Jesonian … October 16th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesus was right there with them and they still wanted to talk about Pontius Pilate.

Politics. It just makes fellows strange.

Obsessed with a candidate or a party, human beings try to make life fit around existing ideas and platforms. Here’s the problem–they don’t.

Every situation is different. Some human struggles demand a conservative approach–others, liberality.

REPENT OF POLITICS

Jesus warned them.

When they asked him about Pontius Pilate, he said, “You need to repent, or you’re going to perish.”

Here’s the meaning: repent of politics or you will perish along with your failing politician.

He also said “you can’t serve God and Mammon.”

What is Mammon? It is the misuse, misunderstanding and mistreatment of money. There we are–right back to politics.

The issue is not whether the Republicans are right or the Republicans are wrong.

The issue is also not whether the Democrats are in the catbird seat or if they’re fallen doves.

The issue is that the Spirit of God demands that we be led in the direction that will benefit other human beings.

It cannot be decided politically and too many Christians have turned their faith over to politics and their hearts over to their favorite candidate.

JESUS’ CAMPAIGN SLOGAN

For Jesus’ campaign slogan is simple: “By this people will know who we are–that we have love one for another.”

Politics is a blood sport. Jesus has already shed all the blood needed.

Politics allows for lying. Jesus said “the truth will make you free.”

Politics favors its own. Jesus said “when you only love them who love you, you’re no better than the heathen.”

Politics wants to bolster its constituency. Jesus wants us to find the “least of these” and relate to them.

DO NICE GUYS FINISH LAST?

The other day on television I heard a noted politician say, “Nice guys finish last.”

Let’s look at some people who finished last:

  • Julius Caesar
  • Attila the Hun
  • Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Adolph Hitler
  • Idi Amin

Not a nice guy amongst them.

Nice guys just have to wait until the Earth is available for them to inherit–like allowing your landlord to wash and paint your condo before you move in.

Repent of politics or you will perish with your politicians.

*****

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Good News and Better News … March 5th, 2018

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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A Jesus mask: Putting the face of Jesus on things we have decided are nice, easy, positive or comfortable.

In doing this, we attempt to transform the Gospel into a social message which is palatable for our chosen lifestyle, never really asking ourselves if it has a universal flavor.

Honestly, I almost didn’t write about this today–there are so many examples that I didn’t know how to isolate them off to the number of paragraphs you would be willing to read–but I trust that you might be willing to do some investigation on your own. So let’s look at three of the masks:

1. If you work real hard, you can get whatever you want.

You hear this on every talk show. During the Olympics it became a mantra. The variations, like “dream big, get big” pepper the common dialogue of the average day.

We put Jesus’ face on it. We decide it sounds like Jesus. But Jesus spoke a startling phrase: “To those who have, more shall be given, and to those who have not, even the little they have will be taken away from them.”

2. Giving to the poor is the highest form of charity.

It makes for a great nightly news story–some individual or organization passing sandwiches out to the homeless, complete with a hygiene kit of toothbrush, toothpaste and a small washcloth.

We’re moved to tears. We put a Jesus mask on it.

But Jesus said “the poor you have with you always.” They’re not going to go away. “Do for them what you can” but don’t make it an all-encompassing mission.

Poverty is more than a lack of things. It is often a lack of understanding.

3. God has a wonderful plan for your life.

Now we’re really crying, because even though we’re going through these huge problems, in the long run God will pluck us out of our pain and place us on higher ground. Unfortunately, although we put the Jesus mask onto this concept, his message was quite different.

Jesus said, “Except ye repent, you will perish.” In other words, ladies and gentlemen, you are in the middle of an evolving situation and an evolving planet, so you’d better evolve or you will dissolve.

Jesus is not against positive thinking. Jesus just wants us to understand that thinking good thoughts and clinging to them by faith is not the same as “letting your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and glorify the Father in heaven.”

The good news is that the Gospel is meant for humans.

The better news is, the Gospel makes us better, not things better.

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G-Poppers … July 21st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

 

 

G-Pop is taking a brief pause to chat with his children.

American people have forgotten how to repent.

We have been so busy bolstering self-esteem and justifying lying that we have failed to realize that the greatest gift we have is to recognize error–and change.

Yesterday, G-Pop watched a man of seventy years rationalize behavior which placed him in legal jeopardy and eventually in prison. He sat and made excuses. We were supposed to see events through the prism of his understanding rather than the logical conclusions of a jury of his peers.

He forgot how to repent.

Matter of fact, it’s become a common practice to pretend that everything is just “a simple misunderstanding.”

A great man once said that without repentance, people, culture and quality begin to perish.

So just in case you are one of those souls who has forgotten how to repent, it works like this:

1. I know what I did wrong.

Yes, it is always better to discover it for yourself instead of being indicted for it.

2. I know what caused it.

Finding the source of the ego, ignorance or selfishness which brought on the dim-witted selection is very important.

3. I have ideas I can implement to keep it from happening again.

I have come to myself. I have taken away the fear of being unrighteous, and in so doing, I have tapped some truly noble notions.

4. I have selected a practical humility.

Realizing that my pride is always present just before my fall, I accept that I am susceptible to error. The humility keeps me sharp.

This is how you repent.

This is how you produce the change that makes life plausible instead of destructive.

Our country needs to learn how to repent again. If we don’t, we will continue to tout our self-worth–with less and less evidence that there’s actually any value.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … May 31st, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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A Stinky Job

I am not God

You are not God

Who would want to be God?

It’s a stinky job

You have to tell the truth.

Even though it eventually sets people free

In the meantime it makes them pissy

So those who worship you are also constantly a little angry

Because you are God but won’t be just their God

And their God alone

When you are God, you say,

“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of me.”

“There is none righteous–no, not one.”

“Except you repent, you will perish.”

“Your righteousness is like filthy rags.”

Filthy rags??

Please lighten up

How about just a dirty t-shirt?

So God says He loves people

Then we sing, “You are an awesome God!”

Yet we privately wonder why He doesn’t kill some people to help us out

Couldn’t God be nicer–just to us?

We come to church

We’re in the praise band

We once memorized two whole chapters of the Gospel of John

What does He want?

Maybe if He just phrased things more gently

Changed “sinners” to “winners in training”

Instead of “damnation,” call it “escaping the oops zone”

God, why don’t you just say “mistakes?”

And since we all make them, let’s call these little flubs “journey-markers”

Listen, God, I could love you so much more if you wouldn’t lord it over me

I need encouragement

I’m a kitten that requires exaggerated petting

But since you won’t do your God job

With some tenderness

Then I look for tenderness to become my God

Are you feeling lonely?

And you wonder why you have grumpy praisers

Even though I am not God

I could give you some pointers

Would you listen?

Or–because you are all-knowing–do you have to be a know-it-all?

But where can I go?

Movies don’t move me

Drinking makes me drunk

Weed creates need

Which will only feed my greed

And poli-ticks me off

I got nowhere to roost

Of course, you know that

STOP SMIRKING AT ME

Go ahead

Tell me the truth

But stay a little while–sweetly

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Alabama Allegations… September 26, 2012

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Alabama is not my “sweet home,” but I have always enjoyed my numerous visits to the state.

It is located on about the third notch of the Bible Belt (even though with me being blubbery, I prefer an elastic waist). As is often the case in many of the communities in our southern regions, people in Alabama go to church a lot, respecting God and country with tremendous personal fervor. So when I arrived with my proclamation that “NoOne is better than anyone else,” I found myself greeted with a small smile, only partially disguising a wince. My Alabamian brothers and sisters immediately offered two allegations to potentially contradict my theorem:

Allegation One: “Jonathan, isn’t the Jewish nation the chosen people? Doesn’t that make them better?”

I would like to introduce each and every one of you–and also re-acquaint myself–with the power of reading the Bible to discover a consensus. Facts are, it is easy to find a single verse in the Bible to back up almost any notion, perversion, lifestyle or inclination. But when you pursue further, you will discover that many other verses not only temper that particular assertion, but sometimes update or flat-out contradict it.

Since we are Christians and not followers of Moses, we have to go to the words of Jesus to find what he thought about this concept of the Children of Israel being “chosen.” Matter of fact, I will guarantee you on this fine morning that the main reason he hung between earth and sky, suspended by nails, was that they did not favor his opinion on their manifest destiny. He told the Jews bluntly that they took “great pride in being the children of Abraham” but that God had every capability of taking a common rock laying beside the road and turning it into a “child of Abraham.” You can imagine, considering the nationalistic pride frothing at the time, that this particular teaching was met with quite a bit of resistance.

We are also clearly informed that God is “no respecter of persons,” so even though there are those who would love to propagate the notion that Israel and the Jews are a chosen people, favored by God, and therefore they are unique by birthright, the general consensus of the Bible, which we call the Word, is that God has opened His door to include everyone equally.

So as not to get a bunch of emails from people suggesting that I am anti-Semitic, I will tell you that I believe that Israel has every right to exist, be respected and honored for her traditions. It’s just that since  the time that Jesus walked the earth, Jewish people are not preferred above Arabs or anyone else.

Allegation Two: “Jonathan, you certainly believe that Billy Graham is better than Charles Manson, right?”

You see, this is the idea that we are unique by salvation. I can always tell when people are desperate to win an argument. They either bring up their pet dog, Hitler or Charles Manson. They mention their pet dog because they want to create sympathy; Hitler, to prove how bad people are, and Charles Manson when they want to convince you that some people are beyond hope.

So let me tell you what I told these fine folks from Alabama. Actually, thief that I am, I borrowed the sentiment from Jesus. Talking one day to a group of gossiping Galileans, he asked them if they thought that the people who had recently been killed by Pilate were worse sinners than those who didn’t die. And after all, we do the same thing. If someone survives a hurricane, we insist that “God was with them,” which, whether we like it or not, connotes that the people who perished were at least secretly somewhat dastardly.

Jesus’ response to his own question about this “worse sinner” possibility was, “Except you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

You see, folks, it’s basically a PR situation–life comes along and the first thing you need to do is participate. It is true that there are greater benefits if you indulge in earthly activities by following the rules, but when you don’t, you get a second crack, which is called repentance. If you repent, you are blessed with a clean slate to participate again with a little bit more wisdom.

It doesn’t matter whether you are Billy Graham or Charles Manson–the same rules apply. Participate and repent. If you don’t choose to participate, don’t expect anything to happen. If you do participate, make a mistake and stubbornly refuse to repent, don’t expect to be able to participate anymore. It’s really that simple.

Many people were shocked when Charles Manson was the murderous propagator of so many slain, innocent people. I, too, was appalled, but I awaited the great miracle of repentance. It never came. So righteously, Charlie-boy doesn’t get to participate anymore.

But honestly, folks, if we found out something bad about Billy Graham tomorrow, most Christians would abandon him. I, instead, would wait for the repentance. And once my dear brother repented, I would welcome him back into the family of man, to participate.

Do I believe that Billy Graham is better than Charles Manson? Not by creation. He gains footing on earth’s soil because he repents–and if he didn’t repent, like Mr. Manson, he would find himself perishing one miserable day at a time, in a tiny jail cell.

So participate, and if you don’t, please understand that nothing will happen. After you participate, take note of the quality of your efforts and repent where stupidity has clearly been pointed out to you. It gives you license to participate again. There is no such thing as “worse sinners.” Just terrible repenters.

So this ended my little excursion into Alabama, where people tried to establish that we are unique by birthright, or, as in the case of Billy Graham, unique by salvation. But after I had a friendly conversation with these lovely folks, I made it clear to them that God is no respecter of persons, and that the key to human life is participating and repenting.

I moved on down the road and landed in Missouri, which they refer to as the “Show Me” State. I was certainly not going to escape their scrutiny with my new-fangled phrase.

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Except… December 27, 2011

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Jonathan in Miami

Yesterday was the first time this year. 

 “Happy New Year!” someone called. It was jubilant, optimistic, caring and filled with good cheer. I liked it.

But it got me thinking. Forgive me for that–I spend a lot of time trying to think because when I don’t, I find myself just reacting, which drudges up memories of childhood disappointments, failures, misgivings and a few grudges I still hold against people who ended up being better than me. Yuk.

Thinking is better than reacting. And the thought that came to my head is this: the word “new,” in reference to the year, is only significant if we’ve actually dealt with our “old” things.  Here’s my contention: nothing is old as long as it still works. I, for instance, have just turned sixty years of age but I am not outdated, irrelevant or without a sense of history and an awareness of the present. So candidly, I don’t feel old, nor do those who meet me attribute any agedness to my persona.

Nothing really becomes old until it doesn’t work anymore. And honestly, calling something “new,” if it’s just warmed-over hash, is equally as useless. In that case, “new” is just the replacement for the old lightbulb in our brain that doesn’t work anymore. Because “old” is the acknowledgment that we are pursuing a way of living, a plan of action or a style of belief that just doesn’t work.

If we continue to cling to it, it becomes “cold.” I do meet some cold folks as I journey across this country! I would characterize them as looking me straight in the eye and saying, “I don’t care if it doesn’t work–I still like it!” I am not so sure what to call this particular mindset. The liberals would attribute it to the conservatives and they would certainly toss the hot potato back the other direction. But it is a chilly way to walk through our lives because we’re never enriched with the sensation of doing something that’s really successful, but rather, repeating traditions that leave us unfulfilled, while we insist that life is meant to be miserable and hard.

But I’ve even seen people change when they turn cold.  It’s all about the word “repent.” We don’t use it much because it sounds Biblical–and God knows, the less we quote the Bible and Shakespeare, the more likely we are to draw friends our way. But “repent” is when you  come across something that IS old and doesn’t work–and even though you stubbornly wish that it did, you soften your heart in a kind moment to consider a better option. Because if you don’t repent, what was old and didn’t work, which turned cold through your determination to do it anyway, can turn into “mold.”

And oh, this is where it gets really nasty. This is when old people who don’t have anything going on that’s working, become really frosty, insisting that they like it anyway, and then become aggressive and defend the failure.  Yes–mold is when you defend the failure and leave it hanging on the ceiling, even though you’ve heard it makes you sick.

It’s WHY we repent–because if we don’t, Jesus says we will perish.

I sat at breakfast yesterday morning with a spread put out by my son and daughter-in-law from Miami. Ham, Quiche, bagels–well, the list goes on. I had a half a ham sitting right in front of me, and being the weak glutton I tend to be, I peeled one slice and another off of that former porker. I have no power to restrain myself from devouring such a product. I walked out to my car–or perhaps, “rolled out” would be a better term–knowing that I had something old in my life.

Overeating. It doesn’t work. It makes my legs want to sue me for cruelty, my heart choke up with cholesterol and my sugar rise in protest.

I also had to admit that this year I had turned cold on the issue. I didn’t really care about my weight. I rather liked the process of enjoying food and hell to pay. Fortunately for me, I did stop short of mold and did not defend my failure at weight loss. So as I drove down the road toward Fort Myers, Florida, I decided to stop being cold and deal with the old year. And what made it old? As far as me getting leaner–it just didn’t work.

I’m not so sure I’m going to be a roaring success, but I do know this–I have identified the old. I am ready to repent, which will make room for the new. Because except we all do, we will begin to perish. And economic problems, bad politics and stagnant religion are merely symptoms of the disease of unwillingness to deal with our inadequacies.

Except you repent … Well, I guess that’s when you can add “Happy” to “New Year.” Because the old that didn’t work and the cold that caused us to insist we liked it, turning into the mold that enabled us to defend our failures, is suddenly exposed by turning a light on in the room. Now the question is–what do we do next?

For me, the first step is trying not to sit so close to ham.

*************

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Published in: on December 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm  Comments (1)  
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