Good News and Better News… May 1st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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I spent the weekend with the “Life of Brian”–once again reminded to “always look on the bright side of life.”

Yes, Brian is the pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Frostproof, Florida. Aside from being personable, gentle and caring, he has intelligently chosen to embrace the work that is set before him and enjoy it instead of complaining about the difficulties or lamenting its limitations.
That is remarkable. (So therefore, I did.)

Because of this spirit which radiates from him, the congregation allows itself to believe that they are not boxed in to either a social or a religious format that makes them run around in circles like gerbils looking for a wheel.

I must tell you–any church that advertises that it is presently on the path of righteous pursuits may very well be deluded. We are all intoxicated by an environment which challenges us to be rough and tumble instead of kind and merciful.

Very simply stated, that must change or nothing will happen.

If we truly go into a deeper study of the Word, we will end up as Paul did, proclaiming that the only commandment that’s necessary is “love your neighbor as yourself.”

If we pursue an existence of prayer, we will find, as Jesus taught, that our best supplications are done in the closet, without letting anyone know that we are seeking divine guidance.

It really comes down to a simple back-and-forth:

What should we slow?

What should become quick?

I use the word “slow” because none of us are without silliness and foolish iniquity, so we will occasionally slip up. Right now we are obsessed with the notion to be quick to judgment and slow to love. For some reason, we insist that this is a sign of maturity, caution or caring for our loved ones. Because of this, the people in our society sometimes look like they’re sniffing the room for nasty odors instead of including the inhabitants of the room.

We are quick to judge yet slow to love.

And no matter how much you learn about the Tabernacle of David, the death of Christ or the Apocalypse, you will make no progress in the Kingdom of God until you become quick to love and slow to judge.

Matter of fact, if I were pastoring a church, I would teach on that subject for at least six months–until everybody in the congregation, including the toddlers, was fully aware that the mantra of our mission was “quick to love and slow to judge.”

This does not mean that prayer, worship, fasting, giving and study have no merit–it just means they have no muscle. They do not bust through the cement of the walls we are building between each other. The only thing that will do that is love and a refusal on our part to judge others.

So the good news is this: if we can learn to be quick to love, even if it seems a little awkward at first, at least we will be stumbling in the right direction.

And the better news is, if we are slow to judgment, we can begin to tear down the dark image of the Christian faith, which has turned us into prudes instead of proof.

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G-Poppers … September 23rd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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When G-Pop was a younger man, some of his friends suggested that he go seek the wisdom of an “image consultant” to help guide him in his writing career.

The concept was that this expert in marketing would have great ideas on how to make G-Pop more relevant to the public.

The two-hour session, which cost $150, garnered one very important insight: everything we do projects an idea.

It’s similar to the genesis of the creation of the universe. After God set science and planetary formations in motion, He settled in to generate the working friendships that would highlight the essence of His feelings.

  • God created humans in His own image.
  • Therefore we are God’s image consultants.

What people will think about God is based upon how they view us–and to some degree, how they perceive our being comes from their ideas about God.

It’s really very simple:

  1. Humans need God.
  2. But God needs humans.

A covenant began in a garden. The rules were understandable. Humankind received free will, and God asked humans to become caretakers of the animals, the Earth and each other.

G-Pop knows that when this system is honored, the love of God, the love of humans and the love of Earth is manifested. But if we insist we love God but misuse the Earth and mistreat one another, we portray an image which is contrary to who He is, and therefore infuriating.

So returning to the simplicity that human beings are God’s image and therefore God needs human beings to propel His nature, we begin to grasp the beauty and magnitude of our mission.

G-Pop has free will. For the pleasure of making his own plans, his own selection of friends and his own life’s work, God requests that G-Pop be a good caretaker of the Earth and all of its inhabitants.

If you think that’s religion, then may we all be religious.

But if it is what the Bible calls it–the breath of life–then may be all start breathing deeply.

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G-Poppers … September 16th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Every human being has a seed.

The mission is to find it.

G-Pop discovered at an early age that he had the ability to make people laugh. He was also delighted to uncover a craft for taking words, forming sentences and compiling them into paragraphs which evolved into complete stories.

And then there was a song. Yes, a song–the blessing of making music.

Finding that seed was truly the greatest revelation in G-Pop’s life. Without it, worshipping a God of power made him feel too insignificant. Seeing the successes of others could tempt him to be envious.

After finding the seed, it was then G-Pop’s responsibility to plant it.

Sounds simple enough–yet it is essential to avoid planting seed where others suggest, or feeling that unless it is planted in a big field it is meaningless. Here’s the message:

  • Plant where you are.
  • Plant where available.
  • Plant in the vicinity of your heart–and your feet.

Then, after finding the seed and planting it, the only other responsibility G-Pop had as a human being was to make sure he didn’t hurt anyone. There is only one way to truly hurt others and it always begins with a lie.

The serpent lied to Eve, Eve lied to Adam and Adam lied to God. The end result was hurt.

It is time to stop complicating the situation. It comes down to finding a seed, planting the seed … and not hurting anyone.

 

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Good News and Better News … April 11th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Good News Grays Chapel

Yesterday I was at Grays Chapel United Methodist Church.

It is located in a place called Grays Chapel, North Carolina, which has been granted the blessing of a name despite its size.

I liked them.

I’m not so sure they liked me at first because after all, I was a stranger. Because I was a stranger, I was therefore suspect.

Isn’t it interesting that most of the problems that come to us in life are hatched by friends and family? Rarely are we inundated by a predicament brought about by someone we don’t know.

That said, I had to make a decision on what I wanted to say to these fine folk. I mingled my words with songs, music and a bit of humor.

Yet, it is important to have a core message.

My core is so simple that it probably leaves some people attending my events a little disappointed–because I fail to attack the right people or praise those usually deemed worthy. So my success rate is very good, but is also plagued by the lack of having an adequate enemy we can all hate. Matter of fact, you can boil down what I have to say to the following:

1. The Gospel is good news.

I know people can find bad news in the Good Book, but I’ve never been one to try to turn it into the “Bad Book.” Maybe that makes my mission seem a little too simple or fluffy.

I don’t care.

People get enough bad news without having me set up my equipment and blare it from the PA system.

2. Jesus lived a human life.

Every attempt we make to turn Jesus of Nazareth into Apollo– who was purported to be half god and half man–makes him none of either.

The power of the life of Jesus is that even though he was driven by a calling and anointed by Spirit, he was bound by flesh.

It makes what he has to say much more pertinent to our lives, instead of him coming across as some professor from heaven, wonkishly trying to explain how things work to a bunch of dumb students.

3. Run from what’s complicated.

I do it all the time.

I meet individuals who think it takes a committee meeting to turn on a light switch. They spend more time discussing the Rules of Order than ordering someone to step in and rule.

Jesus said his way was simple and easy. My thought is, whenever things are is no longer falling under that gentle approach, they are probably also no longer Jesus.

So that’s the good news I had to share with the people of Grays Chapel. I don’t know whether it impressed them. Perhaps they wished I would attack the Republican, curse a Democrat, or whisper a stance I hold on what people should do in their bedrooms.

I don’t care.

The good news is:

  • The Gospel is good news.
  • Jesus came to be human.
  • And life is not meant to be complicated.

Oh, by the way–there’s one piece of better news:

Don’t leave love.

No matter how much you get tempted to redefine your commitment to the human race with some other emotion than love, abandon it. Even when you disagree or you think something is evil, don’t leave love.

May God find each one of us in a loving state of mind … when He, and He alone, decides to judge the world.

 

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G-Poppers … April 8th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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G-Pop’s grandson peered at him quizzically.

The idea posed by G-Pop had left the boy perplexed.

“Let’s go find a tornado.”

The little grandson was not sure where to begin, so he ran to a nearby set of books, found a picture of a tornado and presented it to G-Pop, hoping he had fulfilled the mission.

“No, not a picture,” said G-Pop. “I want a real tornado.”

Now, G-Pop’s grandson is pretty sharp, so after contemplating for a few seconds, he replied, “You can’t find a tornado without storms.”

Exactly.

Throughout the annals of human history, mankind has desperately tried to personify wickedness in the form of an incarnate evil.

  • Mephistopheles.
  • Satan.
  • Old Nick.
  • Beelzebub.

All these names, and many others, were created to strike terror in the hearts of humans, to warn us that apparently we are part of some sort of cosmic chess game, in which God and Lucifer move us around from place to place at their whim, to establish prowess.

Matter of fact, you can be alienated from the Christian community simply by failing to adequately believe in Satan.

But the devil, just like a tornado, fails to be around when there isn’t a storm created by the winds of uncertainty, anger and lust.

That’s how you make a tornado, you know–cold winds meet hot winds and swirl until there’s a physical manifestation of the conflict, which we call a twister. But without the cold and the hot, tornadoes do not exist.

It is amazing how evil the world seems when the cold indifference of people runs headlong into the hot anger of fools. All at once, it seems as if we have an uninvited Hell Being.

But is it true?

Is there an actual Evil One who stalks us? Or is he only made manifest when we arrive at the Garden of Life looking for trouble?

It’s a great question, and one that should be discussed. But I will tell you, if such a creature actually does exist, its efforts are greatly deterred if we remove the frigid apathy and the searing rage which build up because we have ceased to believe in the power of goodness.

G-Pop’s grandson asked, “What can I do to stop evil?”

G-Pop paused and replied, “Well, you see…”

(to be continued)

 

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 2) … December 13th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesonian hands

Liberty.

Find God, discover liberty.

Stumble upon liberty, see God.

It was something that the Apostle Paul said. He equated God and liberty–an inseparable pair.

He also went on to intelligently point out that human beings initially use their liberty to generate sins of the flesh.

Yes, they do.

It does not matter. Just as free will is more important than love and law, liberty is the evidence that free will is in motion.

So what is reasonable? We deal with two dangers:

  • Being so meticulous in trying to control people’s choices that we suppress human passion deep inside, where it becomes perverted;
  • Or there is the danger of having an “anything goes” philosophy, which makes people think they have a free pass, creating equal peril.

Being reasonable is understanding what your job is, doing it well, and not assigning yourself the mission of quality control for others.

As human beings, we have two areas where we can interact with each other without fear or intimidation: the heart and the spirit.

At any time, I can cross paths with each and every one of you, and as long as I am trying to help you feel deeply about life or encouraging you to increase your faith, I am on solid turf, free of being a condemning force.

Yet I will tell you that your mind and your morals are your business and your business alone. I have no authority to control your thinking nor judge your choices.

The church should take this position.

We need to trust that exploding good emotion with spiritual renaissance is enough to allow human beings to renew their own minds and define their morality.

I have no intention of taking these daily essays which flow from my heart and do anything but stir your emotions and touch your spirit. It is up to you to use them to replace ideas in your brain and to reference your own behavior.

As long as we think we control the minds and morals of those around us, we are not only annoying to our brothers and sisters … but completely out of the will of God.

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Untotaled: Stepping 47 (April 20th, 1969) Demise… December 27, 2014

  Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

Even though I only lived a few blocks from the high school, I drove my car there–because I could.

I also went home for lunch even though it was basically against policy. Once again, because I could.

On April 20th, I decided to drive to my abode to raid the refrigerator, avoiding the cafeteria surprises. On my way I stopped off at my mom and dad’s little loan company and there was a note on the door. It read:

Closed. Family Emergency.

I knew what that meant.

My dad was in failing health. More accurately stated, he was dying. Forty-five years of cigarette smoking had caught up with him, riddling his body with cancer. So desperate was his situation that there was a quiet celebration among the family when it was discovered that the disease had spread to his brain and in doing so, had closed off the pain centers, making him less of the suffering soul.

I didn’t want to go to the house but I knew it was expected. I pulled up in the driveway and was climbing the steps to the porch when I first heard it: from the upstairs, through the walls, was the hideous volume of my dad gasping for air.

It was a death rattle.

I could not bring myself to go in. I turned around, headed back to school and was so angry–at my dad and at myself–that I skipped the next two classes.

I was furious at myself for being so cowardly, and a rotten person because I didn’t want to be near my father in his last moments.

And I was infuriated with him for destroying his body with smoke instead of dealing with his inadequacies.

I arrived back at school for the last hour of classes. After the session was over for the day I headed to a friend’s house and hung out for the rest of the evening.

Nobody knew where I was. I liked it that way.

I arrived home at ten o’clock. My older brother was waiting for me. He told me that our dad had passed away a couple of hours earlier.

I didn’t feel much, barely even noticing how pissed off my brother was that I hadn’t been there for the death-bed.

He was my dad–but I never knew him. And in like manner, he didn’t know that much about me.

Now he was dead. His ashes of ashes would turn to dust.

I cried.

Honestly, it was not for my lost parent. I cried, feeling sorry for myself.

He deserved a better son. But he should have been wise enough to realize that teenage sons don’t get better.

That is the duty and the mission … of a father.

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