G-Poppers … September 8th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Pop sat back with the rest of the American population and watched the national media turn the 2016 Presidential election into a cavalcade of bizarre claims and accusations.

It has not stopped.

We are still in the midst of an entertainment-driven news force which delves into critical issues by exposing the scandals that surround them. We have become a nation that reveres the messenger. We are intrigued with personalities. We are possessed by finding heroes who can just as easily be transformed into villains.

G-Pop would like to encourage his children to regain sanity by placing matters in the right order:

First is the message.

  • What is being said to us?
  • What is being communicated?
  • What is at the heart of the movement?

Secondly, messaging.

  • What style, restrictions and kindnesses are being recognized by an organization, a party or a church in promoting its cause?

Number three, the messenger.

  • Who is the face on the body?

For instance, Islam asserts that it is a religion of peace.

So if Islam is peace, what is the messaging? Are the talking points of the Islamic faith peppered with peace, brotherhood and kindness?

And who is the messenger? Is it some Mullah from a small mosque in Kansas who’s feeding the hungry in his community, or is it a well-advertised murderer from ISIS?

Another case in point: we are told that the message of the Republican Party is small government.

The messaging is the ridicule of anyone who would suggest anything other than that, casting aside other issues that don’t fall into the purview of that spotlight.

Who is the messenger? Well, President Trump is the messenger of the Republican Party.

What is the message of the Democrat Party? “Government is here to assist.”

What is the messaging? “The one percent is out to destroy the ninety-nine percent.”

Who is the messenger? It would appear that Bernie Sanders has become the messenger of the Democrat Party.

What is the message of the American Christian Church? “We are still here, we care and we’re important.”

What is the messaging? As in the case of Islam, it ranges from the promise of peace to extreme forms of bigotry and intolerance.

Who is the messenger? Well, it isn’t Jesus. There is a struggle in the church right now to fill the shoes vacated by Billy Graham.

So what is the true message of Christianity? “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

What should the messaging be? “Take responsibility for your own life and never judge others.”

Who is the messenger? Well, I do believe Jesus could get behind that message and messaging.

Be aware. Cease to be enamored with messengers and track back to the message. Then consider the messaging that’s being used, and finally, look at the messenger.

Is he or she an adequate, intelligent representation of the message?

If we do this, we have a chance to make a decision about our lives based upon the quality of the vision instead of blindly following the loudest, the meanest, the wealthiest or the brashest braggart in the room.Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

 

 

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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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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 9)… August 26th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Troubling.

Yes, it’s troubling to me that the American and the European church feel they can do what Jesus said was impossible to achieve.

When Jesus was confronted by a man with a complaint concerning a brother of his, who would not share the inheritance, the Nazarene refused to weigh in. He replied, “Who has made me a judge over such matters?”

He then offered a discourse on the dangers of greed.

So it is troubling that the present Christian movement believes it can negotiate the problems between the Jews and the Muslims–brothers–instead of declaring the feud to be exactly what it is.

Greed:

  • Greed over dominance.
  • Greed over money.
  • Greed over Jerusalem.
  • Greed over favor with Father Abraham.

Nothing can ever be accomplished unless we understand that Judaism and Islam are not religions–they are two different tellings of a mutual history. The feast days, rituals and story lines that are thrown in are established to add credence to a family squabble.

Christianity was never intended to be a religion either, but rather, a lifestyle.

The Jesonian–the life of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus and the heart of Jesus–is a lifestyle. It is an abundant life that was offered to counteract a historical squabble. When Christians side one way or another on this dispute, they err, failing to honor the mission of Jesus, who said that he was not a judge over such things–because the conflict was and is grounded in greed.

The Jews are my brothers and sisters by creation, but they are not my relatives in faith. The Muslims, likewise, are my brothers and sisters by genesis, but not my fellow-laborers in the matters of spirit and truth.

It is my job as a Christian to love these two factions into understanding that there are things more important in life than trying to possess control.

God favors neither Jew nor Muslim. The message of Jesus is “whosoever will may come.”

But they do need to come–instead of standing at a distance, screaming at one another.

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G-Poppers … August 25th, 2017

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They were called “Tories”–colonists who remained loyal to King George III during the American Revolution. They were honorable folks. They wanted to respect authority. They saw no reason to change the status quo. They were following what seemed to be common sense.

They were unfortunately mistaken.

There were other folks known as the “Moral Majority.” The moniker certainly tells of their assumptions. They were convinced that homosexuality was a blight on the American scenery–even that HIV and AIDs were punishments on the homosexual community–the “gay plague.”

Their ranks were filled with Bible-loving, dear-hearted people who were completely misinformed.

It was called “separate but equal”–later to be tagged “Jim Crow.” It was the notion that since color separated human beings, and culture seemed to follow along, it was in line to complete the separation in public restrooms and schools. Great people adhered to the philosophy. Dynamic human beings were involved in promoting it.

It was flawed.

It’s very important to know the difference between ignorance and stupidity. Ignorance is when actions are taken without the benefit of adequate knowledge. Stupidity is when knowledge has arrived and we choose to remain ignorant.

No matter how honorable, self-sacrificing or righteous the Antebellum South felt it was on the issues of states’ rights, tarriffs and slavery, time has marched on and brought us an infantry of reasons to conclude that the assertions were faulty.

Just as the Tories are not allowed to build statues to Benedict Arnold, the Moral Majority isn’t in a position to extol Jerry Falwell, and Jim Crow is not recognized in the public square of Birmingham, for its historic quality, we can no longer accept the “good intentions” of the Confederacy.

They, like the Tories, the Moral Majority and the Jim Crow crowd, must find their absolution with the words of Jesus from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

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Catchy (Sitting 11) Just One More Thing … August 20th, 2017

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Meanwhile, Michael Hinston was adapting to Washington like a hippopotamus training for a marathon.

He had hoped to be a duck in water, but nothing seemed to be floating. He surmised that Washington, D.C. was like a job fair, where people milled around trying to convince one another about their ingenious inventions.

Michael was either too pushy or not pushy enough. He often found himself not invited because he was a freshman congressman. It was assumed he was stupid because he was a first-timer and also because he was from the state of Ohio. It was also concluded that he was corrupt because he came from the twelfth district of Ohio.

This brought him back to the $50,000 check from Caine Industrial. He was simultaneously tantalized and horrified by possessing the piece of paper, so paranoid that he went out and bought a steel strong box with a lock and placed the check within, hiding the container up in his attic.

He had managed to lease a respectable three-bedroom condo in Alexandria for his family. (First-term congressmen never buy houses, since the job has to be reclaimed every two years.)

So feeling despondent, disrespected, immature and inadequate, he was sitting in his tiny office on Capitol Hill when there was a knock at the door. He opened it to eyeball a small man–no more than five feet, seven inches tall and weighing not an ounce over 150 pounds. The gentleman had a handlebar mustache and auburn hair streaked with gray. He introduced himself.

“My name is Milford Hayes and I am the chief attorney for the internal affairs of Denison Caine of Caine Industrial.

Michael flinched. The name “Caine Industrial” matched the logo on the forbidden check.

Awkwardly, Michael invited him in. Mr. Milford Hayes sat down in a chair, rising once or twice as he tried to find a comfortable spot.

He began to speak. A well-rehearsed sililoquoy.

“Let me not waste your time. I know you are busy acclimating to your surroundings. From this point on as I speak, do not respond. If you respond, since I am not your attorney, I could be summoned to testify against you. Now, don’t let that scare you. There’s no reason to think there would be an investigation, but it is my job to be careful.

“You know of Mr. Denison Caine, but you may not be aware that he is a great patriot, and his love for this country is beyond all bounds. As a lover of this country, he has felt the need to locate men of vision–sometimes even a little lady–who will see what needs to be done and take the authority they find themselves in, to become–how shall I phrase it?–‘doers of the Word and not hearers only.'”

Michael tried to interrupt and Milford lifted a hand to stop him, continuing. “I know, I know. You have much to say–many questions. Perhaps many thoughts. Please remain silent. Silence is your best profile for this meeting, because if I don’t hear it from your mouth it was never said. Anything coming from my mouth does not incriminate you. Perhaps I should not use the word ‘incriminate.’ I can see fear on your face. It’s just, Congressman, that these are desperate times, and it is a season in our country when industrious souls need to snatch the power from those who would use it to run us into the ground. That is Mr. Caine and we believe that to be you.

“The fifty thousand dollars you received in the mail is a gift. A housewarming, if you will–warming you to your home in Alexandria at 444 Apollo Street…”

The Congressman shifted in his chair nervously.

“…and also a warming to your House seat here in Congress. Take it. Use it. Find a better school for your children. Think about a boat. Don’t spend it too quickly, drawing attention to yourself, and don’t run it through your personal bank account. Trickle it off-shore, invest in a dummy company. Well, you can talk to your personal attorney about such matters. It is a good-faith statement from Mr. Caine, that he believes you have a heart for this nation and that you will join him in returning our Union to its proper standards.

“So in the future, little packages will arrive. Oh–may I add, in pairs. In the first package will be a letter from Mr. Caine, as from an average citizen, making a suggestion on a piece of legislation. About a week later, a second package will arrive, with cash. I know your instincts are to believe this is illegal, bribery or undue influence. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Caine just has ideas that are forward thinking, which he wishes to see implemented, and he knows it is impossible in today’s society, to progress a movement from a position of poverty.

“All we ask of you is to consider the idea, and if it suddenly appears as legislation in the House, to vote for it. That’s it. Then you simply take your cash and put it in your special hideaway. Enjoy your family and help us bless this country.”

There was finally a pause, yet Michael still felt compelled to request permission to speak, intimidated by Hayes’ mannerisms. Milford was a soft-spoken man with a little Dixie in his lip-service–a gentle touch, similar to a baker carefully removing a cookie from its display, fearing it might crumble.

Congressman Hinston took a deep breath and asked, “Do I have a choice? I mean, I’ve listened to your speech and it seems extremely contradictory to my standards and to what I understand to be the moral and ethical way to handle the responsibility of a seat in Congress.”

Milford interrupted. “Interesting question. First and foremost, let us understand, we all have a choice. Why, just this morning I was down at my hotel to order breakfast and they gave me a menu. So many choices. May I say, too many choices. Since I was not familiar with the establishment and did not know what was good to eat, I pulled a ten dollar bill out of my wallet and handed it to my server. I said to him, ‘Young fellow, since I don’t have time to make a mistake, I need you to tell me what’s the best thing on this menu to order.’ Well, well, Michael Hinston, he was not only grateful for his reward, but also deeply flattered that a gentleman of my, shall we say, bearing, was seeking his counsel on culinary matters. Oh, by the way, he said the Eggs Benedict were absolutely terrific, but to make sure they gave me the Hollandaise sauce and not the cheaper cheese blend they often offer.”

Michael just shook his head. The attorney was certainly having fun. Milford continued.

“So we do have choices. But we should realize that when we make them, it always eliminates possibilities. Do you see what I mean? Opening a door discloses a room but to become part of that room, we must close the door to our previous place of occupancy. Perhaps my speech is too flowery. Let me be more concise. You get the money if you do what Mr. Caine believes to be righteous. If you don’t want the money, Mr. Caine will make sure that your stay in the capitol is brief.”

Michael wanted to object. For years and years he had been angry about being pushed around. People had always told him what to do. He often found himself intimidated into following the crowd, only to regret that the choice had not been his, and yet the failure was shared.

He wanted tobe strong. He wanted to be principled. He wanted to know that if his wife, children, Abraham Lincoln and God were standing in the room they would all nod their approval over his decision.

But Michael Hinston was not strong. He was scared. So he did what all frightened men do when confronted by evil. He remained silent.

Milford, sensing he had captured his prey, had a closing thought.

“Oh, just one more thing. Mr. Denison Caine always hated Arthur Harts. You know, billionaire fussiness and all. We noticed through our study of your history that you are friends with a gentleman named…”

Milford reached into his jacket, took out a pad and flipped pages, pointing a long, bony finger at some writing on the sheet.

“…Matthew Ransley. Old college buddy, I think.”

Michael was shocked. “Yeah, I know Matthew. What’s he got to do with any of this?”

“Well,” Milford continued, “Mr. Caine knows you are familiar with Matthew, and it seems that he’s taking on this ridiculous project Harts left in his will, about making Jesus popular. And making a long story short, Mr. Caine wants it to fail.”

Michael spoke up with uncharacteristic boldness. “Does he hate Jesus?”

Milford smiled. “No. He seems to be at peace with Jesus. He hates Arthur Harts, and he wants to make sure that Harts fails even after death. Since you know Matthew, we thought you might agree to assist while simultaneously keeping us updated on the doings, and ultimately…how do they phrase this? Ah. Throw a wrench into the gears. But more about that later. Right now, you just enjoy your family, maybe that new boat, and settle into town, realizing that this could become a wonderful, life-long work. Word has it a Senate seat might even come up for grabs in the next six to twelve years. Wouldn’t you be good at that? We’ll be in touch.”

Milford stood to his feet to leave. “Oh, by the way, do you like my new suit? I just purchased it. I’ve never been a great fan of tweed, but the combination of colors intrigued me. It has a hint of the orange-brownish of fall, but that ever-so-light green of springtime. It makes me feel like a man for all seasons.”

Milford smiled and walked to the door, speaking over his shoulder. “I can find my way out.”

He turned one final time, saying in his molasses tone, “Such a pleasure to meet you, Congressman Hinston.”

He stepped out the door, leaving Michael alone.

Very alone. Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

 

Jesonian–Troubling (Part 8)… August 19th, 2017

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I am wondering if Christianity can become a mission, cause and lifestyle instead of slinking back into the profile of being “one of the major religions of the world.”

The decision lies around the word “learning.”

For some reason we have taken the simple message of “love your neighbor as yourself” and complicated it with doctrines, forming a morass of misunderstanding.

If we think that faith and hope are even close to charity, we have misconstrued the message of Jesus. Jesus came to turn love into a lifestyle.

He taught in parables whenever he was with the masses, expecting to motivate them to believe for mighty things. Only when the disciples complained about being confused by the stories did Jesus teach them further. His goal was to get these disciples out on the road as quickly as possible, to share their hearts with other people.

Otherwise we have the quandary found in II Timothy 3:7, which describes a church which is “ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.” Jesus said his “way is easy and his burden is light” and that the Gospel is so simple that a “wayfaring man” can understand it.

Why do we believe that writing 3,000 new books on church practice will promote revival?

Perhaps I am the hypocrite speaking to the hypocrisy, because I, too, scribe my essays, trying to uncover some hidden meaning.

There is no hidden meaning. Just as we would not hide the groceries from our children to find out how determined they are to avoid starving, God certainly has not withheld peace of mind, contentment and joy from his offspring.

The church spends too much time teaching and not enough time sharing.

That’s troubling.

We keep studying the Old Testament–which really wants to study the New Testament. As Jesus said, Abraham yearned to see the Messiah. Yet we think one more classic tale, another seminar or a sermon series taken from a different angle will suddenly alert the congregation to its true soul.

There are three things that matter. They are what make you a Christian or separate you from the Kingdom of God:

  1. Love your neighbor as yourself.
  2. Don’t judge people.
  3. Multiply your talents.

The pursuit of these three things will keep us busy for a lifetime. Trying to figure out what the Apostle Paul meant or what I Peter was connoting or if Hebrews was really written by Timothy will not make good disciples.

We think interactive church is having people stare at a screen and sing songs. Interactive church is actually when humans offer a testimony, which builds up other brethren to share, embracing and encouraging each other.

It is troubling.

We have become a church of learning instead of a body of sharing. Until that changes … we will be as boring as we seem.

 

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 5)… July 29th, 2017

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It is troubling.

“Family is everything.”

This philosophy is so widely accepted in our society that any attempt to question its veracity would be similar to suggesting the public execution of puppies in the town square.

Let’s first make something clear–Jesus was not an advocate for the genetic family. For instance:

–His clan was certainly dysfunctional.

–He was nearly killed by the hometown folk because they did not appreciate his message.

–And his family members went to Capernaum to bring him home because they thought he was crazy. He had to sidestep them, and informed them clearly that his family was anyone who did the will of his Father.

–When telling parables, he often criticized those who used family obligations as an excuse for not doing more for the world.

–He said our worst enemies would be those of our own household.

–And certainly he made the point that if you don’t “hate your mother and father, “you aren’t worthy of the kingdom.”

Jesus was concerned that we would love those who were connected with us through family ties, and not extend the same courtesy to our brothers and sisters throughout the planet. Why did this bother him? It’s really quite simple.

Please understand that evil never permanently leaves the spotlight, but merely goes backstage, dons a different costume, changes make-up and reappears as a new character. I believe this is what has happened in America. We are obsessed with the holiness of family. Yet it has suspiciously grown in popularity following the disintegration of segregation, Jim Crow and newfound civil rights for immigrants and the gay community.

Prejudice needed somewhere to hide. Bigotry was looking for a disguise. What could be better than family? It is literally “Mom and apple pie.”

So the same tenets which were promoted through segregation–that being “staying with your own kind”–have simply resurfaced as a maudlin proclamation of “loving your own.”

If everybody prefers their own family, we will isolate ourselves, making us vulnerable to evil tyrants who come and use our fears of one another to bring about mayhem and death.

I am troubled by the “family is everything” brigade. It is a way of hiding bigotry, which is no longer allowed to express itself through cross-burning, so instead is using cross-lifting.

My children know I love them–but they know I love them as I also love all of God’s children.

Remember, the last words of Jesus in the Great Commission were not, “Go back to your families and be happy.”

Rather, “Go into all the world.”Donate ButtonThe producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

 

 

 

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