Jesonian: Belly-Aching … May 4, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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belly acheHe said, “Everybody understands the problems. There’s no need to keep talking about them. We should stop belly-aching.”

He is a minister of the Gospel.

Over the years he has convinced himself that he prefers the “more positive” teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and wishes to focus on them in order to build a congregation of believers who think good thoughts and don’t generate any negative energy toward the world around them.

Here’s the problem: injustice will never leave as long as it’s making a profit. So it’s up to the prophets to chase injustice away through pointing out its hypocrisy and deceit.

Even though Jesus is portrayed by many churches as a combination of Gandhi and a hippie attending Woodstock, the young Nazarene actually has quite an edge.

Especially as he reached the end of his Earth journey, he began to spout off profusely against the excesses of religion, the selfishness of systems and the indifference of leadership.

There are three chapters in a row–Matthew 23, 24 and 25–where he exhibits his own form of belly-aching. Because you see, belly-aching occurs when you consume something that doesn’t agree with you, and is only relieved when you dispel the thing with which you do not agree.

Understanding that most of you may not want to read the three chapters, if you will allow me, I’ll summarize:

In Matthew 23, Jesus viciously attacks the scribes, Pharisees and lawyers who used their position to extort wealth while doing nothing to relieve the burdens of the people around them. He claims that they cared more for their traditions than they did for the human beings placed in their charge.

So because of their iniquity, in Matthew 24 he informs them that the Romans would come and dismantle their entire hierarchy and destroy their city.

To further reiterate the necessity for repentance, he tells a series of parables in Matthew 25 about a Judgement Day in which God, our Father and Creator, will expect us to deliver evidence of our faith and victory during our human escapade.

The three chapters are full of complaint, warnings, admonitions and some downright insults.

We forgive this belly-aching because the prophesy came true and we understand that the message Jesus preached survives today. To determine whether we are just purveyors of doom and gloom or messengers of hope, we have to keep three things in mind:

1. Never do anything to hurt people, but also do not permit anything to happen that is hurting people.

2. Never offer a warning without giving an olive branch of hope. Nothing is over until God says it is.

3. Always note progress–even if it’s a little–and appreciate it when you see movement toward sanity.

So am I a belly-acher?

If I run across ideas which historically have been proven to be foolish, and I see injustice which is cheating people out of the value of their human lives, or if I come across greed which is suffocating the life out of the needy, I will speak out, using every bit of cleverness, comedy and even cunning that I can muster.

Because without doing this, we become part of a third clump … the ones who stood by and watched the oppressor oppress the helpless.

 

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Take a Second to Give Me a Minute for My Hour of Need… April 20, 2012

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He was thirty-two years old with a birthday coming up soon. He got up early in the morning, not because he was that type of person, but because experience had taught him that life starts early and people who are working are going to be moving around. He was interested in people. He had learned to be a “people person,” even though, like every other human being, a bit of trepidation always gnawed at the corner of his mind about interaction with others.

He came to the marketplace to eat his breakfast, sit around with folks and talk before the work day beckoned everyone to tuck away in their nooks and crannies. He had just finished telling a particularly good joke about seeing a blind man leading a blind man when the pleasant conversation was interrupted by the arrival of constables and lawyers, thrusting to the forefront a frightened woman, who was obviously there against her will, at their behest.

The scene had changed. The authoritarian horde had kidnapped the moment with an agenda and they were about to transform a quiet morning of conversation into a deadly discussion of law and judgment. It seems the woman had committed a capital crime–adultery. They reiterated to the young thirty-two-year-old that such a transgression was punishable by death. They were curious about his verdict on the matter and insisted on hearing his immediate reaction to this horrific situation, demanding that he give a judgment on her fate. (By the way, his name was Jesus, and I guess what I’m trying to tell you is that they were looking for “the passion of the Christ,” expressed in a Mel Gibson tirade.) What should he do?

He had learned one valuable lesson–that a gut reaction is never right. (Let’s be honest. Even in the natural world, an immediate gut reaction is either vomit or diarrhea. Even the human stomach needs time to digest.) Anyone who wants you to give a response in this second has become your adversary. Don’t hate them–give them the greatest blessing you can. Ignore them. There is no such thing as a good split-second decision. Every preempted human reaction is always a revenge from our last disappointment. In other words, if you ask me to give an answer right now, my response will be colored by the residue from a previous encounter. You deserve better than that–and more importantly, so do I.

So even though the lawyers and constables were pushing Jesus for an “off-the-top-of-his-head” answer, he refrained. Instead, he turned his back on them, stooped down and fiddled in the dirt with his finger. What was he doing?

Taking a minute.

Everything accomplished in a second would be much better thought out if we took a minute. It’s what the Bible means by “lean not to your own understanding.” It’s talking about those jumping-to-conclusion-decisions that we make and later regret.

He fiddled in the dirt … he was thinking.

In the process of thinking, he also drew attention away from that frightened woman and cooled the heat of the atmosphere to a temperature for reason instead of rage.

Take a second to give yourself a minute. If it really demands that much hurry, it may just be out of your hands anyway.

Of course, these frenetic accusers continued to push him, trying to acquire a quick resolution that they knew would more than likely be flawed. He just kept fiddling in the dirt.

You see, in your minute of contemplation there is no real reason to rise to the occasion until God, your brain, your experience, the spirit or just good, old-fashioned common sense gives you a bit of holy inspiration for the hour. What did Jesus come to during that minute of fiddling?

1. These constables and lawyers had no power to put anybody to death. They were under the thumb and watchful eye of Big Government, which controlled their every move. They were speaking of deadly practices in theory. Not that this made it any less nasty–just not quite so lethal.

2. Since it was early in the morning, had they really “caught” some woman committing adultery? Before bacon and eggs? Or was she really caught the night before and detained as they drafted a plan to try to cause him to stumble? Or was she just a plant–an actress hired to play the part of an adultress? Any way you looked at it, it was fishy.

3. Where was the man? After all, it does take two to tango–and also to do this thing deemed worthy of death. And the law they were quoting did require that both parties be put to death. So why did they decide to just bring the woman and not the pair?

You see, all of these questions had time to percolate  in his brain–because he didn’t react in a second, but instead, took a minute. I imagine some of the ideas that popped into his head both made him smile at how stupid they were and also caused him to be angry because these officious fools were willing to gamble the life of a woman to make a point.

Well, here’s what he came up with. Since the problem was theirs and not hers, he suddenly got a burst of inspiration. Put it back on them.

So because he didn’t react in a second and took a minute to reason out what was going on, he was given inspiration for the hour.

He eased to his feet, turned to the red-faced, huffing crowd, and said, “If you want to kill her, you should only do so if you know that you haven’t done anything equally as bad–that would make your life worthless and therefore make you the next candidate to be put to death.”

He didn’t wait for a debate. He turned back around, stooped down  and fiddled in the dirt again. His message was clear: if you don’t have any sin, then fo ahead and rock her world. If you do, you might want to avoid getting stoned. 

What a brilliant turn-around–one that no human being could come up with in a second, but required a minute of thought for an hour of inspiration.

Because Jesus decided not to be frantic, giving an immediate gut reaction, a woman left the marketplace that day in peace instead of pieces. Let us remember his strategy:

A. In that second–when everyone wants you to give an answer–don’t react. (If you’re the pilot of an airplane and it is suddenly unresponsive, don’t start steering until you find out which direction is salvation.)

B. Take a minute to fiddle in the dirt–to understand the problem and tap your better resources. (Turn into a host of your own solution. Yes, be Ryan Seacrest on American Idol, juggling judges and contestants with smooth transitions instead of jerky movements)

C. Wait for God and wisdom to give you inspiration in your hour of need. (If you move out on your instincts, the depression you have from previous disappointments could cloud your judgment. You need God to clear away your own overcast before you’re prepared to clear the skies.)

It’s a life-saving decision. It only requires that we don’t trust the festering in our hearts, but instead, get a good bucket of Godly provision.

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Sitting One

 I died today. 

I didn’t expect it to happen.  Then again, I did—well, not really.

No, I certainly didn’t expect it.

I’ve had moments of clarity in my life.  Amazingly enough, many of them were in the midst of a dream. For a brief second I would know the meaning of life or the missing treatment to cure cancer.  And then as quickly as it popped into my mind it was gone. I really don’t recollect dying.  Just this unbelievable sense of clear headedness—like walking into a room newly painted and knowing by the odor and brightness that the color on the wall is so splattering new that you should be careful not to touch it for fear of smearing the design. The greatest revelation of all? 

Twenty-five miles in the sky time ceases to exist.

The planet Pluto takes two hundred and forty-eight years to circle the sun. It doesn’t give a damn. 

The day of my death was the day I became free of the only burden I really ever had.  TIME.

Useless.

Time is fussy.  Time is worry. 

Time is fear.  Time is the culprit causing human-types to recoil from pending generosity. 

There just was never enough time. 

Time would not allow it.  Remember—“if time permits …”

Why if time permits?  Why not if I permit?  Why not if I dream?  Why not if I want?  Why does time get to dictate to me my passage? 

It was time that robbed me of my soulful nature.    It was time that convinced me that my selfishness was needed. 

I didn’t die. The clock in me died, leaving spirit to tick on.  

So why don’t we see the farce of time?  Why do we allow ourselves to fall under the power of the cruel despot?  Yes, time is a relentless master—very little wage for much demand.

I died today. 

Actually … a piece of time named after me was cast away.

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