Jesonian … May 19th, 2018


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3677)

With all the focus being placed on Jerusalem, dubbed “the Holy City,” I thought it might be fascinating to take a look at what Jesus felt about this newly-proclaimed capital of Israel.

For instance, his mother and father visited there before his birth, ended up stranded in the suburbs in a little town called Bethlehem, where there was no room for them in the Inn, and there they birthed their first-born in a barn.

When Jesus was twelve he visited the city, asking lots of questions which produced no answers. The fussy religionists basically told him to “go back home, little boy.”

Although he didn’t make many trips to Jerusalem itself, he frequently encountered a stony-headed group of followers of the Law of Moses who were more concerned about his eating habits than his message.

One day, while visiting the Temple with his disciples and realizing that they were enamored by all the gold and architecture, he explained to them that very soon “there would not be one stone left on another.”

Jesus was very upset about how Annas had turned the Temple into an unrighteous trading center, cheating the visiting pilgrims out of their money on goods and exchanges. He took a whip, beat the money changers and drove them out of the Temple.

When he raised Lazarus from the dead, not far from Jerusalem, spies and assassins were hired to plot the death of the resurrected man because it was bringing much notoriety to this upstart Galilean movement.

Eventually the religious leaders found a fellow-Judeean named Judas to betray Jesus. They put Jesus on trial, lied to Pontius Pilate about him, pretended that they were disinterested in having a “King of the Jews” because they were satisfied with Caesar, screaming for the Nazarene to be nailed to a cross.

On his way to his death, women who were weeping for him were rebuked by Jesus, who stated, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me. Weep for your children and yourselves.”

I believe at this point he might have flashed back in his mind to several days earlier, when he looked over the city of Jerusalem, and with tears, lamented, “How often I would have gathered you under my wings, like a hen does its chicks, but you would have none of it. Your house is left to you desolate.”

If you’re curious about the definition of “desolate,” it is “a place deserted of people, with a dismal emptiness.”

Even after they killed him–murdered him on the cross–the Jerusalem leadership was still afraid that the disciples might steal his body, so they placed guards in front of his tomb.

When he rose from the dead and ascended to the Father, Jerusalem continued to persecute the disciples and early church members, killing and scattering them into the world.

So there weren’t many Christians left in 70 A.D., when Jesus’ prophesy about the destruction of Jerusalem came to fruition, with the Roman Legions destroying the Temple and the town.

As you can see, Jesus had no love affair with Jerusalem.

He angered the Jewish people because he told them that he existed “before Abraham,” and that “God had the ability to take stones and make children of Abraham.”

So it is a good idea for us to check out the Jesonian view of Jerusalem instead of joining the pandering that is done in this country under the auspice of “Judeo-Christian.”

I will tell you, certainly Jesus was not anti-Semitic. He loved the whole world.

But I also must tell you, he certainly was not pro-Israel.

 

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Jesonian … March 24th, 2018


 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3621)

There is much to be gained by studying the lifestyle of Jesus.

It’s not just the miracles or the Messiah “rap.” It’s mostly his message and his management style. Since he was human, he was completely capable of error–to such a degree that the Good Book tells us “he learned through what he suffered.”

We also can garner great insight from the mistakes Jesus made.

One of those was Judas.

We will never know why Jesus chose Judas. It wasn’t because the Iscariot was predestined to be the betrayer of Christ. If you believe that, you should go home, don your Medieval helmet and launch a Crusade to take back the Holy Lands.

Maybe Jesus saw something in the young Judean. It never came to fruition–but there still is much we can curry from studying the relationship. It is a tenuous friendship which came to a head ten days before the Resurrection–in Bethany just outside Jerusalem.

Mary, the sister of Lazarus, who had recently risen from the dead, held a party. I think having a brother who survived “grave circumstances” is well worth some nachos and punch. At the height of the affair, Mary decided to crack open a family heirloom–a flask of expensive burial perfume reserved for the family–which she chose to use to anoint the feet of Jesus. It was an extraordinary, tender moment between Mary of Bethany and Jesus of Nazareth.

The aroma filled the room–an intoxicating fragrance.

But Judas was pissed. He had probably been pissed a long time–and he decided he had found an Achilles heel in the Master’s footsteps–perhaps a way to make Jesus look stupid.

So he complained that Mary had used such an expensive gift for such a trivial purpose. To accentuate his point, he suggested it should have been sold and the money given to the poor.

Judas was convinced he had ground an axe to a sharp point to swing at Jesus’ reputation.

I don’t know why he hated Jesus when he loved him so much. Or maybe he loved him so much that he learned to hate him. I am not privy to the mental state of Judas from Kerioth.

But I do know that Judas thought he was right, and he believed that others were going to back him up. Instead, Jesus rebuked him. I suppose you could say that Jesus did it nicely. (Perhaps you could explain what a “nice” rebuke is.)

Jesus said Judas was out of line–that he had lost the meaning of the moment, and had put a price tag on intimacy.

But here is where Jesus made his mistake: he allowed Judas to leave the room without resolving the conflict. He gave too much credit to the Son of Simon. He figured Judas had heard enough teaching about forgiveness that there was no need to pursue it any further.

Jesus was sadly mistaken.

There is no such thing as a misunderstanding. It is always “your misunderstanding and how right I am.”

Unfortunately, all misunderstandings end in betrayal. If they are not confronted, talked out and healed, the unresolved conflict will eventually open the door to one party or another striking out.

Then we have the scenario of feeling pressure to say “I’m sorry.”

It usually comes forth like, “I’m sorry if I offended anyone.”

Another possibility is, “I’m sorry, and please forgive me.”

It’s amazing how that particular statement, which seems to be filled with humility, can suddenly turn back into anger if the wounded individual does not proffer forgiveness.

The truth is, there is only one response that is correct when ignorance, wilfulness, short-sightedness and nastiness spring from our being and attack another.

“I was wrong.”

Not “I was wrong but…”

Nor “I was wrong in this case, but in another situation it would be different…”

“I was wrong” takes the risk that there will be no forgiveness.

This is what Jesus needed to hear from Judas–even if it required Peter, James and John physically holding Judas in place. Keep in mind–peace-making can be a messy business.

But misunderstanding, “I am sorry if…” and “I am sorry, please…” do not bring about reconciliation.

They are ways for us to maintain our solitary purity while seeming to appear transformed.

You might ask, how do I know this? Because the Good Book tells us that Judas left the party in a snit and went out and plotted with the enemies of Jesus–to betray him.

This was an expensive mistake:

If you leave misunderstanding unhealed, the wound may pour forth blood.


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Catchy (Sitting 39) And On the Third Day… March 11th, 2018


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Cassidy Templeton was a lineman for the electric company in Logan County, Oklahoma, which served the little town of Guthrie, population 11,000. Overnight, Guthrie went from being a quiet village of contented Sooners to a disaster area, as a tornado passed through, leaving behind a swath of destruction one mile wide and four miles long.

Cassidy was called in the middle of the night, and by the time he arrived and gathered his gear, the sun was peeking through, beginning to show the aftermath of a Mother Nature temper tantrum.

He was driving his truck on a county thoroughfare when he noticed a car stopped in the middle of the road. What was more disconcerting was the huge tree that was uprooted, sprawled across the electrical lines, pulling them down, closer and closer to the car below, as a heavy branch continued its descent.

Cassidy didn’t understand why the person in the vehicle didn’t back up to get away. He leaped out of his truck and ran up to the car, discovering a woman in her thirties, frozen in her ten o’clock/ two o’clock position, hands on the wheel.

He screamed but she didn’t respond. He looked in the back seat and saw three children buckled into position. He could hear the tree crackling above him, putting more and more weight on the lines, which were looming nearer and nearer to the car.

He just reacted. Instinctively–and stupidly–he ran and grabbed the wires to keep them from touching the car. He was struck down in the middle of the road with the full impact–electrocuted.

The woman regained her senses, backed her car up, put it in park, got out and dialed 911. Within three minutes there were firefighters and EMTs at the scene. But it was fruitless. Cassidy Templeton was dead.

They took him to the hospital, where after an hour of noble effort, he was officially declared DOA. His body was rolled into the morgue, his clothes were removed and a toe tag was attached so he could be autopsied later by the coroner.

That normally would have been the end of the story–except six hours later, a very dazed and confused Cassidy sat straight up.

Before he could realize his vulnerable position of nakedness, he got down from the table and strolled into the hallway, to the horror of the nursing staff. Fortunately, one of them noticed that he had a toe tag, and had emerged from the morgue.

He was gingerly led to a treatment room, where doctors examined him for four hours, only to discover that reports of his death were greatly exaggerated.

Cassidy was alive.

His hair was completely burned off his body and his hands were toasted, but all the other systems of his human anatomy seemed to be functioning at a high level. When friends and family arrived, frantically and joyfully, to see their loved one, they were all astounded at how mentally alert he was.

Cassidy had never been ignorant, but had eschewed most of the attributes of learning in favor of hunting. Now he sat in a chair and spoke with the articulation of a politician, without the accompanying lies. He explained to his family that something had changed. It wasn’t that he felt smarter–just that everything he had ever experienced seemed like fresh visions in his mind. He even remembered algebra.

In the midst of a horrific toll from the tornado, Cassidy’s story line was immediately picked up as a “feel good” closer for the nightly news.

Meanwhile, back at headquarters, Jubal Carlos decided to fly the whole troop into Guthrie for a noontime rally on the third day after the tornado. Matter of fact, it was the lunchtime of the morning that Cassidy was released from the hospital. The forty-six-year-old lineman went straight from his examination room to a stage in the middle of town, surrounded by about three thousand folks and the national press.

Jubal Carlos had no idea what Mr. Templeton was going to say at the rally. He had no time to prep him. Matter of fact, Cassidy arrived in a pick-up truck driven by his wife and accompanied by his son, got out, climbed up on stage, comically pounded on the congas for a few moments and then stepped toward the microphone.

Jubal spoke. “Well, I guess you know who this fella is. Around the team, we’ve started calling him “Lazman.” You remember–Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead?”

The crowd cheered and Cassidy giggled. There was a sweet, childlike quality to him that nearly startled Jubal, but he went on. “I have asked Mr. Templeton–can I call you Cassidy?”

Cassidy lit up a huge smile and nodded his head.

Jubal continued. “Anyway, I’ve asked Cassidy to come and speak to you all today, and he has literally just driven up from the hospital to be with us.”

Carlos glanced over at Cassidy, giving him a once up-and-down. “Damn, that’s the best-lookin’ dead man I’ve ever seen.”

Cassidy clapped his hands and the crowd roared with laughter and cheers. Jubal didn’t say anything else, just held out his hand, offering the platform.

Cassidy paused, glancing out at the crowd, exhibiting a few nervous twitches, and then slowly moved forward, stopped, and then spoke into the microphone, a bit surprised at how loud it was.

“It is amazing that you have to die to find out how dead you were. At least, that’s the way it worked for me. I loved my wife, I loved my town. I thought I loved God. I loved to hunt and I loved the shotgun my Grandpa gave me. I loved sweet corn with lots of butter…”

Each time Cassidy mentioned an earthly delight, the crowd murmured approval. He continued.

“But that morning, when I saw the woman and her children in the car, about ready to be pressure-cooked–yes, I guess that’s a good way of puttin’ it–I realized in a breath of time that to do nothing was to be a coward. Oh, my God, I did not want to be a coward. I didn’t want to wait and then later tell people I was following protocol. I didn’t want to see them pull four dead bodies from the scene when one would be better.”

He chuckled. “Unfortunately, that was gonna be mine.”

The audience responded with nervous laughter.

“So everything I had ever been taught, seen, believed, experienced and hoped entered my legs and pushed me forward. My hands decided to give up my life. I’d like to tell you that I thought about it. I’d like to say I was trying to do the right thing, but actually, in that split second, my something-or-other believed it was the only thing.”

Some “amens” chorused from the audience.

“They tell me I was dead. I don’t know much about that. I suppose I could tell you I saw God, Jesus or maybe Elvis. I didn’t. The next thing I remember after grabbing for that wire was looking down at myself in the hallway, standing upright, without my boxer briefs. It almost killed me again.”

The audience roared.

Cassidy concluded. “So I’m not gonna take much more of your time. But I would encourage you to go out some place by yourself, sit for a spell–and check if you’re dead, so you don’t have to die.”

He finished, then slowly walked away from the microphone as a stillness fell over the crowd.

Jubal left the tender moment alone. Everybody stood in silence for a good solid minute.

Cassidy had time to walk off the stage–a makeshift-flatbed-trailer–and start ambling toward his truck. Suddenly the gathered erupted in applause and he was surrounded by people who just wanted to touch “the Lazman.”

That night, every network led with the story. Every newspaper in America carried the picture, an insight or an editorial, and nearly all the souls in America stole a moment to take their own pulse.

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Jesonian … November 11th, 2017


 Jonathots Daily Blog

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jesonian-cover-amazon

Throughout the history of Christianity, a debate has raged over Jesus’ humanity and divinity.

Early in the 20th Century, a doctrine arose which found favor with many people because it stressed that Jesus was 100% human and 100% divine. The fact that this blending is ridiculous didn’t come to anybody’s mind at the time, and so the concept endures. If you study heresy and false teachings, you will find that most of the error centers in on trying to make Jesus too heavenly, instead of focusing on his humanity.

I think the clarifying statements are found in the Book of Hebrews. Allow me to give you three which center my mind on the fact that Jesus of Nazareth lived a completely human life, while filled with the Spirit:

1. “He was tempted in all ways like we are yet found without sin.”

2. “He was touched by our infirmities.”

3. “He learned obedience through the things he suffered.”

That list just describes a typical human life. After all, nobody talks about how grumpy Uncle Ed was after he’s dead; likewise, the notion that “Jesus was perfect” was not touted during his lifetime.

The truth is, Jesus’ actions were found to be perfect. In other words, after the passage of time and working out of circumstances, we can say that he lived a perfect life.

Needless to say, when we’re told he “learned obedience,” it is perfectly understandable that he did nor arrive with it. Like all of us, instruction was in order.

But if you go to the statement, “touched by our infirmities,” a definition is in order. What are the infirmities of all human beings?

A. We get physically sick.

B. We get emotionally depressed.

C. We get spiritually misguided.

D. We get mentally confused.

These are our infirmities.

And since Jesus was touched by them, if we would take the time to more carefully study his life instead of working so desperately to discover a new twist on communion, we might just welcome in a new generation that would be blessed and astounded by His choices.

Now, I will not bore you with my many rambling examples of how Jesus suffered under these infirmities. To me, that’s what church and your search should be about.

Christianity could advance its cause by studying Jesus.

Did Jesus become physically ill? There are numerous activities that have no explanations–like him slipping into the wilderness for seclusion, or the fact that he waited four days to come and tend to his friend, Lazarus. Was he sick? Under the weather? Fighting off the “Galilee bug?”

We can make a good case for him being depressed. After explaining to 5000 people that he was not going to be their caterer, but that they needed to come to “learn his ways,” the Bible says they all left him–except the twelve. In a moment of true humanity, he turned to those twelve and said, “Will you go away also?”

Was Jesus ever spiritually misguided? I think choosing Judas to be a disciple, and on top of that the treasurer of the troop, was at least spiritually optimistic. And the faith he put into the man at the Pool of Bethsaida, who didn’t really want help–but Jesus healed him anyway and then the fellow turned into a snitch and sided with the Pharisees–shows that he was a bit misguided.

Was he mentally confused? He certainly stayed too long in Nazareth–so long that they resented him and tried to kill him. And I think he was a little confused by his upbringing and prejudice, when he called the Syrophoenician woman “a gentile dog.”

The Gospel writers had no problem including the foibles of the personality of Jesus in their story lines–and he was apparently fully aware of some indiscretions, because he came to John to be baptized. Was it just pretense, or did he have things he regretted?

We are also told by Jesus that we would do greater things than he did–because he was going to the Father to cheer us on.

If the church wants to survive the present dispersion, it needs to bring the focus back onto Jesus–his style, his personality, and his humanity. In doing so, he can become the Elder Brother we so desperately need, and he can truly fulfill his mission … which was to show us the Father.

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … May 7th, 2016


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Dear Man Dear Woman

 

Dear Woman: Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Dear Man: Well I’m not a mother…

 

Dear Woman: I know. But maybe someday you will be. I think ahead.

 

Dear Man: I suppose.

 

Dear Woman: You seem miffed. Does Mother’s Day bother you?

 

Dear Man: Yeah, but not for the reason you think. I’m not jealous because I don’t have children. Mother’s Day is just an example of another title…without entitlement. What I mean is that men hide their chauvinism and their dislike for women behind granting them certain space while forbidding them total equality. If you’re a woman you can be a mother. You can be in charge of the women’s ministry at the church. You make a great secretary. How about fund-raising? Can you take care of the food bank? “You’re so pretty.” All of these are titles but they fail to grant the entitlement of being treated as an equal and dealt with in justice.

 

Dear Woman: Wow. Am I ever sorry I said “Happy Mother’s Day.” But just to play devil’s advocate, is it possible that some of these stereotypes–titles, as you call them–exist because there’s truth to them?

 

Dear Man: Do you really want to start a fight?

 

Dear Woman: No. As I said, I’m playing devil’s advocate.

 

Dear Man: No. It’s the loaf of bread syndrome. Once we realize there’s one loaf of bread, we start thinking about how we can get the whole loaf instead of giving a needful half to someone else. To do this we have to rationalize and make sure it seems like we’re not being selfish, just practical. Men and women share so much in common that it’s ridiculous to separate them using the jargon of ignorance and the culture of male supremacy. So we pretend. We pretend women are smarter, even as we refuse to promote them. We pretend women are more thrifty, but we never make her the Secretary of Treasury. And of course, we insist that women are better with the children so men have a way of playing with the kids when they want to, and walking away when something else diverts their attention.

 

Dear Woman: I see your point. But are there enough differences that some sort of division of duties is warranted?

 

Dear Man: Let me give you an example. You’re a Christian, right?

 

Dear Woman: Yes. Right. What’s that got to do with anything?

 

Dear Man: Relax. I wasn’t trying to throw you to the lions. There’s a story about Jesus which is not talked about very often, because it separates him from all other philosophers, religious leaders and cultural icons of all time. Sitting at the house of Mary and Martha, two of his friends and the sisters of Lazarus, who rose from the dead, Martha interrupts Jesus’ teaching to complain about her sister, Mary. Martha’s complaint seemed very legitimate to her–and probably to most people in the room. Mary was sitting in, listening to Jesus teach instead of helping put the food together, which would be served after the lesson. First of all, realize that it was against Jewish law for men and women to be taught together. So Jesus was already making a statement, which he did throughout his ministry. Men and women traveled Co-ed–same space, same responsibilities. So when Martha brings up Mary helping her in the kitchen, there was no disciple who thought Martha was wrong. After all, Mary was a woman. She was supposed to be involved in the kitchen, the children, the day-to-day household activities and the general welfare of the home. Martha thought she was on safe ground. Damn, she thought she was quoting the Word of God. But Jesus rebuffs her. He tells Martha that she worries about too many things, and that Mary had picked the better part by sitting and listening to the teaching. So you see, this story contradicts the practices, doctrines and limitations that most Christian denominations place on women. That’s why you don’t hear it taught very often. But the truth is, after they got done with the teaching, the men and the women could have gone into the kitchen, put together the snacks, and had great fun doing it. Here’s a powerful thought–if you don’t break stupidity you never find wisdom. So I think it’s ridiculous to think that only women are mothers. Every man has to mother children, too. If a little boy falls down and skins his knee, the dad doesn’t wait for the wife to get home to take care of it. If he’s a good parent, he suddenly becomes the healer–the mother.

 

Dear Woman: That’s amazing. Why don’t they talk about that more?

 

Dear Man: Because they would have to give women their entitlement instead of just a title.

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G-38: Poised… August 22, 2014


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spikenard

A quick checklist.

Becoming human, born of a woman, living as a man. Accomplished.

Exiled, time in Egypt. There are no chosen people, just folks who choose well.

Living. Thirty years of just being an everyday brother, friend, son, merchant and helper. Done.

Baptized. Cleansed from inadequacy, tempted as we all are.

The message. We are meant to be blessed. We are called to bless. Amen.

Challenged. Answers without anger; a philosophy put to the test.

Healing. Compassion for the ravaged, opportunity for the depressed. Their faith made them whole.

Resurrection. Lazarus brought back to life. A stir of hope in the hopeless surroundings.

Poised.

Perhaps mankind can get it right this time.

Waiting to see.

The religious rowdies are too scared to intervene, frightened of government and the crowd.

Then…

Spikenard. A gesture of reverent friendship poured out in gratitude, followed by a self-righteous, angry disciple, challenging the waste and leaving the room feeling rebuked.

Suddenly the Spirit of Cain: jealousy, lethargy, mediocrity, arrogance, despair and unresolved conflict.

Murder enters the heart of Judas Iscariot.

Free will shall be honored.

Things have changed.

It is time for Plan B.

 

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Jesonian: Say, Do, Become … April 6, 2014


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big I'm picWhen I heard him say, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” honestly, I rolled my eyes.

It sounded like one of those statements made by someone who feels he is spiritually or intellectually superior, but tempers it with a short burst of manipulated humility.

But then, when the Centurion told him that he didn’t need to come to his house to heal his servant–just speak the word–and instead of becoming defensive or flexing his religious muscle, he praised the gentleman for the enlightenment, I realized that this one had the capacity to become a friend to the faithful.

Likewise, when he touted the importance of mourning, my cynicism came to the forefront. It’s so easy to elevate distress to a status of soulful discovery when you aren’t actually going through it.

But later, when he wept with his friends at the grave of Lazarus and shed tears for Jerusalem because of its hard-heartedness, I grasped that he had the capacity to become the savior to the ignorant.

“Blessed are the meek.”

Time after time he put that into practice as he was rejected by his family, the religious leaders, and even close friends. Yes, a respecter of the choices of others.

He told us to “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” He backed it up by fasting in the wilderness for forty days. A source to the seeker.

Being merciful is often a politically safe phrase to mouth in front of the masses but not so easy to enact–especially when they bring to you a woman caught in adultery, and the socially correct position is to condemn her.

He didn’t.

A champion of the lost.

I was a little surprised when he spoke about being “pure in heart.” And then, when I stood at his side, looking down at the very cold, pale and still body of a twelve-year-old girl who was obviously deceased, and he turned to the room with an almost foolish glee and told us not to doubt, “she’s just asleep,” my eyes filled with tears over such genuine simplicity. He became a child of the children.

A peacemaker? In our day and age? When it’s considered to be noble and righteous to stand up for your turf and proclaim your worth? I watched him carefully. When he was obviously snubbed one day by a Samaritan village which had formerly welcomed him, and now had decided to renege on the invitation, and those around him wanted to declare war on the inhabitants, he stopped them, and said that his was a spirit of reconciliation. God knows we needed it. Behold, a repairer of the breach.

I winced a bit when he suggested to the masses that they should be happy when they’re persecuted. But when his entourage grew into the thousands, only to shrink to a tiny handful every time a new rumor or misrepresentation of his words filtered through the crowd, he still pursued his calling.

In so doing, for all time, he shall be deemed the voice of reason.

I, myself, was startled by the notion of trying to find tenderness for those who speak evil against us. And then, at his trial, when the false accusers literally stumbled over one another to incriminate him, he remained still, and became the calm in the storm.

  • I listened to what he had to say.
  • I watched carefully what he chose to do.
  • And I was there when the friend of the faithful, the savior of the ignorant, the respecter of others, the source of the seeker, the champion of the lost, the child of the children, the repairer of the breach, the voice of reason and the calm in the storm–yes, I was there when he rose from the dead and became the Son of God.

I learned from him. Choose what you say, because you will have to back it up with what you do.

Only then do you become what you believe.

 

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