Jesonian … April 28th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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“Accept Christ.”

A vast majority of the evangelical churches in America hold this decision sacred. They contend that people must discover their sinful nature, repent, be baptized, and receive Christ as salvation.

So strong is the inclination to evangelize that the fundamentalist church is successful only at birthing children into the Kingdom–and then abandoning them to cultural, lifestyle and family traditions.

Most churches do not talk about Jesus. He is relegated to prayers, salvation and communion–as “the Christ.”

There is the Christ who offers eternal salvation, and then there is Jesus, who grants us a lifestyle which enables us to see God’s will “done on Earth as it is in heaven.”

The religious system must be addressed and corrected over major errors–three doctrines of Jesus that he fostered while on Earth, which the religious hierarchy has set aside in favor of following “the Christ:”

1. There must be racial equality through racial interaction.

Jesus broke all the boundaries of prejudice and bigotry by including Samaritans with Jews and Gentiles with Hebrews. This is not optional. As long as we have a “black church” and a “white church,” we are propagating the principles of Dixie, which launched us into the Civil War.

Purposeful efforts must be made to integrate the church.

The black church and white church need to mingle, no matter how much they think they are culturally different. They must become spiritually one.

2. Gender bias is unacceptable.

Jesus included women in his ministry as evangelists, financiers and confidantes. The church refuses to accept women as equals and continues to propagate a religious misogyny which is completely contrary to the teachings of Jesus.

Women should preach, women should teach, women should do everything that men do without restriction.

3. Free will must be established.

The church is becoming more and more Calvinistic–believing in pre-destination. In so doing, we lose the gospel of Jesus. After all, there’s no need for me to love my neighbor as myself if everything is pre-determined. There’s no purpose in being concerned about what I sow if what I reap has already been factored in. The removal of free will in deference to God being in charge of everything–in control of all decisions–has rendered the church an insipid bunch of Bible-readers who are more afraid of the devil than they are their own inconsistent behavior.

Nothing will be accomplished in the Christ-centered church until the Jesus-focused people get rid of racial barriers, gender bias and a belief in destiny, which precludes us from making our own choices.

It’s wonderful to believe in Christ if you follow Jesus.

It’s not wonderful to believe in Christ if most of the time you use your life on Earth to ignore Jesus and follow the tenets of your community.

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Jesonian… May 20th, 2017

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“A certain lawyer.”

This is how the King James Version of the Good Book describes a chap who comes to hear Jesus teach. We do not know his real name, but we are made aware of his agenda.

So was he “a certain lawyer” because he was identical to the other lawyers around him, or was he referred to as “a certain lawyer” because he had a legal mind–already made up and sure of itself?

As the story unfolds, we find that actually he’s a bit of both. He’s on a mission. His job is to take his intellect, his knowledge of Mosaic law and his wit, and trip up the bumpkin would-be prophet from Nazareth.

He crafts a plan. It’s the classic trap. He asks Jesus “how to gain eternal life.” He figures this will cause the over-wrought preacher to launch into a series of crazed statements which are easily contradicted by existing spiritual philosophy. Imagine how astounded he is when Jesus defers to him.

“What does the law say? How do you read it?”

The lawyer was not expecting this response, but seeing the crowd of people, he thought it would be unwise to be absent a reply. He grabs a safe answer. (That’s what “certain people” do. Even “certain lawyers.” They grab safe answers.)

He said, “You should love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself.”

To which Jesus replied, “Fantastic! Go do that.”

The certain lawyer is embarrassed. He has been out-maneuvered by a former carpenter. He has been managed. He has been handled. He gained no additional information, and made the audience think he was completely in tune with the teachings of Jesus.

So he does something truly dastardly–he tries to justify himself. Every lasting malady happens when we come across a reality and explain why we’re already doing something else.

The certain lawyer (who is losing certainty by the moment) asks, “Who is my neighbor?”

In other words, there must be some restriction. Jesus is not talking about Gentiles, is he? He’s not referring to nasty whores and thieves?

“I need you to clarify. And in the clarification, it is my hope that you will foul up, so I can go back to those who hired me, and have a good laugh concerning me bettering the Galilean.”

Jesus doesn’t miss a beat.

He tells a story about a man who fell into a situation where he was robbed and beaten. He immediately establishes that those who “the certain lawyer” respected–a priest and a Levite–passed by and did not help the bleeding fellow. Instead, he offers a hero. He introduces a Samaritan–which by the way, to that “certain lawyer” was even worse than a Gentile–who comes to the aid of the gentleman, binds his wounds, takes him to an inn and then leaves real money behind to make sure he’s cared for until he recuperates.

Jesus directs the story. In politics, they refer to it as “controlling the narrative.”

A lawyer who thought he was so smart was side-stepped; trapped by question from Jesus which could only evoke one logical response. Upon finishing the narrative, Jesus asks the certain lawyer, “Who was neighbor to the damaged man?”

The lawyer was surrounded by people, and the answer was so obvious that any hem-hawing or parsing of words would make him look foolish, not thoughtful. So he splurted out:

“The neighbor was the one who showed mercy to the wounded man.”

And even though the “certain lawyer” had hoped that the end of his dialogue with Jesus would leave the Master speechless and him dominating, instead Jesus turns and as he walked away, says, “Go and do thou likewise.”

There must have been a chuckle throughout the crowd.

The humiliated, foiled, aggravated and convicted lawyer left to go lick his wounds.

Over the next few weeks, he devises his own story–a retort he should have given to Jesus. Why do I feel that? Because the Gospel writer never told us his name.

The “certain lawyer” didn’t matter. He was a prop–a vehicle to share wisdom.

A story for the ages: The Good Samaritan.

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Ask Jonathots … July 16th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I love my church and my pastor, but every four years my preacher tells us who to vote for. I really don’t like this. Should I speak to him about this? Write an anonymous note? What is the best way to handle this? I don’t want to leave the church because of this one issue.

Well it really comes down to this point: does a minister of the Gospel have a responsibility to steer his congregation concerning a political decision?

It is not a question of whether he has the right. If a preacher insists he has a calling from God, then he can’t use the Constitution of the United States as proof of his legal authority to voice his opinion in the pulpit in political matters. If you’re going to claim a higher purpose, then you must live by the dictates of that higher calling, not merely the civil rights afforded to you by your government.

So it comes down to the question of how did the Good Shepherd handle the issue of political favoritism? And of course, when I say Good Shepherd, I am speaking of Jesus.

  • Jesus had a congregation.
  • Jesus had a flock.
  • Jesus had a following.

Unquestionably, they were swayed by his opinions.

Judea in the 1st Century A.D. was politically charged. It was Jews against Samaritans, Samaritans against Gentiles, Gentiles divided over their allegiance to Rome, and Rome basically swallowing up most of the air with its imperialism and desire to conquer.

There was tremendous pressure on Jesus to pick a side. For instance:

He was invited to the palace of Herod to discuss his work. He declined.

The woman at the well suggested that he should show a bit more favoritism to the Samaritans to balance things out. He didn’t.

And of course, the Jewish hierarchy wanted him to speak out against Rome. And his classic phrasing of “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” still remains as a guideline for those who preach the Gospel.

They even wanted Jesus to express sympathy for Jewish folk who had been killed by Pontius Pilate while merely worshipping in the synagogue. Although it would have been easy for him to do so, he remained neutral.

Since he taught that “the Kingdom of God is within us,” how we are governed doesn’t make nearly as much difference as the decision we make on how to live our personal lives. Your pastor has absolutely no right to color the vote of his sheep. But confronting him on such an issue is not only disrespectful, but would certainly be unproductive.

If your church does not use Jesus as the primary example, then your pastor will probably fall back on Old Testament nationalism to condone his choices.

At that point, you have to make a decision.

Do you want to be part of New Testament church that follows Jesus, or a church which haphazardly mingles Jesus and Moses together with equal authority and power?

I see nothing wrong with posing the question to your pastor, “Do you think Jesus would campaign for a candidate, and if you do think so, what story from his life do you use to confirm that?”

Even the Apostle Paul told us to pray for those who are in authority over us–not campaign against them.

The church will become a much more powerful unit for spiritual and social change when it pushes for separation from the state.

 

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Jesonian: Simeon Says… December 28, 2014

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People often walk up and tell me they have a “word from the Lord” for me. Sometimes they refer to it as a prophesy, sometimes a word of knowledge or wisdom, and on occasion, they will even describe the coloration of my aura. Most of the time they’re just trying to connect and be nice.

I listen to them intently and thank them.

Yet every once in a while, these fine individuals will tell me something that has true spiritual significance or is a revelation they could not possibly have ascertained on their own.

It is a joyous, chilling encounter.

I bring this up because we are told in the Gospel of Luke, that Mary and Joseph, being good Jews, make a trip to the local temple to offer a sacrifice of gratitude for the birth of their son, Jesus.

They immediately come across an aged gentleman who seems partly senile and partly crazed, who has one of these “words of prophesy” for them.

Being an old man and probably well-set in his ways by his traditional upbringing, his message is contrary to his training.

His name was Simeon. Here’s what he told them about their baby, Jesus:

1. Jesus will be a light “to lighten the Gentiles.”

It is highly unlikely that Simeon would share such a notion, since he believed from his youth that those who were not Jews were basically dogs. He would not select to be so broad-thinking unless inspired by a divine source.

The first thing to remember about the gospel brought by Jesus is that his main goal was to get God out of Jerusalem and take the love of the Father on the road. For hundreds of years, belief in Jehovah had been stuck in Mesopotamia. It was time for the rest of the world to be included.

2. Find the glory of Israel.

  • What is the glory of Israel?
  • Patriarchs?
  • Dusty scrolls?
  • Stories of heroes who conquered giants?

No–the glory of Israel is that one man or woman can hear a message from God and launch out by faith. Honestly, the traditions only hinder that process.

3. The message of Jesus will be “a falling and rising to many.”

Some people just like to be prejudiced. They want to believe in a God who “hates somebody so He can love us more.” The message of Jesus eliminates that vengeful creature, replacing Him with a creative Father.

Some people rose with that authorization. Others fell in with the crowd who cried, “Crucify.”

4. Mankind’s heart shall be revealed.

The Jesonian is not a thinking man’s religion. It’s not a spiritualist carnival. It does not extol physical appearance above all else. Jesonian is the willingness to have our hearts exposed without fear, knowing that in so doing, the “truth will make us free.”

Religion studies God so that we don’t have to study ourselves. That is why the Jesonian is not a religion–it’s a lifestyle.

That day an old man in the temple broke through all of his pre-conceived ideas to share a message from on high.

It was a message of inclusion.

It was a message of challenge.

And it was a message that told us that as long as we’re willing to be real, the reality that comes our way can bless us.

 

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G-43: The P Plan… September 26, 2014

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Damascus

 

As God, I don’t really have a wonderful plan for your life.

I am a Father and have no inclination to infringe on your liberty or desire.

What I do offer is a natural order in the Universe, which can be discovered and learned so that when you come to an impasse, you possess the tools and vision to perceive and take advantage of the ways of escape.

I rain on the just and the unjust–but if you pursue justice, you can use my rain to water the seed that you already have intelligently planted.

My sun offers equality in shining.

But there are occasions that I provide supernal grace to cover a multitude of mishaps. (But keep this in mind–you can’t really call it grace if it’s your idea.)

So as I departed Earth to ascend to the heavens, I realized that the friends I left behind had a daunting task:

  • Go
  • The world
  • Preach
  • Gospel
  • Teaching
  • Commandments

Huge undertakings. They would need help.They would soon be distracted by everyday life, trials and their own Jewish prejudice against the purported heathen.

Without discouraging their efforts or limiting their potential, and certainly not interfering in their free will, I have invited an additional advocate. Because I am no longer funding a “chosen race,” I need a messenger who understands Jews but will intellectually thrive and find footing with the Gentiles. (I feel a little awkward using these arcane terms, but for the sake of understanding, I shall persist.)

This new friend will also be a lightning bolt of stimulus for these ever-learning, ever-growing and sometimes ever-confounded Galileans.

  • He will be a Roman citizen, able to move freely in the Empire.
  • He will be fearless, which other mortals will assert is careless.
  • In placing my hand on his shoulder, I will also deter him from his present mission of murdering off all my followers.

I call this additional reinforcement Plan P:

P for Paul, who at this point thinks that he is Saul.

He will take my message from Mt. Sinai to every river basin, valley, plain, desert and forest across the circle of the earth. 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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Jesonian: Every Week at 11 A. M…. May 18, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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serviceChurch.

Some people revere it; other folks revile it.

I am curious if anyone’s interested in attempting to revive it.

Yes. What is a Jesonian church?

What would a church be if it was headed by Pastor Jesus?

We don’t need to speculate too much because it was Jesus’ custom to be at the synagogue on the Sabbath. When there, we have several accounts of his deeds, predilections, preferences and even aggravations.

He had definite ideas.

1. Welcoming.

Any church that is Jesonian needs to be welcoming. We often forget that along with the teachings, the miracles and the plan of salvation, Jesus is the only leader in history who was able to take Jews, Gentiles, Greeks, Romans, Syrians, Phoenicians and Egyptians and bring them under one banner through his story. We must remember that the church is an organism, not an organization, so no application is necessary to fill out for membership.

2. Equality.

A Jesonian church would be one filled with children and women–given a place of equality. Much to the chagrin of his disciples, Jesus was surrounded by children, and in an extremely male-dominated society, welcomed females freely.

3. Stories.

Not preaching. Parables of everyday life, relating what had been considered to be the mystery of godliness to common topics such as farming, fishing, parenting and even sweeping one’s own house.

4. Spontaneity.

I chuckle sometimes when I hear ministers tell me they have their services planned six months in advance. Without being judgmental, let me tell you–spirituality does not work that way. A Jesonian church would permit itself to have some ideas or jot down some possibilities for the service, but would always be ready to minister to the daily need and the primary concern at hand.

We often see Jesus healing on the Sabbath–not merely to object to the rigidity of Mosaic Law, but because someone present was in need of immediate attention.

5. Breaking tradition.

It is incorrect to portray Jesus as a renegade, but certainly, including his reformation spirit and his renaissance creativity is essential if you’re going to have a Jesonian church. Jesus had only one qualification for any religious practice: can it come from the heart?

In other words, can we be emotionally involved in it, or is it just vain repetition?

6. Repentance.

To be a Jesonain church, repentance and transformation are necessary. Repentance does not follow a sermon of condemnation. Repentance happens when we are overwhelmed with the goodness of God and realize we are living beneath our privilege, often in the pig pen.

The church needs a revival.

This will not be achieved by either revering it or by reviling it.

It will be accomplished as we awaken the parts of us that are more spirit than the letter of the law.

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Arizona morning

After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

Click here to listen to Spirited music

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Paulless… February 1, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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El Paso SanctuarySaint Paul United Methodist Church in El Paso, Texas. My latest tour date.

Saint Paul.

I guess it’s one of those titles they give to you after you’re dead, and they’re trying to apologize for how badly they treated you. Sometimes they even name a frigid city in Minnesota after you.

The reason I like Paul is because he understood both ends of the spectrum of human life. Well … I should say he exhibited them, whether he understood it or not.

It would be unfortunate for our modern world if Earth had ended up “Paulless.” Honestly, Peter and the other eleven disciples were quite content, after the resurrection, to sit in their rocking chairs on Solomon’s Porch outside the Temple, and recall former days when water turned to wine.

It was Paul who was curious about reaching the rest of the world and not just those who liked to have a little “shew” with their bread. Matter of fact, I can guarantee you that Christianity would never have reached the white, bratwurst-eating tribes had it not been for Paul of Tarsus.

But the best thing about him is that he demonstrates that being inspired by God involves a combination of mistakes and discoveries.

  • Because the same Paul who succeeded in getting the gospel message to the Gentiles also spent way too much time arguing with the Jews, who had no intention of changing and ended up sending him to his demise.
  • Yes, Paul, who welcomed women into the ministry as equals, got into a bad mood one day and equated the female of the species as being deceived “weaker vessels” who needed to submit.
  • He taught us about the grace of God instead of a mean, Old Testament grouch, but also over-emphasized a plan of salvation instead of explaining the lifestyle of Jesus.
  • He had the eloquent moment in the book of Philippians, where he proclaimed with great joy, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” while also being tagged with writing complaints about how he was mistreated and not allowed to be an apostle.
  • With great humility he bowed his head and received the welcoming acceptance of Barnabas when the rest of the Christians were afraid of him because of his vendetta against the faith, only to turn around when Barnabas wanted to be forgiving toward John Mark, who had grown road weary, and condemned the boy as unworthy of his calling.

It’s all in there. It is unedited. It is why I know the Good Book is divinely inspired–for a God who plans on saving the world doesn’t need to embellish the story to make everything seem fine.

If the world was Paulless–well, the world probably wouldn’t have Jesus.

It also wouldn’t have the obvious example of a man who was ordained with greatness … and bewitched by moments of insecurity.

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Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

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