Jesonian… May 27th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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While half of the organization of Christian saints clamor to preach a message of the fulfillment of Judaism, with the human sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the other fifty percent portray the Nazarene as soft on sin and heavy on compassion, it occasionally might be a good idea to take the available reference material we possess to get a more thorough picture of how Jesus thought, felt and lived.

There were many broken people in his life–no doubt about it. Also, it’s irrefutable that he did die on the cross, and it has become our salvation.

But for the purpose of progressing the Christian message, we must claim the mind of Christ, not just the theology. It begins with understanding his approach: blind men, prostitutes, demon-possessed souls, lepers and probably a lot of manic-depressives came to Jesus and received a touch of healing.

Yet none of them ended up in his traveling troupe. Jesus did not turn his kingdom of God on Earth into a nursing home, mental hospital or rehab center. Although he brought great benefit to the lives of many souls, his practice was to send them back to their home towns–to assimilate and offer up the story of their transformation as evidence of the goodness of God.

Even though a demon-possessed man who had just been set free came to his boat and begged him to join the band, Jesus sent him away.

It sends a message to the church today. We spend too much time adjusting our programs, the temperature in the sanctuary and our vision to those who are needy, hurt and emotionally challenged, instead of encouraging working folks, entrepreneurs, artists and inventors to come into the body to leaven the lump.

A quick look at the twelve disciples will tell you that you had four working fishermen, one tax collector, two followers that came over from the ministry of John the Baptist, one zealot, a pair of brothers who were tradesmen, a Judean and Thomas, who most people believe bounced between the ministry of John and a little fishing himself.

But anyone who believes that Jesus was just a human sacrifice is errant. And anyone who contends that Jesus was all-forgiving, looking for the next loser to turn into a winner, would also be completely out of line with the narrative.

If you want to build a work, you teach healthy people how to help the unhealthy, not harbor unhealthy people, hoping they will draw in the healthy.

The Christian church today is possessed by either an overabundance of zeal towards charity, or a greed towards prosperity. So we minister to the fringes instead the heart of mankind.

To minister to the heart of mankind, you have to understand what a fisherman is really looking for.

 

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Jesonian… April 15th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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A Saturday many, many years ago, the beaten, bruised and bloodied body of Jesus of Nazareth lay still in the darkness of a borrowed tomb, as his spirit communed with the angels and his mind reasoned over the unfoldings of a truly abundant life.

We are not privy to those thoughts.

Matter of fact, all we know of the life of Jesus comes from four major biographers who borrowed pieces from one another, and each, in his own way, had an agenda to offer insights to please his readers.

There is no autobiography.

So we aren’t sure of the emotion in the words attributed to him. Therefore theologians decipher and agnostics disembowel the remnants of the script left to us of this magnificent life.

Yet every once in a while, we get a deeper glimpse. Such is the case in Matthew the 23rd Chapter, Verse 37-38:

“Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Thou that killest the prophets and stone them which are sent unto you. How often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”

The great debate over the centuries has been whether Jesus was Jewish or whether he came, in a certain sense, to abolish Judaism in favor of the New Covenant.

If you study the writings of Martin Luther, you might begin to believe that the Great Reformer was anti-Semetic. Yet in many evangelical churches, there seems to be a return to Jewish traditions, including them with their Christian rituals.

What did Jesus feel about the Jews?

What was the heart of the matter?

First and foremost, you must understand, for Jesus to include Gentiles and Samaritans in his movement immediately made him an outcast from the Jewish religious community.

Matter of fact, the Jewish Council that condemned him to death granted him none of the courtesy that was normally extended to brethren.

The reality that Jesus did not believe that the Jews were special because they were the “children of Abraham,” but rather put forth the opinion that God “could take stones” and make offspring of Abe, certainly did not put him in favor with those of the Zionist profile.

Yet John tells us that he “came to his own and his own received him not.”

When Jesus spoke with the woman at the well, he did use the phrase “we Jews.” It is the only time he did, but he certainly had a kindness and favorability for those who lived in Judea and Galilee.

But Jesus was a man of vision–the Gospel would never reach China or the Native Americans if it were left in the hands of the Jews. The Jewish people had already aggravated the Romans to the point that the annihilation and dispersion of their kindred was inevitable, if not imminent. The Gospel would only survive in the hands of the Greeks and the Romans, who would take it to the rest of the world.

The Apostle Paul makes it clear that when the early church was trying to force Gentile converts to comply with Jewish practices, the former Pharisee condemned them and called them “Judaizers” for limiting the scope and power of the message.

In the two verses recited above, Jesus announces the fate of Judaism.

It is in a coma.

It is left desolate and abandoned.

It is awaiting a day when it can be awakened and all the promises given by the prophets can be fulfilled.

But for a season, it was set aside in favor of salvation and “loving your neighbor” being shared with the entire world.

Basically, if you want to sum up Jesus’ feelings on Judaism, it’s very simple: Jesus loves them.

He just does not believe they’re “chosen people.”

There are no chosen people–just people who choose well.

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Good News and Better News… December 5th, 2016

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Jesus is a lifestyle.

Every time we try to focus on the “Christ” of his Earth journey and turn him into a religion, it seems clunky, fabricated, forced, unreal and nearly irrational.

It’s similar to when we try to make George Washington appear to be a statesman. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were rebels. They were revolutionaries. They actually found it difficult to stop their struggle and create a government.

The early disciples had the same problem when it came to Jesus.

Jesus taught them how to have abundant life, good cheer, tolerance, an expansive talent base and generosity. He did not instruct them to maintain the integrity of Judaism with the purpose of including the Old Testament.

So every time we try to present a Judeo-Christian image, we lose the lifestyle of Jesus–which is the essence of the Gospel.

Our church services today have more of Catholicism in them than Nazareth.

So let’s look at it from the aspect of definitions:

Religion: an attempt to find God in ancient scrolls, mysticism and tradition, feeling that these sacraments are the divine path to reach the Creator.

Church: a system we have set up within this religious thinking, to define our style of worship, welcoming a contingency of people who are comfortable within the format.

Christian: a doctrine that has been established which includes the teachings of Jesus, but focuses equally on the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, to formulate a plan of salvation based upon the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah.

Then we have Jesonian.

Jesonian is a return to the simplicity of the lifestyle of Jesus, who told us that his “ways were easy and his burden was light,” and that the purpose for pursuing his values was to “find rest for your soul.”

So the religious system permeating our society today is a core belief in the atonement of Christ on the cross, the folklore of Judaism, mingled with Catholicism, punctuated with Anglo-Saxon traditions and peppered with American patriotism.

It is not the lifestyle of Jesus.

It lacks the personal responsibility, the joy, the freedom and the experimentation that he promoted as he walked among humanity.

The good news is that Jesus wants to keep things simple and easy.

The better news is that human beings are much more productive and happy when things are simple and easy.

 

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Ask Jonathots … April 21st, 2016

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My three grown children were raised in the church, but not a single one of them goes to church now, although they all claim they are believers in God. Sometimes it bothers me and sometimes I think it doesn’t matter. What do you think?

I think the first question we have to determine is–what is church?

There was a major shift in our society in the 1980’s, when the church house changed from being a center of fellowship, awareness, social interaction, self-improvement and community concern to being an organization focused on the worship and discovery of God.

The whole concept of this transition seems so noble to theologians and ardent zealots of our time that we have failed to return to church being a center for emotional, cultural and spiritual expansion.

Like any functioning business or social awakening, when the purpose of that institution is defunct, it ends up dying.

So the church of your memory no longer exists.

It has been hollowed out of its message and purpose in favor of traditions, hyper-spirituality and seminars on self-worth and prosperity.

So the question you have to ask yourself is this:

Are my children better off by joining in to the efforts of a religious system that has abandoned its calling, or are they better off without it?

Now, your summary would be that the church, even though weakened by its introspection, is better than nothing.

Their conclusion would probably be that “no church” gives them a free Sunday to enjoy their friends and family.

So here’s the question: can we all begin to go to church–not with the idea of swallowing the provided pill–but instead, transforming it back to the vibrant, living organism that Jesus intended it to be?

After all, Christianity is not a religion–it is a lifestyle. And if the church is not promoting the lifestyle of Jesus, it is watering down the message to include pop psychology and Judaism, which are not fulfilling to a New Testament life.

So if I were you, I would sit down with my children and tell them of the regrets, misgivings and frustration you have with the present religious system, but also inform them of the hope you have to see it transform itself back into the heart of Jesus.

Because here’s the truth–even if the church remained as anemic as it is today, it is still necessary to be a buffer against the insanity of selfishness and rage.

Challenge your children to become the church by changing the church.

After all, they want to change the politics.

They want to get rid of Wall Street’s greed.

Why not step into a situation where they really could affect a lasting change … and turn the American church back into a place where Jesus would be proud to be a member?Donate Button

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 19) Apolitical … April 10th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is impossible to pursue the dictates of a political party and stay faithful to the Jesonian.

There. I said it.

Anyone who follows a political persuasion is bound by that party to defend the stances presently being taken in the moment instead of embracing a more historical and eternal view.

Politics are for those who have given up on the power of the Gospel.

It is a way of trying to convince Caesar to accept your principles, or a way of forcing your principles into becoming “the new Caesar.”

Let us realize–they were constantly hounding Jesus to become political. They wanted him to fly the flag of Judaism and reject the Samaritans, or criticize the Greek woman who came for healing, attack the tax collectors, who were considered betrayers to the seed of Abraham, and most certainly, deny Rome the authority to rule and reign.

He disappointed all of these factions by living off of two simple concepts:

  1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  2. Go the second mile.

There is no political party in the United States of America that fully lines up in agreement with either of these concepts.

For “do unto others” is a decision to include all of humanity into your circle instead of rejecting some. So as the Republicans are infuriated with immigrants and the Democrats despise the South, the Jesonian individual must remain apolitical–loving the new visitors to our country and honoring the brothers and sisters in the Southeast.

No political party in this country believes in going the second mile. Going the second mile is finding out what energizes us instead of exhausts us.

The constant debate, attacks, and gridlock caused by political maneuvering becomes a national fatigue which removes the initiative to do just a little better than we did the last time.

  • “Do unto others” is spiritual.
  • “Go the second mile” is practical.

But you will find that when you do unto others, it has a practical edge, making you a friend of all tribes.

And you will discover that when you go the second mile, you gain spiritual credibility, as bystanders view your endeavors.

It is not reasonable to be political.

What is reasonable is to maintain a profile that is apolitical, while doing unto others and going the second mile–allowing the future to be determined by the wisdom of inclusion and the impetus of excellence.

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 16) Purify … March 20th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesus was not Jewish.

This doesn’t mean he hated Jews. He was like you and me. That’s what the Bible says.

Being like you and me, he was one-half jungle and one-half Garden. So he was Jewish on his mother’s side and Holy Spirit on his Father’s side.

It’s an important point.

Jesus did not come to Earth to confirm Judaism, nor was he a forerunner for Mohammed.

Yes, we must understand that Jesus did not establish his message in order to create a third generation for Abraham. He said quite clearly that “before Abraham was, he existed.”

He pre-dated the Patriarch of Judaism and the Muslim faith.

Why is that important?

Because Christianity is here to bring peace to the Earth, not pick a side in the fight.

Until we purify the Christian message, we will miss the essence of the struggle in the early church, when Paul told the leadership that they needed to stop acting so damned Jewish. The message needed to survive Jerusalem so that it would be well-understood in Hoboken and Siberia.

So if we’re going to be like Jesus, we must purify the mission in the following seven ways:

1. I am not political.

Whoever is the next President will be my President and I will honor him or her with my prayers.

2. I am not religious.

The simple truth is, God loves me and there’s no act of contrition or worship that will make that any better.

3. I am not a skin color.

God has vision for only one thing: He sees my passion because He looks on my heart.

4. I am not a culture.

The whole Earth is the Lord’s–therefore I am part of His greater vision, not His local flavor.

5. I am not confined to my nuclear family.

Even though I love my offspring, my real family is anyone who is interested in pursuing the Kingdom of God.

6. I am not afraid.

Fear weakens my love, so I choose good cheer as my refuge.

7. I am not better than anyone else.

There are no chosen people, just people who choose well.

Until the message of Jesus is purified as the “repairer of the breach” for mankind’s misunderstanding, we will be tempted to pick sides and will wage a political conflict…instead of welcoming a human unity.

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Good News and Better News … October 26th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Was it three, or four?

If I remember correctly, I think it was four individuals who came to my book table saying, “How did you guys end up at our ‘little church’?”

Ms. Clazzy and I found ourselves in Lakeville, Indiana.

I suppose in some ways I would understand their question, since our society is indoctrinated in the idea that good things go to big places to make a huge splash. But if you look at history and you understand the essence of the Gospel, it really doesn’t work that way.

Life is about finding a mustard seed, planting it and then not worrying about what happens next.

Jesus promised it would grow into a tree, but how long will that take? Certainly not within one harvest.

So what you work on is your mustard seed.

  • Is it good?
  • Does it have growing possibilities?
  • Does it nestle well into the soil, accepting nutrition and water?

I don’t worry about numbers of people. Truthfully, the places in our society which draw the largest crowds are often bigoted and errant.

I always feel like the Holy Spirit giggles at our notion of popularity–because even though we insist that Jesus shared in front of large crowds, they often left pretty quickly once they realized he was going to teach and not just offer another all-you-can-eat fish dinner for five thousand or more.

Do you know what I liked about Lakeville? It isn’t put together yet.

I suppose they might be offended by that statement but they shouldn’t be. There are many things in America that are put together–even organized into clubs or parties–which are doing absolutely nothing to help mankind.

Lakeville still has a chance to be of benefit to the human race. They’ll have to turn down some of the noise of the world and simplify things instead of complicating them, but they have a good mixture of men, women, children and older saints. They are led by an enthusiastic, fine chap named Brian.

So what would I tell Lakeville as I leave it?

1. Reject religion.

Since religion is what killed off Jesus 2,000 years ago, let us go ahead and assume it does the same today.

  • Religion wants organization. Jesus wants spirit.
  • Religion wants rules. Jesus wants faith.
  • Religion wants to worship God. Jesus wants us to find God inside the person standing next to us.

2. Push away politics.

Yes, the church is obsessed with politics. Even though the two political parties over the past 16 years have nearly destroyed the integrity of our security and economics, for some reason the church wants to join the mayhem instead of bandaging up the wounded.

Politics is what people pursue when they no longer believe in God.

3. Get excited about Jesus.

Yes, I will tell you–the best way we can help our Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters who are trying to kill one another is to actually step away, be separate and act like Jesus. You don’t become a better Christian by worshipping Judaism. You also don’t become a better Christian by reading the Koran.

If your church can’t become excited about Jesus, at least be honest enough to warn people that you no longer are followers of his dream but instead, are just readers of the Bible.

4. And finally, create something.

  • Don’t settle for leftovers.
  • Don’t insist there’s nothing new under the sun.
  • Write new songs.
  • Think new thoughts.
  • Share your arts, your crafts, and your professional abilities–and give God glory for them.

The first nature of God is found in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God created.”

No kidding.

Go and do thou likewise.

 

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