Jesonian … January 6th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Sitting my eleven-year-old self down right in the middle of the Junior High Sunday School class, my attention was riveted on the astounding, emerging breasts of Terry and Linda.

All at once I was startled by some words that came out of the mouth of our schoolmarm-deacon’s-wife teacher. She was reading the names of the twelves disciples when she stated, without flinching, “James, the Less.”

It just piqued my curiosity–so much so that I raised my hand to ask a question. She was so flabbergasted at seeing a student express interest that she paused for a second, and then finally acknowledged me.

I asked, “James the Less? Who made him ‘Less?’ And who has the right to call him that?”

She was stymied. My particular question was not covered in lesson book under “potential points of discussion.”

I waited for her response. At length, she replied, “Well, I don’t know for sure, but maybe it’s because he wasn’t as important as the other James.”

This infuriated me. A God in Heaven who thinks some people are more important than others? How can He be “no respecter of persons” when He’s keeping a private list of “Faves?”

I objected, and all at once some of the other students (who had been deep in Sunday-morning comas) began to listen, and agreed with my concerns. What right did we have to call this James “the Less” and give the other James more value?

Even though this was many years ago, I had been trained in a spiritual communism. Amazingly, we still tout these concept even today.

Everyone is the same, as far as their worth.

Everything that everyone does is just as precious as what another person does.

Of course, this is total foolishness.

I do expect my airline pilot to have more expertise than the city bus driver. I’m not taking anything away from the bus driver, but I am asking the airline pilot to take his job very seriously, and to show up with integrity and deeper knowledge.

We must understand that James the Less was given that name on Jesus’ watch. Jesus had three disciples he favored over the other nine. Favored in what way? Whenever he went into critical situations or needed men of great faith, Peter, James and John were ushered to the front.

Yet we never feel as if the others are slighted–until one day they decided to get fussy. They sat around and discussed who would be the greatest. To stimulate the conversation, they had to begin with the premise that each one of them was just as essential as the other.

Jesus rebuked them. He said, “These are concerns that the world has. It won’t be that way with you. For you, he that would be master must be a servant.”

Jesus offered a Jesonian philosophy. It still works today. When Jesus found people, he did three things:

1. This is who you are.

When a man with many demons cast out of him wanted to join Jesus’ troup, he sent the man back to his own town, to spread the word.

“This is who you are.”

Much of our life span is wasted denying who we are. Maybe we find it insufficient. Maybe we think we should be given more focus. But in the process of arguing over who we are, we fail to reach the second point.

2. This is why it is good.

The greatest gift we can give anyone is to help them understand why who they are is so good. James the Less was not offended because James the Less knew who he was and why that was a great contribution to the cause.

James, who was considered greater, was balanced out by realizing that in order to maintain his place in the front lines, he needed to be “servant of all,” even to James the Less.

3. The Gospel will show you how you can peak.

Yes, once you find out who you are and realize that it’s good, Jesus has a style to grant you relevance.

I always have to giggle when I hear someone advertise “The Great Smoky Mountains.” Actually, when you place a Smoky Mountain next to Mount Everest, it might look like flat land. But because the Smoky Mountains are strategically placed–where there are no other mountains around to compete–they are not only beautiful and entertaining, but considering their location, can be called “great.”

Find your location and peak. Don’t situate yourself next to people who have a different mission and try to pull them down, criticizing them to make yourself look better.

The Gospel of Jesus teaches you how to peak in your own arena.

Unfortunately, my schoolmarm at the church that day could not give me an answer to my question. She was just like me. She was taught that calling someone “less” was an insult.

Actually, when you’re James the Less, you just use wisdom to make sure you don’t hang around the other James too much–but instead, find out who you are and why that’s good.

And then let the Gospel show you how to peak.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … December 6th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3513)

I Don’t Fit

I don’t fit the manger scene

Not a lass who’s barely fourteen

Nor a man who heeds his dreams

I’m too possessed with my schemes

Never sheepish, devoid of sin

Willing to welcome a baby in

Yet perhaps an ass from the working class

Grunting a complaint over midnight cries

Where would I fit, with all my lies?

I would be the shepherd who remained with the flock

Bound and determined to punch the clock

“Angels we have heard on high”

Don’t pay the rent–let ’em fly

Bethlehem’s too simple and quaint

No time to stress or offer complaint

I just don’t seem to belong

With angels singing a heavenly song

Go to bed, get some sleep

Rise again to sow and reap

For I would never stare at the sky

Believing a star had the answers why

And trek across the desert sand

A stranger in a foreign land

To burst into tears of joy

Because I found Heaven’s Boy

I’m so glad I missed Holy Night

Because I would have failed to see the light

‘Tis the story that touches my pagan soul

And allows me a chance to be made whole

I don’t fit in the manger scene

With Mama and child, so serene

God was smart, with all His clout

To give me time to figure it out

 

 

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Good News and Better News… November 27th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3504)

Upon arriving at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Palm City, Florida, we were greeted by Pastor Roy and John, who graciously agreed to carry in our equipment and assist us in any way possible. It is magnificent to run across human souls who welcome strangers–no matter how strange they may appear to be.

Pastor Roy is a congenial fellow who, like Matthew of old, was called from his trade to come and share the Gospel. Courteous, gentle, kind, inventive and helpful. During the time of our set-up, and also our whole visitation, this dear brother became and remained, our right arm.

I am humbled by such an active service.

I had one mission in Palm City–an attempt to escort beautiful children of God’s kingdom from fear to good cheer.

Fear grips us.

Good cheer greets us: Greets us with the awareness that all is well, God is with us and we have resource.

Being good Lutherans, they were naturally afraid of any show of spontaneous emotion. After all, we’re not positive that God isn’t a solemn and austere figure. (Of course, if He is, we’re in a world of trouble.)

Good cheer is what Jesus suggests we use to survive while he overcomes the world, which is full of tribulation.

I explained to these dear brothers and sisters that there’s a difference between clapping your hands and applause. Applause is often deemed an expression of appreciation or even praise for an artist. Clapping your hands is the most authentic evidence of the presence of joy.

So when we come into God’s house and we sit tight in our seats, afraid to move, waiting for the Eucharist, we miss the point of our gathering.

We should be there for three reasons: to strengthen one another, to care for one another and to confirm that the Gospel continues to be “good news.” All of our other traditions are delightful, but have little to do with what actually constitutes praise and worship.

So I told my new friends that I personally need no applause–but that God loves to hear them clap their hands.

So if you hear something good, see something good, feel tingly and warm in the Spirit or are overcome with joy: “Clap your hands, all ye people. Shout unto God with a voice of triumph.”

The good news is that when these Lutherans did so, the building reverberated with the power of love.

The better news is, if they will continue to release that Spirit through clapping their hands, many prayers for miracles will come their way.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … September 27th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3442)

Harmless

At the end of my arm

Is a helping hand

Here’s my leg

With a foot ready to go

At the tip of my nose

Your business begins

My eyes are clear

I want to see

My ears are open

I’m listening

My tongue is tamed

To speak forth praise

My mind is free

To be renewed

Create in me

A clean heart, O God

I have made room

For a right spirit

I have breath for words

Which justify, not condemn

I need to be harmless

I want to be harmless

So you can trust me

And I can trust me, too.

 

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G-Poppers … August 18th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop’s five-year-old son came strolling over carrying a dirty, beat-up baby blanket with frayed edges, which had been the source of great comfort and solace to the little chap for years.

He handed it to G-Pop and said, “Fix it.”

The blanket did need some help.

The ends were torn and worn from being drug on the ground and any memory of the original color had faded beneath a cloud of general “dirty.”

G-Pop’s son even brought along the family sewing kit to aid in the repair. G-Pop peered at the blanket and then down into the hopeful eyes of his child.

“I don’t need the sewing kit. It won’t help. What I need is a pair of scissors.”

The five-year-old squinted. “Why?”

Why indeed?

G-Pop realized that the ony way to fix the blanket was to carefully take the scissors and meticulously trim off the ripped regions on the perimeter. They could not be fixed. They would never be woven into the one piece of cloth. They were gone.

They were needfully gone. A new border needed to be negotiated. Otherwise, the blanket was worthless.

G-Pop was thinking about that today as he was mulling over the situation in our country.

We are a tattered patchwork, and our ends are frayed. Attempts to sew things together or make them right are useless because the substance to stitch is just not there.

Here’s the truth: No matter how honorable foolish people are in pursuing their goals, the end result is still foolishness.

No matter how many flags are waved for the glory of a cause, if that idea is unrighteous, unfair and bigoted, it needs to cease to exist. It is frayed; it is torn. And it will continue to tear into the other fabric if we allow it to blow in the wind.

It is time for America to bring its security blanket to the forefront, and for us–as “we, the people”–to take scissors and cut away the nonsense.

After all, some things are wrong because God and Mother Nature got together and decided they were wrong. Yes, Science and the Divine often have meetings, and generate or terminate parts of the Earth.

So grab your scissors, starting with your own life, setting an example for those around you, and:

1. Trim back opinions.

Opinions are stop-offs on our way to the truth. To spend too much time touting them is to delay the arrival of common sense.

2. Clip the need to debate.

If the goal of a debate is to find out what is really workable, then perhaps it has merit. If it is to change the minds of those around us by using words, statistics and intimidation, it is fruitless. The time we spend debating could be put to better use by creating.

3. Snip the separations.

If America is a melting pot, let it melt. And while you’re at it, jump in the pan. A stew should be so well-cooked that people have to ask you what kind of concoction it is instead of looking inside and noting a predominance of chicken.

Thus, America. We shouldn’t be identified as white, black, Hispanic, cultural, ethnic, Anglo-Saxon, Asian, male or female.

The blend should be complete.

If you are saying anything before “American” it is contentious, be it African, Asian, Mexican, white or female. Just “American” will do fine.

The tapestry of our country is frayed. The extreme ends cannot be repaired. We must trim them away, allowing a new edge to our common understanding.

 

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G-Poppers … August 11th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

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

 

Good News and Better News… August 7th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is truly amazing how God’s plan for my life works so much better when I make good decisions.

Maybe that’s because God, who gave every human being free will, does not “plan our life.” Instead, he offers wisdom, strength and grace to those who remain humble. I see this every single day of my time on Earth.

Some people are waiting for God to do what He’s already done.

Others take what God has done and go out and do something with it.

I was a blessed man to be granted the opportunity to share at the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Palm Harbor, Florida. I ran across people who were thinking about making good decisions.

One fellow candidly told me that when he walked in and saw that there were guest ministers, he wanted to walk right back out. But he decided to sit down –n a grumpy sort of way–and ended up being thrilled with his choice.

Another fellow was recovering from stomach problems and decided to come in spite of them, and departed exhilarated.

I ran across person after person who explained to me that the facts set before them did not necessarily warrant optimism or faith, but they chose to rearrange circumstances to their better advantage.

Jesus never criticized anyone for showing initiative to change his or her life. In our religion we often connote that too much ambition, or even an overload of passion, is detrimental to Godly humility. In the process, many of those who darken the door of the church are plagued by insecurity.

I am a human who truly has been granted a great opportunity of possibility–I get to go and share my thoughts, my songs, my words and my good cheer, with the aspiration of inspiring others. Did God plan for me to do this? He certainly is grateful for my efforts–and I, for His mission.

The good news is that we have been given the tools, the opportunity and the potential to make fruitful lives.

The better news is that our Father in heaven, from a position of support, is admiring our growth.

 

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