Good News and Better News… June 26th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is a tale of two Mounts.

One is called Mount Calvary, where the Prince of Peace was crucified at the bequest of angry religionists and indecisive politicians who were bound and determined to maintain the status quo.

The other mount was a place where Jesus came face-to-face with the human race and made his case.

He talked about personal responsibility–how we are responsible for our own lives, responsible to study Mother Nature, responsible to take care of one another, responsible to curb our anger and lust and responsible to be the “light of the world” and the “salt of the Earth.”

Yet the American church is totally obsessed with Mount Calvary, spending countless hours teaching all congregants about the atoning gift of the blood of Christ and even sharing a meal of remembrance.

The other Mount–the Mount of Message, the Mount of Human Transformation–is parsed and referenced, but rarely presented as the necessary philosophy for human beings to get along.

Although we should never forget the courageous sacrifice of Jesus on Mount Calvary, we must realize that what sets Jesus apart from Buddha, Moses, Mohammed and any other religions icon, is that he taught us to use our talents, love one another and remain in good cheer instead of blaming other religions, cutting off the lifeline of our emotions, or spending countless hours pleading with the heavens.

The answer to this dilemma is easily understood by paraphrasing a comment from Jesus. He once said, you shouldn’t leave this one undone, but you should pursue the “weightier matters” of life.

Amen.

Once I understand that Jesus was so enthralled with the propagation of his message that he was willing to die for it, I can go back into those simple, practical axioms and find the way, the truth and the life.

For you see, the good news is that Jesus died for our sins.

The better news is, before he died, he taught us how to live.

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Good News and Better News… January 16th, 2017

 

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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good-news-glasses

If you don’t have the right outlook, you better “look out,” because trouble’s coming.

Everybody knows that.

But sometimes we think we can maintain a bad attitude and still expect good results.

Or we believe it’s not necessary for us to do any more than we’ve already done. God, Nature and people should just be happy we showed up.

Jesus doesn’t mingle well with other religions.

For instance, there’s no such thing as a Christian Buddhist. Jesus taught us to feel; Buddha suggested it was completely unnecessary. Never the twain shall meet.

There is no such thing as Judeo-Christian. Moses espoused an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” and Jesus required that we creatively find ways to love our enemies.

And there is certainly no spiritual common ground between Christianity and the Muslim faith. Whereas the Muslims are the children of Abraham and the followers of Mohammed, Jesus was quite insistent that He existed long before either of them.

Christianity is not a temperamental faith, but it is a faith that addresses our temperament. And if you’re going to assist human beings in achieving their goals and becoming better citizens, you must first and foremost teach them to open their hearts.

Yes. We are all emotional people.

It doesn’t matter what culture you come from–any attempt to disguise or dampen the emotions will leave the individual imbalanced.

So if we try to have church without giving everybody an emotional experience, what we’re really advertising is a study group with hymn singing.

No wonder we’re having some trouble with attendance.

  • People need to connect.
  • They need to feel.
  • They need to realize that someone else in the room cares about them.

The Bible needs a face. Yours will do.

But right now, we spend too much time spiritualizing, meditating and promoting Zumba classes. All these things can be wonderful, if they undergird an emotional experience.

Our outlook comes from our feelings, maturing in our spirit, renewing our mind and affecting our life choices.

The good news is that Jesus said “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

The better news is that when we plump up the abundance of our heart with feelings of goodness, we just talk better.

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Dear Man/Dear Woman: A Noteworthy Conversation … December 24th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Dear Man Dear Woman

Man: One of the things that’s always fascinated me about Christmas is that Jesus was supposed to be born “the Son of David”–because of his family and all–but Mary was a virgin, right?

 

Woman: That’s her story and she’s stickin’ to it.

 

Man: So if she’s a virgin, does that mean we go through all that lineage of David, and then at the last moment, Joseph doesn’t get to be the Daddy of the Messiah?

 

Woman: That’s right–although there are some who insist that Mary was also the lineage of David. But if that was the case, Matthew and Luke would have traced her lineage to make the point that Jesus was a really, really fine Jewish boy.

 

Man: That is so far out. Why don’t people talk about that more?

 

Woman: That’s easy. Since this is a male-dominated world, and most Christians don’t want to offend Jews by promoting a Savior who didn’t have “David” in him, we choose to overlook the real story, and probably in the process, disguise the humor of God.

 

Man: Well, to me the significance is that God had no intention of making the best friend of all humankind come just from the Jewish race.

 

Woman: And to me, the importance is that God chose to bewilder everybody by pulling off His great blessing by using just a woman.

 

Man: So what you’re telling me is that in the Middle East, where women are considered to be less than men–maybe barely above livestock–they still worship the King of Kings, who didn’t have any Earthly daddy. Just a mommy and God.

 

Woman: That’s right. God will not be manipulated. God is not angry at the Jews, but He also doesn’t consider them to be his “chosen people.” Jesus came to be the brother of all humans–therefore Eastern astrologers, Palestinian shepherds and folks from Egypt knew him as a boy, right along with all the faithful of the Moses crowd.

 

Man: What an amazing story.

 

Woman: I’d go further than that. It’s a classic bluff. The Jewish people struggled with their faith for years and years, so God gave them a new faith they could believe in that had nothing to do with being a Jew, but instead was about learning to become a human being of the whole Earth.

 

Man: Christmas is so cool. It’s so ballsy. Just the faith of Mary and Joseph to stick together, wise men to follow a star, shepherds to believe angels, and God to snub tradition–to birth Jesus solely through Mary.

 

Woman: So I guess that clears the air on what God thinks about equal rights…

 

Man: God is a feminist. He chose a female to be His partner in salvation.

 

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Ask Jonathots … July 16th, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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ask jonathots bigger

I love my church and my pastor, but every four years my preacher tells us who to vote for. I really don’t like this. Should I speak to him about this? Write an anonymous note? What is the best way to handle this? I don’t want to leave the church because of this one issue.

Well it really comes down to this point: does a minister of the Gospel have a responsibility to steer his congregation concerning a political decision?

It is not a question of whether he has the right. If a preacher insists he has a calling from God, then he can’t use the Constitution of the United States as proof of his legal authority to voice his opinion in the pulpit in political matters. If you’re going to claim a higher purpose, then you must live by the dictates of that higher calling, not merely the civil rights afforded to you by your government.

So it comes down to the question of how did the Good Shepherd handle the issue of political favoritism? And of course, when I say Good Shepherd, I am speaking of Jesus.

  • Jesus had a congregation.
  • Jesus had a flock.
  • Jesus had a following.

Unquestionably, they were swayed by his opinions.

Judea in the 1st Century A.D. was politically charged. It was Jews against Samaritans, Samaritans against Gentiles, Gentiles divided over their allegiance to Rome, and Rome basically swallowing up most of the air with its imperialism and desire to conquer.

There was tremendous pressure on Jesus to pick a side. For instance:

He was invited to the palace of Herod to discuss his work. He declined.

The woman at the well suggested that he should show a bit more favoritism to the Samaritans to balance things out. He didn’t.

And of course, the Jewish hierarchy wanted him to speak out against Rome. And his classic phrasing of “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” still remains as a guideline for those who preach the Gospel.

They even wanted Jesus to express sympathy for Jewish folk who had been killed by Pontius Pilate while merely worshipping in the synagogue. Although it would have been easy for him to do so, he remained neutral.

Since he taught that “the Kingdom of God is within us,” how we are governed doesn’t make nearly as much difference as the decision we make on how to live our personal lives. Your pastor has absolutely no right to color the vote of his sheep. But confronting him on such an issue is not only disrespectful, but would certainly be unproductive.

If your church does not use Jesus as the primary example, then your pastor will probably fall back on Old Testament nationalism to condone his choices.

At that point, you have to make a decision.

Do you want to be part of New Testament church that follows Jesus, or a church which haphazardly mingles Jesus and Moses together with equal authority and power?

I see nothing wrong with posing the question to your pastor, “Do you think Jesus would campaign for a candidate, and if you do think so, what story from his life do you use to confirm that?”

Even the Apostle Paul told us to pray for those who are in authority over us–not campaign against them.

The church will become a much more powerful unit for spiritual and social change when it pushes for separation from the state.

 

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Iffing Way–Part 4: UnPharoah … November 10, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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If bigger

What if a voice of sanity had risen up at various stages in the story of human history, to offer a challenging view when craziness was about to win the day?

If …

It all revolved around a game of intimidation.

The only way to protect your particular parcel of land from intrusion and invasion was to convince other kingdoms nearby that you were well-established, well-fortified and darned well intent on fighting to the death to “keep your own.” Thus the purpose for building huge walls, great monuments and fortifications.

Thutmose III was well aware of the situation.

As Pharoah of Egypt, it was his job to maintain the order of his domain and keep his citizens safe from the marauding hordes. Any sign of weakness was an invitation to be destroyed by the stronger villains of the desert.

To build such huge constructions took man power. Now, society was divided into four sections:

  • royalty, which would never lift a finger for such tasks
  • farmers, who raised the food which kept the citizenry in bread and wine
  • soldiers, who protected the sovereignty of the turf
  • and slaves, the cheapest labor possible, to perform the most arduous duties

After many years of peaceful coexistence with the Jews, the Egyptians grew tired of this clan of immigrants who seemed to be overtaking the social order of the land. A movement began against them. It was decided that the free meal ticket provided by the previous Pharoah, out of loving deference to Joseph, should be terminated and that these people should be put to hard labor, working for the state.

The pressure was immense.

Matter of fact, sitting in front of Thutmose III was an edict to proclaim all Jews as slaves. All that was needed was his seal. Then the document would become a holy edict, enforced viciously by the taskmasters against these people without a country.

He delayed.

He stalled so long that his critics began to call him a coward, and even a traitor. Thutmose III tried to draw a deep breath of wisdom and sanity. For after all, what seems prudent today has arms, legs, breath and anger in the future generations subjected to the treatment.

What should he do?

After many nights, lying sleepless in his bed, he devised a plan. He decided to alternate his work force–take the relocated Jews and put them in the fields for part of the year and bring the field workers in to build the walls and monuments necessary to maintain a sense of control.

He also concluded that it was unnecessary to build many pyramids–one for each Pharoah who died. Why not one gigantic pyramid for all the rulers who had gone on? It would be just as intimidating and beautiful, but more easily conceived and carried out by the workers.

When Thutmose III presented his plan to the council they immediately rejected it, which made no difference whatsoever, since he was a dictator.

Reluctantly, the plan was carried out and the Jews, rather than being slaves, were turned into brethren with a variety of tasks to contribute to the cause.

After many years and much success with this new plan, the Council of the Jewish people, under the leadership of a man named Moses, came and asked for permission to emigrate to another land, where they would take the experiences of Egypt and their own faith, and build a life.

It was negotiated. It was agreed.

The transition was smooth because it was not the escaping of slaves, but rather, the releasing of friends to their new mission.

Thutmose III died a happy man, interred in the greatest pyramid ever constructed, having saved a whole race of people from slavery and allowing for that same tribe to find their God and their expression.

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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

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Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

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Populie: The Holy Land … October 29, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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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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The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

The Sermon on the Mount in music and story. Click the mountain!

 

Click here to get info on the "Gospel According to Common Sense" Tour

Click here to get info on the “Gospel According to Common Sense” Tour

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

Click here to listen to Spirited music

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G-32: Protector … July 11, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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battling JewsShortly after Joseph died, his friend, the Pharoah, passed away, bringing a new monarch to power, who had an inordinate interest in building pyramids.

A project of such magnitude demands labor, preferably cheap. And the best way to acquire this workforce is to convince one group of people that they’re superior to the other, and to intimidate the other conglomeration of souls into believing that they’re inferior.

So the created human beings who had found provision under Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph suddenly found themselves strangers in the land of Egypt and were gradually subjugated to be servants of the locals.

Since they had been a people provided for by their Creator, they didn’t make very good slaves. The sense of entitlement caused them to rebel against the oppression, creating an ongoing conflict and growing hostility.

Even though the Father in Heaven had found great joy in being a Provider, He now found Himself in need of becoming a Protector.

Through Moses, Joshua and David, the people were freed from Egypt, wilderness bound, conquering Jericho and gradually became a warring tribe, attempting to secure what they considered to be their “Promised Land.”

So the Creator who had regretted making human beings and repented by deciding to provide for them, now found Himself protecting them, only to discover that the instinct to conquer is an overwhelming vice in the human spirit, turning us once again to abstract violence. (Matter of fact, when King David wanted to build a Temple, God refused to allow him to do so because his hands were covered in so much blood.)

It was an awkward situation.

The people weren’t dissatisfied with their status as aggressors, and they deeply believed they were pursuing both a nationalistic and a religious goal by destroying the heathen. But since the root word of Creator is “create,” the Father found himself very saddened by the destruction of other human beings in order to protect a tiny handful.

And as violence often does, it led to other depravity.

What was the answer?

  • Certainly being a father means you need to provide, but such provision can make for spoiled children.
  • And because they’re spoiled, they can become eccentric and need protection.
  • But protecting them makes them feel superior to the surrounding families of man, creating a climate of war and calamity.

What was the next step in learning how to be a Father to Your children? 

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Arizona morning

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