Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 7) Considering … January 17th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesonian hands

He didn’t suggest the fig tree, even though they were plentiful in his environment.

For you see, Jesus was quite aware that even though the fig tree grew in the arid, sandy soil of Mesopotamia, it often would sprout leaves to protect itself from the sun, but “cursedly” refuse to offer any fruit to anyone else.

In discussing our lifestyle, Jesus said, “Consider the lily.”

The lily has three aspects to its persona that are much more suited for Planet Earth:

  1. The lily knows it is supposed to grow
  2. It doesn’t work hard (toil).
  3. It isn’t convinced it might need to cheat to get its way (spin).

We are supposed to be lilies.

In being this beautiful flower, we expect growth, we stop struggling and we refuse to lie. This opens the door to just enough optimism that we can work with the available realism.

And the enemy to “lily life?” Those who proclaim that “people don’t change.”

It fascinates me that those who call themselves liberal–who deeply embrace evolution–think that such a transition ceases to apply when it comes to their own lives.

And those who do not believe in evolution, but prefer creation, still contend that God created them to be at least partially miserable.

We are lilies.

This means we need to learn how to consider. And considering is a decision to pursue a better solution instead of suffering in our tradition.

So how can you be reasonable?

A. Find your soil.

You won’t grow lilies in the desert. Even though Jesus was surrounded by desert, he suggested that his disciples find a place where lilies can grow.

B. Sink roots.

Don’t keep changing your mind and following every wind of doctrine. Find principles that have proven to be of lasting quality, creativity, invention, peacefulness and good cheer.

C. Suck in the light.

It is very difficult to grow lilies in a cave of misunderstanding. We are not mushrooms, which sprout in darkness. If you are surrounded by darkness, you will not pursue considering. Therefore you will fall short of considerate.

  • We are not fig trees, trying to just “get by” in the desert.
  • We are not mushrooms, tolerating the darkness.
  • We are a lily.

Therefore we grow as we stop working so hard and refuse to join the cheaters.

 

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Jesonian: Pillars… July 12th, 2015

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Three pillars

Anyone who is willing to spend 24 hours hanging out with me will quickly realize that I have three pillars that hold up the household of my faith and keep a roof over my personality.

  1. Be of good cheer
  2. Be creative
  3. Be honest

It doesn’t mean that I’m never grouchy, lazy or a liar. It just means that normally I reject those profiles and when I accidentally slide into them, I attempt to repent quickly.

So it should be no surprise to anyone that Jesus of Nazareth–the unemployed carpenter-turned-preacher–should also have such pillars.

If you ignore them, you will fail to understand his character.

So what are the three pillars of Jesus?

1. Be smart.

He told his disciples to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

In other words, not everything can be solved by the Bible, and certainly not every situation is covered by the Constitution.

Sometimes science has all the answers, and on other occasions, we must defer to the mystery of creation.

The true Jesonian person understands the importance of being smart–applying what is applicable instead of forcing something in that is irrelevant.

2. Be universal.

Jesus made it quite clear to the Jewish people around him that he was not Jewish. He told them that before Abraham existed, he was around. He interacted with Samaritans and outcasts.

If you don’t believe this to be true, then you have only to look at the reaction of those who were Jewish around him. They deemed him a sinner, a seditionist and a friend of those who were against Israel.

He didn’t care. He knew the power of his message was to package it for the whole world and not merely for a small portion of Mesopotamia.

3. And finally, Jesus made it clear that he expects his followers to be forgiving.

Every time he was confronted with someone who was faulty and that individual was willing to repent, Jesus never failed to forgive.

What is forgiveness? It is the realization that we don’t perform the job of God and that each one of us is so needy that we shouldn’t point out the need in others.

Those are the three pillars of Jesus:

  • Be smart
  • Be universal
  • Be forgiving

I’m terribly curious what would happen if the Christian church actually followed these pillars…and built their house on the rock instead of the sand.

 

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Jesonian: Simeon Says… December 28, 2014

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baby from roots no words bigger

People often walk up and tell me they have a “word from the Lord” for me. Sometimes they refer to it as a prophesy, sometimes a word of knowledge or wisdom, and on occasion, they will even describe the coloration of my aura. Most of the time they’re just trying to connect and be nice.

I listen to them intently and thank them.

Yet every once in a while, these fine individuals will tell me something that has true spiritual significance or is a revelation they could not possibly have ascertained on their own.

It is a joyous, chilling encounter.

I bring this up because we are told in the Gospel of Luke, that Mary and Joseph, being good Jews, make a trip to the local temple to offer a sacrifice of gratitude for the birth of their son, Jesus.

They immediately come across an aged gentleman who seems partly senile and partly crazed, who has one of these “words of prophesy” for them.

Being an old man and probably well-set in his ways by his traditional upbringing, his message is contrary to his training.

His name was Simeon. Here’s what he told them about their baby, Jesus:

1. Jesus will be a light “to lighten the Gentiles.”

It is highly unlikely that Simeon would share such a notion, since he believed from his youth that those who were not Jews were basically dogs. He would not select to be so broad-thinking unless inspired by a divine source.

The first thing to remember about the gospel brought by Jesus is that his main goal was to get God out of Jerusalem and take the love of the Father on the road. For hundreds of years, belief in Jehovah had been stuck in Mesopotamia. It was time for the rest of the world to be included.

2. Find the glory of Israel.

  • What is the glory of Israel?
  • Patriarchs?
  • Dusty scrolls?
  • Stories of heroes who conquered giants?

No–the glory of Israel is that one man or woman can hear a message from God and launch out by faith. Honestly, the traditions only hinder that process.

3. The message of Jesus will be “a falling and rising to many.”

Some people just like to be prejudiced. They want to believe in a God who “hates somebody so He can love us more.” The message of Jesus eliminates that vengeful creature, replacing Him with a creative Father.

Some people rose with that authorization. Others fell in with the crowd who cried, “Crucify.”

4. Mankind’s heart shall be revealed.

The Jesonian is not a thinking man’s religion. It’s not a spiritualist carnival. It does not extol physical appearance above all else. Jesonian is the willingness to have our hearts exposed without fear, knowing that in so doing, the “truth will make us free.”

Religion studies God so that we don’t have to study ourselves. That is why the Jesonian is not a religion–it’s a lifestyle.

That day an old man in the temple broke through all of his pre-conceived ideas to share a message from on high.

It was a message of inclusion.

It was a message of challenge.

And it was a message that told us that as long as we’re willing to be real, the reality that comes our way can bless us.

 

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Populie: Christmas is for Children … December 3, 2014

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star over manger bigger

I read it over twice just to make sure.

But even with this double scrutiny, I was unable to find the mention of any children in the original Christmas story, except for one baby born in a manger.

The tale contains a king, three astrologers from Mesopotamia, shepherds, a confused purported virgin, a bewildered carpenter-in-training, a prophet and a prophetess, a greedy innkeeper, and many souls who were finding their situation quite taxing.

But there was no one under the age of fifteen who was mentioned except the little fella with straw for a pillow.

Yet today you would assume that Christmas was conceived in the minds of the Madison Avenue elite, who were desiring to come up with a holiday that focused on “tots before they were teens.”

Politics loves this populie, because it provides new stumping ground extolling the family and high-sounding ideals.

The entertainment industry certainly focuses on kids because it frees them from having to put a spiritual spin on December 25th, but instead, advertises Santa Claus, candy canes and overgrown elves.

And religion can barely contain itself, trying to yank that baby out of the wooden cradle and on to the cross as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, the significance of “peace on Earth, good will toward men” dissipates into the background in favor of sitting back in our easy chairs, shaking our heads in awe as the youngsters rip open their presents.

Attention one and all: Christmas is for us. It may be our only chance.

It offers three very important possibilities which tend to escape us by the middle of January, and certainly have run away in horror by April 15th, when the IRS drains our sensibilities.

1. We are all the children of God.

If Christmas is for children, it is only because we live in the household of “Our Father which art in heaven.” We have lost our innocence. We favor a jaded outlook. We have resigned our place in the human family, running away to live in an orphanage, simply to make ourselves seem abandoned.

2. Children need to be taught.

For a very brief moment, we begin to look at the Jesus-born-in-the-manger as the life coach he was intended to be instead of the human sacrifice we have thrust upon him. After all, the angels foretold of “peace on Earth, good will toward men,” not a sacrificial blood-bath that ends up with us forming religious institutions with dark, dank corridors.

3. Going forward means going back to pick up what we lost.

There is nothing more precious than being nine years old on Christmas morning. To reject that memory as being idealistic, foolish or silly is to lose one’s soul before dying.

It’s not so much that “Christmas should be in our hearts each and every day of the year” as it is that our hearts should never surrender Christmas and the memories that make us chill with anticipation.

Bluntly, if you’re not excited about what’s going to happen next, you need to change what’s next.

So be careful with the populie that says “Christmas is for children,” because you soon will find yourself angry at the holiday, and also at the little fellows and ladies who keep trying to hang the holly and trim the tree.

It is only true that Christmas is for children as long as we understand that to gain a true spiritual and emotional sensibility… we must all become as a little child.

 

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Populie: The Holy Land … October 29, 2014

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Isis, Jew and Crusader

Land: a retreating of the waters, leaving behind soil which is available for living and planting.

Holy: promoting, initiating and welcoming a sense of wholeness.

These are truths.

So what is the populie? Calling some region in Mesopotamia “The Holy Land.”

It is neither conducive to growing much of anything or welcoming wholeness. Even though it’s only the size of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, it has fostered more death, destruction, bigotry, selfishness, greed and lunacy than any other location on the face of the earth.

Yet the entertainment industry loves to make movies about the Crusades and supposedly deep insightful, flicks focusing on the conflicts between the Jews and the Arabs.

Politics certainly enjoys spouting the term “Holy Land” because it welcomes certain constituencies into the mix for large donations.

And religion adores the idea that this space of property has magical powers or is ordained by God to be the prophetic source of spiritual renewal.

The Holy Land is not. I have never had a desire to go there, nor will I ever, of my own volition.

It is occupied by inflexible souls who mysteriously continue to fight a battle among each other to honor their traditions instead of dealing with the realities of our time.

It is evil in the sense that it pulls down the rest of our brothers and sisters living with us on this planet, because supposedly Abraham said something thousands of years ago, which Moses confirmed and Mohammed contradicted.

They are quarreling brothers who bang on our door in the middle of the night because they’re fighting again, and somebody punched somebody in the nose, and we’re supposed to decide if we’re going to call the cops or just make a big pot of coffee.

I must tell you:

  • Jesus found nothing holy about that land.
  • Matter of fact, he prophesied that it would be left desolate.
  • He told them that even though they believed they were the “children of Abraham,” that he existed before Abraham, and therefore trumped the patriarch.
  • He warned them that their holy temple would be torn down.
  • He told his disciples to begin their work in Jerusalem but to get out of there as quickly as possible and take the mission to the more receptive parts of the world.
  • He explained that true worship of God would not be in Jerusalem, but would be achieved through spirit and truth.
  • And even though we try to make Jesus Jewish and connect him to the Holy Land, he made it clear that he wasn’t called to those who thought they were righteous, but instead, to those whom the righteous considered to be sinners.

We must begin to call this desolate, angry, self-righteous location the dark place it truly is, and stop trying to revere it as a special piece of turf. If not, we will perpetuate the myth that if we just send one more army in there on a crusade, we can finally win back God’s holy land.

For if Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Connecticut suddenly decided to start squabbling over land and spiritual heritage, we would go in there and tell them to shut the hell up, get it right or we would close off all supplies and sanction them from our country.

But even though we contend that God is no respecter of persons, we in the United States continue to treat Israel preferentially and look at the Arabs with a jaundiced eye. They probably won’t be ignored, but we need to stop giving them so much of the human stage.

It is not a Holy Land. Stop planning trips there, thinking you’re going to “walk where Jesus walked.”

Because true holiness is where God is.

And the Spirit of God always dwells where there is liberty. There is no liberty in the Holy Land. Even Israel, which claims to be democratic, has restrictions on spiritual expression and prejudice against their neighbors.

Go where there’s liberty, and there you’ll find the Spirit of God. Forgive me for a little bit of flag waving–but that’s why I’m glad to be an American.

And for me, today, as I travel, the Holy Land … is Roanoke, Virginia.

 

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G-44: Blogging… October 3, 2014

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Paul writing

Paul was a blogger.

Although it’s commonly accepted that he authored books, what he really penned were entries which he posted to various individuals and congregations, expressing his mood in the moment.

So sometimes we have:

  • happy Paul
  • sad Paul
  • angry Paul
  • theological Paul
  • philosophical Paul
  • bruised Paul
  • attacking Paul
  • judgmental Paul
  • merciful Paul
  • Pharisee Paul
  • and Gentile Paul

Nothing much is achieved in reading the New Testament without understanding this concept. For if you isolate off one of Paul’s posts and attempt to characterize his entire message by its content, you will soon be frustrated by another entry, which seems to be contradictory.

Before you become critical of this grab-bag styling, you might want to consider the audience Paul was trying to reach. First, he worked around the erroneous premise of trying to be “all things to all men so that he might save some.” Here’s the problem with the idea: the Jews seek for a sign, the Greeks want wisdom, the Romans crave power and the Barbarians yearn for an identity. It’s difficult to believe that any singular paragraph, clump of verses or accumulation of chapters could appease all of these sensitivities.

So by the time the first century came to an end, and all of the original folks who ate and lived with Jesus were dying off, the message was suffering from a “clarification crisis.”

Some people favored Paul, some Peter, some Apollos, and others, some no-name who didn’t make the Biblical cut.

Simultaneously, the Romans were gradually getting tired of killing Christians and because of the failings of their Empire, were looking for a fresh motivation. So as time marched on, the Romans embraced this “Mesopotamia Message” as their own, and of course, in the process, swallowed it up with their bureaucracy.

The Romans, being authoritarians, felt that the weakness of the Pauline preaching was that it allowed too much freedom for the individual, without the structure of a governing body filled with superiors.

So this new Roman church was structured exactly the same as Rome itself–with an Emperor, a Senate, tribunals and even, to a certain degree, legions of soldiers.

The ironic result was that a God who came to study man was ignored in favor of men who decided to study God.

Meanwhile, the Barbarians discovered a potent identity. They could defeat Rome and rule the world, such as it was.

So a message which was intended to place the Kingdom of God within the heart of each believer was now placed within the whim of a potentate.

Alas, my friends … leave it to human beings to make things worse when they organize. 

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Confluence … July 12, 2012

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It was an odd sensation. Not odd in the sense of bizarre, but rather, intriguing, invigorating–spine-tingling, if you will.

He stopped off at my motel room before he headed off to be in Chicago with his wife. He’s a full-grown man but he calls me Pop. The reason for that lovely addressing is that when he was just about ten years old, a rocky storm of a family in peril deposited him on my shore. I took him in as a son. He gradually took me in as a possibility.

We sat and talked yesterday for what ended up being much longer than a traditional farewell. What made this situation particularly unique was that thirty-four years earlier, I sat in a room with his father when he was exactly the same age, discussing many of the same dilemmas, coming to mostly identical conclusions.

But this time it was different.

When I talked to his father, I was only five years his senior–and he was deeply engrained in a culture which possessed too much macho and not enough tenderness for discovery. His father was frightened, nervous, incriminated, worried, horny and broke. It is not a particularly appealing buffet of possibilities. His father was driving around in a beat-up yellow Ford Pinto with a burnt valve, which only started on mornings when there was absolutely no moisture in the air. His father was wounded, but not seeking treatment. His father was angry, but content with the rage. His father was ignorant, while adding the unnecessary and unseemly addition of being arrogant. I worked with his father for a long time, and although there were occasional hints of progress, he always returned to his roots instead of honoring his new sprouts.

So yesterday, when this fine, young man came to my motel room, talking about his life, he lamented that he was a little nervous that he might end up being like his dad.

I laughed. I wasn’t trying to be scornful or disrespectful to this fine fellow; it just seemed humorous to me that this particular insecurity was plaguing him. For you see, something had changed. The curse of repetition of father to son had been broken by the power of a confluence.

It is impossible for two things to remain identical if one insists on changing the level of experience. It is the reason that our society is not moving forward–because we are not admitting our frailties to our children and sending them to places where they can learn how to be stronger than we were. Some folks who tout the name of Mother and Father even feel great pride that their children are exactly like them.

God forbid.

The greatest love you can have for your son or daughter is to wish that they will take the better parts of you, reject the worst and go out and experience more than you did, so that in their souls there can be a confluence of newness.

What is a confluence? It is when the combined streams of many rivers join together to form a heart.  And that is what we’re supposed to be.

The young man sitting in my room could never be his father because:

  • he traveled to China to learn more about our world
  • he met a young woman there, fell in love with her, married her and has a son
  • he walked the streets among the poor in that country, learning their ways, their language and their customs
  • he dealt with his temper by seeking ways to find peace in his soul and harmony with those around him
  • he learned a craft of making movies instead of complaining about his lack of ability
  • he made friends with his wife’s family and has their support instead of their disdain
  • he keeps in contact with his brothers and family here in the United States, letting them know of his love and concern
  • he drives a car that starts with a key instead of needing the will of God
  • he came to the United States with his dear lady to aid her in continuing her education and dreams

Do you see what I mean? He created new rivers from the waters of his soul, to generate a confluence that was guaranteed to be different from that of his hapless father.

It is what we need. Every conservative should have to spend three weeks of his life living in poverty in the inner city. Every liberal who blithely contends that abortion is a choice should take their turn counseling and listening at a Planned Parenthood Clinic. Every Republican should work in a food stamp office and every Democrat should go deer hunting with some of the good folks down in Rome, Georgia. Every religious person should go out and see some of the injustice and pain in the world before they produce the silly piping of “God is good–all the time.” And every atheist should sit in the hospital room of a soul of faith, dying of cancer, and sense the angels entering the room to retrieve a friend.

America suffers because we have one stream of thinking instead of a confluence of many rivers of reason. No one ever became a worse person by opening up to learn about how other human beings feel. It is why we celebrate Jesus–because he insisted that the whole world was to be loved, not just Jew or Arab–and he picked up some boxes and moved God and Allah out of Mesopotamia to a home on the entire planet.

Jesus created a confluence. So did the young man who sat in my room yesterday. I was touched because he was concerned about his destiny, but he has already determined the power of his journey by sending in more water.

It’s a confluence–a decision to let fresh streams into our thinking, which will make us realize that the world is not quite as simple as Mom and Dad made it, and not nearly as complicated as we fear it to be.

   

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