Jesonian … October 23rd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is thoroughly possible, plausible and even necessary to separate Christianity from Judaism without being considered an anti-Semite.

Jesus spent the majority of his ministry providing parameters for a New Covenant, which was followed by the Apostle Paul becoming downright blunt over the need to extract the message of Jesus from the Jewish tradition.

Yet most evangelicals and many mainline denominational churches continue to foster a sense of equivalency between the Old Testament and the New Testament simply because they know two important factors about their congregations:

  1. They don’t want to lose the ability to seek revenge with “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
  2. They need Jesus to remain the “Lamb that was slain” instead of the Lion, roaring out his commands.

INFUSION OF JESUS

So actually, the teachings of Jesus, the personality of the Nazarene and the mindset of the Christ are often considered to be an intrusion to the organized church instead of welcomed as an infusion.

Simply put, Jesus did not come to contradict the Old Testament–but he certainly did arrive to countermand it. If you’re not familiar with that word, it is most often used in military circles to explain why some officer, usually of a higher rank, comes along to revoke or change the orders of the previous commander. It’s a nice way of saying, “We’re going to change things up.”

MEN OF OLD

Jesus cleverly referred to it as “fulfilling the law.” What an excellent, political word! He then turns around, and in fulfilling that Law, disassembles the instructions of Moses by referring to those who founded Oral Law and taught it as “men of old.”

If we want to become a Jesonian church, infusing the lifestyle of Jesus instead of viewing it as an intrusion, we must understand that, as Hebrews the First Chapter explains, God used to speak through Moses and the prophets, but not anymore. Now He speaks through Jesus.

So stop using Old Testament patriarchs to try to countermand Jesus.

Case in point: it is no longer the Kingdom of Israel–Jesus describes it as the Kingdom of God, which is located inside each and every believer. The new Holy Land is within your soul.

The challenge in this generation is to cease looking at our example, Jesus, as an intrusion, and begin to take his choices and use them as an infusion into our everyday existence.

It should keep us busy–because it’s very difficult to insist that Jesus was a Jewish prophet when he said things like:

“Before Abraham was, I am.”

“God can take stones and make children of Abraham.”

And “Your house is left to you desolate.”

Jesus was a new day.

Jesus was a new way.

And he came along proclaiming

“What you say? Go my way.”


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Jesonian … June 23rd, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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“He turned the water into wine.”

Let’s just stop and think about that. Jesus had a cousin named John, who took a Nazarite vow. No liquor.

A very popular religious cult of the time, the Essenes, also were teetotalers.

Even though many historians will note that wine was a common drink of the masses, it was often considered forbidden–actually uncommon among those who deemed themselves religious–especially if you were just starting a movement.

What were you trying to communicate? After all, water is the symbol of life–to such an extent that we often refer to “the water of God’s word.”

Why would Jesus care that a young married couple ran out of wine during their reception? What was that to him?

To me, the message is clear. Water is what you drink when you’re thirsty. Wine is what you select when you want to get buzzed.

A transition was in order. A New Testament was about to be unleashed on the world. What better symbolism than to make it clear that water–in other words, our lives–was meant to be wine, thus intoxicating?

No longer were we to merely survive, but celebrate.

It wasn’t an issue of sustaining our beings, but rather, imbibe by getting drunk on the Spirit.

You don’t have to go any further than the commands he gave to the servants, who were to set the miracle in motion.

1. “Fill it to the brim.”

Six water pots in all, holding at least fifteen gallons each. So we’re talking about ninety gallons of wine. This was not a gift to “finish up the party.” Rather, it was an inclination to keep the party going.

2. “Pour it out.”

Get it into people’s cups. Don’t display it. Don’t revere it. Don’t call it “holy wine.” This is drinking vino. This wine is for the purpose of people “rejoicing and being exceedingly glad.” No longer are our lives supposed to be watered down, but instead, juiced up.

3. “Make it the best.”

Jesus told the servants to take the wine to the governor of the feast, who sardonically panned, “Usually at these weddings they bring out the crappy wine at the end. But you’ve saved the best for last.”

What is crappy wine? It’s wine that is either freshly-squeezed grape juice, or so old that it’s almost turned to vinegar.

There’s a message here–we need to stop acting like we’re grape juice–pure and without sin–or that we’re turning into vinegar in our pews because we’re so soured by our life and our experiences.

Taste good.

Inebriate.

It was the message of Cana of Galilee.

You don’t start a revolution by walking away from a wedding feast, refusing to make wine over spiritual pettiness.

You create an international revival by being the one who has the sense, at the right moment, to put the “juice on the loose.”

 

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G-Poppers … April 6th, 2018

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“GEE-WHIZ,” said G-Pop with an emphatic sigh.

There seems to be a series of “G” words tumbling off of people’s lips, going a bit haywire.

It starts with “GOD.”

G-Pop sat back last week and watched the more ceremonial, Druid aspects of the Christian faith take over in an attempt to temporarily get us to believe in a God who manipulates circumstances, destroys lives and “tunes” fate to produce human sacrifice, which is supposed to be an atonement for our horrific sins. The New Testament refers to Him as “God the Father,” but apparently, for a brief period, Daddy became “God the Executioner,” who went against His own abhorrence for animal sacrifice and laid a big, fat, bloody, smeary death on Jesus of Nazareth.

Then there’s “GAY.”

G-Pop wants the gay community to have all the rights, privileges and benefits as beautiful American citizens. But is it necessary for everything to suddenly be gay? There’s a sniff in the air that we should all become a little gay ourselves, to confirm that we’re open-minded enough to accept the full alphabet of the gay community, which grows by a consonant every day. LGBTQ(RSUV).

“GUNS.”

Is there anything that we, as human beings, own and admire and do not eventually use? G-Pop has been around guns in his life, and every time he did so, he wanted to shoot one. We shouldn’t be questioning whether people should have guns–but it might be good to ask what they plan on doing with them. Because guns may not kill people, but bullets do, and it is very difficult to own a gun without eventually wanting to put a bullet in it and find out how it works.

“GREED.”

G-Pop wonders if the only way to make America great again is money. Is it possible that we could be great in compassion? Was Ronald Reagan correct when he envisioned us as a city set on a hill, to be a beacon-light to the world? Or should we just present our P&L statement at the end of the year, and as long as we’re in the black, “God is good.”

“GRUMBLING.”

When did we start believing that something we despise in other people–complaining–is permissible for us to do? If you don’t want to hear G-Pop spout his grievances, then please don’t establish a lifestyle of grumbling, thinking it makes you sound grown-up, mature and thoughtful.

And finally, “GOODNESS.”

When did goodness become a joke–something to be avoided because it is naive and doesn’t understand how life really functions?

Gee-whiz. G-Pop would like to sum it up:

God is a Father, not a murderer.

Welcome, gays, to America, where you are free to love whomever you want to.

I hope you will enjoy your gun, as long as you help me keep them out of the hands of people who are bent on killing.

Would you consider joining G-Pop in being greedy for generosity?

And while you’re at it, can you set aside your grumbling and take five minutes to see if you can’t balance it with your blessings?

And finally, why don’t each and every one of us make “Oh, my goodness” a reality instead of an exclamation of bewilderment?

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Jesonian … October 14th, 2017

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“God so loved the world that He gave His son.”

That’s what the Good Book says.

Theologians, churches and interested parties have their own focus about why this gift came from God. Of course, we have a hint–if you believe, you don’t have to perish.

But what do we mean by “perish?”

Many thousands of churches of the faith who are of a Judeo-Christian swing, contend with great certainty, that Jesus came to be a Messiah. In doing so, he was fulfilling the Old Testament. They rejoice that they can use Jesus as a conduit between the Old and New Testaments, therefore joining in covenant with the Jewish faith, often to the detriment of the Muslims.

Unfortunately, Jesus does not fulfill the role as a champion of the Hebrews very well. He was critical of their approach to God and ended up declaring their rendition of theology as “desolate.”

The second group, which often refers to itself as “Pauline,” placing great value on the Epistles of Paul, believe that Jesus is a Savior. In other words, he came to fulfill the New Testament covenant through his blood. But the actions, motivations, mission, verbiage and deeds of Jesus often contradict the assumption that he was merely to be a human sacrifice for sin.

Offering a Messiah and a Savior to a human populace which is battling insanity is just not sufficient.

It is Jesus who best explains his mission.

He made the essence of his Earth journey clear in the Good Book in John 10:15-16. Jesus proclaims that “he knows the Father and the Father knows him,” and that he’s willing to “lay down his life for the sheep.” But then he goes on to say, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them in as well, and they will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock and one shepherd.”

Jesus is the Shepherd.

Being a shepherd, he laid down his life for the sheep.

He also made it clear that those who would be part of the fold were not just Jews, but that the end result is one fold and one shepherd–all over the world.

In a day and age when we extol the differences among us by celebrating culture, the Shepherd is looking for the commonality that will make us one fold, dispelling any notion that Jesus welcomes a little of Mohammed, a twinge of Buddha and a fortune cookie of Confucius.

Even though many believe he came to fulfill the Old Testament or the New Testament, he actually came to fulfill humanity.

He offers simple truths with simple applications to simple people who are living simple lives.

So if you go to a church that insists that “Jesus is the Messiah,” they will probably load you down with Old Testament traditions and outdated spiritual practices.

And if you attend a congregation that promotes “Jesus is only the Savior,” be prepared to endure sermon after sermon on the sacrifice of the Christ, and how we must repent and be baptized, so we all can go to heaven.

Jesus’ main mission is to be the Shepherd.

Matter of fact, he joyfully called himself “the Good Shepherd.” And the night he spoke these words to the disciples, he envisioned a message that would include sheep from the Native Americans, the Chinese, the Mongolian horde, the Anglo-Saxons and the Afrikaans, to name just a few.

He saw one fold–not many cultures.

And one Shepherd–not many interpretations.

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Ask Jonathots … April 21st, 2016

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My three grown children were raised in the church, but not a single one of them goes to church now, although they all claim they are believers in God. Sometimes it bothers me and sometimes I think it doesn’t matter. What do you think?

I think the first question we have to determine is–what is church?

There was a major shift in our society in the 1980’s, when the church house changed from being a center of fellowship, awareness, social interaction, self-improvement and community concern to being an organization focused on the worship and discovery of God.

The whole concept of this transition seems so noble to theologians and ardent zealots of our time that we have failed to return to church being a center for emotional, cultural and spiritual expansion.

Like any functioning business or social awakening, when the purpose of that institution is defunct, it ends up dying.

So the church of your memory no longer exists.

It has been hollowed out of its message and purpose in favor of traditions, hyper-spirituality and seminars on self-worth and prosperity.

So the question you have to ask yourself is this:

Are my children better off by joining in to the efforts of a religious system that has abandoned its calling, or are they better off without it?

Now, your summary would be that the church, even though weakened by its introspection, is better than nothing.

Their conclusion would probably be that “no church” gives them a free Sunday to enjoy their friends and family.

So here’s the question: can we all begin to go to church–not with the idea of swallowing the provided pill–but instead, transforming it back to the vibrant, living organism that Jesus intended it to be?

After all, Christianity is not a religion–it is a lifestyle. And if the church is not promoting the lifestyle of Jesus, it is watering down the message to include pop psychology and Judaism, which are not fulfilling to a New Testament life.

So if I were you, I would sit down with my children and tell them of the regrets, misgivings and frustration you have with the present religious system, but also inform them of the hope you have to see it transform itself back into the heart of Jesus.

Because here’s the truth–even if the church remained as anemic as it is today, it is still necessary to be a buffer against the insanity of selfishness and rage.

Challenge your children to become the church by changing the church.

After all, they want to change the politics.

They want to get rid of Wall Street’s greed.

Why not step into a situation where they really could affect a lasting change … and turn the American church back into a place where Jesus would be proud to be a member?Donate Button

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Ask Jonathots … July 16th, 2015

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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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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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