Good News and Better News … December 18th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Christmas takes my breath away because it removes the stale air of predictable behavior and infuses the pure oxygen of the beauty of life.

It took a baby in a manger to address my childishness–because I am guilty of making the unimportant valuable, as I set aside the truly significant parts of life, praying in my soul that one day I will be able to give them their due.

Heft.

Yes, Jesus said there are “weightier matters” in life–things with girth, depth and breadth, which need to be addressed before all others, but are often ignored in favor of the pursuit of solvency.

It’s absolutely ridiculous.

The difference between religion and faith is that religion is satisfied to perform a service, and faith requires our full mustard-seed.

The weightier matters:

Mercy.

Mercy is not a lip-service devotion, but a proving ground, where those things that make us uncomfortable are forgiven so that we might retain human souls within the borders of the Earth.

Justice.

Escaping our family, clan, kin and even our country to catch a world-wide vision of equality within our race.

Faithfulness.

It is more than telling the truth and escaping the lie, but rather, making sure that the truth endures so that the lies don’t have a chance to gain root.

There is no season like Christmas.

There is no time during the year when “good will toward men” is considered a plausible possibility. There is no other occasion when redemption is viewed as a message rather than a human sacrifice.

The good news is that God weighs matters and gives them importance.

The better news is, if we place our concerns on the scale, we will know what value to give to each and every offering.

 

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Good News and Better News… November 20th, 2017

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As we drove to our weekend gig, we crossed Tampa Bay, and Janet was able to quickly snap a fuzzy picture of a fish jumping out of the water.

A moment in time.

The truth is, in the climate of our present social insurrection, human souls everywhere are attempting to leap out of the murky waters of despair. It just isn’t very fun…being unhappy. Even when other folks around you insist that they,too, are miserable, that particular form of fellowship is quite unfulfilling.

The problem is, we think the Bible has all the answers, and if we pass it along to lost souls, they will be able to find their way to salvation.

It’s similar to being hired by a corporation and having the rule book passed to you, thinking that the regulations which have been jotted down should be able to guide you through the daily activities of your workplace.

Everybody knows the company manual has nothing to do with the success of enjoying your job. It’s all about your manager and how he or she uses the rules to generate a friendly, human, creative environment.

Here’s a simple statement: Christianity is just a bag full of beliefs until we come along and agree together on a philosophical approach and implement the
ideas.

So you see, I placed in today’s article a picture of an empty church. I think that’s where we need to start.

Our churches may not be full of people, but they are full of religion, practices, traditions, and preferred culture. Most of this has nothing to do with the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus.

We would do better to imagine our churches empty–and start from scratch to build an environment of people who are accepting, understanding, filled with good cheer and ready for both evolution and revolution.

The fish are jumpin’–but there’s no one there to catch ’em.

We’re too busy maintaining our traditions and our worship style. We want people to become “church folks”–so they have to accept the culture to fit in.

It is time for the church to ‘manage’ itself better, and create an atmosphere which I shall dub “compassionate chaos”–where mercy is revered much more than sacrifice.

The good news is that Jesus gave us a lifestyle, not a religion.

The better news is, if we will empty our church of too many pre-conceived religious practices, we can fill it with actual living human beings.

 

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G-Poppers … October 6th, 2017

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G-Pop wants his children to understand about the sliding scale.

Although the human tribe insists on believing that goals are set and achieved, most of the time, we all fall short of the original aspiration, and end up settling for something a little bit different, if not lesser.

At that point, it is our nature to explain that what we attained is “just as good,” and if we’re smart, turn it into something of value.

So when Jesus told his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount to be merciful because it was the only way to guarantee mercy coming back in their direction, he was pointing out that if we do not set our minds to be merciful, we will never offer kindness.

Yes, kindness is about the best human beings can muster in dealing with one another. But to generate kindness, you’ve got to try for mercy–and mercy is that sense that it’s really none of our business, and we step away without judging whatsoever.

Kindness is the empathy that comes into our souls when we see someone fail and we recall our own sensations in failure.

Yet if you set your goal to be kind, you’ll probably end up with considerate. That means if someone is right in front of you and in need, you more than likely will put yourself out a little bit and lend a helping hand.

There are those who think that mercy and kindness are much too tender. So they try for considerate, and on the sliding scale, end up with tolerance. Yes, they patiently “put up” with foibles and attributes of other human beings while internally they harbor some hidden resentment.

Those who try for toleration eventually end up with indifference. Why? Because as you can imagine, toleration requires quite an effort, and sometimes it’s just better to stand at a distance and not get involved.

There are travelers who live a life of indifference, and suddenly find themselves plagued by complaining. Because even though we distance ourselves from other people, they don’t go away, and because they hang around with notable nagging nonsense, we are left complaining about them to other people.

Dare I say there are even human beings who start their day as complainers, and by the end of their morning and afternoon, as evening settles, they simmer in anger. Since no one really listens to their complaining, and what they complain about has not changed, they feel justified in being completely angry with the situation.

Would you believe there are people who live in anger, and as they look at the world around them, confirming their dark visions, they are suddenly engorged in a spirit of rage. They are the ticking time bombs–too sensitive to touch and ready to go off when least expected. And unfortunately, those souls who awaken in rage, on the sliding scale, eventually find themselves murderous.

There is a sliding scale.

So as we contemplate what causes a brother to fire thousands of bullets into a crowd, we must realize that maybe at one time, he wanted to be considerate, but the scale slid, and as it did, he did nothing to correct his course.

 

 

 

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 6)… August 5th, 2017

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It is troubling.

Yet I must profess to you that no one has greater joy and regard for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross than I do. It is my salvation and it rattles my consciousness to a sensibility of my own sinful nature and the grace of God.

That being said, I fear that the church has become “atone-deaf.”

Nearly desperate to land on a universal message for Christianity which can be compactly shared at a moment’s notice, we have placed too much attention on a hill called Golgotha, and not nearly enough tender loving care with a Sermon shared from a Mount. In doing this, we have contradicted things we know about the nature of God in order to fulfill the doctrine of the propitiation of sin.

For instance, God ordained free will for humans. Yet we’re led to believe that “from the foundations of the world” it was pre-destined that Jesus would be killed on a cross.

When God spoke through the Old Testament prophets, He declared that He wanted mercy, not sacrifice. Yet for some reason we decide that He changed His mind and adopted human sacrifice as the symbol of His covenant.

As a writer, the first thing you learn is to be faithful to your characters. You can’t manipulate the plotline by causing your character to do something completely beyond the scope of his or her nature, just so you can advance your story.

God gave us free will. We chose to kill Jesus.

God hates sacrifice. He took the death of Jesus and transformed it into our salvation.

What was meant for evil, He made good.

Atonement should be a central theme in the Christian message. It is powerful. It is priceless. But by no means should it be preached so loudly that it makes us deaf to the greater matters of the kingdom–tenderness, responsibility, excellence, consolation and tolerance.

What can we do to keep the death of Jesus in perspective?

I have always received the gift of Calvary as my salvation and a license for me to go out and salvage. How? First, deal with my own appetites and also multiply my talents. Once I become the salvager–the “light of the world” and “the salt of the earth”–I have the ability to transfuse the energy of salvation, pass it along to others and see them reborn.

The conclusion? As a saved soul who has become salvaged and a saver, I fulfill the purpose of me being rescued.

We’ve got to start listening again. We have to stop trying to fulfill denominational doctrine and instead, emphasize the character of God.

Jesus lived for thirty-three years to give the human race a chance to accept his message. He used stories; he used confrontation. He used healing; he used mercy.

And at the end of it all, we used crucifixion.

God, in His infinite grace, chose to take the blood that we shed and make it a symbol of our salvation rather than a further curse of our rebellion. It’s remarkable.

But if we want to find the heart of Jesus, it is not at Calvary.

It is in the words, deeds, actions and anointing of his life.

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Jesonian… June 10th, 2017

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Sex, money and family.

These are the three topics that encompass the majority of conversation for the average American.

Sex, discussed in the context of portraying ourselves as studly and virile while simultaneously pointing out the sinfulness in others.

Money, a perpetual complaint because we all feel we should have much more than we do.

And family because somewhere along the line we’ve convinced ourselves that our particular brood of offspring has a special place in the universe because we spawned them.

Matter of fact, I can pretty well guarantee you that if you wade into the horde of humanity, you’d better be prepared to talk about one of these subjects–probably all three.

I offer this preface because Jesus avoided these three subjects like a religion.

When they tried to get him to gossip about a woman caught in the act of adultery, he turned away, stooped down and fiddled in the dirt like he didn’t even hear them.

He certainly made the point to a bunch of pious Pharisees that because prostitutes were coming into knowledge of the Kingdom of God, they were going to enter heaven much sooner than the religious leaders. (This wasn’t very popular.)

When it came to money, he was confronted by a gentleman who wanted Jesus to be an arbiter in an inheritance squabble with a brother. Jesus curtly replies that “no one has made me a judge over such matters” and then proceeds to tell a parable about the dangers of greed. Probably not what the young fellow was looking for when he advanced his question.

And as pertains to family, Jesus made it totally clear to those around him that when his kin came to see him with the intent of returning him to Nazareth because they thought he was crazy, Jesus explained that his family was “anyone who did the will of my Father.”

So if you remove the subject of sex–which is often judgmental condemnations about the preferences of others; and money–which seems to be a perpetual lamentation over not having enough; and family–the extolling of our particular procreation due to sexual prowess–you really don’t have much to talk about, even in the lobby of a church.

Jesus had other topics that interested him:

Mercy.

Justice.

Compassion.

Faith that was ready to move mountains and those individuals who broke out of the pattern of the “sex, money and family fixation” to find a way to get along with everybody on the planet.

If you’re going to progress as a Jesonian individual–someone who pursues the heart of Jesus and not just his sacrifice–you need to realize that Jesus is not worried about your sex organs, your financial status nor how cute you think your grand-baby is.

This would probably cause him to receive some very critical glances from the Mens Fellowship and the Ladies Auxiliary. He did not care.

If you can’t get your mind out of the gutter, your brain free of feeling financially cheated, and your heart devoted to something other than those living under your own roof, you probably will back your way into a tragedy.

At that point you will have a choice.

Will you take responsibility for it due to your short-sightedness, or will you wonder why God didn’t do something to stop it?

 

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Good News and Better News… June 5th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Last night at the Renaissance Fellowship, I was privileged to be part of a holy collision. It wasn’t the “moon in the seventh house and Jupiter aligning with Mars.” Much more practical than that.

It was a blessed event, in which “willing” brushed up against “working” and satisfied “waiting”–the human trinity of possibility.

Without people being willing, it is useless to share things that are working. And if workable concepts are not being instituted, the sense of waiting in our souls lingers, rendering us frustrated. But when willing meets working, it satisfies waiting.

Foolishly, we’re all waiting for something.

How in the world waiting ever became a virtue baffles me–because waiting can be done by the foolhardy or the wise. There’s nothing particularly noble about it–matter of fact, it can degrade into first-class laziness. After all, what is the difference between waiting and stalled?

That’s where willing has to step in and become the big brother. In other words, we’re not only waiting for something to happen, we’re also willing to accept applications. They don’t have to be perfect. They don’t have to be what we’re praying for. Just able to be used to get us to our next place where we can stand in our faith.

You can tell you’ve grown spiritually when you know that complaining in any form can’t be justified.

Matter of fact, many of our prayers are glossed-over complaints. We lament to God instead of petitioning Him. We plead angst in His direction under the guise of just being worried and concerned.

Somewhere along the line, those that are “waiting upon the Lord” must renew their strength by being willing.

Willing to run and not be weary.

Willing to walk and not faint.

Suddenly–when willing shows up–working ideas seem to leap from the cosmos into the field of our vision. Hope does not spring eternal, it becomes an earthly possibility.

And when human beings who are waiting for some specific answer allow themselves to be willing to adapt to possibilities, then a Gospel full of working ideas can be preached and change the world.

Last night, people who quite obviously are waiting on promises suddenly became willing to enjoy themselves in the moment, and consider a temporary blessing, taking a rain check on their future hopes–and because of that, they were infused with working mercy, tenderness, excitement and insight.

It was magnificent.

But unless people become willing, nothing works. And when things don’t work, our waiting is absolutely futile.

So the good news is, it turns out that waiting is made much more tolerable by being willing.

And the better news is that willing people are ready to get to work.

P.S. Pictured is me with my grandson, Jonathan. (I’m the one in red.)

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Good News and Better News… May 8th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Breeders and needers

I am speaking from a spiritual sense.

Breeders are people who find personal satisfaction in joy, mission and composure, and are prepared to deal with those who come their way who may not have the correct balance of what we call normal human behavior.

They are merciful because they know the need to obtain mercy.

They are meek because they’ve already gotten their down payment on the inheritance of the Earth.

They don’t need encouragement to be gentle–the gentleness of God’s spirit has already convinced them of the wisdom of such behavior.

Needers, on the other hand, are folks who come to church with vice, variance and viciousness intact, and try to use God’s grace to cover their insufficiency rather than becoming the “light of the world and the salt of the Earth.”

It’s really simple:

Needers scare people away.

Breeders make an emotional and spiritual connection with their fellow-humans and birth fellowship.

As long as we insist that God doesn’t really care how good or bad we are, just that we have signed a salvation card and our names are written in the Book of Life, we will continue to frighten those who might find comfort in the Gospel, affronting them with members who have the maturity of a pen of pigs.

It’s time to talk realistically about Christianity.

We are on the verge of falling victim to the stereotypes that other religions have procured for themselves.

“All Jews are cheap.”

“All Muslims are terrorists.”

“All Hindus have a spot on the middle of their forehead.”

“All Buddhists eat humus.”

The Gospel of Jesus has a chance to speak a unified message to a diverse world. It is so desperately needed that writers like myself will risk being attacked by the needers in an attempt to lift up the breeders.

What are the characteristics of breeders?

They are salt. Tasteful. Sensitive.

They are light–illuminating instead of shocking the world around them.

Good works. It’s impossible to be humble without them. If you try to use humility without having good works, you just come across honestly inept.

Here’s the good news: Jesus is prepared to give instruction, permission and shortcuts to those who want to live dynamic, joyful and abundant lives.

And the better news is that needers can become breeders if they will develop the desire to connect with others instead of remaining frightened and insecure

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