Jesonian … August 28th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3878)

It was a nasty insult, compounded by the fact that it was delivered in front of an audience instead of offered privately behind the scenes.

It came from a friend–actually a relative–who had once made it clear that he was a supporter, a believer and prepared to do whatever was necessary to see the cause advanced.

Yet because he had recently been arrested for disagreeing with a king, he had lost some of his fervor, and had become jaded, lying in the moldy hay of solitude.

So the prisoner sent his followers off to his cousin with a little piece of fussiness.

“Are you the one we’re really looking for, or is there another one coming?”

His name was John and he baptized–matter of fact, he baptized the person he was questioning. So when these faithful couriers delivered his stinging words, the first reaction from Jesus was probably anger and resentment.

Jesus’ response to the disciples of John was, “Come along and follow me today, and see what I do.”

At sunset, he presented, “Go back and tell John what you’ve seen–how lepers are cleansed, souls are healed and the Gospel is preached to the poor.”

But before they could take off to deliver the message, Jesus turned to the crowd–the very same crowd who heard John doubt him–and he praised his old friend.

He said, “When you went out to see John, you didn’t go out to see somebody blown by the wind, wearing fancy clothes. You saw a prophet–and more than a prophet. John is probably greater than anyone born of a woman. But you folks need to keep in mind–in God’s eye, even the least of you is just as important as John.”

The crowd understood.

The crowd marveled.

The crowd was waiting for Jesus to kick John’s ass.

He didn’t.

Jesus found a way to praise the man for what he had done, while still pointing out that he needed to be more resilient.

So you see, President Trump, if you want to follow the Master, you must learn his ways.

And if you want to lead a country, you have to discover a pathway to praise your “John” for what he is due, while still wishing there had been more agreement.

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Jesonian … August 25th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3775)

Jesus without religion--the mindset of Jesus

Temperamental.

Yes, I do believe that would be the word that the folks of our culture nowadays would attribute to Jesus if they carefully studied his actions and reactions with the human race.

He wasn’t always sweet.

He wasn’t always kind.

He wasn’t always compassionate.

But in reviewing his lifestyle and his personal moods, you get a good glimpse of what the Gospel is truly about instead of what it’s purported to be.

We take great pains to convince people that they’re sinners, but it doesn’t make any difference–God’s grace covers it all. But if the motivations of Jesus are any indication of the mind of God, I think we’re sorely mistaken. After all, Jesus did say he “came to show us the Father.”

Based on that premise, what do we know about God through Jesus?

Jesus had no mercy on incompetence.

When he told the parable of the virgins, he made it clear that they were foolish because they didn’t think ahead and provide enough oil for themselves to last until the bridegroom came.

He also stated that people laugh at anyone who builds a foundation but doesn’t have the time and money to finish it.

And of course, let’s not forget the basic teaching of “counting the cost” before leaping into a project.

Jesus had no mercy for judgmental people.

When the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, Jesus weighed the value of a human being against the sin of adultery, and determined that the soul was more important than the judgment.

He explained the same principle to James and John, who wanted to hurl fireballs from the sky down on the Samaritans. He challenged them, “You don’t know what spirit you are of.”

And Jesus certainly had no mercy on people who were self-piteous.

When the man at the pool insisted that he was too weak to get into the healing waters–that everybody beat him to it–Jesus later told him, “Be careful how you think and what you do, because something worse could befall you.”

And we must understand that Jesus never visited a leper colony. Those who felt sorry for themselves because of their disease never found the healing touch of the Master.

Christianity would prosper if we would let Jesus be Jesus instead of insisting that he fit into the mold of a Christ who salves the Old Covenant while initiating the new one.

Jesus had no mercy for the Old Covenant.

He told them their “house was left desolate,” and that they couldn’t put “new wine into old wineskins.”

Would you call that temperamental?

Maybe not–just impatient with those who make excuses and end up losing the opportunity to be fruitful.

 

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Catchy (Sitting 61) M, Leo and the First Meeting…August 11th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3762)

Grateful he was.

Matthew sat quietly in his overstuffed and overpriced first-class seat on the midnight flight from Washington, D.C. to Las Vegas.

The plane was dark. It was quiet. Most of the passengers had taken their tiny element of a sleeping pill and disappeared into slumber.

That was also true of Leonora, who quickly explained that she was exhausted from the audition and needed to get some solid airplane z’s on the trip because she had a meeting the next morning with the symphony coalition, to discuss health benefits.

Her excuse, like every performance in her life, was well-rehearsed and inadequately presented.

As Matthew had gotten to know her, he liked her less and less, and so found himself burying his interest and passions into their sexual adventure.

She was opinionated. Matthew had always viewed himself as open-minded–easy to get along with–but in her presence felt defensive. He hated it when she insisted he start calling her “Leo,” because she viewed herself, in the realm of business, intellect and art, as a lioness.

“You are what you claim to be,” she mouthed.

Matthew nodded, quite certain that many claims were being made every day by mortals which made the heavens laugh.

What really troubled him was when she started calling him “M.”

Just the letter “M.”

When he asked her why she was doing that, she said, “I’m encouraging you to grow. You need to realize that you’re on a journey to fill out your name.”

Matthew didn’t know what the hell that meant, but was in no mood to have it explained further and end up with more dents in his body work. He was also afraid that if she started in trying to become his psychoanalyst, he would have to be more forthcoming and tell her that she was much less than she presumed.

Her oboe playing had never been great, but had become even less proficient as she started to complain about the fellow-members of her quintet and the unwillingness of the symphony conductor to listen to her suggestions on seating and tone.

She viewed Matthew as an ignoramus, even though he had spent many years enjoying classical music, and had a very good friend at the university who was an oboist. Matthew kept his mouth closed except when they were kissing.

It was especially difficult that day, when she met him at the airport, explaining that the audition was long, she had to wait, and then it turned out that she had some sort of microscopic, tiny split in her reed, which prohibited her from gaining the full height and depth of her range. She requested another time to audition but the committee refused. So she failed because they were inconsiderate.

Matthew listened to her rail for a solid hour–against the walls, the furniture, the paint and the chairs that surrounded her, blaming everything she possibly could for her setback–except for the fact that she was insufficient for the moment.

It was the strangest relationship of Matthew’s life. There was a deep-rooted part of him that loved her madly; an exotic jungle passion that nearly left him breathless. But as a human being, she had selected the portions of intelligence that she revered, while ignoring the virtues that make such knowledge applicable.

Matthew remained silent.

Sitting in the darkness of the airplane, glancing over at his sleeping lover, he began to cry. It actually turned into a tiny sob, which he hoped nobody else heard.

He was so embarrassed. He was ashamed–but also enraged, because here he was, with a defunct liver in his body, battling for his life, simultaneously apologizing for breathing.

How in the hell had it gotten so complicated? What was he going to do?

He reached into his pocket and pulled out his own remedy for insomnia–a tiny flask of a brandy which included a shot or two fo sherry. He downed the remainder of the contents and put his head back. Sleep still refused to come–so he cried.

Matthew finally dozed off, with tears streaming down his face.

*****

The following morning, in Washington, D.C., Soos decided to get started on her project.

She thought she had the easiest assignment of all. Michael Hinston, who had been a Congressman, wining and dining lobbyists who were salivating for his vote, now had a humble one-room efficiency at the YMCA. His marriage to the Lutheran minister had been annulled when she discovered all the trials and tribulations chasing him, threatening to destroy his life. She loved him, but she still wanted out.

So he was alone with his twin bed.

Soos called Michael and he agreed to meet with her at ten o’clock A.M., at a little diner he claimed had the best waffles and scrapple on the East Coast. Soos explained she had never eaten scrapple–avoiding it because the ingredients seemed to be the rear-end of every barnyard creature. But Michael said she would probably enjoy this batch.

Arriving at the diner, they found a booth in the back. They embraced–the kind of embrace that merged “old college friends” with some tenderness of man and woman, and a huge immersion in fellow-travelers of faith.

As Michael pulled away he had tears in his eyes.

“Why are you crying?” asked Soos.

Michael chuckled. “Because I can–and I am the luckiest man in the world to be able to cry this morning.”

Soos took the next ten minutes to explain to Michael what had transpired with the abduction and the request made to her–to contact him, the goal being some secret discovery about his involvement, which was beyond her comprehension.

“Well, since neither one of us know what it means, or have any idea of the significance, I think it’s good that we came to eat waffles,” said Michael.

And eat they did. Soos ended up actually enjoying the scrapple, though she thought it was a little salty.

They just talked. It was a conversation that would be difficult to explain to a stranger, so filled with tenderness that it would always be remembered as priceless.

“There was a time in my life,” Michael said, “when if you had told me that some organization or guy had chosen me for special attention, I would have assumed it was just great foresight on their part. I wasn’t just arrogant–I was religious about my arrogance. I actually believed that God wanted me to be the best father in the world. The best husband. The best extra-marital lover. The best Congressman. And of course, the best cheater in Washington, D.C. Sometimes when you’re going for the best you forget that it has to begin with good. You know–good, better, best?”

Soos smiled. She had always loved Michael because he was clever. Unfortunately, cleverness could have dangerous blow-back.

Michael continued. “I almost lost everything. Let me edit my own statement. I did lose everything–but I never actually had it. I just pretended. I pretended so hard that, honest to God, I could not imagine what was happening when my first wife left me for a Lesbian and my second wife left me because I was a criminal. Everybody leaves me.”

He grinned. “And I really can’t argue with them. They’ve got really good reasons.”

“So I don’t know why anybody would want me to do anything. I did fix the radiator in my room, so when winter comes I’ll be warm. That was pretty nifty.”

Michael paused.

“Will you talk to me about Matthew?” he asked. “I don’t think I ever loved a man as much as I love Matthew. I don’t think I ever told him that. I was afraid he would make fun of me.”

Soos giggled and spit out a little bit of her coffee. “He would have.”

Michael chuckled. They sat for a moment. Soos reached over and took his hand.

“He’s dying,” she said.

Michael lifted his head, shocked.

“Not quickly,” she explained. “But his liver is shot to hell, and gradually, he’s just poisoning himself. “And he has a new girlfriend that has the personality of a prickly pear.”

Michael laughed. “What you’re saying is that she is difficult to sit down on and talk to.”

For some reason, Soos found that statement hilarious. She laughed and snorted, gaining the attention of half the diner. A dirty look from the proprietor finally made her sober up.

“I don’t want to get you kicked out of your favorite diner,” she said.

Michael waved her off. “Forget about it. I waffle on my favorite diner.”

He smiled with the innocence of a ten-year-old boy. “What can I do for Matthew?”

Soos considered and then injected, “Got a black market liver in your pocket?”

Michael crinkled his brow. “No,” he said, “but I have a liver in my body.”

“Don’t you need that?” mocked Soos.

“Yeah, but not all of it. I could give him a piece of mine.”

Soos shook her head. “That’s ridiculous, Michael. Anyway, you probably wouldn’t be a match.”

“But what if I was?” queried Michael. “What if I held the key to Matthew’s life the way Jesus held the key for mine?”

Soos groaned, a little disgusted. “So now you think you’re a savior?”

“No,” said Michael. “That job is filled. It just seems like if you could save someone, why not go ahead and do it?”

A lightbulb went off in Soos’s head.

“Oh, my God,” she said. “Is it possible that your part in this, whatever…mission…is to help Matthew and bring him to Jesus?”

Michael teared up again. He took the final bite of waffle laying on his plate, seemingly deserted. He chewed, swallowed, and looked Soos in the eye.

“My dear sister,” he said slowly, “I can’t imagine a greater calling.”

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … August 8th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3759)

Lunchtime

by Jonathan Richard Cring

If Jesus took me to lunch

What would we talk about?

As we sat down there to munch

Would I share my inner doubt?

 

For as much as I appreciate

The forgiveness of my sin

What would be truly great

Is learning how to win

 

I desire to have a lovely soul

Sparkling so sublime

But must the years take their toll?

A wrinkle in my time

 

I want to possess a mother’s voice

Tender, reassuring and kind

But also make a divine choice

In the lover and friend I find

 

The anthems that I raise

As I sing my songs of praise

Always make me smile

But only last a while

 

As Jesus and me break the bread

Will I allow him inside my head?

 

For man does not live by bread alone

And woman is much the same

Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone

To share a common name

 

So pass the salt, my dear Lord

There’s no one quite like you

For I refuse to become bored

Never aging, always new

Our guest reader is Lisa, a singer/songwriter living in South Florida with her two children

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … August 1st, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3752)

Come, My Children

by Jonathan Richard Cring

Come, my children, let us greet

The rumble we hear on the street

Tear down the walls of religious tradition

Take a look at the human condition

Bring the drum, start the beat

 

Then let us dance to the sound

Of understanding spreading around

Love your neighbor is the scheme

Living out Brother Martin’s dream

May the blast of brass abound

 

Jimi arrives with his lick

Jesus comes and heals the sick

Love blends jazz to soul

A song celebration is our goal

 

Who am I in this holy jam?

An honest heart

I am what I am

In a climate of physical fitness

Can I get a spiritual witness?

 

Ease on down in the Muddy Waters

Bring your sisters and your daughters

‘Tis the season for the news

Race escapes into the blues

 

Gospel created the rhythm and rock

Join the festival on our block

Hometown boy is back today

His hair sporting a streak of gray

The shepherd seeking a groovy flock

 

So count your measures and blessings, too

The joyful noise is coming to you

 

This week’s reader is James, who lives in Shreveport, Louisiana, and shares his music, labor, love and ministry to everyone he meets.

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Jesonian … July 28th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3747)

Today I’m doing something a little different. I’m sitting here with the Good Book open, peering down at John the 7th Chapter.

I have no intention of trying to impress you with my Bible knowledge nor attempt to turn some passage into a magical expression of salvation.

What I want to share with you is a pattern.

I would like to find an adjective to describe this pattern. Foolish comes to mind. Perhaps dangerous. But certainly repetitive.

The pattern is the ongoing belief in every generation that you can evaluate something by the numbers–“the bottom line.”

Ironically, it was verbalized perfectly over two thousand years ago by the brothers and sisters of Jesus of Nazareth when they critiqued him on his approach to promoting the message he had chosen to share.

Their insights are frightening to read because they are so current to today’s ignorance. They spoke the following to Jesus:

“For there is no man that does anything in secret but instead, wants to be known.”

Have you ever heard that philosophy?

“Promote yourself.”

“Get it out there.”

“Showcase it.”

“Use your tools.”

“Adjust your intensity to the present flow of thinking.”

Amazingly, through the whole 7th Chapter of John, this repeats over and over again. For later on in that same passage, the audiences that come to Jesus muse whether he could be the Messiah, because they’re concerned about where he was born.

Added pressure.

Not only do you need to promote yourself well, but you need a certain look–maybe even a color. How about a culture to back you up?

We have the mistaken idea that Jesus always had great multitudes following him. There were times that people hung around for a while–after all, if you turn water into wine and can take a Happy Meal and make a buffet, you will gain some attention.

But the truth of the matter is, as soon as Jesus started teaching, the crowd thinned, and on one occasion totally disappeared.

For after all, what concerned the average Jew was whether God would send a military man to destroy the Romans and establish the Kingdom of Israel.

On the other hand, Jesus came to bring the Kingdom of God, which was within us, and would enable us to get along with everyone, including the Romans.

Conflict.

Yet it is best capsulized in that same chapter in a meeting among the Jewish leaders.

When they sat discussing the phenomenon of Jesus of Nazareth, what finally made them decide he was a joke, a hoax or at least a light-weight was the fact that none of the hierarchy of their religion–those considered intelligent, educated and astute–believed in him.

The premise was, “If you really are somebody, all the “somebodies” will recognize and promote you.”

“If you really are talented, you will be discovered.”

“If you really are bringing a possibility of hope and salvation, eventually you’ll be offered a platform instead of a cross.”

It didn’t work out that way.

Nowadays, I often sit around with my children, explaining to them that success is meaningless. In my lifetime, notorious people, who appeared to be powerful and everlasting, bit the dust and became cautionary tales of stupidity.

You can’t look at the numbers.

If you had lived in 1st century Palestine and looked at the numbers, the popularity, the acceptance, the blending and the support of the people in the know, you would never have found Jesus.

If you want to find out what is going to last, be helpful, truthful and carry the touch of God, do one thing–simply watch and learn.

How resourcefully does he, she or they use the resources?

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Salient…July 16th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3735)

There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

“I’m just human.”

This statement has been used to excuse murderous behavior. It also has been the opening refrain of a testimony offered in appreciation of God’s grace.

But if being human is a weakness, then what are eight billion people supposed to do with their lives? Are they to walk the Earth as emotional zombies, never able to connect with a good idea two days in a row?

Or must they give in to the dark human trinity?

  1. Complaining about circumstances
  2. Lessening expectations
  3. Lying if necessary

Is this really what God intended? Did He create an inferior race as worship slaves to His glory? Or, as the story goes, did He breathe into them the breath of life, give them His image and declare them living souls?

It’s time for us to decide:

Are we created in God’s image, tempted by evil?

Or are we born in sin, struggling to do even a little good?

I don’t think I’m alone in needing a reason to get up in the morning other than, “I’m going to go to heaven when I die.”

So let us turn to Jesus to see what he said about this situation. He summed it up in the Sermon on the Mount when he said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

What did he mean by perfect?

He’s talking about a perfect human life. And a perfect human life is defined thusly:

“I will continue to try to do better until it’s unnecessary anymore for me to try.”

Even though we may be captivated by sin, we still have free will. How many victories can we chalk up before we fail? How much fun can we have learning how to improve?

  • We are human.
  • We are honored to be human.
  • We have the breath of life.
  • We are created in God’s image.
  • We are living souls, which means we do have the ability to walk between two kingdoms–Earth and Heaven.

The power we possess is in choosing. The gift we’ve been given is the breath of life. And we have a personal kinship with God.

So here is your salient moment:

Start acting more like your Father or be prepared to be a monkey’s uncle.

 

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