the wisdom of an “image consultant” to help guide him in his writing career.

The concept was that this expert in marketing would have great ideas on how to make G-Pop more relevant to the public.

The two-hour session, which cost $150, garnered one very important insight: everything we do projects an idea.

It’s similar to the genesis of the creation of the universe. After God set science and planetary formations in motion, He settled in to generate the working friendships that would highlight the essence of His feelings.

  • God created humans in His own image.
  • Therefore we are God’s image consultants.

What people will think about God is based upon how they view us–and to some degree, how they perceive our being comes from their ideas about God.

It’s really very simple:

  1. Humans need God.
  2. But God needs humans.

A covenant began in a garden. The rules were understandable. Humankind received free will, and God asked humans to become caretakers of the animals, the Earth and each other.

G-Pop knows that when this system is honored, the love of God, the love of humans and the love of Earth is manifested. But if we insist we love God but misuse the Earth and mistreat one another, we portray an image which is contrary to who He is, and therefore infuriating.

So returning to the simplicity that human beings are God’s image and therefore God needs human beings to propel His nature, we begin to grasp the beauty and magnitude of our mission.

G-Pop has free will. For the pleasure of making his own plans, his own selection of friends and his own life’s work, God requests that G-Pop be a good caretaker of the Earth and all of its inhabitants.

If you think that’s religion, then may we all be religious.

But if it is what the Bible calls it–the breath of life–then may be all start breathing deeply.

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 21) Five Months … April 24th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Five months ago I began this series on “Reasonable.”

I initiated the idea that it is completely useless to follow Jesus–being Jesonian–without offering to our planet a reasonable nature.

Let’s look at our consensus:

1. Free will

Human beings have the right to make their own choices.

2. Liberty

The more we promote freedom, the better off we are in the eyes of God.

3. Unjudging

Take a moment, go back and find the people you’ve criticized and tell them what a jerk you were.

4. Good cheer

We need to begin to believe in the joy of our own testimony and life.

5. Mercy

The only time that grace terminates is when we become ungracious to others.

6. Humility

There is a built-in reward for pursuing our dreams with excellence.

7. Considering

Demanding more is the best way to make sure you will get nothing. Find what you have and delight yourself in it.

8. Priority

Just uncover the best ways to bless other human beings.

9. Leavening

Silently, but persistently, insert good into the mix.

10. Resilience

Survive the critics. Avoid criticizing.

11. Peaceful

Always arrive prepared to listen, and chat up if you must.

12. Repairing

Find reasons for commonality.

13. Logic

Consider science in understanding faith.

14. Living

Don’t be in a hurry to call something dead.

15. Doubt

To question is to care.

16. Purity

Just keep it simple.

17. Quietly

At least half the time, try not to be noticed.

18. Wounded

Use your wounds for healing others, while being proud of your scars.

19. Apolitical

If the government is of the people, then work on the people, not the government.

20. Silence

It seems that wisdom always arrives an hour later than opinion. Wait for it.

The beauty of these twenty axioms is that you could pursue one and change your own life and enhance the lives of those around you.

You could try one each week and literally create a radical revival.

Being reasonable is not a noble task taken on by saintly believers–it actually is the only reason that we are able.

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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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