Jesonian … March 24th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(3621)

There is much to be gained by studying the lifestyle of Jesus.

It’s not just the miracles or the Messiah “rap.” It’s mostly his message and his management style. Since he was human, he was completely capable of error–to such a degree that the Good Book tells us “he learned through what he suffered.”

We also can garner great insight from the mistakes Jesus made.

One of those was Judas.

We will never know why Jesus chose Judas. It wasn’t because the Iscariot was predestined to be the betrayer of Christ. If you believe that, you should go home, don your Medieval helmet and launch a Crusade to take back the Holy Lands.

Maybe Jesus saw something in the young Judean. It never came to fruition–but there still is much we can curry from studying the relationship. It is a tenuous friendship which came to a head ten days before the Resurrection–in Bethany just outside Jerusalem.

Mary, the sister of Lazarus, who had recently risen from the dead, held a party. I think having a brother who survived “grave circumstances” is well worth some nachos and punch. At the height of the affair, Mary decided to crack open a family heirloom–a flask of expensive burial perfume reserved for the family–which she chose to use to anoint the feet of Jesus. It was an extraordinary, tender moment between Mary of Bethany and Jesus of Nazareth.

The aroma filled the room–an intoxicating fragrance.

But Judas was pissed. He had probably been pissed a long time–and he decided he had found an Achilles heel in the Master’s footsteps–perhaps a way to make Jesus look stupid.

So he complained that Mary had used such an expensive gift for such a trivial purpose. To accentuate his point, he suggested it should have been sold and the money given to the poor.

Judas was convinced he had ground an axe to a sharp point to swing at Jesus’ reputation.

I don’t know why he hated Jesus when he loved him so much. Or maybe he loved him so much that he learned to hate him. I am not privy to the mental state of Judas from Kerioth.

But I do know that Judas thought he was right, and he believed that others were going to back him up. Instead, Jesus rebuked him. I suppose you could say that Jesus did it nicely. (Perhaps you could explain what a “nice” rebuke is.)

Jesus said Judas was out of line–that he had lost the meaning of the moment, and had put a price tag on intimacy.

But here is where Jesus made his mistake: he allowed Judas to leave the room without resolving the conflict. He gave too much credit to the Son of Simon. He figured Judas had heard enough teaching about forgiveness that there was no need to pursue it any further.

Jesus was sadly mistaken.

There is no such thing as a misunderstanding. It is always “your misunderstanding and how right I am.”

Unfortunately, all misunderstandings end in betrayal. If they are not confronted, talked out and healed, the unresolved conflict will eventually open the door to one party or another striking out.

Then we have the scenario of feeling pressure to say “I’m sorry.”

It usually comes forth like, “I’m sorry if I offended anyone.”

Another possibility is, “I’m sorry, and please forgive me.”

It’s amazing how that particular statement, which seems to be filled with humility, can suddenly turn back into anger if the wounded individual does not proffer forgiveness.

The truth is, there is only one response that is correct when ignorance, wilfulness, short-sightedness and nastiness spring from our being and attack another.

“I was wrong.”

Not “I was wrong but…”

Nor “I was wrong in this case, but in another situation it would be different…”

“I was wrong” takes the risk that there will be no forgiveness.

This is what Jesus needed to hear from Judas–even if it required Peter, James and John physically holding Judas in place. Keep in mind–peace-making can be a messy business.

But misunderstanding, “I am sorry if…” and “I am sorry, please…” do not bring about reconciliation.

They are ways for us to maintain our solitary purity while seeming to appear transformed.

You might ask, how do I know this? Because the Good Book tells us that Judas left the party in a snit and went out and plotted with the enemies of Jesus–to betray him.

This was an expensive mistake:

If you leave misunderstanding unhealed, the wound may pour forth blood.


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Iffing Way (Part 6): I Quit … November 24, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2423)

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 …

He asked for a private meeting.

It is very difficult to spit out your feelings while swallowing your pride.

He was insulted. Being a fully grown man, he had been called down in front of his colleagues with no regard for his position.

It was certainly improper. If there isn’t a free flow of ideas, then there is tyranny.

Yet somehow or another he had succeeded in calming his spirit to request a moment of time with this friend who had offended him.

It was all a little silly, yet grounded in a principle which was important enough for making a stand.

Mary had no business taking such an expensive amount of ointment and pouring it out on the Teacher’s head and feet. Three hundred dollars! Did he have any idea what three hundred dollars could do to aid at least five hundred families in this poverty-stricken area?

Yet when he lodged his objection, he was tersely set aside and told that he shouldn’t criticize Mary for her deed because she was anointing him “for his burial.”

What a drama king! What burial? He was thirty-three-and-a-half years old and as healthy as an ox.

Judas could not understand why the Teacher was pulling up lame at this point instead of standing strong and propelling the mission to a glorious conclusion. It was ridiculous.

So feeling confronted, Judas had stomped out, not wanting to say something he might regret later.

Judas chose to be the mature one. But now what was he going to do? He would not play the role of the bruised puppy who had been slapped on the nose by his master.

He had been taught by his father Simon to stand up for himself–to find what was important and risk humiliation and even alienation to defend it.

Once, when he was a kid, one of his playmates had stolen some toys from him and he was in the middle of plotting for the young fellow a painful retribution. His dad stopped him, telling him never to betray his own conscience and soul, but instead, to confront his adversary and try to find terms of peace.

So Judas decided to talk to Jesus.

“Listen, I was really offended by what happened last night.”

Jesus remained silent.

Judas continued slowly. “I want us to be able to discuss this without me playing the part of the disciple and you being the big boss.”

Jesus continued to listen.

“You see, Jesus, my problem is that I don’t think we should waste money and then preach a message of taking care of the poor when we, ourselves, are squandering cash.”

Jesus sat quietly without moving a muscle.

A bit frustrated, Judas pushed on. “Are you listening to me? Do you feel what’s in my heart? Do you appreciate my opinion, or since it’s different from yours, is it irrelevant?”

Finally Jesus spoke. “What is it you want, Judas bar Simon?”

“That’s easy,” replied Judas. “I want to be heard.”

Jesus paused and then looked into his eyes. “I can hear you–unless what needs to be done is more important than your words.”

“Are you pushing me out of this?” demanded Judas with a bit of heat.

Jesus sat quietly, without speaking a word.

“Then I quit,” said Judas. “I cannot stay somewhere that I’m not respected, and my father taught me not to seek revenge or betray people just because they disagree with me.”

“Your father taught you well,” said Jesus.

“So this is it?” punctuated Judas.

“That’s up to you,” said Jesus.

“It doesn’t seem to be,” replied Judas. “It seems like you want me out.”

“No,” said Jesus. “There are just certain things that have to be in my message, in timing and in the flow. Your comments were not within those boundaries.”

Judas wanted to continue to argue but found it difficult to do so because Jesus was still warm, but no longer open.

“I guess this is it,” said Judas.

“I guess so,” said Jesus, and inserted, “I wish you well.”

Judas turned and walked from the room. He should have known it wouldn’t work out–he was from Judea and the rest of the followers were from Galilee. It wasn’t an issue of prejudice–rather, culture.

He went back home to South Judea, to Kerioth, where he settled in, started a family, but tried to keep up with the affairs and times … of the every-growing Kingdom Movement.

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Faith Without Woks Is Not Stir Fry… July 20, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1949)

Chinese wokThey were trying to help.

Keith and Ruth Ann thought it would be good to offer assistance to Dollie and I since we were only twenty years old, just getting started with life in general.

So they bought us a wok. It was the craze of the time.

It was a huge, stainless steel or aluminum bowl that you were supposed to cook vegetables and meat in to concoct a meal.

It came with instructions. Of course, I ignored those because I was already fully intelligent enough at age twenty to comprehend all things, both practical and cerebral.

So the first meal we attempted in the wok burned.

When I explained this to Keith and Ruth Ann, they asked if I had “treated the pan”–per the directions. I had not. It seems that you needed to smear oil on the inside over and over again, until the surface “accepted” this ointment and prepared itself for you to actually cook.

Honestly, I was not pleased to own a neurotic pan. But I smeared my oil and then cooked my second meal. It was horrible.

Why? Not because it burned, but because it was flavorless. When I shared with Keith and Ruth Ann, they laughed. (That’s what experts do when they want to make novices feel like idiots.)

They shared that an adequate amount of seasoning needs to go into the meals, since vegetables and the like don’t provide much taste on their own.

So we tried again–a third meal–adding various seasonings to complement the ingredients. It tasted better, but was not fully cooked.

I once again consulted with my experts on the Chinese cuisine. They were fully sympathetic, and presented that it was necessary to stir the food constantly while it was cooking, so as to get even distribution of the heat, to make the meal of one common texture.

So on my fourth go around, I finally cooked a meal in my wok that was edible.

The reason I share this story with you is that tomorrow I am heading off to share at Faith Lutheran Church in Dodge Center, Minnesota.

It is nothing but a stainless steel wok. But since I had that experience with Keith and Ruth Ann’s gift, I know what to do:

  1. First, I will bring the oil of gladness. Nothing in the human experience that proposes human fellowship is of any value if it doesn’t bring joy.
  2. Then I will pour in the right ingredients–healthy things that when mixed together, look like they’re fun to receive in your being.
  3. How about adding seasoning? Salty ideas and music peppered with emotion.
  4. And finally, praise God–stir it up! If you plan on leaving people the way you found them, you have no business being a spiritual chef.

So that’s my plan.Dodge Center Faith Lutheran

Faith Lutheran without woks is not stir fry. That I can tell you for sure.

So even though I was not particularly grateful for my gift from Keith and Ruth Ann, and ended up only using it a fifth time after my success on the fourth attempt, I learned that it’s not about simply having a pan … it’s knowing how to apply the heat.

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Du Quoin in a Fountain … June 12, 2013

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Ducoin stageBurned.

Burned out.

I once was beckoned to a burn ward in a hospital to see a young man who needed prayer because he had been scorched severely in a fire. I had never experienced such devastation. There were five youngsters on the floor, all injured beyond human recognition. The parents, when they heard there was someone on the floor willing to pray, beckoned me to the bedside of their child. The grotesque features, the pain, the anguish and the doom that hung in the air was almost incomprehensible and nearly unbearable.

I felt no need to be glib. The poetry of prayer escaped me. My tears became the ointment of hope–that these children might have a chance. Each one had lost a battle with fire.

But my dear friends, every time I walk on a stage and look into the faces of the audience, I see the same anguish. The American public is burned. We are burned by the fires of a raging debate that seems to have no end, which slices its way through our society, minus resolution. We are burned by viciousness, racism and religious bigotry, touting that “our God is bigger than your God.”

We are scorched by political rhetoric rattling on with meaningless statistics, promoting its unending agenda with no regard for the immediate needs of humanity.

So because our nation is burned,  we must be careful not to use fiery words to ignite great ideas.

  • We need to stop preaching. It’s too pushy. Even teaching can be condescending.
  • We are incapable of debate without division.
  • We seem to be unable to talk about God and promote His love more than His judgment.
  • We take the beauty of man and woman–the sexual pleasure they can achieve together and the companionship manifested–and turn it into a running joke on how the sexes are incapable of communication.
  • We set ideals, our goals and our lives on fire with a series of ridiculous arguments which never promote inner peace and are only set ablaze to initiate our superiority.

I am coming into a burn ward and it is my nation. It seems to be up to me to bring the salves and the pain killers necessary to promote healing instead of continuing to do more damage to the flesh, blood, spirits and hearts of my fellow-citizens. But you see, once you’ve been burned, the last thing you want is to be touched. Your life is a living nightmare–a reminder of the horrible incident that has disfigured you.

It’s going to take patience, gentleness and reasonability to actually bring about a ministering force to our people. It is not an issue of marching, protesting, fussing, arguing or even lobbying. It’s finding the next person who’s been burned by the fires of a national indignation–and to sooth the wounds.Ducoin corn

I’ve inserted a picture of a field which has already been harvested and now the remaining stems merely dry out in the sun. I was drawn to the scene because it reminds me so much of our country. We have harvested a great bounty of freedom and progress, but now the dried stems stick out of the ground and no one has the mercy to plow them under and prepare new seed for the earth–gently, please. But we must take all the dead stalks which are protruding from the ground and inter them in the earth, making room for new seed and a new crop of possibility.

The other picture is of my set, which I used as  a healing station last night with the folks in Sunfield, near Du Quoin, Illinois.

It’s what I’ve got. It’s small and to some may seem insignificant. But from that tiny operating room, I plan on promoting healing. Gone are the fiery sermons, replaced with the water of the Word, dousing all the heated rage.

It’s the least we can do.

By the way, I found out later that three of the five young people in that burn ward died.  It hurt me deep in my soul. But it also let me know that it’s important to keep the fire away from human beings if you can bring the water.

I will bring the water again to the folks in Sunfield this evening. I can only hope that those who’ve been burned by the inferno of a careless society misusing its book of matches will come out … to be soothed.

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