PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … May 17th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Saint Who Will Not Faint

Watch me, God

See if I can

Follow a plan

Become a better man

I seek your face

Treasure your grace

Don’t let me slide

Or I will hide

And run a crooked race

I need a heart

A place to start

A bit of soul

To form the whole

And then to find

A Jesus mind

A reasonable need

To plant good seed

Don’t let me wait

For a heavenly fate

But dare to give

My life to live

It’s certainly not too late

We will survive

The day will arrive

When we stand before the King

No need to explain

All about the pain

Just joy will we bring

So will you refuse

To make the excuse

And escape your complaint

For heaven is ready

Keep it nice and steady

Be a saint

Who will not faint

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Jesonian… April 29th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I’ve done enough.

Had enough, given enough, loved enough, lived enough.

Prayed, worked, cried…

ENOUGH

Laughed enough, cared enough and decided enough.

Tepid.

The temperature of America.

Ninety-eight point sick of buying, crying, lying, sighing, trying, vying…but in no hurry for dying.

Somewhere along the line, lukewarm has been presented as a virtuous temperance. Matter of fact, in our religious communities–especially Christian churches–the concept of pursuing, believing, striving and reaching has been discounted in favor of “immeasurable grace” that seems to cover a multitude of misunderstanding.

Yet the GPS of the Gospel is definitely set for the second mile.

Jesus had a disdain and dislike for anyone who was trying to glide through life without offering full commitment. From the manger in Bethlehem, where shepherds were beckoned from their work and wise men were required to travel hundreds of miles to follow a star, to the Book of Revelation, where Jesus tells one of the new churches that they were so noncommittal that they made him vomit, we see a Savior who wants us to be involved in saving ourselves.

It is the woman who touched the hem of his garment who was healed.

Another lady crawled across the floor so that she could stand upright and walk.

The blind man screamed at the top of his lungs for healing, even though the crowd thought he should shut up.

A centurian broke all protocol to ask a Jewish teacher to heal his servant, while admitting he was not worthy to have the Master come to his home.

It was the thief on the cross, who expressed faith in a “fellow criminal” hanging by his side, who achieved Paradise.

We are lying to people when we tell them that simply showing up will get them “up for the show.” The mere presence of praise songs in a church service does not promote worship–unless the people’s hearts are ablaze with gratitude.

Clever teaching of the Gospel with insightful stories falls flat unless it is heard by human beings who are looking for reasons to be energized.

The Pharisees hated Jesus because he was passionate. He ate, he drank, he fellowshipped, he interacted with all cultures, while never condemning anyone unless they condemned others or sat idly by, waiting for life to get better.

Don’t ever forget his words to the Jewish elder, Nicodemus: “You must be born again.”

And don’t ever think that you can tiptoe up to Jesus with a tepid, American attitude, feeling you’ve already done your part–and ever get his attention.

 

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Good News and Better News… April 10th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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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… February 25th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Completely inundated by a traffic jam of divergent opinions, many of which are directly or indirectly attributed to the thinking of Jesus of Nazareth, I decided to sit down one afternoon this week and spend some time with my good old buddies, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John–reading all the “red stuff.”

Yes, I still have one of those Bibles where all the things Jesus said are highlighted in red, granting them the significance of being the thoughts of God.

The purpose for my quest was simple–I wanted to narrow down the three basic topics of Jesus’ mindset. Because when you finish perusing all this material, you realize that he said a lot–and you also quickly conclude that he intended his words to be honored, to the point that he measured the love of his followers by how much they held his teachings in regard.

I finally came up with three. You might have different suggestions. Honestly, there were a lot of great runner-ups.

My three statements of Jesus that punctuate his ministry are as follows:

1. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Just about a third of what Jesus talked about has to do with human relationships.

Candidly, Jesus was not terribly concerned about our relationship with God. Instead, he paralleled and intertwined it with our interactions with our fellow humans. So even though “turn the other cheek” was nearly a winner, it fell under “love your neighbor as yourself.”

And “loving the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength…” was included because Jesus closed it out by saying “… and your neighbor as yourself.”

2. Count the cost.

This is about human common sense.

Anyone who believes they can live a life to honor Father God by spitting in the eye of Mother Nature is in for a sorry conclusion. Jesus never suggested that we ignore the signs of the times or even the color of the sky, if it might give us wisdom on whether to bring an umbrella.

In other words, get saved but don’t lose your brain. You’ll need it.

3. Go the second mile.

This is human motivation.

Try as I will to find teachings of Jesus where he advocates languishing in grace or getting sleepy in our salvation, I fell short. He believed that “by our fruits” we will be known. He also said, “if somebody takes your coat, give them your cloak also.”

He contended that the power we have is our ability to continue the race when others have fallen out.

So a third of the Gospel is about human relationships. Another chunk is about human common sense, and the final piece is human motivation.

If we simply return to that glorious format laid out for us in the writings in red, the people around us who desire relationships, common sense and motivation will find the BEST FRIEND they ever had in the world.

Until Jesus is honored as a life coach instead of merely a baby born to die for our sins, we will hemorrhage people from the church.

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … February 15th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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pohymn-ransom

To Ransom Many

Faith is worn thin from misuse

Truth is ravaged by abuse

Hope is shaky from despair

Kindness awaits a soul aware

Blessing visits the common heart

Who’s cursed, battered, afraid to start

Scary sounds, grumpy frowns,

Gunshot rounds, indifferent clowns

The circus frightens the children away

The beasts are starved, stalking their prey

Great need in the street

The angels retreat

And close the shutter

Each heart aflutter

Is danger really everywhere

Or is there still the chance to share?

When fear has reached its jaded perfection

The needy and soulless are absent affection

But will we refuse to be deterred

And bring the beauty which is preferred

Grace is the chilling sensation

We are spared from aimless damnation

Dreams flourish, visions aplenty

Love arises to ransom many

 

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G-Poppers … January 6th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

Awakened in the middle of the night, G-Pop took an extra moment or two to ponder a question.

Actually, the inquiry in his mind was the by-product of a whole series of conversations and interactions over the holiday season.

He realized, looking at friends and relatives, that each one had acquired a profile based upon their opinion about Earth’s origins.

It’s really rather simple: Is Earth cosmic or is it comic?

Does the path we choose take us into a realm of greater understanding because we accept that there was some sort of Great Architect who laid foundations for future building, or is it all just jumbled atoms colliding into one another to generate mutations which gradually move us forward in tiny increments?

A third option is that it’s both–in other words, mutations which the Great Architect scribbled into the blueprints.

But here’s the difference–without believing in a cosmic intelligence, we are bound by luck or controlled by destiny.

If I’m manipulated by destiny, what in the hell would I care about my own personal attitude or sense of motivation?

And if it’s all luck, I’m just waiting to tumble into one bucket or another.

Yet if it is cosmic–if there’s a way things work and a function to the fiction–then even limited mortals such as ourselves could learn a note or two to participate in the concert band.

This was brought to G-Pop’s mind last night when viewing a project by loved ones, and wondering what prompted these souls to envision a world so out of control, so beyond redemption, that even the “good” characters in their little movie were inflicted with disaster.

Do we have any control toward our own happiness?Because if we don’t, three score and ten years is much too long to endure.

And if we do, then the entire focus of our educational system, our spiritual upbringing and our moral code should be to discover the messages built into the eco-structure which foretell of possibilities.

Is it cosmic? In other words, was there an energy that initiated energy here on Earth?

Is it comic? Is it a collision of haphazard events, with me being the latest accident?

Or was this Master of Wisdom able to blur and blend the two possibilities together–cosmic and comic–to confound the wise and stimulate the simple?

It’s a very important question.

It informs us whether we can master any of our future, or whether we’re at the mercy of the latest splatter.

As G-Pop was thinking, he realized that the difference between the words “cosmic” and “comic” is a single “S.”

Perhaps the “S” stands for Savior.

For in the cosmic world, we struggle and fall short–and find our ultimate peace in accepting grace from our Creator through the Savior.

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G-Poppers … July 22nd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop watches and listen intensely.

While confident of his intelligence, he still realizes that rich wisdom can be attained through great observation.

Once again the political parties meet to do battle, contending that the one left standing is superior simply because he or she has not been vanquished. Promises are made in the midst of an avalanche of accusations, tossed back and forth with a disregard that foretells ignorance of the beauty of consolation.

How many different things can we insist we’re going to accomplish, so as to make our opponent’s list seem puny? But once elected, every President of any party immediately discovers that life takes over–and the stumbling blocks that have been permanently established in the lethargy of legislation forbid much progress to pass through the gates. After all, in regards to Congress, any organization that operates by Parliamentary Procedure is in no hurry to achieve its aspirations.

So how should G-Pop’s children evaluate who to place in the position of prominence for our land?

They must look for the candidate–whether male or female–who:

1. Handles disappointment with grace.

Since we live in a democracy, nothing of original purity will ever pass muster without being manipulated. There will be disappointment. How that is handled will determine meaningful outcomes, especially if a split second of frustration causes our leader to take his or her eyes off the prize.

2. Discovers the better way to navigate reoccurring surprises.

After all, some of us fare pretty well if one blip comes on our radar screen, but when they start popping up all over, a disgruntled spirit can cause us to forsake our more clever and intuitive parts, and succumb to our more Neanderthal attitudes.

3. Has a great sense of humor.

What we “take personal” becomes personal–even if only in our minds. Once we feel we have been targeted, we tend to seek revenge. The President of the United States cannot have vendettas.

So even though a promotion of ideas is constantly flooding through stump speeches, once the election is completed, these wishes will have to take a back seat to the daily tribulation that the world threatens to afford.

Every once in a while, things calm down long enough that you might be able to fix a highway, start an after school program, or keep the country a little safer.

But most of the time, if you are President of the United States, you’re trying to maintain the purpose of our nation and the dignity of our freedom–in a world gone crazed.

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