Jesonian … August 11th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Astonished.

It is the word that Saint Matthew selected, in his Gospel, to describe the reaction of the audience which heard Jesus of Nazareth share the Sermon on the Mount.

Some synonyms for astonished:

  • Shocked
  • Confounded
  • Bewildered
  • Astounded
  • Flabbergasted
  • Startled
  • Stunned
  • Dumbfounded
  • Blow your mind

Astonished is a word that combines impressed and alarmed.

It is the way Matthew perceived the mood of the hearers.

He added that they felt that Jesus had more “authority” than the scribes. As you probably know, the scribes were not the Pharisees. The scribes were the local ministers in charge of writing and reading the Law of Moses.

The style they imparted in sharing those ancient words was: read, said, dead. When the scribes read, they said what was exactly there–as dead as they possibly could, so as not to add too much flavor.

So as you can see, it was not a roaring accolade, to say that Jesus exceeded the knowledge or enthusiasm of the scribes.

The importance to the verse is that the people departing that day were “astonished.” What do people do when they’re astonished?

On the way home, as the afterglow disappears, they begin to pick at the corners of great ideas until they disassemble them, convincing themselves that these principles are implausible.

How do we know this is true?

Most of them do not follow Jesus down the hill, but instead, go to their homes, where they justify their disbelief.

Meanwhile, Jesus, who has just delivered the most radical, truthful and practical message ever heard on Earth, descends the hill, and is greeted by one leper, who asks for healing–who had probably missed the sermon.

After twenty-two years of traveling with my dear friend Janet Clazzy, to thousands of churches, I will tell you this:

It is very possible to stir up a congregation, and even their local shepherd, to the point of astonishment.

You can raise dead spirits that haven’t been alive since Grandma and Grandpa sat in the pews.

You can get people to clap, think, react, smile, and even do their best impersonation of loving one another. But you can’t go home with them.

And home is where they rationalize all their present actions–to avoid the horror of repentance.

*****

If you like the mind of Jesus without religion, buy the book!

                $7.99 plus S&H

*******

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G-Poppers … January 26th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3564)

G-Pop has grown extremely weary of hearing the human race demeaned, disgraced, denigrated and caged in with the animal kingdom in attempts to explain away some of the more nasty aspects of our carnal ways.

He wants his children to know that humans are neither good nor evil, but as the story goes from the Garden of Eden, they are inundated with the knowledge of both.

Yes, they have the perception of good and the deception of evil.

The battle that wages inside every son and daughter of Adam and Eve is whether we deem it more fruitful to be good or more successful to be evil.

It’s a decision we make every single day.

Case in point: G-Pop went to the grocery store today. He was sitting in his wheelchair. (He uses this perch for such occasions because he is not so fleet of foot in getting around.) As he was waiting outside the store, a woman drove up in a car, and even though Janet Clazzy was standing nearby, attending, the dear lady rolled down her window and asked, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

It was transcendent. It is for such moments that G-Pop continues his desire to habitate the Earth. And even though he was probably over-appreciative in his thankfulness to her, she knew when he said that he was fine that it was true–but that she had made an overture.

After all, without an overture, there is never going to be a symphony.

She possessed the singular attribute that makes human beings God’s favorite creation.

She was aware.

G-Pop is sure she had many things on her mind, but it suddenly became more important for her to be of use to another.

Aware. And after being aware, she made an offer.

G-Pop doesn’t know what she thought she was going to do. But she made the offer, knowing that the offer comes with a parenthetical thought: (“You understand there are only certain things I am capable of…”)

She was a forward-thinking person simply because she was aware and made the offer.

Honestly, most of the time when you make the offer people will turn you down because they’ve already made plans. And on those rare occasions where immediate help is needed, you have a story you can tell for all time, which both promotes the glory of charity and professes that you are a true believer.

As she drove away, G-Pop said, “God bless you.”

G-Pop honestly didn’t need to say that, because anyone who is created by God in His image, is a human being with the knowledge of good and evil, who is aware of the predicament of another and offers to become a conduit for help, is already saturated in blessing.

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G-Poppers … January 19th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3557)

Several years back, G-Pop was traveling on the road staying in a motel, and decided to go up to the lobby and partake of their continental breakfast. Upon finishing their humble offering, he headed back to his room and discovered that the maid had come in and cleaned the whole space while he was sipping coffee.

Smelled good, looked good. There was only one problem–she had taken it upon herself to move things around. Nothing was where G-Pop had left it. It took him a solid hour to find his materials and relocate them back to his favorite positions.

It was a bit aggravating.

This is the sensation G-Pop had this year as he began Tour 2018 of the United States. He spent 2017 traveling in Florida, writing a couple new novels and interacting with his Davie extended family.

So G-Pop didn’t really give much thought to going back on the road in 2018–because he has done this with Janet Clazzy for twenty years.

But something was different.

Nothing was where he left it. The road was tainted. Motels had increased in price. And without him knowing it, during his little hiatus in the Sunshine State, America left the Gold Standard–that being a deep respect, honor and reverence for the idea of “love your neighbor as yourself.”

During 365 days of turmoil, argument, resistance and a general bitchiness among the multitudes, the consensus became that “love your neighbor as yourself” was not a reasonable aspiration, but rather, an unrealistic pursuit.

Yes–Americans traveled from feeling repentant when they fell short of including their brothers and sisters to limiting the size of their appreciation down to family, color or culture.

It was ugly.

So G-Pop realized he could either take on this problem one town at a time as he journeyed across the States, or he could return home and try to handle it in bigger ways and littler ways.

Bigger–expanding his audience and outreach.

And littler, by applying the Gold Standard to all of his nearby neighbors.

America is not how G-Pop left it in 2016. It has changed. Things that were once considered obtuse or ridiculous now are accepted as normal–merely “human nature.”

G-Pop is going back to wage a conflict against conflict more efficiently. It’s a good time to do it.

Since America is not the way he left it, now is the season to find creative ways for G-Pop–and all of us–to pursue the Gold.

 

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Good News and Better News… December 11th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3518)

Pictured are my wife, my granddaughter and my son, standing in a bandshell, Weston Park, Florida.

Jerrod, my son, produced an outdoor concert with the cooperation of three churches and invited two of their praise bands, while putting together a dramatic reenactment of the Nativity tradition.

It was cold.

Usually in Florida, when it’s cold, people escape into their homes and pull out blankets they purchased twenty years ago, which are still in plastic wrappers. But for some reason, a respectable, decent and nearly surprising gathering braved the chill to come, sit in a park and listen to music that was jubilant, if not pitch-perfect.

They perched patiently as the story of Christmas unfolded before their eyes with deliberation, dodging a few technical gaffes. I was among them, along with my comrade-in-tunefulness, Janet Clazzy.

I was struck with the beauty of the evening.

It was not all drenched in serendipity. The audience was tribal, and much too linked to their own concerns to homogenize into a spiritual sweet butter, but setting that aside, it was proof positive that the Christmas story still has wheels.

Honestly, as they told the tale in front of me, I giggled a little bit. If I were hearing this fantabulous explanation for the first time, I wondered if I would shake my head in disbelief.

But you see, it’s not about what happened in a manger two thousand years ago. It’s about what transpired in a park last night in Weston, Florida.

If an idea that appeared two thousand years ago can put a chill down your spine, (and not just because the thermometer dipped) and still has real human emotion, then you’ve discovered magic.

Christians are not better people. We have our share of sinners, assholes, pedophiles and fruitcakes. But we have a great back-story.

Our Savior doesn’t kill people.

Our Savior doesn’t want to hurt women and children.

Our Savior is humble.

Our Savior sets people free instead of locking them up in bondage.

Our Savior isn’t religious.

Our Savior was one of us.

I left warmed. (Well, at least warm enough to get to my car and turn on the heater.)

Congratulations to my son, my daughter-in-law, my granddaughter and my wife for having the courage to test the message of the angels one more time.

The good news is, when “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” get together, the better news is, it brings “Joy to the World.”

 

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Good News and Better News… November 13th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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In the midst of a furor of a nightmare of screams, it is nearly implausible to discern the whispers: the soft, gentle pleadings of the Spirit within us, to find ourselves and pursue a precious path.

We become the victims–the auditory slaves of foolish men and women who have succeeded in providing us decibels without hope.

It’s loud.

It’s brash.

It’s bloody.

It’s irreverent.

It’s irrelevant.

And it’s often meaningless.

But the sheer brute blast of this storm of stupidity seems to be the cultural forecast, threatening to blow us all away.

Into such a climate Jesus of Nazareth also came.

Just like us, he was surrounded by mayhem–a nasty empire, brutal religion, vendettas, bigotry, prejudice, gender bias and ignorance that rebuffed knowledge.

He chose not to yell.

He found a space and made his place.

If you’re determined to be recognized, wealthy or even famous, you will be worthless to this time–because the natural flow of human degradation will determine whether you will be ushered in for consideration, and unless you are willing to be as crazy as the world around you, you will probably be considered unnecessary.

But…

You can find your space and make your place.

  • Jesus was profoundly simple.
  • Jesus was deemed uneducated because he chose this path.
  • Jesus was mocked as unaware because he would not join into the political fiasco and the religious ramblings.
  • He was simple.

He offered three ideas to humanity which still trigger our best efforts and initiate the only march to beauty that we have ever marshalled:

1. Consider.

Stop being sure. Don’t recite all the things you learned as a young’un. Don’t repeat the bigotry of your benefactors. Consider. Consider your life, consider an intelligent approach–even consider a lily.

2. Watch.

Sometimes he said to go ahead and while you’re doing that, pray. But always watch. Don’t be so quick to pull the trigger on your support. Listen for the buzz words that talk of healing, forgiveness, reconciliation and creativity.

Watch what is before your eyes carefully instead of merely lining up for the next I-Phone.

3. Cheerful.

“Be of good cheer” is the match. It lights a fire that warms instead of burns. For after all, joy is the best treatment for insanity.

These were the three messages of a simple man. They will never be outdated but unfortunately, they will also never be regaled as “trending.”

It will take you and me to close our ears to the screams, and listen to the whisper of “consider, watch and be of good cheer.”

The good news is that living such a life is far less exhausting.

The better news is, only this simple life is truly fulfilling.

 

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Good News and Better News… November 6th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3483)

Some years back, I finished writing my novel, “I’m…the legend of the son of man”–Jesus telling his own story.

To a large degree, in the publishing world, it’s “have book, pack bags.” In other words, “hit the road, Brother Jack”–and share with people what your volume has to say.

Fortunately for me, Janet Clazzy had recently moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and for some inexplicable reason, was interested in collaborating in music and a business partnership. She had only one request. Having been raised in the mainline denominational church, she thought it was time for someone to go to the United Methodists, the Lutherans, the Episcopalians, the Presbyterians and such, and share a candid message of invigorating hope.

My reply was, “We can be like evangelists to those denominations.”

She grimaced a bit as her eyes glossed over in disbelief. I understood her quandary. The word “evangelist” hardly has a powerful interpretation in the mind of the American people. There have been too many fakes, too much greed, not to mention scandal and immorality, for anyone to take the term seriously.

But I was referring to the position as outlined by the Apostle Paul to Timothy so many centuries ago. You see, Paul explained to the young minister that the day would come when there would be so many misinterpretations, confusions and false teaching that congregations would be sick of hearing all the mess–therefore it would be difficult for anyone to endure, or even recognize, sound doctrine.

After this, Paul makes an interesting insight. He tells Timothy to keep his head, be willing to endure some hardship and to do the work of an evangelist–because the evangelist is the bearer of glad tidings. He is a giver of peace and hope. He is an exhorter to higher standards. And because of his journeys, he offers the children of God an insight on what is going on in the world around them.

So we launched on our journey–that was 22 years ago.

Since then, Ms. Clazzy and I have crisscrossed the country ten times, ministering in thousands of churches and in front of hundreds of thousands of people.

Yet we have never been able to claim our title as “evangelists to the Methodist, Lutherans”–or any other array of denominations. Honestly, the word scares most of the pastors.

We thought about freshening up the term by using the word “messengers,” but thought it was too common.

Enthusiasts: We knew it was too weird.

Proclaimers: Of course, then everyone wants to know what you’re proclaiming.

Jubilators: That was the most bizarre of all, though I later used it as a title for one of my novels.

We realized it was our job, mission and goal–as one book turned into others and music compiled–to bring “times of refreshing” to the church.

So that we have done.

If you are brave, you can call us evangelists. If not, you can fall back on the hyper-safe “special guests.”

But our slogan is concise and has not changed over the years:

Travel light, bring the light.

Here’s the good news: it has worked beautifully, gloriously and fluidly for over two decades.

And the better news is, we’ll see you soon.

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Jesonian … November 4th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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jesonian-cover-amazon

On hundreds of occasions, I was sitting backstage in my Green Room in a church somewhere in America, waiting for the program to begin, when there would be a timid knock on the door and the sponsor would appear, and he or she would awkwardly and sheepishly say, “Well, there are not many people here, but it will be worth it if you reach even one person.”

I often found myself smiling approvingly, as if I agreed with the bizarre statement. Let me make it clear. It was never worth the effort, the spirit, the energy and the creativity that Ms. Clazzy and I mustered to reach “just one person.” It is ineffective, it is inefficient, and therefore it certainly is not the will of God.

Jesus punctuated this point in Matthew 23:15. If you ever read that chapter, you will find that Jesus is extremely pissed off. He has reached the end of his ministry and he’s nauseated by the religious system, which has not only blocked his efforts, but has left the people impoverished, physically and spiritually. He accuses the religious leaders of exhibiting great pretense over traveling land and sea to preach their foolish doctrines, and when they finally gain a convert, they turn the poor son of a bitch into “twice the son of Hell” as they are themselves.

Amen and Amen.

Our religious system has taken a message that God sent through Jesus to reach humans, and has replaced it with a human message which is continually trying to please God. Therefore, our congregations are emotionally immature, spiritually stunted, mentally confused, physically tempted, and pleading for other folks to come to the sanctuary and be equally as damaged, in order to help defray the cost of the mortgage on the church building.

Religion sucks. There’s no other way to say it.

God intended to bring an abundant life which was suited to humans, not abundant rules, regulations and commandments that scare them away.

Church has become a place where we train people to be so heavenly that they become hellish. It is a hiding place for the insecure, the demented and those who feel a need to establish their superiority over their fellow-man.

Are you religious? You should find out. Here’s what religion believes:

1. God matters more than people. (The Bible makes it completely clear that how we treat people is what God believes we feel about Him).

2. People are evil. (Actually, people are encumbered with the knowledge of good and evil. Through spirited instruction, they can let the goodness win.)

3. Evil is powerful and often wins. (Evil is trapped in the atmosphere of Earth, and historically never wins.)

If you believe any one of these three things listed above, you are religious, and being religious, you will develop a childish reverence to God and a growing distaste for people.

You will find yourself cast into the role of “twice the son of Hell.”

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