Sit Down Comedy … December 14th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3886)

Bad inflow, stinky outflow.

The human race has been given lots of bad information.

Thus the stink in the air.

The collaborators are at work. They have gotten together and either lined up in one brigade or clumped in another–those camps being the secular notion that all human beings are basically good, just needing to be left alone to prosper within their own consciousness, or the religious assertion that we are rotten, and if God doesn’t save us and constantly monitor our activities, we are fodder for hell.

It’s spooky.

And trying to find a real life out of these warring armies of philosophy makes the common person like me wish for some peace. The problem is, I end up less productive than I wish to be.

Human beings are probably one of the simpler forms of life.

We are not creatures in the jungle, struggling for survival. We are not bees, frantically trying to make honey, and we also are not cockroaches, scurrying across the floor to escape being squashed by grossed-out adults.

We have two buttons. Yes, just two: LESS and MORE. Should we press LESS or press MORE?

The conflict arises when our ego tells us to press MORE when LESS is needed, or our fear demands we press LESS when it’s time to hunker down on the MORE button.

The entire Gospel of Jesus was a less and more proposal. Don’t take my word for it–you read it and you’ll see the principle. He came to guide us into what should be done less, what should be thought less and what should be felt less, and what requires a good dose of more.

You don’t have to go any further than the Beatitudes to find this in full application:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

In other words, less ego about being spiritual because you really aren’t, and God doesn’t expect you to be anything but human.

“Blessed are they that mourn.”

More compassion is needed for others if we expect to feel the compassion coming back our way.

“Blessed are the meek.”

Less struggling, fighting, arguing, back-biting and cursing will give us a chance to buy time for a shift in society’s thinking or a change of scenery.

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

We all need more energy in trying to learn to achieve our goals by using the most common sense we can possibly muster.

“Blessed are the merciful.”

It’s made clear that the more merciful we are to others, the more we receive in return.

“Blessed are the pure in heart.”

The less we inundate our emotions with unnecessary arguments, the easier it is to see God working in our lives.

“Blessed are the peacemakers.”

The more we stay out of the fracas of politics and religious intolerance, the more we will be viewed as individuals who make things happen–good things.

“Blessed are those which are persecuted for righteousness sake.”

Yes, less worry about whether we will come out on top. We should stop being concerned about goodness going out of style.

And the culmination: “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad.”

Bluntly, less fretting about whether things are going to turn out well for us here on Earth and in the kingdom beyond.

Step into your day with your two buttons: LESS and MORE.

Then take the time, all the good things you’ve learned, and choose which one to press when it is the moment to render an excellent decision.


We are delighted to announce that every afternoon from now until Christmas we will be posting sittings from the story, “Jubilators,” for your enjoyment. Good reading and Merry Christmas!

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Jesonian … April 7th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Every story is better told and more effective when the facts are allowed to line up in a reasonable order.

Such is true of the Gospel of Jesus.

Theologians spend so much time proclaiming him the Son of God that they lose the fragrance and uniqueness of the Son of Man. In an attempt to make the tale “super” they lose all of the “natural.”

The average person going to church is deluded by an array of facts which just don’t add up to a crucifixion.

One of those great misconceptions is that Jesus was extremely popular. There were certainly occasions when his crowd appeal spiked, but it always revolved around three stimuli:

A. Was he doing miracles?

B. Was he feeding people?

C. Did it look like he was the Jewish Messiah?

Whenever the populace became convinced through these three “signs and wonders” that God was going to save them from the Romans, they rallied around Jesus. Whenever it was obvious that he was intent on sharing a more universal message which included people that were not Jewish, they slipped away.

Let’s look at some facts:

1. Jesus was rejected by his home town, Nazareth, and never able to return again. Not only was he ignored, but threatened with death–dangled from the edge of a cliff.

2. Even though Jesus held a great revival in Samaria with the testimony from a woman at a well, when he returned to the city, he was forbidden to enter by the town fathers because they found out he also ministered to the Jews.

3. When he fed the 5,000 in Galilee, the hordes followed him for a while–until he told them this was not a food pantry, but rather, that his words and life were the message they were supposed to “eat.” They all departed–except for the twelve.

4. Over and over again, interest sparked with the Pharisees, but when Simon, one of their number, invited him to a special meal, the Pharisee snubbed Jesus and treated him like an outsider.

5. After the resurrection, it is recorded that over 500 people saw Jesus–witnesses of the miracle. But on the Day of Pentecost only 120 remained. Kind of a drastic drop-off.

I guess we feel the need to believe that Jesus was greatly appreciated by the people in his generation, and taken to be crucified only by a handful of powerful critics.

It’s just not true.

We are told that most of the time he dealt with twelve disciples–and he focused on three of them, to be the core leaders. We have some idea of the size of a normal following of Jesus when the scriptures let us know that he sent seventy out to share in his name.

If you are trying to give credence to the message of Jesus by pointing out how enthralled the Jewish community and the Roman oppressors were, then you will be sadly disappointed when you read the actual accounts of his mistreatment and the number of individuals who desperately tried to ignore him.

We’re even told that John the Baptist’s disciples did not believe in him.

Jesus had a model. It’s very simple: Develop a hot core of followers and let them radiate the message.

Nowadays we are so eager to build up numbers in the sanctuary that we fail to build up people. Jesus basically spent three-and-a-half years working on twelve human beings.

  • One of them betrayed him and killed himself.
  • Another denied him, and was prepared to leave the work.
  • Yet another one doubted that a resurrection was possible.

Do not despair–Jesus suffered the same slings and arrows of human apathy that you and I encounter every day. He just had a great system. So when he left the planet, there was a handful of people who knew what he taught, knew what he stood for and were prepared to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to give them the power and insight to take the Gospel to the whole world.

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Good News and Better News… October 23rd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Yesterday we celebrated with the folks at the Belleview United Methodist Church. Well, at least with those who were willing to celebrate.

Of course, that’s always the case.

Jan and I are just “two drifters, out to see the world.” And of course, there’s an awful lot of world to see. But there are some common themes.

The religious system that has taken hostage the church of Jesus Christ somehow or another has convinced itself that it can build a congregation by using prayer, Bible study and worship. Even though diminishing numbers in the pews contradict this fact, those who have spent more time in seminary than in the mainstream of America continue to blindly lead the blind right into the ditch of oblivion.

Fortunately, we have the example of Jesus, who offered people abundant life, full joy and peace of mind. You remember his words, right?

“I have come to give you life and it more abundantly.”

“I have come that your joy might be full.”

“I bring you peace–a peace the world cannot give.”

What would happen if we actually started focusing our message, our ministry, our efforts and even our artistry toward abundant life, full joy and peace of mind?

Aren’t these rather desirable offerings for those who find themselves clad in human skin?

But there are still those who feel that if they whisper the name of God, bow their heads repeatedly and tiptoe through the sanctuary, the heavens will flash a big smile of approval.

Not for me.

I will continue to promote the idea that the Gospel was meant to be shared by humans, for humans. Therefore, any idea that angelic or pious approaches will reach the human family is ludicrous.

The good news is that abundant life, joyousness and peace of mind are still appealing to people.

The better news is, it just happens to be what Jesus wants us to share.

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Good News and Better News … August 1st, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News Enola NewsletterI always request a church newsletter–every place I go. I imagine the staff might speculate on why I want it. They might think I’m trying to confirm whether our appearance was adequately advertised, but since I’m already there, it would be fruitless to know.

The reason I read the church newsletter is that I’m trying to figure out what they’re doing and where they’re going.

It’s very important. Without a definite idea on doing and going, we can find ourselves whisked away with many a tornado of confusion.

So I read the newsletter of Enola Emmanuel United Methodist Church while I was sitting in my green room before the program.

The main article was about “branding”–passing on an easily identifiable image to the surrounding community concerning mission.

Here’s the dilemma: in branding, we too often try to chase spiritual goals, using limited human abilities. For instance, we extol the importance of prayer, witnessing, church attendance and Bible reading to human folk who spend most of their time working, eating and sleeping.

Jesus had a different idea.

He told us that the world was full of tribulation but there wasn’t anything we would be able to do about that.Good News Enola Good cheer

He also said the world would need to be overcome. He placed that chore on himself.

He gave us a human mission: “Be of good cheer.”

Yet if you share this with people, they look at you as if you’re silly or irresponsible. But good cheer is the only thing we can accomplish with energy.

It begins by understanding that church should not be a service or a worship experience, but rather, a rally. We need to teach our congregations to:

1. Be

“I will find joy, joyfully”

2. Of

“I will join with others”

3. Good

“Together we will discover what is valuable”

4. Cheer

“Linking in fellowship, we will celebrate goodness”

Removing celebration from church is like taking the breath out of lungs. It leaves us with reverence and no praise. The Gospel of Jesus was intended to be human-friendly, not ethereal.

Good News Enola penSit down, take a pen and paper and write what turns you on. Make a list of the things you find joyful, enhancing and enriching. Then go out and find a way to do those things while benefitting others.

There is an empty chair waiting in the church for the person who will dare to be real and admit that he or she is human, and not ashamed of it.

The good news is that branding is finding our way to “be of good cheer.”

The better news is that cheerful people are a great draw.

Good News Enola chair

 

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 5) Mercy … January 3rd. 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2802)

Jesonian hands

Our greatest fear is having our weakness exposed to others. To avoid this horror, we pursue positive attitudes, lies, anger, defensiveness, deceit, prayer and self-righteousness.

Yes, the absence of candor is the open door to deception. And when we are dishonest about our true selves, we have the ugly by-product of prejudice, which robs us of our better nature.

Why do we become prejudiced? In order to keep the attention away from the beam sticking out of our own eye, we try to bring focus to the speck in our brother’s eye.

So I can tell you of a certainty, honesty has a little brother and its name is mercy.

Without honesty, we feel no need whatsoever to be merciful, but spend all of our time drafting plans to escape notice of our vice. And maybe it’s not even a vice–perhaps it’s just a piece of us that requires grace instead of criticism.

It is time to become reasonable.

If the Gospel of Jesus does not afford us the humanity to confess our faults one to another, then it merely is a temporary pain-killer, or worse, a dangerous diversion.

Here’s a beautiful process–maybe better phrased, a way of thinking that actually produces thought:

  1. I have a weakness.
  2. You have a weakness.
  3. We have weaknesses.
  4. Therefore, we choose mercy.

If I do not believe I have a weakness, I certainly will not tolerate your peccadilloes. And if I discover that you are weak and I am unwilling to admit my weakness, then I will focus on yours and attack you for having it.

Thus, mercy is avoided, ignored and cast aside.

A world without mercy is always a lie, ready to be prosecuted.

For it will only take you a few moments after you meet me to discover that I have weaknesses, whether I confess them or not. It will not take me any longer to uncover yours.

So the only advantage we have is to get in front of these revelations by admitting that we have weaknesses, encouraging others to make the same confession, and then humbly allowing mercy to do its healing work through understanding and the passage of time.

Nothing happens until we realize how weak we are.

Strength is not owned; it is given by humbly admitting weakness.

 

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Apologies All the Way Around … October 20, 2013

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I need one fromFalwell Jerry Falwell, Liberty University and all those people who participated in the Moral Majority, who inundated our society with vicious insults and threats.Bill Clinton

I would certainly like one from Bill Clinton for his part in making politics scandalous, phony and treacherous through his affair with the little girl.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get one from Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggart for taking the precious gospel of Jesus and turning it into a beach ball, which they batted around through greed, sexual exploitation?

I burning crosswould love to hear a bit of repentance from the American church, which remained silent while segregation raged for decades.

I also would welcome some reflection from the Tea Party, which thinks it has the right to stifle any ideas contrary to what they deem to be their common good.obama

And I certainly think we are due a bit of contrition from President Obama for biting off more than he could actually chew, and so anemically launching a campaign intended to relieve the suffering of the poor, only to further confound them.

Without an apology, we have a series of assumptions:

1. “You know that I know I’m a little bit wrong, so why do we need to talk about it?”

2. “It’s not as bad as it’s made out to be, and if I admit too much, I open myself up for my critics to disembowel me.”

3. “Get over it. Let’s move on. What benefit is there in focusing on our mistakes?”

4. “Nobody’s perfect. So why should we waste time examining our imperfections?”

These excuses have prevented us from being a nation that purges itself from stupidity but instead, keeps souveniers which we later display to our children–for them to pick up and resell.

We need apologies all around, if for no other reason than to make sure that the cursed attitudes that kept us repeating the same ridiculous processes can finally be buried in a grave with a tombstone warning us of the deadly results.

Since I don’t know if these individuals will ever come forward with contrition, let me start:

  • I want to apologize to all the people I spoke against in my past because I was ignorant of the freedom God gives to human beings to find their own path, without interruption from my scrutiny.
  • I apologize to my children for being overwrought, too lenient or just not available.
  • I apologize to my wife for being a less-than-adequate husband while trying to become a consummate artist.
  • And I apologize to myself for being a morbidly obese man my whole life, and so far never being able to find a way to unlock my fleshly prison.

You see? It’s not that hard.

And even after the apology is given, it’s a good thing, every once in a while, to remind people that those errors not only disrupted the natural order, but must never be repeated again.

How ’bout it, my friends?

Apologies all around?

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It Still Works … August 1, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1961)

nooseThree hundred and sixty five days.

That’s a year, right? I mean, I know it’s a year, but sometimes you look at a number you’re totally acquainted with and it looks weird to you.

But anyway, it was one year ago that a friend of mine called me on the phone, distraught, disappointed, disgusted and feeling generally … dissed.

He had faithfully worked a job for three years, trying to improve the quality of his performance and expand as an individual, only to be struck down in an ego battle with a new employee who decided that my friend was in the way and needed to be disposed of quickly.

He was fired from his position.

He was hurt. He had never experienced such humiliation.

It is difficult, at that point, for anyone to believe that anything good will come out of the situation. Foolishness, self-righteousness and revenge seem to have great power when we’ve been laid waste by the selfishness of others.

It’s because we have all been taught a lesson or two about “might making right.” We all think the Marines should sweep in and punish the evil-doers. We succumb to the notion that if God really loved us, He would destroy our enemies.

So I was pleasantly surprised when my friend received my counsel. My advice was simple:

“Stupid that pretends to be smart always eventually gets exposed as stupid and then–ends up smarting.”

For instance, we see Haman in the Old Testament, plotting against Esther, to murder the competition by building a gallows where he hoped she would be hung for being a traitor. But move ahead a few months. Truth comes out, lies are exposed, plots are revealed … and Hamen is hanging from his own gallows.

Meanwhile, back to my friend: one year to the day after he was demoralized by the foolish avenger, he not only has grown, prospered and enricheded his sitruation, but the gentleman who decided to mark him for destruction–he, himself, is now gone to parts unknown.

The good news of the gospel WORKS.

Jesus never told us that wisdom is a fully grown plant. It is always a seed. It demands that we place it in the ground provided for us and then have a bit of patience to see goodness come to fruition.

The only other alternative is to indulge yourself in a bloody hand-to-hand combat with other human beings until you are eventually vanquished by someone stronger.

When my friend called yesterday, to tell me of the fate of his foe, I was relieved. I was not comforted because someone suffered the slings and arrows of his own device, but rather, I felt a sense of great wonder–that the gospel of Jesus, which is normally eyeballed as a philosophy of the weak and poor–had once again proven that it triumphs over the rich and the haughty.

It still works, my friends. Normally, it demands that you swallow a lump of pride and digest it out of your system in order to give God a chance to prove the point … and bless you.

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