Jesonian … November 18th, 2017

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Those that are not for us are against us.

Those that are not against us are for us.

These seem to be two contrary thoughts–even a contradiction. Yet Jesus said both of them.

And due to a lack of understanding, the soldiers of the cross all line up behind one campaign or the other.

Some churches firmly believe that the Gospel is under attack by a sinful world, manipulated by Satan.

Other churches insist that people are basically good, and it’s up to us to help them through their hard times so they can find themselves.

We even divide our political parties along the same lines. Devout Republicans tend to favor isolation, and the Democrats are proponents of intervention.

We also see this clearly with James, John and Judas. James and John were isolationists. When they came to Samaria and the people rejected them, they were angry and suggested the folks should be destroyed for their lack of hospitality.

Jesus rebuked them and said they didn’t understand what spirit was working inside them.

Judas, on the other hand, criticized Jesus for spending money foolishly instead of taking the funds and using it to feed the poor. Jesus replied to him that the poor were never going away, and if we try to resolve poverty, we’ll end up angry and bitter. He said the best we can do is offer what we can afford.

The battle still rages today:

Are we going to be a church of isolation, a country of isolation, or should we favor intervention, both spiritually and politically?

What is the way of the Earth? What is the true message of the Gospel?

Did Jesus come to isolate off a group of believers, or did he come to intervene in the lives of everyone?

Neither.

The Gospel interrupts.

It offers an alternative. It sheds light and produces salt as evidence of another possibility.

The Gospel interrupts the process by offering a more common sense, logical, easier and gentle approach.

When the Pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery to Jesus, they asked him what he thought they should do. He doesn’t answer specifically. He says, “If you have no sin, you should feel free to cast the first stone to kill the woman.”

The Bible says at this point, he turns around, stoops and fiddles in the dirt with his finger. He leaves it to them to come up with the right answer.

It is rather doubtful if we can live in a world that is an Internet click away from covering 25,000 miles, and believe we can isolate ourselves from other nations.

It is equally as ridiculous to contend that our intervention–taking over the circumstances of nations–will do anything to generate permanent resolution.

Jesus has called his church to be an interruption. While enjoying our lives of simple Gospel bliss, we offer an alternative to others through our example and our generosity.

We interrupt.

Jesus said, “I didn’t come to bring peace. I came to bring a sword to divide people.”

The ultimate interruption.

To be a Jesonian believer is to understand that isolating ourselves from others does not alleviate being at the mercy of their insanity, but also understanding that intervening and thinking we can feed all the poor is equally as unstable.

What we can do is interrupt.

In the process of living a full, joyful life, we brush up against others, and in doing so, we plant the seeds of better notions. For after all, people are not changed by being ignored or controlled.

They must see our good works to glorify the Father in heaven.

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Ask Jonathots … May 26th, 2016

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I have a buddy at work who just separated from his wife and is filing for divorce. He’s going to fight for full custody of his two daughters. He says his wife is not fit to be a mother because she’s mentally unstable. I met her once at a party, and she openly talked about how her daughters had “betrayed” her. They were five and six years old at the time. Here’s my question: how do you know when someone is just flat-out crazy? Is there anything I can do for my friend?

You are actually posing three questions:

1. How can you tell if somebody’s crazy?

2. How can you get involved in a situation without interfering?

3. What is the basic criteria for being a parent?

So I will attempt to address each inquiry individually and let you sew them together as an answer.

I don’t believe there is an actual condition called “crazy,” but when we deny reality, we certainly teeter on the brink of mental instability.

There are many ways to deny reality: you can lie about it, pretend it’s not your fault, insist it’s not your business but instead, God’s affair, you can blame the devil, or as in the case of your subject, you can believe that your children are trying to sabotage you.

Insanity is the idea that ignoring reality can change your circumstances.

Now let’s look at the second question. Unless somebody asks your opinion, giving it is interfering.

I have learned that my opinion is not really needed, wanted or valued unless there is a question pending. In other words, without someone asking me for my input, I am being obnoxious.

Now, shall we go to the third question? There is actually one criterion for being a good parent. Are your children safe?

Because as they grow, sometimes they may perceive the parent as a comforter, friend, warden, enemy, Satan, Santa Claus or boring. So you can’t evaluate good parenting on how happy the children are to actually have a parent.

Are they safe? And by safe, I mean that they have a sense that they will be taken care of, and they are not threatened by those who have authority over them.

So let’s see if we can put the three answers together.

Since children do not dictate the policies of the household, it is difficult for them to be betrayers. Therefore believing children are betrayers is certainly an imbalanced and unhealthy profile. It opens the door for the parent to retaliate instead of express affection.

But since your opinion has not been sought and you are not in a power position to change things, what you need to do is express your joy, concern and hopes by being supportive of the kids–through little notes, maybe some gifts, and a loving, open door.

You should avoid taking sides, but instead, pass on to both the mother and father that you feel the most important thing is the well-being of these children. In doing this, you will establish that you are the champion of the daughters instead of the crusader for either Mom or Dad.

This is the advice I give you–but also be fully aware that any time you leave reality (for instance, thinking you’re the savior of this other family) you can become just as “crazy” as the next person.

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G-Poppers … December 25th, 2015

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G-Pop smiles, with a deep sense of satisfaction and a warm sensation of knowing.

The story would have to be told.

Had Levi Matthew and Dr. Luke failed to pass along the tale, some intelligent soul with an ability to craft words would have needfully granted our race a sharing of such an unfolding, so as to keep us from falling off the cliff of our own sanity, to splatter on the rocks of our despair.

After all, we need a Virgin Birth.

There must be a confirmation that women have struck out on their own, using the power of their own contents to birth a saving force for the world, free of manly intervention or boasting.

The same story certainly must contain wise folks from the East, who are heretics and enemies of acceptable religious inclinations. They appear–awed and in wonder over the miracle that was seen through their eyes and their perspective.

The plot thickens with the introduction of drunken shepherds who insist they’ve been visited by angels. They bring a working man’s energy to a project which might be in danger of becoming too “frilly.”

Add on the fact that as always, there is no room for a good idea in the local establishment, but instead, it must be relegated to the confines of a sheepish environment.

And of course, we need some sort of leader, ruler or in this case, king, who is so prejudiced and afraid of immigration bringing in riff-raff to take his job that he decides to close the borders and punish the children.

So we end up with refugees who have no place to go, no visa, no invitation, and land in Egypt, where they are nobody, possibly suspected of being terrorists.

The story would have to be told.

Whether it’s true or not can be debated by those who certainly have too much time on their hands, or the details can be gnawed on as food for thought.

But if a woman didn’t birth a child on her own, without the approval of a man, and if that child was not accepted by weirdos and drunkards while being rejected by kings and princes, and chased on down the road to feel like a refugee … what in the hell good would it be to us?

 

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G-Poppers … September 18th, 2015

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She came into the room angry and frustrated. G-Pop asked her what was troubling her so.

She explained that she was really pissed off about how the Syrian refugees were being treated by the Europeans. G-Pop sat quietly listening, allowing her to vent for a few minutes until she ran out of steam.

When a few seconds of stillness had settled into the room, he said, “Let’s say you had just finished your dinner and you were sitting down in your chair getting ready to watch some television. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. You rise to your feet, open your door and discover a stranger standing in front of you, obviously distressed. You ask what you can do to help him, and he explains that his home has just burned to the ground and he has no place to go and needs some assistance. The first thing that crosses your mind is that you’ve never met this person before. Is the story true? How would you be able to find out? So you cautiously invite him inside the door while you consider your options. Before you can gather all your thoughts, he explains that he just needs someplace to stay until he can get on his feet and find out what he really wants to accomplish. You ask him if he has family in the area who could assist and he explains in vivid detail that he is from far away and doesn’t know anybody. So while you’re trying to figure out what you want to do, he informs you that he also has a wife and two children.

So now there are four people involved. He goes on to share that as frightened and taken aback as he is, they are completely devastated. Then in passing he mentions that his wife is also pregnant.  You have to make a decision. Trying to be wise, you inquire if he has checked with the local shelters and food banks for possible emergency intervention. He looks at you with a blank stare, not aware of how to go about such a maneuver, and still wishing that you would do something to help. So you agree to invite the family in to sit down while you make some sort of plan to help out. As the wife and two children enter the door, the man goes on to say that his cousin had been staying with them and also has a wife and one child, and is equally as abandoned by the disaster.

“Now you have seven people to deal with. What started as a quiet evening in your home, watching television, has now become an invasion of needy people who seem to be growing in numbers every minute. What should you do?

She looked at G-Pop, wanting to object, even to suggest that the scenario was not the same, but then realized that they were identical.

G-Pop continued. “We are really foolish when we think other people should do what we would not do ourselves. Honestly, there’s not much that I can do about the people who have run away from Syria. Any money sent in that direction would be a drop in the bucket and would take months to reach its destination. So my only recourse is to go into my own community and find the refugees–people without homes, seemingly unwanted humans, rejected souls and struggling families–and before their world utterly falls apart, forcing them to my doorstep, I will seek them out and do what I can.”

G-Pop finished the story and she seemed to understand.

You see, Jesus was absolutely right: the poor will always be with us.

The only thing we can do is share from our bounty before they end up on our porch–and we feel compelled to turn them away.

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Ask Jonathots … August 6th, 2015

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I’m worried about my best friend. We are both sixteen and have played on our school football and basketball teams for years. So this past year my bud has been changing. He’s avoiding me and other friends, too, and says that he’s not going to play next year. I really think something is wrong, but when I ask him about it he just shrugs me off. What should I do? It’s his life, but I want to intervene.

Two words: best friend.

If he considers you to be his best friend, the question you have to ask yourself is, “Why isn’t he sharing with me?”

Don’t ask the question to make yourself feel bad. Understand that if you are his best friend and he’s not sharing with you, there are only two logical reasons:

  1. What’s going on in his life is too embarrassing to share with anyone else.
  2. He doesn’t think anyone would understand–including you.

Then ask one more question.

Which one of these two possibilities can you address?

You cannot eliminate his embarrassment, but you certainly can express to him–through your actions and your own personal confessions–that you can be trusted and that he can share without fear.

When I can’t get friends to open up to me, I take them to the side and admit something personally with them. Just letting them know that I trust them and that I have problems is often the catalyst that will open their hearts to consider unburdening themselves.

As long as people view you as an unknown, they will avoid you.

You can’t take the embarrassment out of an embarrassing situation, but you can confess some of your weaknesses in private with your best friend–letting him know that there’s no shame in a struggle.

The only real darkness in life is to continue to struggle in shame.

 

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The “When” Win … September 13, 2012

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He insisted that he didn’t believe in miracles. I think he thought he was going to rile up some ire in me on the subject. He didn’t.

It actually reminded me of a time when I attended a very expensive banquet where lobster was served. I found myself seated next to a gentleman who did not like lobster and proceeded to tell me that he found it distasteful, not only in flavor but also in the cruelty involved in acquiring them. I listened intently and then asked him if he would like me to remove the nasty presence from his plate. He agreed–and I ended up eating a double portion.

I was very grateful to be seated next to a non-believer.

I do believe in miracles. But my particular form of faith about them may be a bit disconcerting to some of you. I don’t think that miracles are the direct intervention of the spirit of God in our lives, but rather, that miracles happen when we finally awaken our own spirits to provide benefit, insight, guidance and treasure to ourselves.

Truthfully, human beings are not as complicated as we make them out to be. We are a collision of three forces, melting into a fourth: they are what we feel, what we know, and what we want that actually congeal into what we believe.

I know religionists would hope that what we believe would actually change what we feel, know and want, but honestly, I don’t think our Creator made us that way. This is why so many people have so many different beliefs about varying things. Their particular rendition of feeling, knowing and wanting generates a somewhat unique belief system.

So it is important to realize that the end result of our process of feeling, knowing and wanting is a spiritual force–or else a weak, dormant, empty cave. In other worsds, if we don’t feel much, refuse to learn and lose our desire, it’s rather doubtful that some sort of spiritual renaissance is going on inside us.

I believe that miracles happen when we have purified our emotions by speaking them aloud instead of hiding them; we have included science, technology and wisdom in learning what is available for our time, and we have challenged our wants and whittled them down to our real desires instead of our passing infatuations.

What this reveals is a spirit that we can trust. That spirit will begin to come to life within us and produce gentle nudgings to pursue certain activities, projects and ideas.

Trust the gentle nudgings.

Yes, when I purify my emotions by sharing them, I learn instead of assuming that I know everything, and in the process I come up with real needs in my life instead of copying what everybody else is doing, I can begin to believe that those inclinations that come to me are my spirit leading me to miraculous horizons.

Some people call it “following your gut.” Others refer to it as “divine inspiration.” There are those who contend it is actually “hearing the voice of God.” But it is rarely as dramatic as all that. It is truly a still, small voice inside us, whispering a possibility that we may wish to pursue. I have learned to listen to those gentle nudgings.

This is what I call the “when” of being spiritual. We spend too much time discussing “why.” It is ridiculous to have great debates on the “what” of spirituality, when none of us have ever been beyond the grave. “How” is even more comical.

But “when?” Now there is spirituality.

  • When I feel the need to give to a stranger … just do it.
  • When friends comes to mind … pick up the phone and call them.
  • When I’m trying to remember a song … the words must be important.
  • When I nearly have an accident … it could be a heads up, a warning about my lack of attention.
  • When I find an extra ten dollars in my pants pocket … be prepared to bless someone.
  • When I have a dream that touches my heart … share it, use it or make contact with someone who was included.
  • When I hear a great idea … write it down.
  • When I see someone do something magnificent … tell somebody else about it so it doesn’t die,
  • When I realize I’m watching something on television that’s boring or drawing energy from my being … turn it off.
  • When I feel compelled to give someone a hug … embrace him.
  • When I feel like laughing … don’t restrain.
  • When I feel like crying … let it flow.
  • When I see that someone is left in a corner by himself … find him.
  • When I wonder if something could be done … find something to do.
  • When I am nudged … move forward.

These are the miracles of life. Desiring God to heal a cancerous tumor is well worth using our faith, and a great reason for prayer. But four years earlier, following the gentle nudgings of the spirit to quit smoking cut down on eating or exercise more is the true miracle.

I do not believe that God’s grace has limits, but I think I should conduct my spiritual life as if it does. He wants His children to become spirited–without constantly needing to be bailed out of jail for failure to enact the principles.

The gentle nudgings are those opportunities that come our way because we have learned to take what we feel, what we know and what we want–and create a belief that is believable to us. It is the “when” that causes us to win.

You might righteously ask me how often my gentle nudgings turn into actual, obvious spiritual miracles. After an ongoing life of trial and error, I can report that about fifty per cent of the time I see evidence of intervention. And that means that this simple concept has provided me twice the blessing I would have in comparison to sitting around in a prayer room waiting for God to do my work for me.

“And God breathed into man the breath of life and man became a living soul…”

Exactly. And that soul comes to life when we follow the gentle nudgings that have come to us from our spirit because we have cleansed our hearts, opened our minds and purified our desires–to create a spirit we can trust.

It is the when win. When you feel it, trust what you have created to lead you to beautiful, gentle nudgings of miracles.

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