Jonathots … December 18th, 2018


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handbook for touching

She approached her shopping cart, unwilling to put her hands on it until she had removed a wet-nap from her purse, full of, I assume, anti-biotic, anti-virus and anti-people juice. She cleaned off the apparatus before she began her shopping.

I apparently was caught staring because she turned to me with a snarl on her face and said, “Nasty stuff. Got to avoid the flu bug.”

Likewise, during the wintertime, I attended a church with a minister in full ceremonial garb. It came time for the “passing of the peace.” He paused and explained to the congregation, “I must ask you not to make contact with your hands with one another. Since it is the flu season, please find another way to express other than physical contact.”

A little gleeful spirit leaped in my soul–I love awkward situations, which certainly are rife with comedy. I watched the people–who didn’t know what to do. Some tried to “fist bump,” but let’s be honest. Fist bumping is certainly not conducive to the sign of peace. Most people just gave up and nervously waved.

Needless to say, even though this was popular for a few weeks, the mass of humanity eventually realized that since we’re all in this together, then “together we will sneeze and cough.”

Even though you can pass the flu bug by touching one another, you can also pass along blessing.

Are you frowning over that statement?

Just like you can’t see the bacteria or viruses that cause the flu it is equally possible that the energy, the kindness, the mercy and the tenderness in human hands are not visible either, but are passed through touch.

And candidly, even the flu bugs that people pass to us give us a fighting chance to manufacture anti-bodies which are much more likely to protect us from the flu than acting like the whole world around us is filled with lepers.

 

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Salient…July 30th, 2018

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There are matters that are too important to ignore or leave to chance. These are salient moments.

Anita Bryant.

I would guess, to my average reader, the name neither rings a bell nor stimulates any particular memory.

But back in 1977 (when a few determined dinosaurs still roamed the Earth), Anita Bryant was voted “The Most Trusted Woman in America.”

She was a former Miss America contestant who had a singing career and was well-known as the pitch person for Florida orange juice.

She was vibrant.

She was youthful.

And she was, as we gradually discovered, quite political.

For you see, when the Fort Lauderdale City Council passed an ordinance removing all limitations on lodging and civil considerations for the homosexual community, Anita objected.

And we’re not talking about an op-ed letter to the newspaper. She hit the streets, held rallies, and turned a local situation into a national debate over the issue of whether people who pursued a homosexual lifestyle should be granted all of their civil liberties.

She was in demand. Her performances were packed. She did interviews on all the Christian talk shows, and even one for Playboy Magazine. She was America’s sweetheart.

For you see, at that time in our country, the jury was not only out on the gay community, but was leaning toward the “rejection penalty.”

It was popular to be anti-gay.

It was considered patriotic to be against them.

As we arrived in the 1980s, and the horrific AIDS epidemic spread across the land, those who believed homosexuality to be an abomination to God also whispered that perhaps this new virus was the Almighty’s punishment.

Things changed.

Suddenly a little boy in Indiana got AIDS from a blood transfusion–and it was no longer merely an infection of the flaming queens. Ryan White, with his generous spirit, refused to believe that his particular AIDS was any different from the AIDS contracted by those in San Francisco.

He was humble, he was non-judgmental, and he was strong until the day he died.

He made those who condemned their brothers and sisters look foolish–especially Anita Bryant.

She is still alive, but unfortunately, her name is equated with intolerance instead of righteousness–or orange juice, for that matter.

An interesting fact that you may want to tuck away in your memory: lepers are remembered more favorably than Pharisees.

So here is your salient moment:

You can’t defend God or morality by attacking behavior and hurting people.

 

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Good News and Better News … September 12th, 2016

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milford-c-c-comp

There is certainly nothing more representative of the heart and mind-set of Jesus than compassion.

Arriving yesterday in Milford, I felt that gentle enthusiasm from Pastor Doug, his wife Marianne and the gathered souls.

They yearn to reach others.

Matter of fact, next Sunday they’re going to invite the community in to join them for breakfast, casting aside the trappings of religion, and making themselves vulnerable as human beings.

Yet in the midst of needful outreach to the community, we must be aware that the church was never intended to be a refuge to nurse the wounds or the grudges of purposely “little people.”

The message of Jesus is clear:

  • Heal the sick
  • Help them discover abundant life
  • And make sure everyone is free indeed

So even though we want to be forgiving and kind, we must remember three very important attributes of Jesus’ ministry:

1. Jesus refused to tolerate complainers.

The Pharisees didn’t have a good word for any good word. They didn’t realize that their hypocrisy was their problem, not Roman domination.

2. Jesus was not too available.

People had to ask about him. The lepers had to seek him out, and some determined souls even had to knock through the ceiling of the house to lower down a comrade for healing.

Jesus required people to make a personal emotional effort so he could make their encounter effortless.

3. Jesus was looking for faith.

Even though the dictionary may not agree, the opposite of faith is complaining. Once you begin to complain, you are proving that your circumstances determine your good cheer. Faith is the ability to deal with difficulty and laugh at it while waiting for fresh opportunity to come your way.

If we can incorporate this into our compassion for those who are non-complaining, seeking answers and bringing their faith, such as it is, we can become a church.

But when we extend grace to those who have been touched by the mercy of God and have decided to growl at the environment and people around them, then we’re wasting our time on souls who have plotted to be out of sorts.

The good news is that Jesus has compassion.

The better news is that compassion is much more effective with those who are not demanding it.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … July 29th, 2015

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PoHymn for July 29

Namey Name Name

Baptist, Methodist

But Mary called him Jesus

Lutheran, Presbyterian

Pentecostal, Unitarian

Latter Day Saint

Former day Jew

Assembly of God

No assembly required

Christian, Christos Iglesias

His buddies dubbed him Jesus

Catholic, Roman

Catholic, Greek

Catholic, schoolboy

Catholic, priest

Missionary Alliance

Missionary position

From this rock

I set sail

Calm the seas

Hell, it can’t fail

Revelation, Episcopalian

The lepers screamed for Jesus

Gay church

Black church

White church

Country church

Church in the wildwood

Church in the neighborhood

Church of the brotherhood

Every game has a name

But Jesus came to take the blame

Politics failed him

Religion nailed him

Wise folks trailed him

This one called Jesus

So let me say

In my simple way

I know Jesus of the people

Not Christ with a steeple

We were together

Long before he went

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Jesonian: Co-Cana…April 26, 2015

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pots

Turning water into wine in Cana of Galilee is one of Jesus’ more popular miracles.

Religious people seem to favor it because the Messiah was celebrating weddings, and also introduces the wine, which is later the symbol of his blood.

Secular people embrace the concept because it promotes the idea of “liberal Jesus” who is playful enough to welcome intoxicants into his acceptability.

As often is the case, the actions of the young preacher in Cana of Galilee are overlooked in favor of speculation on theology or sociology.

What is important is how Jesus decided to participate in the lack of wine at a wedding feast.

We’re always pushing the concept that Divinity possesses the capability of pulling rabbits out of hats which are not necessarily conducive to birthing bunnies.

The message of Cana of Galilee is that if you want to do something powerful, don’t show up with an empty pot.

For the wine that was produced that day did not flow from the skies nor did it spring forth from the dirt floor of the hut in which they celebrated.

It began in a pot which was filled with water.

May I make the point that 85% of wine is water? So 85% of the miracle was achieved simply by having large pots filled with water. More importantly, Jesus is making it clear that you shouldn’t show up to God with empty pots.

  • There is no feeding of the 5,000 without the disciples providing five loaves and two fishes.
  • There is no healing of ten lepers without them hunting Jesus down, finding him and begging for rejuvenation.
  • And there is no woman with an issue of blood healed if she had not come up with a great plan, crawled on her hands and knees and touched the hem of his garment.

Heaven is very responsive when Earth has brought its best.

God is very merciful when His children are willing to lay what they have on the line for a common good.

While we sit around waiting for God to make wine, we might want to realize that the problem may be that we have not yet found a pot and filled it with water.

We have not found the best of our efforts, our heart and our supply to bring to bear, to confirm our investment in the endeavor.

I don’t think Jesus could have made it any clearer: all wine has to come from water. God may be willing to add the fermented grapes, but 85% of it needs to be supplied by people of faith taking the steps to bring all they have to the situation.

It’s Co-Cana: God and me.

If you don’t believe this, you will often find yourself praying to a heaven which is not deaf, but feigns dumbness, waiting for you to bring some supply.

Don’t bring empty pots without water and ask for wine.

God has no intention of ignoring Earth, Mother Nature or you to do His will.

He is quite satisfied with the way the system works.

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G-45: Dark Pages … October 10, 2014

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What made you think I would tolerate your religion?

What caused you to believe that you were given permission to rustle up rules and regulations and herd spirituality into some stinky-hole corral of repetition?

Did you forget how I mocked the traditions of men when I walked among the Jews? I ridiculed their ceremony and chided them for their elaborate clothing, flaunting their position.

Therefore, will I accept your garb of garbled expression, touting sacrifice, or worse, supremacy?

  • Wash your hands? No, thank you
  • Fast? I am a glutton.
  • Pray? Only in my closet of privacy.
  • Stone that harlot? I do not condemn her.
  • Worship the temple? I shall tear it down.

I am nauseated by your praise without heart. They are words of explanation without meaning, droned in somber tones to establish solemnity.

Blind from your eyes plucked by bouts with vengeance.

Toothless, pleading for your mother’s milk.

Calling one another Master, Reverend, Bishop, Cardinal, Pope.

Yes, Pope.

Did you forget it was the Jewish Pope, Caiaphas, who condemned me to death, using the Roman puppet to act out the violent, fool-hardy charade?

It is as if the Pharisees have hijacked my work instead of the mission being heralded by cleansed lepers, freed whores and liberated Gentiles, dancing for joy.

You have taken the pages of my words and turned off the light, to revere the book and ignore the context.

When you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you are cannibals because you ignore my mind and reject my heart.

There are no kings.

There are no serfs.

You are drunk on your own swill of piety.

As I told the daughters of Jerusalem, your house is left desolate. It is a tomb, displaying silence as the evidence of a slaughtered hope.

I was here.

Did you fail to learn of my actions?

I despise those who feel they are better than others, even if they can recite a litany of their righteous deeds.

I never knew you.

I don’t want to know you.

You cannot imprison my healing virtue in the torture chamber of your tiny vision and narrow mind.

I am the wind. I will blow where I desire.

I will find liberty and immerse my efforts in the waters of freedom.

You have found the heaviest burdens and laid them on the shoulders of broken travelers.

You have made my name weary when it was meant to produce rest.

I hate your religion.

I shall create again, calling new souls … and bring your efforts to nought. 

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G-37: Pivoting … August 15, 2014

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 Morton's saltMarching down the hillside in Galilee, bubbling with excitement, feeling wonder, hope springing “earthly,” being granted an insight into the common soul, I was overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment.

For the first time, the Creator had gained human lips to speak to human beings about human affairs.

Honestly, there was not a whole lot to say. I covered it in twenty minutes.

Three main points–a trinity of cohesive ideas to generate a sense of blessedness:

I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

  1. All of you are the salt of the earth.
  2. We are a family through faith.

I was thrilled with the message, but even more enthralled with the reaction of the gathered as they found it to be understandable and exploding with authority.

Could it be this simple?

Could it be that the human population was just waiting for a chance to hear words that could be easily translated into actions?

Yet arriving back in the mainstream of life, I soon realized there would be an attempt to thwart my optimism with need and greed.

Yes–the perpetual need of those who were sick, hurt, impoverished and disenfranchised; and the greed of those who wanted to keep them that way by using religion, politics, commerce and bigotry.

Lepers and Pharisees.

For every step forward I was able to make in communicating to the brothers and sisters around me, I found myself corralled by the ongoing frustration of the needy and the indifference of the greedy.

So here I was–human–caught up in the same emotions of jubilance and despair which permeated the lifestyle of those I had previously viewed from my position above. Now I, too, was party to their bewilderment.

Was it going to be possible to win them over through reason and thought … or would more drastic measures be required?

 

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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Click here to listen to Spirited music

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