3 Things… April 26th, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

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That Happen When You Give Up

1. Something possible is undone

2. You learn how to make excuses

3. You become critical of people who don’t give up

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Jesonian … April 21st, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3649)

44 words.

Yes, 44 words that changed the realm of faith from a God belief to a source of relief.

Standing on a hill, Jesus of Nazareth explains to his disciples that the law they had been following was being fulfilled in the lifestyle he was teaching. It is a philosophy that no longer promotes worship, praying, fasting and trying to be better than other people. Jesus transforms the message from religion to reality.

And now for the 44 words:
“Therefore…”

In other words, in conclusion. If you were wondering where we were heading, here it is. What follows will be the prophesy of the day.

“…if you’re offering your gift at the altar…”

Church should no longer be your life. If you do go, then go with a good heart, but don’t go anymore because you’re afraid. Don’t go anymore because you think it makes you a cut above the rest of humanity. And make sure when you go, you’re offering something instead of demanding.

“…and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you…”

Tune your spirit. Stop waiting to hear messages from heaven. All the messages will be coming from the Earth. And by the way, get rid of your gender bias. Don’t think the Jesonian is just for the brothers and not for the sisters, or for the sisters and not the brothers. You’re listening because you know if you’re going to hear the voice of God, it will come from those around you. Often it will be expressed as a chunk of disgruntled dissatisfaction they may have with you. In other words, be prepared to change. Don’t think you’re going to participate on Earth without being revised.

“…leave your gift there, in front of the altar.”

Get the point? It’s not about the gift. It’s not about the altar. It’s not about the worship service. It’s not about your devotion. All of that can be left when there’s a need to be a person to another person, to generate something personable.

“…first go and be reconciled to them…”

Cease insisting that this is the hard part. Stop giggling as you pretend that it’s so much easier to love God than it is your fellow-humans. If that’s the case, you’d better start practicing, because God has no intention of accepting a congregation which gathers to criticize the people He loves.

“…reconcile…”

Learn reconciliation. Reconciliation is the measuring stick of the depth of your spirituality.

“…then come and offer your gift.”

It will wait. It’s not as important as the feelings and consideration of another fellow-traveler. This is no longer a reaching for the sky, but instead, reaching out to those around you, and in doing so, finding God.

The sermon that Jesus spoke on that mountain many years ago was based upon the concept that the best way to find God is to stop looking for God, but instead, discover His creation. In doing so, you will ask, seek and knock your way into the Kingdom.

For understand clearly: God will have a people who become people to honor people by working with people–to love people.

*****

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3 Things… March 22nd, 2018

Jonathots Daily Blog

(3619)

To Do When You’re Trying to Lose Weight and Suddenly Become Convinced That You’re Hungry

1. Drink.

Water, tea, cola–some sort of fluid. Eight ounces. Don’t chug, but drink it down in less than two minutes. Fills space in your stomach.

2. Change your location.

Leave the room, depart the house, take a nap, go to bed early. The brain changes with your whim and motion.

3. Tell the person with you that you are struggling.

Talk. Speech relieves the instinct to eat because it uses the mouth. If you’re alone, pick up your phone.

 

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Jesonian … February 10th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3579)

There are two distinct types of abuse.

There is physical abuse, punctuated by an attack against body, heart or mind. It leaves cuts, bruises and scars. It is nasty, evil and inexcusable.

The other form of abuse is neglect. Being commissioned to perform a responsibility, someone decides to set it aside in favor of other pursuits, leaving that which was meant to be cared for destitute.

Although a case could be made that the religious system continues to physically abuse Jesus of Nazareth by crucifying him weekly in sermons, attempting to stimulate some sort of passion from the congregation, I shall step aside from such discussion in favor of presenting the true abuse.

We preach a Gospel of salvation which includes emphasis on “one time only, better do it today, this could be your last chance, hell is hot, Jesus loved you so much that he bled, and don’t you want to go to heaven” rhetoric in an attempt to frighten hearers who have already heard this many times before.

Meanwhile the real message of Jesus–the one that makes him our intimate, elder brother, and also affords the planet an opportunity for peaceful cohabitation–is often read aloud with the energy of reciting last week’s grocery list.

If you’re going to be Jesonian, you need to love Jesus. If you’re going to love Jesus, you’re going to get to know what’s close to his heart. And when you get to know what’s close to his heart, you will no longer be satisfied with a crucified Savior, but instead will become a disciple, pursuing a dynamic lifestyle.

You don’t have to go any further than the first three beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount to see what Jesus was all about. Matter of fact, I could spend the rest of my life elaborating on that trio and never run out of material.

It begins with the reality, follows with a challenge and culminates with wisdom.

The reality: we are happy because we are poor in spirit.

The reason that makes us happy is because we can stop trying to be spiritual instead of human. Once you find your classification, it’s so much easier to compete. Not an angel, not a saint, not a theologian, but rather, a human who is impoverished in the realm of spirit.

First realization: I am human and it is good.

God said so when He got done creating us. I don’t think He lied. Sure, we’re unpredictable, but since He’s not afraid of that, why should I apologize?

This is followed with a challenge. “Blessed are those who mourn.”

I have emotions and this is good.

Although we try to suppress them, these feelings continue to pop to the forefront, churn up our throats and waggle our tongues. Rather than deny them, we should use them to feel, to laugh, and most certainly, to mourn–to escape being uncaring bastards and instead, weep over the loss and pain in the world around us.

This climaxes with a bit of eternal, precious wisdom. “Blessed are the meek.”

Although there is a campaign to promote the notion that the more we brag, the stronger we are, the human race actually has a tendency to cut the stilts out from under those who try to walk too tall.

We honor humility. We are geared to destroy pride, even when it dwells within us.

Humble: “I am weak and it is good.”

In these three statements Jesus establishes a Gospel which is not only able to be mastered by humans, but can also be passed along as the living bread of truth that we all desperately need before we starve to death emotionally and spiritually.

I am human and it is good.

I have emotion, and it is good.

I am weak, and damn straight–it is good.

 

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Jesonian … December 30th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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A message does not change simply by revising the tone or the tune.

Our churches across America are convinced that if they became either softer or louder, the Gospel message will land on the hearts of the people more efficiently. There is also a strong contingency which contends that the music, styles and even instruments used in worship services are the key to drawing in the masses.

We have tried both of these methodologies, and we’re still losing people–and the general empathy for Christianity is diminishing.

What’s wrong?

Whatever Jesus did to share his thoughts and mission with the people around him was obviously more impactful and efficient than what we presently do. Matter of fact, Matthew the 9th Chapter, Verses 35-36, describe a day when Jesus enters the synagogue, teaches, preaches the new Gospel of the Kingdom and heals the sick–what you might call a complete package.

In other words, people come into the meeting, are challenged, changed and rid of some of their difficulties.

But it’s the next verse that makes me curious–that’s verse 36. It states that Jesus was “moved with compassion because the multitudes were harassed and helpless, like sheep having no shepherd.”

I guess I’ve always heard that interpreted in a positive way, spotlighting Jesus as the solution to the problem. A solution he may be, but not by offering the same insipid message that was already harassing the multitudes, leaving them helpless.

The present thrust and blending of Judeo-Christian values which is presented in the average church harasses us in our sins and inadequacies while simultaneously putting us at the mercy of society, and sometimes even the devil–helpless.

I do not understand what the value is of going to church if you’re going to be harassed and left helpless.

I also do not know how value could come to your life by constantly wandering around like a sheep looking for someone to give you directions.

Jesus was not describing a situation which he planned on addressing with a band-aid. Jesus intended to remove the harassment, empower the people and take away the silly, unfortunate profile of being sheepish.

How?

1. Even though we’re sinners, it does us no good to languish in that knowledge. We need to repent and move on, not hear it preached at us every single week.

2. We need to stop harassing the congregation with foolish discussions of worship approaches, prayer seminars and new ways to express our hospitality, and instead, give people tools to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.”

3. We need to stop victimizing the people who come to the church building by making them feel like they’re the underdogs in a world of tribulation.

4. We need to understand that Christianity is not a religion, but rather, a lifestyle, and therefore works best when it’s presented in small doses of ideas which enhance human life, and then follow it up through patient trial and error.

5. There is no Christianity without love and appreciation of one another. We cannot replace it with worship or ignore it with prayer, and merely attending the church service does not guarantee that we “love our neighbor as ourselves.”

6. We would do better to teach people to want God in their lives instead of making them needy.

7. And even though we are “sheep in the midst of wolves,” we gain the advantage by being “as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.”

Jesus was moved with compassion because religion had harassed the people, leaving them helpless, stumbling around like lost sheep.

The harvest he suggested his disciples pursue was to gather those souls from the danger of meaningless proclamations of faith and lead them to a place where their faith had meaning and their proclamations began to move mountains.

 

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Good News and Better News… October 2nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3448)

She was a sweetheart.

During my two presentations at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Clermont, Florida, I got a chance to meet this delightful woman.

She bounced up to my book table and engaged in conversation. About halfway through our exchange, her face got a little more serious and she asked me, “How do we rate? I mean, you go to places all over America. How would you rate our church?”

I knew she wanted a serious answer, yet I wasn’t going to placate her nor was I going to try to place some burden on her heart by pointing out an inadequacy.

“You’re kind of right in the middle,” I said.

She started to smile, then squinted and replied, “Well, that’s not very good.”

After nearly forty-five years of traveling America and sharing in a vari=ety of venues, many of them churches, I will tell you what makes a good church. It begins and ends with the word “generous.”

One of the most chilling statements Jesus offered to his disciples, and to us who would follow his message, was “to he who much is given much is expected.” So it’s a little optimistic to think that you’ll receive eternal salvation while lounging on a heavenly hammock. So here are the three things that make a great church:

1. Generous space.

Sanctuaries are too cramped. They’re confining. This stifles the sensation of freedom. Since your church probably is not filling up the sanctuary for every service, take come pews out. Create room. Make people aware that they have the freedom to extend their legs and arms. Give children a place to crawl.

Clear everything unnecessary from the platform. There should be room for three or four people to stand side by side easily.

If you give air to the room you give air to the people to give air

2. Generous face.

If you’re not going to talk to someone, don’t peer from a distance. It’s creepy. And when you walk up, don’t stay too long, but do make eye contact while you’re there.

We met a fabulous brother named Joe at Shepherd of the Hills. He was not an “average Joe.” He was loving, giving, kind, and made us believe that we had a primal place in his present consciousness.

No one expects you to be a counselor or long-lost friend from high school, but grant folks the dignity to enter your generous space and receive your generous face.

3. Generous grace.

You have no right, privilege or scriptural authority to probe into the lifestyles of those who worship next to you. Share the Gospel of Jesus and let the Gospel do its work. The Holy Spirit is much more adept at convicting people than you are with your gossip. I don’t care what you hear about people. I don’t care what you think about people. At no time do you, I or anyone else have the permission to judge anyone.

It is possible for any church in America to become a Jesonian church–a Jesonian Catholic, a Jesonian Baptist, a Jesonian Methodist, a Jesonian Lutheran, a Jesonian Pentecostal–but it requires you to take on the heart of Jesus instead of pounding your favorite theological nails.

The good news is that Shepherd of the Hills Church has this delightful lady who is not willing to subsist in the middle.

And the better news is, if you make your church a generous space with a generous face, offering generous grace, you will grow.

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 10)… September 2nd, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Troubling.

In the Gospel of John, the 9th Chapter, the disciples of Jesus get into a rather frumpy, cheesy, theological mood and approach Jesus with a question.

They had come upon a gentleman who was blind from birth, and they officiously asked the Master whether this happened to him due to his own sin, or the sin of his parents?

Keep in mind–these are the same fellows who had seen water turned into wine, five thousand folks fed with five loaves and two fishes, demons cast out and the dead raised. Yet when it comes to discussing the nature, tenderness, mind-set and intellect of God, they revert back to their small-village, Sunday School mentality.

They made two errors:

First, they contended that God punishes people for their sins. Nothing could be further from the truth. And Jesus made it clear–good things happen to good people and bad people, and bad things happen to everyone equally. (Otherwise, there would be great impetus to be good instead of bad, just to garner the material blessing.)

The second mistake was that they believed that people were “born a certain way.” Obviously, this notion permeates our society as well. We are convinced people are born athletes, born musicians, born leaders, born dexterous…shall I go on? We take comfort in the assertion because it gives us all an excuse for not taking the abilities we see in ourselves and multiplying them to make our lives more abundant.

These two completely errant ideas were put forth by these Galileans two thousand years ago–ideas which are still an intricate part of the doctrinal DNA of the average Christian.

  • “Don’t sin or God will punish you.”
  • And “you are destined to be something by birth.”

I think it is important to note Jesus’ response. He completely dismisses both possibilities. He makes it clear that God doesn’t punish people for their sins–and especially not for the sins of their parents. And he also says that destiny is a myth because free will is extolled throughout the Universe as the “go-to plan.”

You can’t have both free will and destiny. They do not co-habitate. Even though you may have a certain genetic makeup, it does not overtake you and turn you into something you do not choose to be.

It is also why the Bible makes it clear that part of the salvation experience is to be “born again”–becoming a new creature in Christ.

Jesus said that God was not punishing anyone, and that the man was not born blind. He said that blindness was in his life so that God could be made manifest through him in a unique way.

There’s nothing wrong with taking what seems to be a weakness and turning it into a strength so that God might receive glory. This blind man is not complaining; he is not joining into the theological discussion about his plight. Matter of fact, he’s not even begging to be healed.

He has found a place in his place to make a place for every place he goes.

That’s our job.

I was dealt a certain hand and so were you. Now, through the blessing of free will, I have the ability to turn those circumstances to the positive instead of internalizing them to complain about my pain.

It is troubling that we still have a church that believes if bad things happen to people, the people must be bad–and that we live in a society which insists we were all “born” with a certain destiny.

God gave us free will. We can deny it and wait for Him to plan our lives, only to discover that He doesn’t do that, and our time on Earth has slipped away.

Or we can take a look at what we have–an inventory, if you will–and see what great things we can accomplish–simply by stepping forward instead of backward.

 

 

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