Good News and Better News … September 5th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News Adrian

There is a quiet revolution bubbling in our land. You must silence the busyness of your mind to hear the rumbling.

But it’s there.

It’s a weariness over the lack of authenticity. For instance:

The music industry, which has marginalized itself to harmonics and beat, is once again yearning for melody and emotion.

Movies, once satisfied with merely selling tickets, have a rebirth of interest in entertainment that inspires.

The government, intended to be of the people, by the people and for the people, is struggling to move out of the madness of political disarray.

The medical field is pondering healing instead of stealing.

Education is focusing on teaching.

And the church…

Well, the church is in need of ministering to humanity instead of preaching a form of godliness.

Yesterday morning I found myself in Adrian, Michigan. It was a beautiful sanctuary. It was filled with people–mostly of retirement years–who listened to my Jesonian message with anxious hearts, but with brains retired to quieter thoughts. I could see it written on their faces: “You should have caught us thirty years ago. Now we’re too old.”

But it will be the repentance of the older saints which will convict younger believers to transform their lives.

In pursuit of worshipping the Christ, we have lost Jesus.

We need to find him.

With all my heart and soul, I enjoyed, loved and appreciated the people of Adrian. But early in the morning, when Jan took a picture of the church before the service began–when it was empty–I realized that this is the crux of our dilemma.

The church will continue to empty if we don’t empty ourselves of the emptiness of religion.

God never intended us to come and praise Him only with our lips. Jesus said the church is defined by our “love one for another.”

That is the good news.

The better news is that it will truly be much easier to attend a church that embraces human need and human desire than one that audaciously contends it can speculate on the whim of the Divine.

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Jesonian: Rome, Jerusalem and Antioch… July 19th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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streetwalking Jesus

The religious system is confused.

Confusion normally sets in when what we have set out to do fails miserably, and rather than admitting our lacking, we choose to cover it up with freshly concocted stupidity.

All the churches in the United States are desperately trying to hang on to every blade of grass to keep from falling off the cliff into oblivion.

The level of disinterest for all things spiritual is growing daily. Rather than allowing for candid reflection and legitimate repentance, a strange sense of nostalgia has set in, causing these diminishing denominations to grab on to one of two efforts: to either become more Rome or more Jerusalem.

For some it’s an issue of attempting to return to the tenets of the Mother Church in Rome and put greater emphasis on sacraments, liturgy, tradition and form. They cite statistics telling them that most people want their church services to be somber, guarded and filled with relics of childhood memories of spirituality.

  • So communion around the table becomes more important than communion of the saints.
  • Repetition of words becomes more prevalent than the repetition of our ongoing commitment to one another.

Although many of them are Protestant, they secretly yearn for a reconciliation with Catholicism.

Then there are those who think the key to expanding their spiritual borders and increasing their attendance is Jerusalem:

  • More emphasis on praise, worship, Old Testament practices and an apocalyptic geyser of predictions concerning the end of the world.
  • If you can’t make people happy, then make them glad they’re sad because they’re waiting for Jesus to come back and make everything right.

And even though Jesus continues to stand at the door of all of these churches and knock, no one opens up to him because all of them are possessed by forms of godliness while denying the power of the Gospel to transform our everyday experiences.

There is a third choice. It is characterized in the Book of Acts by a body of believers who lived in Antioch.

  • They were not Jews.
  • They were not Romans nor Greeks.

They rejected the term “Gentile” and instead embraced a new name: Christian.

It was a mocking title placed upon them by their pseudo-intellectual neighbors, referring to this new breed of thinker as “Little Jesuses.”

They liked it.

They understood that to be a follower of Jesus was to embrace the lifestyle he proclaimed in his Sermon on the Mount and in all his dealings with his fellow-humans.

The Roman church will not give us the intimacy required to show mercy to others. We’re too interested in our own absolution.

The Jerusalem church will not provide us enough Jesus of Nazareth to transform the lives of the congregation from Old Covenant to New Covenant. And looking to the eastern sky for a Second Coming eliminates a vision of the entire horizon.

We must go back to being Christians–but in the style of Antioch, not Rome or Jerusalem.

That particular position functions with two Jesonian tenets:

  1. We should love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
  2. And we will love our neighbor as ourselves.

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Populie: We Need More God/Freedom… December 10, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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weed guy and America needs god with border

Loud is loud.

When you add brash to it, you come up with a profile that is impossible to ignore, yet difficult to receive.

It seems that America is standing on both ends of the playing field screaming, hoping that the intensity of their individual squall will win the day.

It’s a battle between freedom of religion and freedom from religion.

  • “We need God.”
  • “We need freedom.”

The entertainment industry loves the populie because it makes for great theater, placing causes, and even cultures, at odds with one another.

Religion, of course, joins in, in order to prove that the presence of more “godliness” would allow for greater blessing from the Almighty and perpetual supernatural intervention.

And politicians alternate between God and freedom based on the temperament of their constituency or the audience which has rallied to the cause.

The end result?

Noise. And certainly not a joyful one.

Is there something we need? Is there an insight or philosophical approach that would lead us to a greater unity?

I think we need more personal responsibility.

I think granting additional freedoms without taking into consideration how they will affect the lives of those around us–as well as our own well-being–is a catastrophic miscalculation.

We want to give people the freedom for abortion without fully understanding the ramifications for the woman, the child, the man and the culture. Simultaneously, we don’t want to talk about the personal responsibility of procuring birth control and making sure that unwanted pregnancies are not nearly as often unwanted.

We cry for freedom and shun personal responsibility.

We want to legalize marijuana, never taking into account that our society is mostly smoke-free, so people would not be able to puff in public anyway, nor do we consider the danger of second-hand smoke. Plus we fail to recognize that it is a drug that does affect disposition and productivity. We don’t want to take the personal responsibility for the end result of this campaign for freedom.

Likewise, others scream for “more God” while failing to use the God they have. After all, it is “not His will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” But we spend more time discussing who should be left out than who should be brought in.

True belief in God is only confirmed by our level of mercy.

There is no way to prove that someone loves God without seeing their mercy in action. If we live for the grace of God to save us from our own inadequacies, we must extend that same tenderness to others through the ointment of mercy.

I will believe that spirituality has a place in our society when I see it beginning to create more compassionate and merciful people. Bigotry, self-righteousness, traditionalism, pop-culture gospel, prosperity and political pundits do not represent the mind of Jesus.

So in our country, it’s popular to scream “we need God” or “we need freedom.”

But the truth is, what we need is personal responsibility and mercy. 

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May… June 20, 2012

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“May we pursue this with vigor?”

“It may happen…”

“Maybe…”

One of the great, unique aspects of the Christian faith is the assertion that we all are “to become as little children.” Other philosophies and religions tend to relegate those who have young spirits, bodies and minds to a secondary status until they are granted the approval of maturity. Jesus asked us to reverse that process–to escape the austerity of being “grown-up” and maintain a childlike simplicity. But what is that?

A spiritual, childlike heart is the blessing of continuing to believe even when that particular energy is not always bearing fruit. It is having the maturity to know that the absence of belief–the subtraction of “may” from our lives–does not make us more intelligent or productive, but rather, renders us jaded and cynical. Jaded and cynical people end up stymied in their own fear of failure and lethargy over being disappointed.

There is a third silence that we have to avoid–it is silent doubt.

As I travel this country, I encounter an overwhelming reticence that can only be explained as doubt, which has taken root and removed all of our sensation that “something good may happen.” I don’t know–maybe it’s just a brattiness inside us that doesn’t want to chase down dreams unless we’re guaranteed that they’re going to work. We should know that nothing works all the time. In my mind, the presence of disappointment is the confirmation of God. If life continued to give great benefit to some and detriment to others, I could hardly consider it to be an act of love, and therefore an acknowledgment of God. Balance lies in the fact that good and evil, dark and light, and sunshine and rain are equally distributed to all.

But if we don’t believe that, a doubt enters our soul which is kept silent in order to maintain the integrity of being part of a religious idea. Sitting in a church, I often hear the silent screams of those around me, pleading: “Are we really going to sing one more hymn? Why?” “Will this be over soon?” “I don’t know half the people in this room and I don’t really care to get to know them.” “What does that communion bread and wine really mean anyway?” “If I have to listen to one more Old Testament scripture with unpronounceable names and locations, I think I’ll go crazy.”

But instead of giving voice to these doubts–that they may not believe inGod the Father, maker of heaven and earth”–they maintain silence in an imitation of reverence. That is why Jesus describes a frustrated people, who “praise me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

Silent doubt has brought progress in this country to a screeching halt, as we continue to go through the motions of repetition without having any internal confidence that ideas will work or perseverance will win the day. We just don’t believe any more–but saying that out loud is too frightening; yet living with it may be too painful.

The most famous doubter in all of history was named Thomas. But the reason he is granted a status of acceptability is that rather than keeping his feelings to himself, he admitted that he had questions about the validity of the statements that were being shared around him. He said he didn’t believe that Jesus was risen from the dead. Dare I say, there are people in the church and even in the ministry who don’t believe that either, but they would never speak it aloud because to do so would make them seem out of the loop and heretical.

But not Thomas. If he was going to have a doubt, he was going to live it out so it could either be confirmed or disproven. Because of that, Thomas remained as one of the twelve disciples and was able to encounter the resurrected Christ.

Doubt is killing us–not because we have it, but because we mask it with pretense. A silent doubt has taken away our ability to believe in what may be God’s will, what may be a better direction, what may be fruitful and certainly what may need to be done to progress us as people.

If we don’t reveal this silent doubt and tap into faith by realizing that belief is not a guarantee for success, but rather, a door open to possibility, we will continue to go through the motions without any of the personal payoff.

May. We have stalled the vehicle of our own better natures by allowing a silent doubt to steal from us the childlike simplicity of merely continuing to wish, no matter what the results.

There are two things that are certain: (1) life will continue; and (2) life is just better when we believe.

Belief does not guarantee us prosperity, but silent doubt robs us of any tools to excavate it. So if we’re going to have a real sense of the return to a “may” mentality in our spiritual environment, we need to be willing to uncork our doubts and allow them to breathe. There is nothing wrong with wondering why things are the way they are, as long as you don’t pretend that we are doomed to remain impotent.

Just as silent prejudice keeps us from embracing one another and silent surrender takes away the strength to pursue excellence, silent doubt drains our faith and childlike simplicity–which is the only way to actually enter the Kingdom of God. And since the Kingdom of God is within us, we’ve actually closed the door to our own internal potential.

We need to be careful. We are desperately teetering on the brink of having a form of Godliness while denying the power of it. There is only one thing worse than spiritual oblivion and the sensation of being lost, and that is masquerading as part of the sheep, only to end up with the goats.

   

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