The U Word … June 25th, 2019

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THE

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WORD


The U word that should never be spoken or written again is:

USELESS

I am useless

He is useless

She is useless

You are useless

They are useless

Vicious condemnation: having no use

Existing without purpose

Dangling on a thread minus value

Therefore…

Expendable

Ignorable

Pointless

Not worth shit

Damned to nothingness

Incurable

Irredeemable: disappearing

Yes, lost with no one looking

Gone, with no one caring

So…

Throw it away

Segregate it across town

Gossip about it

Plant all the nasty seeds that lend themselves to a harvest of mayhem and murder.

After all, can you really kill something that’s already vacant life?

Useless

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3 Things … May 30th, 2019

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You Can Do That Seem Old-Fashioned but Actually End Up Innovative

1. Whether you feel it is necessary or not, say “thank you” and “excuse me.”

 

2. Return a message to the sender within an hour of reading it.

 

3. Walk out of a room just once when gossip begins, and you probably won’t have to do it twice.

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Good News and Better News… October 2nd, 2017

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She was a sweetheart.

During my two presentations at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Clermont, Florida, I got a chance to meet this delightful woman.

She bounced up to my book table and engaged in conversation. About halfway through our exchange, her face got a little more serious and she asked me, “How do we rate? I mean, you go to places all over America. How would you rate our church?”

I knew she wanted a serious answer, yet I wasn’t going to placate her nor was I going to try to place some burden on her heart by pointing out an inadequacy.

“You’re kind of right in the middle,” I said.

She started to smile, then squinted and replied, “Well, that’s not very good.”

After nearly forty-five years of traveling America and sharing in a vari=ety of venues, many of them churches, I will tell you what makes a good church. It begins and ends with the word “generous.”

One of the most chilling statements Jesus offered to his disciples, and to us who would follow his message, was “to he who much is given much is expected.” So it’s a little optimistic to think that you’ll receive eternal salvation while lounging on a heavenly hammock. So here are the three things that make a great church:

1. Generous space.

Sanctuaries are too cramped. They’re confining. This stifles the sensation of freedom. Since your church probably is not filling up the sanctuary for every service, take come pews out. Create room. Make people aware that they have the freedom to extend their legs and arms. Give children a place to crawl.

Clear everything unnecessary from the platform. There should be room for three or four people to stand side by side easily.

If you give air to the room you give air to the people to give air

2. Generous face.

If you’re not going to talk to someone, don’t peer from a distance. It’s creepy. And when you walk up, don’t stay too long, but do make eye contact while you’re there.

We met a fabulous brother named Joe at Shepherd of the Hills. He was not an “average Joe.” He was loving, giving, kind, and made us believe that we had a primal place in his present consciousness.

No one expects you to be a counselor or long-lost friend from high school, but grant folks the dignity to enter your generous space and receive your generous face.

3. Generous grace.

You have no right, privilege or scriptural authority to probe into the lifestyles of those who worship next to you. Share the Gospel of Jesus and let the Gospel do its work. The Holy Spirit is much more adept at convicting people than you are with your gossip. I don’t care what you hear about people. I don’t care what you think about people. At no time do you, I or anyone else have the permission to judge anyone.

It is possible for any church in America to become a Jesonian church–a Jesonian Catholic, a Jesonian Baptist, a Jesonian Methodist, a Jesonian Lutheran, a Jesonian Pentecostal–but it requires you to take on the heart of Jesus instead of pounding your favorite theological nails.

The good news is that Shepherd of the Hills Church has this delightful lady who is not willing to subsist in the middle.

And the better news is, if you make your church a generous space with a generous face, offering generous grace, you will grow.

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G-Poppers … August 4th, 2017

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During a recent appearance on a talk show, the host asked G-Pop, “If you had one minute of air time to speak to the whole world, what would you say?”

G-Pop took a deep breath and replied:

“Take responsibility for your life. There is no shame in making mistakes. There is great disgrace in lying.

Repent to live. Then you are free to be trusted.

Be a giver, not a receiver. Some receiving is necessary to have something to give. Don’t get used to it. Share what comes your way.

Feel strong because you breathe.

Feel wealthy because you eat.

Don’t judge anyone at any time. Stop listening to gossip.

Find a place to create–then create.

Don’t answer a question that wasn’t asked.

Never give an opinion, even when it’s requested.

Your life is your voice.

In other words, love your neighbor as yourself.”Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

G-Poppers … April 28th, 2017

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G-Pop took a few moments last night to talk to his godson.

The young man is personable, with potential dangling from him, similar to a bunch of electrical cords that need to be plugged in somewhere. Like so many of us, he just doesn’t know which cord goes into which socket.

It begins with a simple understanding: 80% of what we think is born in our fear.

G-Pop wishes he could proclaim that our thoughts are grounded in our faith or our devotion, but it’s not true. Faith, hope and charity have no chance until fear is confronted, tracked down and put in its place. So our thoughts scream from this fear.

Now, 90% of what we fear comes from what we see and hear.

If we surround ourselves with fearful people saying fearful things about a fearful world, we should not expect a great fountain of creativity to spring forth from our souls.

For instance, here’s a simple point about gun control in America: the problem is not the gun. The difficulty lies in the fact that what we see and hear about guns always has them with the barrel pointed at a human. If you go to Canada, you’ll see lots of guns. But they’re pointed at deer and moose. The Canadians don’t have a constant programming of seeing and hearing about guns pointed at other human beings.

In America, we would frown on a gun being pointed at an animal, but our guns are constantly pointed at human beings. Therefore, what we see and hear becomes our fear and our fear becomes what we think. And we think that guns are for killing people, not rabbits.

And the final statistic that G-Pop presents is that 100% of what we see and hear should be our choice.

So you will think from your fear.

Your fear comes from what you see and hear.

And if you sacrifice what you see and hear to what the pundits want to thrust down your throat or what your friends insist will make you cool, you will be at the mercy of the fear that is produced by these visions.

G-Pop’s godson is just like all of us.

He needs to learn that our thinking is controlled by our fear; our fear is manipulated by what we see and hear, so if we take authority over what comes into our eyes and ears, we begin to change our fear to faith and our faith can work to produce love.

Three final points set this in motion:

1. Run from strife.

Whenever you see people fighting for the hell of it, get yourself away.

2. Walk away from gossip.

Gossip is just violence in training.

3. Sit with good cheer.

When you find people who are looking for hope, who are smiling through the difficulties and trying to create unity and joy, sit your butt down.

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Good News and Better News… April 10th, 2017

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I grew up in a church which contended, believed and insisted that baptism was only to be performed through immersion. No “sprinklin’ on the head” for our parishioners. It had to be a full, “ear-washin’, born-again, dunkin’ hullabaloo.”

Our church also believed that communion needed to be served every Sunday, not every once in a while, leaving a congregation spiritually malnourished due to the fact that they had not sufficiently partaken of the wafer and juice.

There were also other fragments of doctrine which were enforced by numerous sermons, as the minister often mocked other ways of thinking, which he deemed heresy.

Even nowadays, every single church on every corner has some pet portion of the Good Book they feel supersedes all others, and sets them apart as the “true Chosen of God” instead of the errant rabble.

Although the mainline denominations, such as the Methodists, will smile at you and promote their flexibility, they still would never think about saying “hallelujah,” clapping their hands, or allowing for the possibility of the miracle of healing in the middle of a service. I guess we need Pentecostals for that.

Every single fragment of a once-noble, unified body of Christ is positive that they are the heartbeat of the Gospel.

Over the years it has become very simple to me–I don’t give a tinker’s damn what people believe. I watch how they act.

Some of the most intolerant, inflexible and mean-spirited people that I’ve worked with over the years seem to possess the most intense Bible knowledge. And other folks, who the righteous would consider to be damnable sinners, have taken the time to wash the shirt on their back before they gave it to me.

Of course, there are all sorts of Christians out there who will tell you that I’m promoting a Gospel of works rather than grace. Actually, all I’m saying is that I can’t thoroughly confirm that grace is at work unless the recipient is gracious.

I’m not so sure people are forgiven if they can’t forgive.

And I definitely don’t see them possessing the Spirit of God when they’re prejudiced against other people.

If you want to find out if a man, woman or child is a Christian, take one morning of your life and work on a project with him or her. Then go back and look at what the fruit of the Spirit is. Because if memory serves me, it is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

When I see those virtues at work, I begin to believe in what people say they believe that they truly do believe.

When I run across grouchy, short-tempered, fussy, back-biting, gossiping and aggravated individuals, I think they are disconnected from their beliefs, even though they seem to be very proficient at quoting scripture.

Don’t tell me what you believe. Show me how you act. And if that has too much “works” in it for you, then go cuddle up to your dead faith.

The good news is that Jesus said “by their fruits you shall know them.”

The better news is that a Gospel that can be acted out is much easier to imitate than trying to mouth holy words.

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Jesonian… April 8th, 2017

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The Disagreeable Disciple

Disciple: I love you, my Lord.

Master: Well, thank you. So let’s get to work.

Disciple: I’m all ears.

Master: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Disciple: I pick up that the key word there is “neighbor,” which connotes they’re neighborly. If you mean being kind to neighborly people, then I get it.

Master: Your neighbor is everybody.

Disciple: I understand your heart, but that seems a little unrealistic.

Master: Judge not lest you be judged.

Disciple: I hear you. Gossip is a horrible thing. But there are things that need to be spoken against. Things that you, yourself, certainly don’t condone. So I believe there’s a difference between speaking up against evil and judging people.

Master: What if I told you that I don’t make that distinction?

Disciple: Interesting.

Master: When you pray, enter your closet, and when you shut the door, pray to your Father in secret.

Disciple: At our latest prayer seminar, we were discussing the power of thousands and thousands of people praying together over a common theme. Sometimes my personal prayers seem so anemic–lonely, if you will.

Master: And the Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.

Disciple: Once again, interesting.

Master: In the Kingdom of God there is neither male nor female.

Disciple: Yet you want is to keep our social roles, am I correct? Women as mothers, men as fathers. Also good to study the different personality traits and emotional leanings. Is this true?

Master: Kingdom of God. Neither male nor female.

Disciple: Much to think about.

Master: And whenever you’ve done it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.

Disciple: Now I know we’re on page! We have a food pantry at the church and we take care of hungry kids in after-school programs. We’re tracking this one down.

Master: By least, I don’t mean social order or poverty. I mean the ones you personally consider the least among humanity. The prisoners, the terminally ill, the outcasts, the individuals who don’t necessarily conform to your moral code.

Disciple: Sounds like you’re suggesting we condone sin.

Master: No, I’m telling you that you’ll be judged by how you treat the people you have deemed to be least.

Disciple: Wow, you’re sure giving me a lot to ponder. But you have to be pleased when you see your people gather to worship you every week in church.

Master: In vain do they worship me, because they teach their traditions as if they are commandments of God instead of mere preferences of this generation.

Disciple: But you do like praise and worship?

Master: Worship should be in spirit and truth–a mingling of our hopes with the impact of reality.

Disciple: You know, I haven’t thought about these things from this perspective for a long time.

Master: I’ve never thought about them from any other perspective.

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