Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3952)

Sitting Six

It took Iz and Pal a good solid two minutes to figure out where they were when they woke up in the desert, and another good five minutes to negotiate what direction to roll, to untangle themselves from their cocoon.

It was already hot.

Sweat was beading all over their bodies, and after two days absence from bathing, odor was aplenty. After all, when stink is near, grumpy will appear.

“You roll this way and I’ll stay still.” Iz was already sporting some attitude.

Pal objected. “I don’t know what you mean by ‘this way,’ because you have no hands to show me. They’re stuck in the tent.”

Iz heaved a deep sigh. “Look at the direction my head is nodding.”

“Would that be roll towards your nod, or opposite your nod?” replied Pal with a bit of whine.

Iz was done giving direction. He began a series of frantic twists, turns, shimmies and shakes, until the tent ripped, and he slithered his way to the safety of freedom.

Pal was angry. “Now look what you’ve done. You ripped it. What good is a ripped tent?”

“What good are two guys trapped in a tent?” Iz said, standing to his feet.

Pal wiggled two or three times and stood up as well. “You stink,” he stated.

Iz rolled his eyes. “That’s good,” he said. “It was difficult to believe you were producing all the odor.”

They jumped at each other and commenced to wrestling, at first with a bit of anger, and then, as the heat took over, with more pure silliness. They finally fell to the side in choked laughter. Pal was gasping for air.

“Oh, yes, this is really smart,” he said. “When you stink, don’t have any water, it’s always good to wrestle, get sweaty and thirsty.”

“I have a little water left,” said Iz coyly.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” shouted Pal. “Where is it?”

“I wasn’t holding out,” said Iz defensively. “I just didn’t know how to divide it. I don’t know when we’ll get water again.”

A quiet fell over the boys. How could they continue their adventure without food and water? Yet how could they ever go home without looking weak and stupid?

Iz considered. “Maybe your parents will bring some water.”

Pal shook his head. “It’s just my father. And as I told you, my father will never come here.”

“I really don’t want to die,” said Iz with a whimper.

Pal patted him on the shoulder. “Let’s just make a plan for the water.”

What followed was a rather in-depth discussion on the difference between a sip and a gulp. After finally overcoming the semantics, Iz and Pal determined that they had fourteen sips and eight gulps left—perhaps enough for the day, if they stopped wrestling and were not trapped in any more tents.

They tossed the ball back and forth and just talked as the hours passed. They saw no one. Perhaps no one saw them—unless lizards counted.

The day wore on and hunger pangs set in, with aggravation not far behind. Still, they focused on talking, living, loving and matters that concerned them as young boys.

But after a particularly long moment of silence, Iz presented a new topic. “Mine’s different,” he stated slowly.

“Your what?” asked Pal.

“It’s because I’m Jewish,” explained Iz.

“I know you’re Jewish,” said Pal. “But your what?”

“Think about it,” said Iz, lifting his eyebrows.

So Pal did. It took a moment or two, but he finally came up with the answer. “You mean circumcision,” he said proudly.

“So you know about that?” Iz was a bit surprised.

“Yes,” said Pal. “I guess that’s one of those many things that our religions fight about.”

Iz frowned. “Why do they make such a big deal about that?”

“Why do you think God wants you to do it?” Pal challenged.

“Why do you think God doesn’t want you to?” countered Iz.

“Geez,” said Pal. “I feel stupid even talking about this. Grown-ups make such a big deal about us not touching it or talking about it, or even naming it, and then they end up making it one of the big parts of religion. Which is it, Iz? Is it dirty, or is it holy?”

“I know what you mean,” said Iz. “I remember, in my house, I didn’t know what to call it. You know…what we’re talking about. Like, when I was talking to my Pada, how should I refer to that thing? So I decided to come up with a name, and he got really, really mad at me because I said the name out loud.”

“What was the name?” Pal asked with vigor.

“Oh, it was stupid,” Iz replied shyly.

“Even better,” said Pal. “What was the name?”

“I once found a pet snake,” said Iz. “And before Pada made me get rid of it, I named the snake Ulios.”

Pal frowned. “Ulios? What does that mean?”

“Nothing,” said Iz.

“Exactly,” agreed Pal.

Iz continued. “So once, in front of Pada, I made mention to him of my ‘Ulios’…”

Pal paused, letting the idea sink into his brain, and then burst into laughter. “My father was so nervous,” he said, “I mean, about discussing it with me, that we finally decided to refer to it as my ‘man-dilly.’”

Iz laughed uncontrollably. Gaining some breath, he cited, “It’s all so stupid. They tell us that what we feel and believe is the most important thing, and then they make such a fuss about… Well, you know. Ulios and man-dilly.”

Pal became serious. “Maybe that’s why things are messed up. If grown men are so nervous about such a simple thing, how do they ever expect to understand more important things?”

Iz took a quick sip of water. “I don’t care what you call it. I don’t care what it looks like. I don’t care if it’s circumcised. I would trade it all in right now for a big, cold frosty bottle of Coca-Cola.”

The boys nodded in holy agreement. Then they sat in silence, a bit uncomfortable over their discussion, but also wiser from what they learned.

The heat pressed down as the time passed. There was a great temptation to change sips into gulps, but amazing restraint was maintained. They breathed deeply, looking at the surrounding desert.

Never would they ever have such experiences again.

Never would friendship be so precious.

Never would it ever be so hot.


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Jesonian … October 23rd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is thoroughly possible, plausible and even necessary to separate Christianity from Judaism without being considered an anti-Semite.

Jesus spent the majority of his ministry providing parameters for a New Covenant, which was followed by the Apostle Paul becoming downright blunt over the need to extract the message of Jesus from the Jewish tradition.

Yet most evangelicals and many mainline denominational churches continue to foster a sense of equivalency between the Old Testament and the New Testament simply because they know two important factors about their congregations:

  1. They don’t want to lose the ability to seek revenge with “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
  2. They need Jesus to remain the “Lamb that was slain” instead of the Lion, roaring out his commands.

INFUSION OF JESUS

So actually, the teachings of Jesus, the personality of the Nazarene and the mindset of the Christ are often considered to be an intrusion to the organized church instead of welcomed as an infusion.

Simply put, Jesus did not come to contradict the Old Testament–but he certainly did arrive to countermand it. If you’re not familiar with that word, it is most often used in military circles to explain why some officer, usually of a higher rank, comes along to revoke or change the orders of the previous commander. It’s a nice way of saying, “We’re going to change things up.”

MEN OF OLD

Jesus cleverly referred to it as “fulfilling the law.” What an excellent, political word! He then turns around, and in fulfilling that Law, disassembles the instructions of Moses by referring to those who founded Oral Law and taught it as “men of old.”

If we want to become a Jesonian church, infusing the lifestyle of Jesus instead of viewing it as an intrusion, we must understand that, as Hebrews the First Chapter explains, God used to speak through Moses and the prophets, but not anymore. Now He speaks through Jesus.

So stop using Old Testament patriarchs to try to countermand Jesus.

Case in point: it is no longer the Kingdom of Israel–Jesus describes it as the Kingdom of God, which is located inside each and every believer. The new Holy Land is within your soul.

The challenge in this generation is to cease looking at our example, Jesus, as an intrusion, and begin to take his choices and use them as an infusion into our everyday existence.

It should keep us busy–because it’s very difficult to insist that Jesus was a Jewish prophet when he said things like:

“Before Abraham was, I am.”

“God can take stones and make children of Abraham.”

And “Your house is left to you desolate.”

Jesus was a new day.

Jesus was a new way.

And he came along proclaiming

“What you say? Go my way.”


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Jesonian … January 27th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Considering what a contrarian Jesus of Nazareth was to structure, practices, piety and legalism, it is sometimes difficult to understand how he ended up bleeding out a religion.

It’s not just his own words, which abhor the strict nature of religiosity, but also the reaction of those who were the faithful partakers–how they deemed him ignorant, a drunkard, a glutton, an evil man who was demon possessed, and a friend of sinners.

Not a rousing recommendation.

Let us start on the basis that all religions have one similar goal–to promote the notion that there is some sort of Supreme Being(s) or enlightenment which prompts us to worship.

Also, when you put the religions of the world in the order of their inception, you gain an interesting insight.

Buddhism and Hinduism preceded Christ, as did Judaism. Then came Jesus. But the only religion that had the benefit of eyeballing the fallacies of following faith without rhyme and reason was Mohammed. Yet the Muslim faith is riddled with the misleading trap doors that open up to fanaticism.

What is the difference between Jesus and Mohammed?

Mohammed wanted to start a cliqué.  Jesus was avoiding one.

Let’s look at specifics.

When it comes to the basics of spiritual expression–prayer–Jesus constantly warned his followers to make their overtures to God as practical and personal as possible. He said that prayer was necessary but should never be done in public to be seen by others, using vain repetition, or at a wailing wall or on a rug, but instead initiated behind a closed closet door.

When the subject of fasting came up, Jesus said there was nothing wrong with it as long as nobody knew you were doing it. In other words, put on a happy face, wash up and look energized by the experience instead of depleted.

How about worship? When he talked to the woman at the well, she was worried about where to do it and the style of doing it. Just like today–should it be contemporary or traditional? Jesus pointedly informed her that location and style were irrelevant. Worship was to be unfolded “in spirit and in truth.”

Seems like we’re on a roll. How about giving? Jesus claimed that giving was the key to getting. He once again wanted to make sure that generosity was not expressed to impress others, but instead, to instill in our hearts the knowledge that every little bit helps, and someday those we assist might come back our way and be our angels of blessing.

And then there’s the Law. Judaism and the Muslims are intent on maintaining a code of ethics, conduct and social interaction that was conceived more than two thousand years ago, with no respect for the power of freedom and the necessity of evolution.

For you see, Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of the Law. And what is that fulfillment? Two fold: “He has come to give us life and it more abundantly, and also come that our joy might be full.”

By no means should we condemn or even critique those of the Muslim faith for adhering to their rendition of God. But we must question whether the faith that is promoted has sufficient warnings to scare away all the rascals, fanatics and self-righteous rabble which can try to hurt others by using the words of the Prophets.

  • Jesus told his disciples to worship God by being as normal as possible.
  • He told them to blend in.
  • He told them to honor Caesar instead of hating Caesar.
  • He told them they were the light of the world, not the scourge of the Earth.
  • And most of all, he told them that they had no right to judge. (He even sealed this point by saying that he–Jesus–could judge and it would be righteous and fair, but he refused to do so.)

Christianity works because we know how to isolate our idiots and make sure it’s clear that they are not really part of the faith.

The Muslims talk a big game, but after decades and decades of terrorism, they are still represented by those who kill women and children.

 

 

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Jesonian … December 16th, 2017

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A day in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

Although most theologians would like to focus on the 24-hour period leading up to his crucifixion, the Gospels do offer us other examples. One of the primal outlines is found in Matthew, Chapters 12 and 13. You may feel free to read it–I will not tax your spirit or patience by parsing it verse by verse–but there are six things that become clear from perusing the story line.

1. Jesus was not a theologian.

His disciples walked through a field of corn, and even though it was forbidden by religious edict to eat it–especially on the Sabbath–they partook. Jesus defended them to the Pharisees, who were ready to leap upon the activity to prove the unworthiness of Jesus’ Kingdom movement. During this exchange, Jesus makes a profound statement: “The Sabbath is for man.”

It is geared for us, in order to replenish, rejuvenate and renovate our thinking.

2. Jesus was not a rabbi.

He strolls into a synagogue and disrupts the service by healing a man with a withered hand. He is accosted for this untimely interruption, and replies, “Each one of you will save a donkey from a trench, but you won’t do anything to help this fellow.”

Yes, Jesus was guilty of interrupting the flow of worship.

And contrary to the common patter:

3. Jesus was not a Jew.

Not only did he break the Jewish laws, taunting them in doing so, but we are informed that he was a voice, a spirit and a teacher in whom the “Gentiles could trust.”

Even though his proximity to Jerusalem might generate the assumption that he was a Son of Abraham, he made it clear that he was around “before Abraham.”

Shall we press on?

4. He was certainly not a traditionalist.

The religious leaders believed he was satanic. They swore he was casting out demons by the power of Satan. Of course, none of them could cast out a demon, but Jesus made it clear that he had come to destroy the works of the devil and that they needed to be careful not to mock the moving of the Holy Spirit just because it was inconvenient to their case.

So Jesus is not a theologian, a rabbi, a Jew or a traditionalist. And by the way:

5. Jesus was not a family man.

When interrupted by his mother, brothers and sisters during a time of ministry (because they wanted to take him home, thinking he was crazy) Jesus turned to the crowd and claimed them as his new family.

Yes, Jesus might find it difficult to be in a church service, welling up over allegiance with people simply because of shared DNA.

So as Matthew describes a day in the life of Jesus, when he defies theologians, upsets a rabbi, walks away from Judaism, breaks traditions and sidesteps family involvement, he ends the discourse by establishing who the Nazarene really was.

For the Master sat down and told a story: “The sower went forth to sow seed.”

6. Jesus is a sower.

He’s not concerned about isolating off perfect soil, but merely casting the seed in the direction of any possibility.

A day in the life of Jesus will let you know that his message was human, geared for humans, addressed to humans, human-friendly and human-saving.

He discarded religion in favor of the reality of those souls God sent his way.

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Good News and Better News… July 31st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3385)

I was sitting in the nursery of the Nativity Lutheran Church in Weeki Wachee, Florida, between services, snacking on some fruit which had graciously been provided by Pastor Giuseppe and glorious souls who have a knack for putting together such compotes, when I was struck–or perhaps just “pwanged”–by a simple revelation.

The world is always moving. It is our job to note the direction.

Just because the pace seems harried, leaving us all in the flurry of busyness, does not mean that we’re trudging forward. Sometimes we go backwards, often it’s just side-stepping right or left. We even become distracted by hitting a wall and continuing to push instead of stopping long enough to find a way around it.

Church is still a beautiful thing–it’s just that in the present march of humanity it seems irrelevant.

For we classify information that comes our way into three categories:

1. Philosophical.

This ranges from our educational system, to reading books, to listening to someone explain the value of a gluten-free diet.

2. Religious.

Once again, this could be anything from a Bible conference to a yoga class to hearing a testimony about someone’s ordeal or joining with others in prayer over some nasty bit of business that’s come along.

3. Necessary.

Every single day of our lives, we alter the gauge on what we feel is necessary for our existence. This explains the tremendous success of Amazon and Wal-mart. These companies have made it friendly to come and buy things we want at reasonable rates, and in the case of Amazon, have them delivered to our door without even needing to leave the comforts of the breakfast nook.

Candidly, if a piece of information is not necessary, we deem it useless. Once something becomes useless, it only receives attention if it can prove–even temporarily–that it has the value of Wal-mart or Amazon.

So something beautiful, like church, which at one time was considered necessary because it initiated relationships, faith, music, cooperation and a sense of community, has now been completely shoved to the rear by the collision of social media and the rising tide of agnosticism.

When I went into the second service I took the realization with me. I discovered that being philosophical or religious bored even those individuals who still remained in the holy sanctuary.

Give them what’s necessary.

When Jesus came to Earth, the common people were slaves to the Romans and subjected to criticism from the religious system.

Jesus told the people they were “the salt of the Earth, the light of the world,” but that they needed to take responsibility for their lives and not wait for either the Romans or Judaism to save them.

He made the message of God necessary. He referred to it as “daily bread.” He told people to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” and to “take no thought for tomorrow” but to live for today.

You will never meet a more promising group of people than I encountered at Nativity. But I will tell them that until the message they share is necessary in people’s lives, a philosophical or religious content will leave folks cold–staying at home and watching television.

The good news is that Christianity can still be about Jesus.

The better news is that he came to give us life–necessary life–and it more abundantly.

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 3)… July 15th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I must apologize. I’m still a bit troubled.

It’s the whole “Abraham” thing.

There are supposedly three religions–Judaism, Muslim and Christianity–that are knit together in a quilt based on a person named Abraham. If such a weaving is true, it is sewn with a dynamite fuse, ready to be lit at the least provocation.

A very simple study of the Gospels about Jesus will tell you that he was neither a practicing Jew nor did those around him deem him to be. If he felt he was Jewish, he certainly failed to convince anyone, and if they believed him to be their brother, they probably should not have crucified him.

On one occasion the Jews called Jesus a “Samaritan and a demon” while proclaiming themselves to be “children of Abraham.”

He alarmed them by stating that before Abraham existed, he was around. They did not muse his statement nor ask for evidence, but instead, picked up rocks to kill him, and he barely escaped with his life.

Christianity has many benefits but one of the main missions is to gently untangle itself from the Abrahamic family tree, so as to be able to make peace between these two feuding brothers–the followers of Abraham’s son, Isaac, and those of Abraham’s son, Ishmael.

Where would we begin?

We can commence this very worthwhile journey by understanding that Judaism is a culture, Muslim is a culture, but Christianity is a lifestyle.

So whether you’re from China, the Netherlands, Russia or Argentina, the ideas and message of Jesus will fit into your surroundings. Judaism basically works around Jews, and the Muslim faith has the greatest appeal to those who are Arab. That’s because they are cultures, not lifestyles.

As American Christians, we favor the Jews, not because they have any affinity for Jesus. Actually the Quran contains more respect for Jesus than the Old Testament. No, we favor the Jews because they were dispersed into Europe and they seem more American. Yes, it is another one of our racial bigotries–and when Jews look like Arabs, we are much less likely to be tender in their direction.

So let’s get over the foolishness and back to our theme:

If Jesus is God, then Jehovah and Allah are not.

If God is Jesus, then maybe there might be a little bit of Jehovah and Allah lounging around His man cave.

Christianity has the opportunity to heal one of the greatest family squabbles of all time. We cannot do so by saying we are “children of Abraham.”

In the Gospel of John, he clearly states that we are not born of flesh and blood, but of the Spirit. As followers of Jesus, we are not part of a lineage, but instead, linked by a salvation into what truly can be called the greatest opportunity for peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.

 

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Jesonian… May 27th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3319)

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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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