Jesonian … October 7th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is nearly impossible to be Jesonian–a true follower of the heart of Jesus–without fully comprehending that there are two Gospels. Shall we name them the “Galilee Gospel” and the “Jerusalem Journey?”

It is the reason theologians struggle with the message of Jesus, finding themselves complicating it so that the dual approaches can co-habitate within one faith. But it’s an error to do so.

Jesus had one message but two missions. His two missions were:

  1. To bring the message to fulfill the love
  2. To present himself as the doorway to fulfill the law

In Galilee he talked about life–abundant life. He lived with his disciples in joy–fully. He spoke of God as a Father and all of us as brothers and sisters. He explained the dangers of anger and lust. He clarified that the things we do to other people are recorded as actions performed to God. It was human–everyday fodder for feeling and believing.

But to fulfill the Law of Moses and welcome the Children of Abraham into his mission, he labored among the stringent, inflexible Jews, trying to reason with them and gather them together under a new understanding. These religionists had “jot-and-tittled” themselves into frantic insecurity about the purposes of God, and even, to a degree, agnosticism about the existence of Jehovah.

The Jerusalem Journey was filled with thinking, musing, mulling, wondering, questioning and attempts at compromise. It was a futile effort to afford political correctness to a manifesto meant for the whole world, and not merely designed for one hundred miles of landscape in the Middle East.

Did Jesus know that the Jews were going to reject him?

Did Jesus know it would end so badly, with his execution on a cross?

You can debate that all you want, but we are certainly aware that he reached a point where he had to relent to the conclusion that you can’t “put new wine into old wine skins.”

The problem in today’s church is that we focus too much on the Jerusalem Journey and don’t thunder the celebration of the Galilee Gospel.

Too much musing, too much debate, too much thinking and too much meditation.

It’s time for us to return to the Gospel of Galilee, when life was abundant and joy was full. It’s an easy message to remember: go, do, give, be.

  • Go unto all the world.
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  • Give and it shall be given unto you.
  • Be perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.

Such a message offers redemption for failure, while simultaneously providing exhortation to challenge indifference.

There is a danger that we in the church will stall–trying to fulfill the law instead of fulfilling the love.

Stop thinking so much about it.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … May 3rd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Tell You What

I know Jesus

You know Jesus

They know Jesus

We know Jesus

Seize us

Please us

Tease us

Do you need us?

What’s the fuss?

Is he one of us?

Hop the bus

Please don’t cuss

Put your trust

Where you must

Dust to dust

Kill the lust

Become a nerd

Read the Word

What’s absurd?

Use Jesus

Abuse Jesus

Jews for Jesus

Cruise with Jesus

Who is the man?

Tell me if you can

Holy Spirit fire

Or just a simple “tryer”

Make him my own

Me and me alone

Stop working so hard

Use your human card

He loves you as you are

Truth will take you far

You can make it

Just don’t fake it

I’m strong when I’m weak

I inherit with the meek

Me and Jesus

Jesus and me

We’re born human

We’re both free.

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Jesonian… January 14th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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jesonian-cover

Seven hours and thirteen minutes of sleep.

Three meals–well, kind of.

 

A couple of snacks.

A wash-up–bath or shower–cleaned my teeth.

 

Two good ideas that went bad.

One bad idea that surprisingly became good.

 

Got verbally attacked.

Tempted to retaliate.

 

Ate something that gave me gas.

Oops–diarrhea.

 

Someone betrayed my confidence.

Awaiting a delivery–very late.

 

A headache after lunch. Am I imagining it?

A little sore throat. Probably.

 

An unexplained, very temporary depression.

Inspired by the sight of a beautiful lake.

 

Paid bills. Short on money. Or am I really?

Grateful for opportunity.

 

Birthday for old friend.

Tired as the day goes on.

 

Don’t want to think about tomorrow.

Not supposed to…

 

This is a summary of my day.

Jesus, too.

I’m not saying Jesus had the same day that I did. But somewhere along the line, he had the same elements in his day that I do all the time. You see, God believed He was being very intelligent when He sent Jesus to Earth to be totally human.

We, on the other hand, have spent 2,000 years trying to prove he was perfect, even though we don’t like perfect people–they turn us off.

Perfect people are too damn perfect.

Even though the Bible tells us he was tempted in every way, just like us, touched by our infirmities, and learned obedience through the things he suffered rather than having it absorbed from heaven, we continue to be uncomfortable with the idea that he shared our “goofyness.”

Matter of fact, insisting that Jesus had diarrhea would cause some of the more holy saints to stomp out of the room, considering you a heretic or at least gauche.

But here’s the question: why would we care about anybody who didn’t care enough about us to be one of us?

So we portray Jesus as half-God, half-man, like some sort of Greek mythology, or all-God and all-man.

We lose the effect of the Gospel because we’re afraid to show that Jesus had days just like ours.

If we can’t relate the Gospel to the 21st century, we need to stop expecting 21st century people to find the Gospel relatable.

 

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Good News and Better News … October 10th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

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good-news-holly-sign-facesWhether you’re promoting the idea that Mexicans are rapists or insisting that your political opponents should be stuffed in a basket labeled “deplorables,” you have basically failed to recognize the central meteoric truth of life on Planet Earth:

Our human journey is about getting along with humans.

The ministry of Jesus is capsulized in how we treat others. Also, our relationship with God is determined by how well we welcome those who have been deemed worthless.

When I arrived at the Holly Calvary Church to meet the energetic and engaged Pastor Cliff and his congregation, I was fully aware that nothing I have to share has any value if I am a grump.

Yes.

  • I am my Gospel.
  • I am my message.
  • My facial expression is what I think God feels about people.

And my attitude is certainly my theology.

During one of the prayers, a word came to my mind: exceedingly.

good-news-holly-sign-namesLooking back on the past week in America, there have been people who are exceedingly mad. They want to get even. They want to hurt somebody. Their energy is fueled by fury.

There are people who are exceedingly sad. They’ve given up. They’ve decided to settle. Despair has become their cry for retreat.

What we desperately need–and what I shared with the good folks in Holly–is the message of Jesus: rejoice and be exceedingly glad.

What does that mean? Why isn’t “glad” enough? Why does it need to be “exceedingly?”

Because mad and sad people try to cover up their true motivations with missions which seem to be legitimate. So if our gladness doesn’t spill out of us like cold water from melted mountain snow, then it will be difficult to set ourselves apart from those who snarl and sigh.

Pastor Cliff is encouraging his church to get back to the Word of God. I agree. That “Word” is personified in the lifestyle of Jesus. He is the Word. And he wants us to be glad.

How do we know when we’re being glad?

  1. We decide to love everybody even if it seems ridiculous.
  2. We refuse to judge anybody even if it appears necessary.
  3. We determine to help everybody find their abundant life.

I truly believe if the absolutely amazing individuals I met yesterday in Holly will generate love, stop judging and aid their brothers and sisters in finding life, which is grounded in the Word, they can also be free of religious chains.

That’s the good news.

The better news is that “exceedingly glad” does come with the additional benefit of personal smiles and inner joy.

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Good News and Better News … September 26th, 2016

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It is a medium-sized green table with retractable legs which we purchased at Wal-Mart about four years ago for $49.95.

tape-repairWe use it as a dining table in our motel room and it has faithfully served us many a meal, and even been put into service as a desk top for studious planning sessions. After all these years, it is a little beaten up, scarred and certainly worse the wear.

I could buy another table. I’m not cheap–it’s just that this table has not yet refused to stand up to its responsibilities. It continues to completely open itself up, offering its potential, although a bit bedraggled.

When I arrived at the Belleville United Methodist Church in Belleville, Michigan, and met so many intriguing individuals–including Pastor Jim–I was struck by the fact that most of us human beings are like my green table. We’ve been through some spills. We’ve been spread out, damaged and find ourselves in need of attention.

You can see in the picture where I have taken some duck tape to cover a multitude of errors.

Now here’s my thought–if we’re going to be a good church and reach people, the first thing we need to do is admit that we’ve been repaired. Yes, we’ve got the duck tape of salvation to prove it. We’re not pretty, but we’re still able to stand up.little-mirror-2

We also need to look in the mirror, not just for the purpose of good grooming, but to make note of our flaws before they become so obvious that we’re dubbed “ugly.”

So I carry a little mirror. I don’t like big mirrors–they display too much of me. But a little mirror lets me know that my face is still worth showing to the onlooker.

And I guess I want those people in Belleville to know that like a used Kleenex, I have already been put to the task, but well-used-3I’m still not ready to be thrown away.

Sometimes we look at older congregational members, and because they retired from their companies, we assume they’ve retired from life. Not so. None of us gets off that easy. Until we crawl into some sort of box and jettison off to heaven, we need to keep growing.

Yes, I’ve been used, but not abused, and I’m still worthy to be used some more.

And as you can see in the fourth picture, my table has some fresh tears. I haven’t gotten around to putting duck tape on them yet, but I’ll have to do so soon to keep them from spreading.

In other words, just like my table, I still have wounds. Sometimes I’m too touchy, so I keep coming back to church with my brothers and sisters because I need fixin’.

Many Americans don’t like to admit weakness. But the most powerful statement in life is, “I’m not good enough to be called good yet.” fresh-tear-4

In other words, don’t give up on me, don’t tell me I’m used up, but please remind me to look in my mirror and view my flaws.

The good news is, if visitors came to church and found human beings instead of folks trying to imitate what they think is righteous, they might just want to come back again.

The better news is, it’s much easier to live out life as a human instead of pretending you’re an angel.

 

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G-Poppers … September 9th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

Sometimes G-Pop forgets.

He is suddenly overwhelmed by the nasty, cantankerous, mostly-cloudy conclusions, and then drenched in the negativity.

Weathering the storm.

What G-Pop forgets is that there are two worlds: the world around him and the world of his undertaking.

It is so easy to get trapped into believing that significant change can be accomplished by arguing, fussing, preaching or evaluating the lives and actions of eight billion other people.

But we’re all human. We want everything, everywhere, to be just fine. And by “just fine,” we mean “to our liking.”

There is only one world. It is the world where we live and have some sense of contribution.

But to keep on that straight and narrow of wisdom, G-Pop realizes that certain ideas need to be honored on a daily basis:

1. No one is better than anyone else.

Even if you have information to the contrary or discover evidence which contradicts such a noble notion, be intelligent enough to ignore it.

2. Don’t judge anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Even if you feel you have the backing of eternity or a stack of holy books, laugh at your inclination to be superior.

3. Stop thinking big.

It sets your mind to enormous expectation which causes the smaller opportunities to escape your vision. Life is not about a magic wand which causes dreams to appear, but rather, a pile of bricks, which we put in place one at a time.

4. Laugh.

It’s better than crying, and even if weeping comes for a season, be prepared for it to turn into giggling. Taking things seriously only puts you in serious trouble.

5. Don’t stop believing, but don’t rely on it.

Believing has an unrighteous tendency to wait too long before determining to do something. If you want God to know that you believe, start working with what you already have.

You see, sometimes G-Pop forgets these things. The bickering causes him to become cynical, or worse, proud.

When G-Pop lives in his own world, change actually seems possible.

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Good News and Better News … August 8th, 2016

Jonathots Daily Blog

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Lititz United Methodist Church

The big black van rolled up to Lititz United Methodist Church in Lititz, Pennsylvania, with Jan and myself inside.

We had two shows to do there. Although I must be honest, there are religious folks who do not like it when you call it a show, and also become quite indignant if you use the word “performance.” (Candidly, the only exercise some human beings get is fidgeting their brain with nonsense.)

So to keep peace, let me just say that it was after the “Second Encounter of the Church Kind” that a lady approached me, hugged me around the neck, pulled back slightly, looked me squarely in the face with tears in her eyes, and said, “Thank you for the common sense.”

It amazes me that anyone can read the Gospels and not come away from the experience realizing that Jesus was a promoter of common sense. Matter of fact, you could sum up his whole philosophy of life with one simple phrase: “To he who much is given, much is expected.”

That is a healthy dose of common sense.

The people I met on Sunday morning were courteous, caring, fun-loving and hopeful. You could change the world with such an army–that is, if you fed them with common sense. Perhaps a definition is due at this point, since I’ve been throwing around the term.

Common: we’re all human.

Sense: we all can learn.

That’s what it takes, folks.

When some people think they’re better than other people, creating a hierarchy among the Homo sapiens, any sense of fellowship disappears.

And if we don’t think we have anything to learn, all the good stuff that God could give us is limited to our own tightly wound minds.

Lititz was a snapshot of Middle America without any touch-up or air brushing.

  • They aren’t perfect because if they were, we’d have to hate them.
  • They aren’t all pretty, because if they were, we would feel intimidated.
  • They are mortals in need of common sense.

They come to church with a look in their eye that says, “We might be ready. We’re not sure. If your ideas are too crazy, we’ll move on down the road. But we might be ready. There’s a chance we’re prepared to leave the foolishness of religion, the insanity of politics and the selfishness of prejudice and find common ground.”

But they also communicate that they would really appreciate it if you’d be gentle. The mean-spirited approach of our present social structure has left many a soul wounded and frightened.

And finally, I think there’s a spirit in this country–a desire, if you will–to make it plain. Everything is too complicated. Break it down into its parts–and let’s take one part at a time.

The good news is that the uproar of ridiculous debate over nothing in this country has produced an appetite for common sense.

The better news is that Jesus has already given us the bacon and eggs.

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