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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Catchy (Sitting 16) Switch … October 1st, 2017


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Matthew was still so rattled from his meeting with Jubal that when he arrived back at his hotel on the Vegas strip, he couldn’t remember his suite number. So in his usual overcomplicated, confusing way, he explained his situation to the front desk clerk, who retrieved his number from the records and then said, “That suite, 772–your wife was here earlier to pick up the key.”

Matthew didn’t have a wife.

His face apparently communicated that thought, because the young desk person giggled and winked.

All the way up on the elevator, Matthew wondered if he was headed toward a surprise hooker hired by some of his clumsy friends, or if there was a serial killer waiting to end his brief and tumultuous life.

He took the key provided by the winking worker, carefully opened the door and walked in. Sitting on the edge of his couch–pensively, as if waiting for a dental appointment–was Soos.

“What are you doing here?” asked Matthew, quickly shutting the door.

“I followed you. Well, we followed you.” She said, rising quickly to her feet.

Matthew crossed the room, leaned against a chair and asked, “Why did you follow me, and who is we?”

Soos sat down, took a deep breath and replied, “We is Jo-Jay and myself, and why… Well, that’s why I’m here. You see, Jo-Jay has a crush on you and she wanted to follow you to Vegas hoping that something might actually happen in Vegas that could stay here. Well, she was too chicken to come by herself so she asked me to come along, and then when we got here, she was too scared to come up here. So she asked me to go first and talk to you to see if you were interested in her and if you would mind her coming to visit your room.”

Soos stopped speaking, as if she’d actually made sense.

“Are we in the fourth grade?” queried Matthew.

“No,” Soos answered. “But to be completely fair, it’s been since the fourth grade that we had to do stuff like this to find out if people like us…”

Matthew eased down into the chair. “Well, of course I like Jo-Jay. And I like you, Soos.”

“What do you mean?” Soos sparked.

Matthew paused. “Well, I mean I think we have a lot of history, and you’re an attractive woman, I’m a reasonably acceptable man with good grooming habits…”

“And nice eyes,” interrupted Soos.

“Thanks,” replied Matthew. “I don’t see them often. Basically the mirror.”

“They’re nice,” said Soos with a smile.

Matthew considered the situation. “So let me get this straight. You’re supposed to come and find out if I would …welcome?…a visit from Jo-Jay so she won’t be embarrassed if I wouldn’t? Do I have this right?”

“Sounds dumb, doesn’t it?” Soos inserted sheepishly. She continued. “It’s especially weird because I like you, too. I can’t tell her about that because it would make her crazy. So I thought I would just lay in the weeds, so to speak, and see if you rejected her, and then wait a respectable length of time…say four days…”

Matthew jumped in. “Four days, huh? Where’d you come up with that?”

“It just seems like a little more than three days,” explained Soos. “Anyway, I would then be able to tell you that I think you’re attractive also, but I wouldn’t feel bad about it because you would have already kicked Jo-Jay to the curb.”

Matthew stood to his feet and sighed. “I’m not gonna kick anybody to the curb. I’m just tired and I’m going to bed.”

Once again, Soos leaped to her feet and moved closer to him. “Would you like some company?”

She touched him on the cheek.

“So we’re skipping Jo-Jay…?”

Soos interrupted. “And the four days. I’m too damn young to be alone tonight in Vegas, and way too old to wait.”

Matthew chuckled and headed toward the bedroom. Soos pursued. She pulled him over to the bed by his belt and said, “Are you interested in me?”

Matthew, looking down at her hands, said, “I’ve always found it very difficult to be disinterested in any woman who had her hands in my pants.”

“Not very eloquent,” said Soos, “but who am I to be picky?”

She pulled him down to the bed, he fell over her, and she put her hands on his shoulders and kissed him. She started to remove her blouse when suddenly there was a commotion from the other room.

“Hi! The door was open. I hope everybody’s decent!!”

It was Jo-Jay. There was no time to reframe the choreography. Jo-Jay walked in the room with an expression she might have displayed upon finding herself as a time traveler arriving on the deck of the Titanic at about midnight.

Horrified.

Matthew felt the need to speak, but his brain disagreed. Soos jumped in to fill the awkward moment. She slowly untangled herself from her hold on Matthew as she self-consciously buttoned up her blouse and explained, “Listen, this may seem weird, but it really doesn’t have to be. We are all mature sophisticated adults. The atmosphere is here, the moment is understood and the participants are ready. Why don’t I just move away from the bed and Jo-Jay can come in and resume the action-in-progress? I know it sounds a little avant garde, but a few kisses, a couple of tweaks–and it’ll be a distant memory.”

At this point, Soos moved over and tried to push Jo-Jay toward the bed to create the switch.

Matthew was perplexed, intrigued and somewhat repulsed by the whole situation.

For a brief moment, Jo-Jay considered the extraordinary hostage exchange. Then she stopped in her tracks, turned to Soos and said, “I thought you were my friend.”

Soos replied, “I am your friend. But it’s also been a long time since anybody’s rung my bell.”

Matthew felt it was time to speak. “Listen, I’m not trying to ring anybody’s bell, or whatever euphemism you want to insert. I just came to my room to go to sleep.”

“So why is she in your bed?” asked Jo-Jay.

Matthew answered, “Well, if I was using sports terminology, I would say she tackled me for a loss on the play.”

“I don’t know what that means,” said Jo-Jay in a huff. “I liked you and wanted to spend some time with you…”

Matthew interrupted. “So why didn’t you just tell me?”

“Because good girls don’t cavort. That’s what my mother told me long before I knew what the word ‘cavort’ meant. Since I now do know, it would be improper for me to offer myself to you without knowing whether the offering would be acceptable.”

Matthew shook his head. “Hell, have we just gone Old Testament here? Please, ladies, nothing personal. No decision is being made about the future. But right now I need to be alone without the temptation of any lovely lasses.”

Soos said, “Well you don’t have to insult us.”

Matthew sighed. “I don’t know how I insulted you but if I did, I’m sorry, but since I don’t know what I did, maybe we should just talk about this later when we’re not in a room together playing musical beds.”

Jo-Jay turned on her heel and headed toward the door, stopping briefly to throw back a final comment. “I will leave the fornication to the two of you.”

Soos grabbed her purse and followed along. “Wait! I’m not gonna fornicate. I just came up here to represent you.”

Jo-Jay turned around and hugged Soos. “I know. The brute seduced you.”

Matthew lifted one finger in the air. “Let me point out that I am neither a brute nor did I seduce anyone. Just stating for the record.”

Jo-Jay responded, nearly in tears. “I thought you were different.”

“I am different,” said Matthew. “I thought you were not crazy.”

“Well, you were wrong,” Jo-Jay replied. She scurried out the door and into the hall.

“I wouldn’t call her for a couple of days,” Soos whispered to Matthew. “She’ll need some personal space to work this out.”

Matthew lay back on the bed, the memory of female hands in his pants still dancing in his head.

But mostly on his mind was what he envisioned to do with Jubal Carlos.

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 8)… August 19th, 2017


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I am wondering if Christianity can become a mission, cause and lifestyle instead of slinking back into the profile of being “one of the major religions of the world.”

The decision lies around the word “learning.”

For some reason we have taken the simple message of “love your neighbor as yourself” and complicated it with doctrines, forming a morass of misunderstanding.

If we think that faith and hope are even close to charity, we have misconstrued the message of Jesus. Jesus came to turn love into a lifestyle.

He taught in parables whenever he was with the masses, expecting to motivate them to believe for mighty things. Only when the disciples complained about being confused by the stories did Jesus teach them further. His goal was to get these disciples out on the road as quickly as possible, to share their hearts with other people.

Otherwise we have the quandary found in II Timothy 3:7, which describes a church which is “ever learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.” Jesus said his “way is easy and his burden is light” and that the Gospel is so simple that a “wayfaring man” can understand it.

Why do we believe that writing 3,000 new books on church practice will promote revival?

Perhaps I am the hypocrite speaking to the hypocrisy, because I, too, scribe my essays, trying to uncover some hidden meaning.

There is no hidden meaning. Just as we would not hide the groceries from our children to find out how determined they are to avoid starving, God certainly has not withheld peace of mind, contentment and joy from his offspring.

The church spends too much time teaching and not enough time sharing.

That’s troubling.

We keep studying the Old Testament–which really wants to study the New Testament. As Jesus said, Abraham yearned to see the Messiah. Yet we think one more classic tale, another seminar or a sermon series taken from a different angle will suddenly alert the congregation to its true soul.

There are three things that matter. They are what make you a Christian or separate you from the Kingdom of God:

  1. Love your neighbor as yourself.
  2. Don’t judge people.
  3. Multiply your talents.

The pursuit of these three things will keep us busy for a lifetime. Trying to figure out what the Apostle Paul meant or what I Peter was connoting or if Hebrews was really written by Timothy will not make good disciples.

We think interactive church is having people stare at a screen and sing songs. Interactive church is actually when humans offer a testimony, which builds up other brethren to share, embracing and encouraging each other.

It is troubling.

We have become a church of learning instead of a body of sharing. Until that changes … we will be as boring as we seem.

 

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 6)… August 5th, 2017


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It is troubling.

Yet I must profess to you that no one has greater joy and regard for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross than I do. It is my salvation and it rattles my consciousness to a sensibility of my own sinful nature and the grace of God.

That being said, I fear that the church has become “atone-deaf.”

Nearly desperate to land on a universal message for Christianity which can be compactly shared at a moment’s notice, we have placed too much attention on a hill called Golgotha, and not nearly enough tender loving care with a Sermon shared from a Mount. In doing this, we have contradicted things we know about the nature of God in order to fulfill the doctrine of the propitiation of sin.

For instance, God ordained free will for humans. Yet we’re led to believe that “from the foundations of the world” it was pre-destined that Jesus would be killed on a cross.

When God spoke through the Old Testament prophets, He declared that He wanted mercy, not sacrifice. Yet for some reason we decide that He changed His mind and adopted human sacrifice as the symbol of His covenant.

As a writer, the first thing you learn is to be faithful to your characters. You can’t manipulate the plotline by causing your character to do something completely beyond the scope of his or her nature, just so you can advance your story.

God gave us free will. We chose to kill Jesus.

God hates sacrifice. He took the death of Jesus and transformed it into our salvation.

What was meant for evil, He made good.

Atonement should be a central theme in the Christian message. It is powerful. It is priceless. But by no means should it be preached so loudly that it makes us deaf to the greater matters of the kingdom–tenderness, responsibility, excellence, consolation and tolerance.

What can we do to keep the death of Jesus in perspective?

I have always received the gift of Calvary as my salvation and a license for me to go out and salvage. How? First, deal with my own appetites and also multiply my talents. Once I become the salvager–the “light of the world” and “the salt of the earth”–I have the ability to transfuse the energy of salvation, pass it along to others and see them reborn.

The conclusion? As a saved soul who has become salvaged and a saver, I fulfill the purpose of me being rescued.

We’ve got to start listening again. We have to stop trying to fulfill denominational doctrine and instead, emphasize the character of God.

Jesus lived for thirty-three years to give the human race a chance to accept his message. He used stories; he used confrontation. He used healing; he used mercy.

And at the end of it all, we used crucifixion.

God, in His infinite grace, chose to take the blood that we shed and make it a symbol of our salvation rather than a further curse of our rebellion. It’s remarkable.

But if we want to find the heart of Jesus, it is not at Calvary.

It is in the words, deeds, actions and anointing of his life.

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 3)… July 15th, 2017


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I must apologize. I’m still a bit troubled.

It’s the whole “Abraham” thing.

There are supposedly three religions–Judaism, Muslim and Christianity–that are knit together in a quilt based on a person named Abraham. If such a weaving is true, it is sewn with a dynamite fuse, ready to be lit at the least provocation.

A very simple study of the Gospels about Jesus will tell you that he was neither a practicing Jew nor did those around him deem him to be. If he felt he was Jewish, he certainly failed to convince anyone, and if they believed him to be their brother, they probably should not have crucified him.

On one occasion the Jews called Jesus a “Samaritan and a demon” while proclaiming themselves to be “children of Abraham.”

He alarmed them by stating that before Abraham existed, he was around. They did not muse his statement nor ask for evidence, but instead, picked up rocks to kill him, and he barely escaped with his life.

Christianity has many benefits but one of the main missions is to gently untangle itself from the Abrahamic family tree, so as to be able to make peace between these two feuding brothers–the followers of Abraham’s son, Isaac, and those of Abraham’s son, Ishmael.

Where would we begin?

We can commence this very worthwhile journey by understanding that Judaism is a culture, Muslim is a culture, but Christianity is a lifestyle.

So whether you’re from China, the Netherlands, Russia or Argentina, the ideas and message of Jesus will fit into your surroundings. Judaism basically works around Jews, and the Muslim faith has the greatest appeal to those who are Arab. That’s because they are cultures, not lifestyles.

As American Christians, we favor the Jews, not because they have any affinity for Jesus. Actually the Quran contains more respect for Jesus than the Old Testament. No, we favor the Jews because they were dispersed into Europe and they seem more American. Yes, it is another one of our racial bigotries–and when Jews look like Arabs, we are much less likely to be tender in their direction.

So let’s get over the foolishness and back to our theme:

If Jesus is God, then Jehovah and Allah are not.

If God is Jesus, then maybe there might be a little bit of Jehovah and Allah lounging around His man cave.

Christianity has the opportunity to heal one of the greatest family squabbles of all time. We cannot do so by saying we are “children of Abraham.”

In the Gospel of John, he clearly states that we are not born of flesh and blood, but of the Spirit. As followers of Jesus, we are not part of a lineage, but instead, linked by a salvation into what truly can be called the greatest opportunity for peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.

 

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Jesonian–Troubling (Part 1)… July 1st, 2017


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“Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.”

These are the words of Jesus.

But you see, there’s my problem. Believing in Jesus is simpler for me. It’s believing in God that itches my brain.

You see, God has a lot of history–thirty-nine books of Old Testament, filled with murder, mayhem, racism and contradictions–before we arrive at the doorstep of the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth, where Jesus emerges and begins to speak to the world.

Every once in a while, I’m sitting in a room by myself and a sudden gust of realization sweeps in and blows my mind.

God?? What in the hell am I thinking? How could there be a God?

And this isn’t because there are bad things happening–it’s just that the stories told about this god are similar to the Greek mythology concerning Zeus. All at once, I am inundated with feelings of foolishness and slowly, bitterness jumps into my heart, mocking me for following such ancient tales.

Sometimes the Holy Bible reads like a Grimm fairy tale, full of witches, warlocks and little boys and girls threatened because they’re on their way to grandma’s house.

But then I pause. Why? It’s the chimpanzee.

Although I believe that science is the favorite hobby of the Father in Heaven, the order in the Universe, even in the midst of chaos, and the fact that human beings exist, hearkens to the presence of a Universal Creator. Feel free to try to deteriorate the human spirit, soul and intellect, and place it side-by-side with the animals–but if any one of us spent a week trying to reason, infiltrate and dine with chimpanzees (supposedly our closest relative) we would quickly return to the human race with newfound appreciation.

I’m sorry–animals are animals and people are people. There’s a huge gap. Somebody–did you hear me?–somebody put that gap there.

On the other hand, upon spending several weeks with the chimpanzees of theology, I am equally as baffled by the fact that for some inexplicable reason, they want to blur the God of Judaism with the person of Jesus.

So if the proclamation is, God is Jesus–I’m there, and the spiritual evolution from God and the devil playing poker with Job’s soul, to “love your neighbor as yourself” was needed and makes complete sense.

But if Jesus is God, I really have to include stories from the old volume, which are absolutely implausible, without merit and of no benefit to any creature on heaven or Earth.

It is troubling.

Without being accusatory, may I suggest that all of us, to some degree, are turmoiled by this mish-mash and collision of meaningless facts being thrown together into one book called the Bible and then dubbed “Holy.”

If you will allow me, over the next couple of weeks, I would like to deal with this troubling situation–because to a certain degree, all an atheist has to say to any Christian is, “Really???” and we are immediately defensive.

Because we possess our own doubts.

So doubts be damned and discussion begun, I will see you next week.

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Jesonian… February 18th, 2017


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Christianity is not a religion–it is a lifestyle.

It is based upon the human example left behind by Jesus of Nazareth. Any attempt to build the Kingdom of God on doctrines, practices, rituals, worship, attendance, prayer, Bible study or fasting will flail, because the Kingdom of God is within us.

In other words, until we tap ourselves–our passions, our errors and get our questions answered–there really is no Kingdom of God.

Or maybe better stated, it’s a theory.

To emphasize this, Jesus told us that God is our Father.

Once we realize that He is our Daddy and not the smoke at the top of the mountain, an angry disciplinarian, the Force, or just karma, we can then predict what God’s reaction will be in situations due to His paternal instincts.

  • As a Father, He is certainly not going to plan our lives for us. Any dad who would do that would be considered a first-class asshole.
  • As a Father, He’s not going to give up on us, disown us, or throw us out in the desert with a canteen.
  • But as a Father, He will institute chores for us to perform–and by our faithfulness, evaluate our present mindset.

Jesus came to show us the Father.

We should be studying the life, ideas, tendencies and predilections of the Nazarene. Instead we focus on His arrest, trial and death.

In doing so, we attempt to divert the Christian message from being a revelation of the Father to a pre-destined, pre-ordained human execution in order to acquire blood atonement.

Actually, the crucifixion makes so much more sense when you realize that the Father was hoping his children would be more receptive–but still made a pathway of salvation for all of us through the courage and sacrifice of our elder brother, Jesus.

It is not that dissimilar to the story of Joseph in the Old Testament, who is thrown into a pit by his brothers, left for dead, only to redeem those same brethren in Egypt after he gained power, rescuing them from destitution.

Nothing good happens in the Christian church until we realize that the entire ministry of Jesus was about showing us the Father.

Even in the midst of the agony of the cross, he said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

So if you’re wondering why religion is leaving you flat, and church seems redundant and meaningless, it’s because invented ideas have been passed along and given primary importance, while the congregation thirsts for the relationship with their Father promised to them by Jesus.

It is time for us to show Jesus to the community–so he can reveal the Father to all of us.

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