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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Jesonian … August 11th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3761)

Astonished.

It is the word that Saint Matthew selected, in his Gospel, to describe the reaction of the audience which heard Jesus of Nazareth share the Sermon on the Mount.

Some synonyms for astonished:

  • Shocked
  • Confounded
  • Bewildered
  • Astounded
  • Flabbergasted
  • Startled
  • Stunned
  • Dumbfounded
  • Blow your mind

Astonished is a word that combines impressed and alarmed.

It is the way Matthew perceived the mood of the hearers.

He added that they felt that Jesus had more “authority” than the scribes. As you probably know, the scribes were not the Pharisees. The scribes were the local ministers in charge of writing and reading the Law of Moses.

The style they imparted in sharing those ancient words was: read, said, dead. When the scribes read, they said what was exactly there–as dead as they possibly could, so as not to add too much flavor.

So as you can see, it was not a roaring accolade, to say that Jesus exceeded the knowledge or enthusiasm of the scribes.

The importance to the verse is that the people departing that day were “astonished.” What do people do when they’re astonished?

On the way home, as the afterglow disappears, they begin to pick at the corners of great ideas until they disassemble them, convincing themselves that these principles are implausible.

How do we know this is true?

Most of them do not follow Jesus down the hill, but instead, go to their homes, where they justify their disbelief.

Meanwhile, Jesus, who has just delivered the most radical, truthful and practical message ever heard on Earth, descends the hill, and is greeted by one leper, who asks for healing–who had probably missed the sermon.

After twenty-two years of traveling with my dear friend Janet Clazzy, to thousands of churches, I will tell you this:

It is very possible to stir up a congregation, and even their local shepherd, to the point of astonishment.

You can raise dead spirits that haven’t been alive since Grandma and Grandpa sat in the pews.

You can get people to clap, think, react, smile, and even do their best impersonation of loving one another. But you can’t go home with them.

And home is where they rationalize all their present actions–to avoid the horror of repentance.

*****

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*******

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Good News and Better News… October 30th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3476)

I have participated in thousands and thousands of …

Now, what shall I call them? For if I refer to these as “performances, shows or gigs,” religious people will give me the holy frown of disapproval because I have trivialized the spiritual significance.

But by the same token, referring to my efforts as ministry, worship leading or any other divine terminology makes me reek of pretension.

Of course, worst of all is the safe, but vanilla describer, “presentation.”

I run into the same problem when I try to decide whether to say a robust “Praise God” or a timid “thanks be to God.”

Do I go for the full dunk in baptism, or settle for some other plunk?

Should communion be unleavened bread, or a golden loaf?

Wine or Welch’s grape juice (which many denominations insist was Jesus’ preference)?

And I think the most intimidating crossroads of all is settling whether our Christian faith is ground in social commentary or revivalism.

That’s why the tambourine is pictured today. A tambourine can scare a Lutheran or a Methodist to death–almost as much as a printed bulletin with liturgy makes a Baptist tremble.

It just doesn’t seem to occur to us that defining the word “ministry” requires taking a long gaze into the lifestyle and actions of Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus was both contemplative and flamboyant.

He had the strange notion that the profile for what he did in blessing others was contingent on what they needed, and not confined to the Book of Common Prayer.

So to one person, he said, “Be healed.”

He touched lepers.

He spit on someone else.

He stuck his fingers in another person’s ears.

And he shouted to raise the dead.

He would have upset a lot of people.

Jesus didn’t worship miracles; he didn’t minister miracles–he performed miracles.

He showcased the Gospel in stories, told with colorful description and high-flung gestures.

The church has lost Jesus because it has focused on either social gospel or revivalism.

Jesus was the Son of God, who came to teach us how to get along with each other–with a tambourine in his hand.

So the good news is that we need both social commentary and revivalism.

The better news is, when we actually mingle the two, we suddenly become more relevant.

 

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The Money Brick … January 11, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2117)

Some people are stained glassbrick of money

Others, just stained

Either way, we’re hurtin’

Our flaws bring us pain

Or is it that our pain invites the flaws?

Who knows?

Stained-glassers focus on the flaws

Stainers, on the pain

But both remain

And it is useless to counsel a leper

And mean-spirited to offer a good book to a blind man

I awakened in the middle of the night, finding myself deep in thought. I like that. I believe life should be a balance between discouragement and satisfaction, exhorting us toward greater discovery. As I was quietly lying in my bed reflecting, a sense of well-being and warmth filled my soul.

Some folks would become cynical if I suggested God was speaking to me. They would insist I was just being prodded by my own conscience. To each his own.

But the revelation was that it is beautiful that I am traveling, excellent to share my life with tens of thousands of people, smart to write daily columns and ingenious to always be trying to update the material and the message to reach a specific gathered audience.

Then a yearning came. I don’t know how else to describe it. It was the realization that even after all these projects and outreaches are done, I still have time on my hands. After all, the bills are paid. I often have a little extra money.

Time and money–the dynamic duo. When they work together, lives can be changed.

In that moment of quiet, I was strongly impressed to take a small purse of cash–what I now refer to as a “money brick”–each and every week and invest it in human beings.. Here’s why:

  • Some people will not listen to words.
  • There are those who refrain from partaking of a melody.
  • And very few individuals will tolerate a sermon.

But everyone appreciates a few dollars offered as encouragement and evidence that they are not alone.

I don’t have much; I’m not going to pay off people’s debts. But sometimes what the stained-glassers and the stainers need is just a dollar or two–to let them know that someone sees them, cares and wishes them God speed.

Money does talk. It speaks a universal language.

So I thought that the generous folks who contribute to my cause would not mind me setting aside a specific amount of coinage each week, to bless the folks I encounter on a daily basis. I have requested that God send such individuals my way.

We shall see.

I will offer the brick … and ask God to provide the mortar. 

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

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