Good News and Better News… October 16th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3462)

The world curses

We praise

The world complains

We sing

The world divides

United we stand

The world judges

We forgive

The world’s mean

We are kind

Yet for some reason, because there is a screaming dialogue constantly going on, promoting “might makes right,” we become tempted to curse, complain, divide, judge and be mean.


When we don’t, we feel like limp, leftover losers.

Please observe the picture inserted.

This is a bowl of some leftover something-or-other that we had several days ago, and enjoyed thoroughly–so much so that we thought we might reheat it and have a second go at it. We didn’t. So because it sat around, it got old and eventually became unidentifiable. Once I got the picture, I threw the leftovers away.

The Jesonian–the lifestyle of Jesus–is not a practice of being defensive. We’re not supposed to wait until the world curses to praise, nor should we wait until the whole world is erupting in meanness to express kindness. If we do, we appear to be leftovers.

It may not sound very practical to approach North Korea with diplomacy. It may seem unrealistic. So we are ready to enter a third conflict, already entangled in two unwinnable wars. It’s the thrill of the kill, which is always much more intriguing to those who are not going to be killed or have to do the killing.

The church has lost its heart–and the heart of the church is Jesus. The soul of the church is God, the mind of the church is the Holy Spirit, and the strength of the church is the Body of Christ, working together.

We’ve lost our heart.

No longer do we thoroughly believe in the Golden Rule. We think it might be a great idea, but has no application–just a doctrine for limp leftover losers.

We piously believe we’re better than those who are cloying and clawing their way to the top–but then we buy magazines to read all about who they dissed, who they hurt and who they’re sexually involved with.

Being in love with Jesus is more than dipping your head in reverence to the cross. It’s lifting your head in respect to a message–and it’s holding that head high, knowing that evil cannot win. It’s just too greedy. It eventually chews off its own leg.

There will never be a replacement for praise, singing, standing, forgiving, and kindness. It is what the victors do after the vanquished have failed.

The good news is that we have a message.

The better news is, the message always ultimately wins.Donate Button

 

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Jesonian … October 14th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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“God so loved the world that He gave His son.”

That’s what the Good Book says.

Theologians, churches and interested parties have their own focus about why this gift came from God. Of course, we have a hint–if you believe, you don’t have to perish.

But what do we mean by “perish?”

Many thousands of churches of the faith who are of a Judeo-Christian swing, contend with great certainty, that Jesus came to be a Messiah. In doing so, he was fulfilling the Old Testament. They rejoice that they can use Jesus as a conduit between the Old and New Testaments, therefore joining in covenant with the Jewish faith, often to the detriment of the Muslims.

Unfortunately, Jesus does not fulfill the role as a champion of the Hebrews very well. He was critical of their approach to God and ended up declaring their rendition of theology as “desolate.”

The second group, which often refers to itself as “Pauline,” placing great value on the Epistles of Paul, believe that Jesus is a Savior. In other words, he came to fulfill the New Testament covenant through his blood. But the actions, motivations, mission, verbiage and deeds of Jesus often contradict the assumption that he was merely to be a human sacrifice for sin.

Offering a Messiah and a Savior to a human populace which is battling insanity is just not sufficient.

It is Jesus who best explains his mission.

He made the essence of his Earth journey clear in the Good Book in John 10:15-16. Jesus proclaims that “he knows the Father and the Father knows him,” and that he’s willing to “lay down his life for the sheep.” But then he goes on to say, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them in as well, and they will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock and one shepherd.”

Jesus is the Shepherd.

Being a shepherd, he laid down his life for the sheep.

He also made it clear that those who would be part of the fold were not just Jews, but that the end result is one fold and one shepherd–all over the world.

In a day and age when we extol the differences among us by celebrating culture, the Shepherd is looking for the commonality that will make us one fold, dispelling any notion that Jesus welcomes a little of Mohammed, a twinge of Buddha and a fortune cookie of Confucius.

Even though many believe he came to fulfill the Old Testament or the New Testament, he actually came to fulfill humanity.

He offers simple truths with simple applications to simple people who are living simple lives.

So if you go to a church that insists that “Jesus is the Messiah,” they will probably load you down with Old Testament traditions and outdated spiritual practices.

And if you attend a congregation that promotes “Jesus is only the Savior,” be prepared to endure sermon after sermon on the sacrifice of the Christ, and how we must repent and be baptized, so we all can go to heaven.

Jesus’ main mission is to be the Shepherd.

Matter of fact, he joyfully called himself “the Good Shepherd.” And the night he spoke these words to the disciples, he envisioned a message that would include sheep from the Native Americans, the Chinese, the Mongolian horde, the Anglo-Saxons and the Afrikaans, to name just a few.

He saw one fold–not many cultures.

And one Shepherd–not many interpretations.

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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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Jesonian … September 23rd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesus got angry.

There’s no doubt about that. The Gospels make it clear that he frequently spilled out his wrath to those around him.

We don’t like this. The mind of the present theological times wholly disagrees because we desperately need to keep Jesus sheepish, quiet and gentle so that he can be the “Lamb of God slain from the foundations of the world.”

What’s amazing is, for a man who was destined to die on a cross, he put up one helluva fight. Let’s take a look at it:

He was angry when they criticized him for healing a man on the Sabbath.

He was angry when he came into the Temple and saw the money-changers cheating the faithful. (Actually, he put together a pre-meditated action of violence by making a whip to use on them for their thievery.)

He was angry at the man by the pool who was healed, who decided to turn Jesus into the scribes and Pharisees.

He was angry at his family when they thought he was crazy, and came out to take him home when he had disconnected from them.

And certainly, when the people of his home town pushed him to the edge of the cliff, it says that he “passed through the midst of them.” Perhaps you were taught that he evaporated and disappeared, but that’s not what is stated. The Bible portrays a man of strength and determination who turned to a mob and pushed his way through them.

We also know that Jesus understood anger because in his Sermon on the Mount, summarizing the Ten Commandments, he explained that the basic struggle in humans is finding a way to deal with anger and lust.

In a man, it is called testosterone. Jesus had plenty. He was not an anemic personality with pale skin, trying to love a world which only understood hate.

He was virile.

He was stubborn.

And when he saw injustice, he attacked it. Sometimes he called people hypocrites. Other times he referred to them as “graves.” And of course, he was not beyond comparing them to Satan.

So we know this: a man who deals with anger also deals with lust. For anger is often what leads us to conceive our lust, and when lust is conceived, it brings forth sin.

Jesus was surrounded by women. Oh, by the way, it wasn’t a “hands off” policy either. They were close to him, they embraced him; they even kissed his feet. It was intimate. Being intimate, the door was always open to seduction.

If the Jesus you worship could never be angry, nor lust after a woman, then you completely misunderstand the purpose for God sending His son to be a human. Being human, he was able to talk to humans–to explain humanity in a human way.

Yet Jesus did not want to be so angry that he destroyed others, and he definitely did not want to use his lust to take advantage of women who had been broken and even demon possessed.

So Jesus did the following:

1. He had three burly bodyguards around him at all times.

We often wonder why Peter, James and John never left his side. They were a trio of intimidating fishermen who scared away assassins, and made sure Jesus was never alone to be tempted by women. It was brilliant.

2. He escaped.

When he became angry or tempted, he went off by himself and navigated his own wrath and lust. He made peace with himself before he made the mistakes.

3. He created equality.

Jesus made sure that he preached the same Gospel to the women and the men. He demanded the same thing from the ladies and the gents. He created equality, which prevented him from favoring the females–coddling them–which could have led to affairs.

No man who treats a woman as an equal will ever accidentally slip and have sex. It’s only when he’s expressing sympathy, or trying to be the “knight in shining armor” to save her from her problems that he gets in trouble.

Jesus dealt with anger and lust.

He did so by refusing to trust himself, but instead, closed the door on the possibility of disaster.

 

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Jesonian … September 16th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I am despondent.

I feel violated.

Like millions of other souls in the Caribbean and the Southeast United States, I am insulted and slapped in the face by Mother Nature through her daughter, Irma.

It is a silly thing. After all, a hurricane doesn’t have a spirit or a grudge against anyone. It’s a part of the natural order which we should study, and learn its ways.

That being said, it doesn’t change my feelings. I am a human being, so naturally, I despise being inconvenienced. Irma disrupted my schedule.

So what’s next?

The secular answer is to show countless pictures of broken boats, torn-up homes, flood waters and weeping humans in an attempt to create empathy. But the problem is, America was already emotionally hurting before the storm came. Our country was reeling from not knowing where to put our feet on solid ground.

The storm has shaken an already unstable populace.

It reminds me of the story in Mark the 2nd Chapter. Jesus is teaching at Peter’s house. The crowd is good. Jesus had been away for a while, so people were glad to see him and came out to hear the latest “good thoughts.”

Four fellows showed up with a crippled friend, hoping to gain an audience with Jesus, thinking he might be able to do something to help their comrade. They can’t get into the house–it’s too crowded. They can’t get anywhere near the front door.

So they crawl on top of the house, lifting their friend, and they vandalize it. They tear a hole in the roof. Just like Irma.

They rip off the roof, creating devastation and a disaster.

They ease their friend down, into the house, in front of Jesus. Jesus does not comment on the destruction. Jesus does not apologize to Peter because a hole has been ripped in his roof. Jesus tells this man who’s been let down, humiliated and left vulnerable through the experience, that his sins are forgiven.

It’s what he needed to hear.

It’s what I need to hear.

It’s what everyone needs to hear: “Hey, it’s nothing personal. It’s a hole in the roof. You’re not a worse sinner because your roof got blown off and the one next door didn’t, and you’re certainly not more saintly because you escaped destruction. It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be all right.”

We are emotionally devastated while simultaneously trying to tally the total amount it will take to replace our goods. There needs to be a voice speaking to all of us, saying, “It’s okay. Irma was just doing a natural thing. God’s not out to get you, and it’s not all about climate change. It’s called ‘the weather.’ It happens. But you are loved. You are worth much more than a hole in the roof.”

After Jesus forgives the man, he says to him, “Get up.”

And that’s what I want to say to all my brothers and sisters, as I also proclaim it to myself: “Get up. We’re all right.”

Take a minute, though, and make sure you are emotionally stable before you start filing your insurance claims–because it was scary. It was painful. It was hot and sweaty. It was dark.

Enjoy some sunshine. Get in the light. Remember, you are worth many sparrows. God hasn’t stopped loving anyone. Nature and science have run their course.

Let’s get up now–go back to our homes, take what we’ve learned, and live even more meaningful and intense lives.

 

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 11)… September 9th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Most troubling.

I was a very naive, impressionable fifteen-year-old boy with a volatile battle between carnality and spirituality raging in my soul. I was very enamored with the pastor of my local church.

He had baptized me. In many ways, he had befriended me. And he had welcomed me into the small-town church, which was now growing because young people were bumping up against each other, carrying the fellowship they felt at school into a second Sunday morning experience.

I had also made another friend. He was a young minister from a different denomination–a forbidden one–who was cool, cared about me and loved rock and roll music.

So when I was talking to the pastor of my “every week church” about this young fellow, he suddenly frowned and warned, “Stay away from him. He preaches a social gospel.

I did not know what that meant, nor did I ask. But it sounded really bad. And the delivery was enough to nearly make my heart stop. “Social” could be “socialist,” which was communist. Don’t want any of that. So I cut off all ties with the young minister, much to his chagrin.

For you see, my pastor taught redemption. “The blood of Christ cleanses from all sins.”

And later on in my life, as a young man, I ran across those who preached “the full Gospel.” They believed that the gifts of the Holy Spirit and miracles were just as available to believers today as they were in the time of Peter, Paul and Mother Mary.

The bizarre fact is that these three renditions of the Gospel of Jesus–social, redemption, and full–don’t generally get along very well.

It is troubling.

It’s what makes the evangelical church anemic–because it lacks social passion along with personal motivation.

It makes the “social Gospel people” appear to read from a book that in many ways they no longer believe in.

And often the “full Gospel people” contend that without the baptism of the Holy Spirit, you don’t have the presence of God working in your life.

It’s really quite befuddling.

  • Because you can’t start a fire with just a match.
  • Nor can you ignite a flame with kindling.
  • And no fire is possible minus oxygen.

It is the joining of all these forces that makes fire ablaze.

Therefore, to follow Jesus, you must have a social consciousness that shares a redemptive message, believing that God is still in the business of healing and moving by the Spirit.

Why would we want anything less than that? Why would we want to focus on one of these factors of fire, yet end up flameless?

Troubling.

I deeply believe in the social Gospel of Jesus. I believe there’s no need for me to bring my gift to the altar if I am not reconciled with my brothers and sisters. I believe I am to be the salt of the Earth and the light of the world.

But I also believe that when I have obvious, evident weakness, it is the redemption of God’s grace, through the life-saving blood of Jesus, that pulls me through. But once I am redeemed, I am compelled, challenged and exhorted to trust that the same spirit that dwelt in Christ also dwells in me.

My gospel should be full.

And when it is full, redemptive and socially aware, I become of value to myself, mankind and the heavens.

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 10)… September 2nd, 2017

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Troubling.

In the Gospel of John, the 9th Chapter, the disciples of Jesus get into a rather frumpy, cheesy, theological mood and approach Jesus with a question.

They had come upon a gentleman who was blind from birth, and they officiously asked the Master whether this happened to him due to his own sin, or the sin of his parents?

Keep in mind–these are the same fellows who had seen water turned into wine, five thousand folks fed with five loaves and two fishes, demons cast out and the dead raised. Yet when it comes to discussing the nature, tenderness, mind-set and intellect of God, they revert back to their small-village, Sunday School mentality.

They made two errors:

First, they contended that God punishes people for their sins. Nothing could be further from the truth. And Jesus made it clear–good things happen to good people and bad people, and bad things happen to everyone equally. (Otherwise, there would be great impetus to be good instead of bad, just to garner the material blessing.)

The second mistake was that they believed that people were “born a certain way.” Obviously, this notion permeates our society as well. We are convinced people are born athletes, born musicians, born leaders, born dexterous…shall I go on? We take comfort in the assertion because it gives us all an excuse for not taking the abilities we see in ourselves and multiplying them to make our lives more abundant.

These two completely errant ideas were put forth by these Galileans two thousand years ago–ideas which are still an intricate part of the doctrinal DNA of the average Christian.

  • “Don’t sin or God will punish you.”
  • And “you are destined to be something by birth.”

I think it is important to note Jesus’ response. He completely dismisses both possibilities. He makes it clear that God doesn’t punish people for their sins–and especially not for the sins of their parents. And he also says that destiny is a myth because free will is extolled throughout the Universe as the “go-to plan.”

You can’t have both free will and destiny. They do not co-habitate. Even though you may have a certain genetic makeup, it does not overtake you and turn you into something you do not choose to be.

It is also why the Bible makes it clear that part of the salvation experience is to be “born again”–becoming a new creature in Christ.

Jesus said that God was not punishing anyone, and that the man was not born blind. He said that blindness was in his life so that God could be made manifest through him in a unique way.

There’s nothing wrong with taking what seems to be a weakness and turning it into a strength so that God might receive glory. This blind man is not complaining; he is not joining into the theological discussion about his plight. Matter of fact, he’s not even begging to be healed.

He has found a place in his place to make a place for every place he goes.

That’s our job.

I was dealt a certain hand and so were you. Now, through the blessing of free will, I have the ability to turn those circumstances to the positive instead of internalizing them to complain about my pain.

It is troubling that we still have a church that believes if bad things happen to people, the people must be bad–and that we live in a society which insists we were all “born” with a certain destiny.

God gave us free will. We can deny it and wait for Him to plan our lives, only to discover that He doesn’t do that, and our time on Earth has slipped away.

Or we can take a look at what we have–an inventory, if you will–and see what great things we can accomplish–simply by stepping forward instead of backward.

 

 

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