Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 9) Leavening … January 31st, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesonian hands

When I looked at the parable again, it just made me laugh.

Jesus often had a dry sense of humor–and in this particular story, he refers to the society in which we live as “the lump.”

Could it be personified any better? Just a big pile of dough, laying there with no prospect of becoming anything in particular, susceptible to being manipulated.

Even though we are tempted to become part of the dough, Jesus suggested we become the leaven–the yeast–the ingredient that quietly slips inside the lump, ends up affecting it by expanding it and making it into bread.

It is the reasonable expectation of all people who are followers of Jesus–thus Jesonian: to contribute to the world around them by adding their yeast into the mix to produce the bread of life.

The problem is that many Christians, instead of using emotional leavening in their outreach, end up with spiritual “littering. ”

  • They waste their witness.
  • They cast aside the power of the Gospel.
  • And they limit the scope of how they can affect their brothers and sisters by offering tracts and little bits of scripture.

This spiritual “littering” occurs in three distinct ways:

1. A generic God.

Yes, in an attempt to become all things to all men, we talk about God instead of Jesus. It seems safer. It appears to be less offensive.

But since Jesus did not come to start a religion and is not in competition with those who did, the way to gain emotional ground with others–to leaven the lump of their lives–is to share the compassion, the heart, the tolerance and the mind of Jesus.

God is an idea. Jesus is a feeling.

2. We also spiritually litter offering an invitation to come to our church.

May I give you a clue? The people who are inclined to go to church at this point are already there.

So the next step for creating a spiritual awakening in this country will not be church attendance. It may lead to that eventually, but to leaven the lump–to put your yeast of emotion into people’s lives–you have to participate in social interaction where they live.

The Internet, dinner invitations, parties, or even going to a movie with a friend is much more effective than the spiritual littering of inviting them to your congregation.

3. And the final step of spiritual littering is feeling the need to make a stand on social issues or moral questions so as to separate our “sheepishness” from those who are more “goat-like.”

We achieve nothing with this.

Whether we are vigilant or vindictive in our assertions makes no difference because we are still accused of being judgmental.

The emotional leavening that Jesus wants us to bring to life is good cheer.

Rather than looking at the tribulation of the world and having a disagreement with it, he tells us to leave the world to him and instead, pursue a life of good cheer.

It’s just a fact–people like to be around happy people.

This does not mean we are free of difficulty, but it means we come into trial in good cheer, survive it, and come out the other end also cheered by the good.

We have too much spiritual littering going on in our society today which renders the Gospel weak because it is at the mercy of people’s perception of the church.

Jesus said the world is a lump.

Put your emotional leavening into it, and let the yeast expand the experience of those around you.

Share Jesus, eat with them … and be of good cheer.

 

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Jesonian: The Jesus List… April 12, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Things to do for blog with words

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What I Owe … May 12, 2014

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I Owe YouThings sure seem to be getting noisier.

Of course, there’s always been some racket raised from the human race, with the clamor of complaint and the lament of lacking. But it sure feels like what is important is shoved to the back of the news in favor of gossip.

I don’t offer this as a criticism. Let people do what they want to do.

But it does make me wonder what I owe to my fellow-travelers. Here’s what I came up with–I owe my brothers and sisters:

  • a pure heart
  • a seeking soul
  • a renewed mind
  • a willing strength.

Now I’m tempted, like everybody else, to advance a deceitful heart, a religious soul, a made-up mind and an overwhelming burst of strength.

But simply because things are promoted does not make them right, and running a country on the basis of the majority rule only puts off the inevitable need to recognize the truth, which often hangs back with the minority.

So the questions I ask myself are:

How can I have a pure heart?

That’s simple. Tell the truth as much as possible and if a lie comes from my lips, make sure I’m the first one to catch it and correct it.

To have a seeking soul:

I have to admit to myself that my faith must grow instead of just remaining stubborn. After all true spirituality is about building a road instead of a fort.

How does one renew one’s mind?

I call it “learning-thinking.” After all, there is thinking which has stopped learning, and there’s learning that doesn’t think that much. This is even simpler. Knowledge is better than opinion, and truth trumps them both.

And finally, since I owe a willing strength:

I can pay that debt by bringing what I’ve got to every situation without trying to control, manipulate or make excuses.

Yes, it really is that simple. Because if I tell the truth, let my faith grow, drop my opinion in favor of what’s everlasting and I bring what I’ve got to every situation, I suddenly become valuable.

That’s what I owe you.

And by the way … it’s all you owe me.

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After an appearance earlier this year in Surprise, Arizona, Janet and I were blessed to receive a “surprise” ourselves. Click on the beautiful Arizona picture above to share it with us!

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Play Ball … February 28, 2012

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As far as I know, the only way to keep from being run down is to practice how to walk through.

I’m not quite sure why folks choose to live their lives like they‘re on stage in a comedy club doing improv–perhaps it’s because a certain number of us think that everything is dumb luck anyway, so why mess around trying to prepare for something that’s bound to surprise or disappoint you?

Others of the more pious sort believe that our entire destiny is laid out in the mind of God, as the angels act as our personal agents, arranging all of our circumstances to hopefully suitable conclusions.

It’s a fascinating dilemma. The Bible does offer both insights. One particular verse says that “our steps are ordered of the Lord.” And there’s another verse that proclaims that “time and chance happens to everybody.” So as I often do, I will defer to my good friend Jesus for his insight on the issue. He said, “It rains on the just and the unjust.”  

In other words, there are forces at work and we will find ourselves intertwining our efforts with those existing energies, so we might want to think about the subject of responsibility. I have realized that lots of individuals have only two thoughts as they being their day. (1) “Who will I meet?” and (2) “What will happen?” It is a popular way to approach the living process. We don’t consider it to be haphazard or lacking preparation because we have decided that we will avoid people we don’t like and cautiously and suspiciously stay away from any situation that seems foreign to us.

It probably was the thought brewing in the minds of those who boarded planes on September 11th, 2001. They certainly had no intention of interacting with suicide bombers and had not really alerted themselves to the dangers that might lurk in the sky above. Now before you think I am criticizing them for a lack of judgment, please understand, it is not only commonplace for all of us, but it actually seems sensible. If we can keep those we trust close to us and stay away from environments that are unusual, we should be able to plot our lives, right?

But once again, yesterday the dear souls of Chardon, Ohio, found out that insanity, frustration, stupidity and violence–perpetuated by a young man entering his school and shooting his classmates–cannot be relegated to one area and segregated from our safe havens. Life finds us.

So some folks smarten up and add a third consideration. “What will I do?” In other words, “Who will I meet?” (Let me try to control the guest list.) “What will happen?” (Stay away from weird opportunities.) Then additionally, “What will I do?” (If I find myself in a pickle, what’s my game plan?)

You have to admit, that has a bit more foresight to it than merely stepping off an airplane wearing a parachute that you didn’t pack. But here’s the problem–we really don’t KNOW what we will do. Most of us haven’t spent enough time in our own consciousness and emotions to really understand what freaks us and what tweaks us. Yes–there are things that really scare us to death and there are things that rejuvenate us to life. Do you know the difference? Can you identify them?

Because I contend there’s a fourth thing that has to be done–or what we do, what will happen and who we meet can be a precarious, slippery slope. And that fourth thing is, “Who am I–really?”

So since I believe that there’s going to be a game going on every day called life, and the stakes can sometimes be quite high, I want to make sure I’m quite acquainted with all the members of my team. I exercise my heart and emotions every day. I give my spirit a good running. I make sure my mind is well-oiled with reason, and I try to do my best to eat what’s cool instead of like a young fool. And then I do one more thing.

I rehearse.

That’s right. I rehearse. Rather than being afraid of terrorists, I take the time to put myself through the paces of what I would do if confronted in such a situation, based upon who I am. In the process I discover some hidden prejudices, some apprehensions and many inadequacies. So I rehearse.

I never go to meet somebody at a church who has been kind enough to invite me in to share without rehearsing how I would want to be treated, and considering what this fine individual may have been through in daily activity prior to my arrival. The most dangerous way to live on earth is without knowledge of oneself. To be so flippant and short-sighted as to think we can control who we meet, manipulate what happens or even guarantee what we will do is to weave our own spider web of self-entrapment. Who I am is much more important than anything else that will ever happen to me.

Let me give you an example. Yesterday, there was a news report about a man who was carjacked, suffered a broken leg and was crawling on the street. The broadcasters were appalled that people walked by without helping him.

Actually, it’s the identical scenario that Jesus told in the story of the Good Samaritan. In his tale, many people walked by a man who had been–well, in this case, I assume, donkey-jacked, and left for dead. They had their reasons for not stopping–mostly a determination that they had to be somewhere at some time as quickly as possible. The reason the story is called The Good Samaritan is that this Samaritan guy actually broke pattern, changed his plans and stopped, deciding to make this new situation his reality.

I will tell you this. He did not do this spontaneously. This man had rehearsed this many times before. He had thought over in his mind what he would do if he came across a traveler in distress. Spontaneity may be fun for sneaking up behind someone you love and giving them a kiss. But being spontaneous in life is acting as if we can actually manipulate all of our surrounding environment. It just won’t happen.

I rehearse. If I’m going to have dinner with my children, I rehearse complimenting the food, conversation I may wish to indulge in and inquiries which I will avoid (which make me the nosy father instead of the nurturing helper). If I’m going to go to the grocery store I make a list–especially of those items I am sure to forget–and carry it in my hand, so as not to walk out cursing the air because I forgot something.

Life is a performance–so rehearse. The heavens begin a new day with a rising sun and a shout of, “Play ball!”  You will quickly discover that who you meet is beyond your planning, what will happen is never completely within your grasp and what you will do might just shock you–unless you’ve already carefully considered who you are.

We’re going to do this thing called life once. We keep asking for do-overs, and when we plead, there is often an annoying giggle that comes from the sky. God is not mean, He’s just very practical. And if you let people be lazy and not aware of themselves, they will compound their own difficulties until they forfeit their free will. How unfortunate.

So feel free to go ahead and wonder about who you’re going to meet. Being human as we are, you might even want to muse over what will happen. It’s kind of fun to speculate on what you will do. But the most important thing is to know is who you are. And the only way to do that is by rehearsing courage, practicing concern and studying your own character–so you’re ready to play ball and pull out your best performance.

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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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