Jesonian … October 21st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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jesonian-cover-amazon

Even though I am an admirer, believer and follower of Jesus, there are things that bother me.

Yes, some attributes of Jesus give me the creeps.

Let’s start with the fact that he claimed to be “one with God.” Normally when folks make such an assertion, we give them a free trip to a mental hospital instead of building churches in their name. “I am God”–the classic statement made by megalomaniacs throughout history.

Secondly, he seemed to have a strong death wish. About halfway through his work, he became obsessed with his own execution. Needless to say, this is repeated throughout history by leaders who ended up being nefarious.

Can I give you a third one? How about this–he invited his disciples to drink his blood. That’s creepy. Although you can point out that it was a symbolic act, I don’t like to think about even symbolically taking in hemoglobin.

And there is the fact that he is traditionally reported to have stayed away from sex. Although surrounded by women and a plethora of men, it is alleged that he was as pure as the driven snow. We can certainly attest to the fact that those who pursue that lifestyle often end up being perverted, using their abstinence to injure the lives of others.

I’m sorry, these are some creepy things.

If I walked into your house and said, “Hey, did you hear about that guy down in Texas who thinks he’s God, hangs around with a bunch of women but says he abstains from sex, prophesies that the government is going to come and kill him, and it is reported that he makes his followers drink his blood…”

Come on. This is going to freak you out.

So why, since I know all these creepy things, do I still follow Jesus? It’s because of what he taught and how he followed up with it in his own life.

His teachings were non-violent. Most people who claim to be God want to kill you to prove the point.

Jesus didn’t care if you didn’t believe. He just went to another village.

His teachings were forgiving. Even though his disciples were a bunch of hotheads who wanted to kill their enemies, he rebuked them, told them to put their swords away and taught them that no one is better than anyone else.

His teachings were inclusive. Even though the average Jew of his day had a hit list of cultures which needed to be destroyed, Jesus walked freely with the Romans, the Greeks, the Samaritans, the Jews and the Afrikaans. He gave the same respect to everyone, whether a Pharisee or a man possessed with a thousand demons.

He also loved human beings. Even those who hated him.

He refused to take his claims of supremacy and force other people to submit to them. His philosophy was, “Whosoever will may come.”

So here’s an amazing fact: Jesus’ claims become viable because of his actions. It’s not that his actions are worth studying because of his claims.

I can accept some oddities in his choices, phrasing and mannerisms because his life was drenched in love.

Love is not creepy.

 

 

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Jesonian… April 15th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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jesonian-cover-amazon

A Saturday many, many years ago, the beaten, bruised and bloodied body of Jesus of Nazareth lay still in the darkness of a borrowed tomb, as his spirit communed with the angels and his mind reasoned over the unfoldings of a truly abundant life.

We are not privy to those thoughts.

Matter of fact, all we know of the life of Jesus comes from four major biographers who borrowed pieces from one another, and each, in his own way, had an agenda to offer insights to please his readers.

There is no autobiography.

So we aren’t sure of the emotion in the words attributed to him. Therefore theologians decipher and agnostics disembowel the remnants of the script left to us of this magnificent life.

Yet every once in a while, we get a deeper glimpse. Such is the case in Matthew the 23rd Chapter, Verse 37-38:

“Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Thou that killest the prophets and stone them which are sent unto you. How often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”

The great debate over the centuries has been whether Jesus was Jewish or whether he came, in a certain sense, to abolish Judaism in favor of the New Covenant.

If you study the writings of Martin Luther, you might begin to believe that the Great Reformer was anti-Semetic. Yet in many evangelical churches, there seems to be a return to Jewish traditions, including them with their Christian rituals.

What did Jesus feel about the Jews?

What was the heart of the matter?

First and foremost, you must understand, for Jesus to include Gentiles and Samaritans in his movement immediately made him an outcast from the Jewish religious community.

Matter of fact, the Jewish Council that condemned him to death granted him none of the courtesy that was normally extended to brethren.

The reality that Jesus did not believe that the Jews were special because they were the “children of Abraham,” but rather put forth the opinion that God “could take stones” and make offspring of Abe, certainly did not put him in favor with those of the Zionist profile.

Yet John tells us that he “came to his own and his own received him not.”

When Jesus spoke with the woman at the well, he did use the phrase “we Jews.” It is the only time he did, but he certainly had a kindness and favorability for those who lived in Judea and Galilee.

But Jesus was a man of vision–the Gospel would never reach China or the Native Americans if it were left in the hands of the Jews. The Jewish people had already aggravated the Romans to the point that the annihilation and dispersion of their kindred was inevitable, if not imminent. The Gospel would only survive in the hands of the Greeks and the Romans, who would take it to the rest of the world.

The Apostle Paul makes it clear that when the early church was trying to force Gentile converts to comply with Jewish practices, the former Pharisee condemned them and called them “Judaizers” for limiting the scope and power of the message.

In the two verses recited above, Jesus announces the fate of Judaism.

It is in a coma.

It is left desolate and abandoned.

It is awaiting a day when it can be awakened and all the promises given by the prophets can be fulfilled.

But for a season, it was set aside in favor of salvation and “loving your neighbor” being shared with the entire world.

Basically, if you want to sum up Jesus’ feelings on Judaism, it’s very simple: Jesus loves them.

He just does not believe they’re “chosen people.”

There are no chosen people–just people who choose well.

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Good News and Better News … April 18th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News Antioch

Yesterday it was my joy to share my heart with dear souls in Antioch, Tennessee.

In the Book of Acts, it informs us that Antioch was the first city where the new believers in Jesus were referred to as “Christians.” It was meant to be a derogatory term, thrown at this new movement by the arrogant Greeks, who were trying to connote that the people who believed in the Nazarene were just a bunch of “little Jesuses.”

In other words, they had no mind of their own.

I didn’t talk about this to the people yesterday because I figured that over the years they have probably grown weary of the reference. But it did help me realize that the term “Christian” has become synonymous with going to church, or being religious, instead of being like Jesus.

Jesus frustrated religious people. After a while they got tired of being frustrated, so they decided to murder him.

Even though your average church-going people will admit that attendance is dwindling and that people seem to be “leaving the steeple,” they still insist that there’s basically nothing errant with what’s going on behind the stained glass windows.

Here is something I have learned:

If it’s not working, it’s probably not going to get better just because you keep doing it. And if it’s not working, the first step is to admit it’s broken, and then commit to getting it fixed.

The problem in the church is simple–it is a body of believers working under a false premise. The false premise is that we please God by gathering to worship Him.

Jesus made it clear that we please God by being the salt of the Earth and the light of the world.

Can you see the difference?

So as I leave Antioch, having had a tremendous morning of fellowship with these dear friends, I can offer them a simple suggestion:

Do one thing.

Yes–just start pursuing one thing that’s different from what you’re doing now. And make sure it doesn’t resemble anything like the present menu offered in church.

Maybe you could adopt one family in the community every week, take $150 and buy them groceries and shoes for the kids. Put a committee in charge of this endeavor.

Then on Sunday morning you can share, having something for prayer time other than weddings, funerals, births and sicknesses.

How about challenging twenty people from your congregation to volunteer just one hour a week in area nursing homes, food banks or homeless shelters–and then have them testify of their encounters.

Maybe the pastor could do the same thing–or take a small part-time job to increase his or her humanity in the community. Play guitar? Start a cover band and play at the local bar on Saturday nights prior to the Sunday services.

Take something that is non-church but filled with Jesus and act it out in your community every week, and see if something doesn’t bloom.

It’s not complicated. I could probably sit here for another twenty minutes and pop off more ideas.

But the notions have to come from the congregation and be a source of excitement to them to make it work.

If we don’t develop a sense of mission about bringing the heart of Jesus to our community, we will gradually implode from over-reverence or bickering from the choir about which anthem should be used for the Introit.

Jesus was simple:

Find a way to be loving, and then go act it out.

So as I leave Antioch, filled with a spirit of joy from encountering these delightful “little Jesuses,” I tell you that your good news is that all you need is one thing to do that is not religious, and that will bring real people into your presence.

The better news is that you’re not responsible for the fruit.

Just the seed.

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Jesonian: The Five W’s of the J-Man… August 2nd, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2651)

5 W's

Long, long ago in a print shop far away, we used to publish newspapers. They have been replaced by nothing.

A formula was developed for newspaper articles, which was referred to as the 5 W’s: who, what, where, when and why.

So what are the 5 W’s of the story of Jesus? I guess it depends on who you ask.

You have the common perception, which are those who are not necessarily believers, but look on the tale from a historical perspective.

You have religious doctrine, which comes from those who adhere to a Christian theology.

And then you have the Jesonian–individuals who are curious about the personality and mission of the one who has been dubbed “the Christ.”

So let’s look at it.

Who was Jesus?

Common perception: A carpenter-turned-religious icon.

Religious doctrine: A Savior who died for our sins.

Jesonian: The Son of Man, who came to redeem human beings and give us a working lifestyle.

What was Jesus?

Common perception: A Jewish teacher who was killed

Religious doctrine: The Lamb of God who was slain from the foundations of the world.

Jesonian: The Word who became Flesh.

Where was Jesus?

Common perception: Born of peasants in Nazareth.

Religious doctrine: Born in Israel to be salvation, beginning with the Jews.

Jesonian: Born in Israel, raised in Egypt, rejected by his family and hometown, condemned by the Jewish Council, crucified by the Romans, while challenging his disciples to “go into all the world.”

When was Jesus?

Common perception: Born approximately 2000 years ago.

Religious doctrine: His birth marked the beginning of the modern era–A.D.

Jesonian: All the world was temporarily crowded into Mesopotamia–Romans, Jews, Greeks, Egyptians and even those traveling from the East.

Why was Jesus?

Common perception: To be a religious leader.

Religious doctrine: To fulfill prophesy.

Jesonian: To free us from the rigors of religion.

So let us look at each paragraph, formed by our research.

Common perception:

Jesus was a carpenter-turned-religious teacher of Jewish extract, who ended up killed for his ideas. He was born of peasants in Nazareth some 2000 years ago and became the founder of the Christian religion.

Religious doctrine:

Jesus was a Savior who died for our sins, the Lamb who was slain from the foundations of the world. He was born in Israel to be a salvation and Messiah for the Jews and to begin the modern era of A.D. He came to fulfill all Old Testament prophesy.

Jesonian:

Jesus was the Son of Man who came to redeem human beings and give us a lifestyle, the Word who became Flesh. He was born in Israel, raised in Egypt, rejected by his family and hometown, condemned b y the Jewish Council, crucified by the Romans, yet told his disciples to spread the message into all the world. At the time of his birth, all the cultures were temporarily crowded into Mesopotamia–Romans, Jews, Greeks, Egyptians and even passing caravans from the Far East. Jesus had one goal: to free us from the rigors of religion.

Which story touches your heart? 

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G-44: Blogging… October 3, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Paul writing

Paul was a blogger.

Although it’s commonly accepted that he authored books, what he really penned were entries which he posted to various individuals and congregations, expressing his mood in the moment.

So sometimes we have:

  • happy Paul
  • sad Paul
  • angry Paul
  • theological Paul
  • philosophical Paul
  • bruised Paul
  • attacking Paul
  • judgmental Paul
  • merciful Paul
  • Pharisee Paul
  • and Gentile Paul

Nothing much is achieved in reading the New Testament without understanding this concept. For if you isolate off one of Paul’s posts and attempt to characterize his entire message by its content, you will soon be frustrated by another entry, which seems to be contradictory.

Before you become critical of this grab-bag styling, you might want to consider the audience Paul was trying to reach. First, he worked around the erroneous premise of trying to be “all things to all men so that he might save some.” Here’s the problem with the idea: the Jews seek for a sign, the Greeks want wisdom, the Romans crave power and the Barbarians yearn for an identity. It’s difficult to believe that any singular paragraph, clump of verses or accumulation of chapters could appease all of these sensitivities.

So by the time the first century came to an end, and all of the original folks who ate and lived with Jesus were dying off, the message was suffering from a “clarification crisis.”

Some people favored Paul, some Peter, some Apollos, and others, some no-name who didn’t make the Biblical cut.

Simultaneously, the Romans were gradually getting tired of killing Christians and because of the failings of their Empire, were looking for a fresh motivation. So as time marched on, the Romans embraced this “Mesopotamia Message” as their own, and of course, in the process, swallowed it up with their bureaucracy.

The Romans, being authoritarians, felt that the weakness of the Pauline preaching was that it allowed too much freedom for the individual, without the structure of a governing body filled with superiors.

So this new Roman church was structured exactly the same as Rome itself–with an Emperor, a Senate, tribunals and even, to a certain degree, legions of soldiers.

The ironic result was that a God who came to study man was ignored in favor of men who decided to study God.

Meanwhile, the Barbarians discovered a potent identity. They could defeat Rome and rule the world, such as it was.

So a message which was intended to place the Kingdom of God within the heart of each believer was now placed within the whim of a potentate.

Alas, my friends … leave it to human beings to make things worse when they organize. 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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G-35: Purposeful… August 1, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Roman Empire

It took four hundred years to arrive at the right hour.

During that time, the Greeks, the Macedonians, the Persians and the Carthaginians struggled for control over the piece of the world which is now blithely referred to as “the Holy Land.”

Yet rather than expanding the vision of the planet or becoming more inclusive, it seemed, during this juncture of time, that the earth shrank. Matter of fact, to many of those who had been created by the Emerging Father, life was defined as Jerusalem plus a hundred miles in every direction.

No one was aware there were seven continents. None of them had any idea of the discoveries of the Chinese, the intellect of the African, the industrious nature of the North American natives or the creativity of the Angles, Saxons, Mongols and Huns.

The hour was not right.

To do something purposeful, there had to be the right climate, attitudes and vehicle to propel the message–not just to circumcised Bedouins, but to the whole earth.

Then came Rome.

The Roman Empire was fully aware that the earth was larger than just the small territory around the Holy City. They were prepared to travel as far as land or sea would offer, to discover new people and new opportunities.

Even though their motivations for such a journey may be questionable, they still provided a passage to the world. With the Roman Empire arriving in Mesopotamia, it was now the season to make a move.

  • For after all, it would be the Romans who would introduce culture and commerce to the rest of mankind.
  • It would be a Roman citizen named Saul of Tarsus who would eventually carry the purposed message into the far-reaching provinces.
  • It would be an Italian-Roman named Marco Polo who traversed to China, climbing over the great walls to create connection.
  • And it would be an Italian of Roman descent who would take three ships and discover the New World–Christopher Columbus.

The notion that the Creator is merely a dreamer or Spirit with no sense of science, geography or history is a foolhardy misconception. For He waited patiently for the right era, to share a message of Fatherhood and brotherhood which could travel into the deepest recesses of Planet Earth.

Now, the next question … how to do it? 

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Arizona morning

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