Cracked 5 … May 16th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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cracked 5 logo keeper with border

Other Names Considered for Jesus (and also the ones who proposed the “handle”)

 

A. Temple Tumbler–presented by the sarcastic Pharisees after Jesus “turned the tables” on them.

 

B. Winey Boy–a quickly devised name by some very drunken souls in Cana who suddenly found themselves slurping a burgundy made out of water

 

C. Jim Bay Luben–a proposal by the Southern Galilean Baptists, who were hoping it might promote Jesus to be more like his cousin, John

 

D. Carpo the Carpenter–a business-package idea by the Nazareth Chamber of Commerce

 

E. Bastard–a never-dying rumor by old, disgruntled Nazarenes who were “month-counters” for Mother Mary.

 

 

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Good News and Better News… March 6th, 2017

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jesus-politician

They were known as the Herodians.

They were one of three political parties that stumped around in Jesus’ time, completely enveloped in a cloud of self-importance.

Unlike their counterparts, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the Herodians had quietly given up on the power of Jewish tradition, scriptural integrity and even the intervention of God. They had decided to seek a more “earthly” solution. In doing this, they proclaimed that Herod was the Messiah and the King of the Jews. This immediately eliminated a need to wait for anything, believe in anything outrageous or follow commandments which seemed to be a dead-end street.

It was the Herodians who actually put the nails in Jesus’ hands.

Both the Pharisees and Sadducees were so frightened of the people that they were never able to come up with a plan to trap Jesus. It was only when the cunning Herodians, with their defiled political thinking, came on the scene, that a plot was put in place to put an end to the “Jesus question.”

I bring up the Herodians this morning because we have a similar situation in America. The church has flirted with politics for years, feeling that it gave them some sort of pass to “big-town thinking.” Yet somehow or another, the religious system was able to keep itself from becoming the whore to Washington.

Then somewhere along the line, we gave up on faith.

We gave up on “love your neighbor as yourself.”

And to a huge degree, we gave up on Jesus.

We started looking for a secular leader to represent us–an imposter–so we once again have come up with a scheme rid ourselves of Jesus.

This is why we’re so confused. It’s why worship has a feeling of vanity and purposelessness to it. Numbers are dropping. The young people are uninspired, and the clergy teeter between fanaticism and apathy.

It is time for us to identify the Herodians, expose them as the quitters they are, and once again give our faith, hope and charity a chance to do its mystery.

Here’s the good news: Jesus is not political.

Here’s the better news: He’s still in the business of loving people and saving souls.

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Good News and Better News … September 12th, 2016

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milford-c-c-comp

There is certainly nothing more representative of the heart and mind-set of Jesus than compassion.

Arriving yesterday in Milford, I felt that gentle enthusiasm from Pastor Doug, his wife Marianne and the gathered souls.

They yearn to reach others.

Matter of fact, next Sunday they’re going to invite the community in to join them for breakfast, casting aside the trappings of religion, and making themselves vulnerable as human beings.

Yet in the midst of needful outreach to the community, we must be aware that the church was never intended to be a refuge to nurse the wounds or the grudges of purposely “little people.”

The message of Jesus is clear:

  • Heal the sick
  • Help them discover abundant life
  • And make sure everyone is free indeed

So even though we want to be forgiving and kind, we must remember three very important attributes of Jesus’ ministry:

1. Jesus refused to tolerate complainers.

The Pharisees didn’t have a good word for any good word. They didn’t realize that their hypocrisy was their problem, not Roman domination.

2. Jesus was not too available.

People had to ask about him. The lepers had to seek him out, and some determined souls even had to knock through the ceiling of the house to lower down a comrade for healing.

Jesus required people to make a personal emotional effort so he could make their encounter effortless.

3. Jesus was looking for faith.

Even though the dictionary may not agree, the opposite of faith is complaining. Once you begin to complain, you are proving that your circumstances determine your good cheer. Faith is the ability to deal with difficulty and laugh at it while waiting for fresh opportunity to come your way.

If we can incorporate this into our compassion for those who are non-complaining, seeking answers and bringing their faith, such as it is, we can become a church.

But when we extend grace to those who have been touched by the mercy of God and have decided to growl at the environment and people around them, then we’re wasting our time on souls who have plotted to be out of sorts.

The good news is that Jesus has compassion.

The better news is that compassion is much more effective with those who are not demanding it.

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 12) Repairing … February 21st, 2016

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Jesonian hands

Jews hated Samaritans. And by the way, the Samaritans were very willing to do their part to uphold the grudge.

Pharisees despised Romans. The Romans basically ignored them–until they occasionally got a murderous urge.

Zealots fought the Legionnaires. It was an unfair battle–Rome had too many weapons.

Lepers were separated from healthy people–and not nicely, may I add.

Men hated women. Women were in bondage to men.

Merchants killed thieves. Thieves stole from merchants.

This is the scene that was in full force when Jesus of Nazareth stepped into the melee to express his voice.

What pressure was put upon him? “Pick a side.”

  • The Jews got mad because he wasn’t Jewish enough.
  • The Romans were unimpressed because he was raised Jewish.
  • Even the Judeans and the Galileans–who were both Jewish–looked down upon one another, always pushing and shoving for predominant favor.

What did he do?

He set out repairing.

Rather than picking the Jewish side or the Samaritan side, grabbing a placard and protesting, he went to the Samaritans and to the Jews with the same message.

Rather than grabbing a sword and becoming a Zealot, his communication was that it was more important to give to the Romans what belonged to the Romans and to give to God what belonged to God.

He upset the Judeans by inviting Galileans to be his disciples.

And he really pissed off the boys from Galilee by appointing the Judean to be treasurer.

He touched lepers to heal them, which scared the hell out of his hypochondriac-followers.

And rather than submitting to a teaching arena, which was segregated for men, he blended men and women into a common camp of discovery.

You can’t repair if you’re going to insist that one side is better than another.

For instance, you will never be able to solve the problems in the Middle East if you favor the Jews over the Muslims or the Muslims over the Jews.

It is a reasonable process to go about the business of repairing. But to do it, you have to keep three things in mind:

1. Find the breach.

In other words, where has this group over here decided to hate that group over there, and how willing are you to stand between the two?

Since the black community feels persecuted by the police, and the cops feel targeted by that community, it is important for someone to stand in the middle, clean up the corruption in the police force, and teach the black community how to represent itself clearly and well in our society.

If you’re always going to try to find the victim, you’ll spend all of your time bandaging wounds instead of healing conflicts.

2. Situate yourself in the middle.

Black lives matter. Absolutely. No doubt about it.

Policemen have to make too many split-second decisions while holding life-threatening weapons. Absolutely.

Both camps need to realize the weakness and the strength of the other.

You can’t minister to Republicans if you’re a Democrat. And you sure can’t reach Democrats if you’re pounding them with the politics of Ronald Reagan.

Situate yourself in the middle where repair is needed and the breach is obvious.

3. Reach out in both directions.

Jesus found himself on the cross, nailed between two thieves, one hand reaching to the right and the other to the left. From that position, he was trying to salvage two lives which would soon be extinguished.

You can not repair if you choose to believe that one side is better than the other.

It is reasonable to go about the business of repairing.

You will have to free yourself of the unnecessary need of having an opinion on everything … and instead have a yearning to bridge the gap.

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Good News and Better News … January 25th, 2016

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Good News Messiah Lutheran

I arrived early.

Nothing had started popping at Messiah Lutheran.

I was sitting at my book table checking out a few details when I looked across the vestibule and saw the bulletin board pictured above.

My first instinct was to chuckle since I was peering at a snowman while abiding in Panama City, Florida. But I guess because it was Sunday morning and my thoughts had become a bit introspective, I considered the snowman.

It isn’t, you know–a man, I mean.

If you came across a snowman and decided to melt it and free the human being inside, after extensive warming, all you would end up with is a puddle.

There’s nothing within.

It’s an imitation of life–using lumps of coal, a broom, a button, a scarf, a carrot and a top hat.

But it got me wondering if there are frozen people crusted over by the iciness of our culture, who really are more than just snowmen. Is it possible to become so chilled by indifference that you live beneath inches of ice?

Well, I certainly see it in politics.

Freezing out your competition and appearing above the fray, free of fault, seems to be the “call of the wild” in Washington. But I fear if the real heat of pressure and responsibility fell upon any one of them, they would sink into a drippy mess.

How about entertainment?

What could be more hypocritical than a bunch of snowmen in Hollywood who think they are so open-minded and liberal, who make a stand against guns–even as they use pistils, automatic rifles and any number of instruments of mayhem to kill thousands of human beings in their plotlines.

Then there’s religion.

Seems to me that we have sunk to the position of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, who spent their time counting cups, cleaning plates and decorating their robes.

Snowmen.

Nothing really left inside–just a cold form of what they once might have looked like.

So as I prepared to share with the folks at Messiah, I was reminded of the sarcastic statement of the angel, speaking to the women who came to the tomb to embalm Jesus: “Why seek ye the living among the dead?”

I had to ask myself a two-part question:

  • Is my life the pursuit of melting snowmen, only to find there’s nothing really there?
  • Or, under this arctic exterior, are there still living human beings who would like to have joy and abundant life?

The good news is that Messiah lifted my spirits.

Although at first they treated us as strangers, our hearts soon burned within us, taking away the frigid fear.

It was powerful.

It was good.

It was hopeful.

And unlike the snowman on the wall of their bulletin board, what I discovered were human beings suffering from a little hypothermia from being exposed to too much cold. So here’s the better news: We can warm up society and find out where the snowmen are and where the people just need to come in out of the elements.

1. When you see somebody doing a good job and you know they make minimum wage, give them a buck and a word of encouragement for their extra-mile efforts.

2. When you’re in the doctor’s office, instead of pretending to read an out-dated magazine, attempt to strike up a conversation with a nearby human being and see where it takes you.

3. Let “thank you” come off your lips more and more easily.

4. Lead with a smile long before you come face-to-face.

5. Appreciate the small things and be amazed at how the big things begin to take care of themselves.

6. Sit in your quiet, staid church and clap your hands during one of the hymns and see if anyone joins you.

I could go on and on.

Here are two dangers in life: falling under the spell of the deep freeze, or believing that you have no power to thaw it.

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Jesonian: S.I.N. (Single Issue Nerds) … January 11, 2015

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intellectual gif

Judas thought it was all about poor people. We’re not certain that he really cared about the poor–just that he thought it was a confirmation of being religious.

The Pharisees thought we proved our worth to God by performing traditional worship services. They did a lot of straining and ended up with more gnats than camels.

The disciples of John the Baptist believed that people appear more righteous when they fast–especially if you can go without food and look miserable while doing it.

The Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife–either heaven or hell. In other words, it all happens here or nothing happens.

In each one of these cases you are dealing with “Single Issue Nerds”–they believe that the way one does things is more important than the motivation–the faithfulness to a practice more powerful than a conclusion.

Dare I say, they all became the enemy, or at least the adversary, of Jesus of Nazareth? His contention about true religion was that “the kingdom of God is within you.” In other words:

  • If you’re not happy, your faith is failing.
  • If you don’t have peace of mind, your beliefs are weakened.
  • And if you’re not pursuing a life of good cheer and acceptance of others, you might as well be without any kind of spirituality because you’re really just mimicking the heathens.

I see it everywhere I go–“Single Issue Nerds.” They have grabbed some bauble from the Bible and made it their beating bongo. They are obsessed with their discovery, convinced that those who do not pursue their particular issue lack enlightenment and possibly totally misunderstand the will of God.

Let us never forget that Jesus did not have a single issue. It didn’t matter who he talked to, what nationality they were, or even if the people around them thought they were hopeless sinners. He always looked for three things:

1. Are you ready for a change? People who are not willing to change will spend all their time trying to change you.

2. Can you humble yourself? Are you willing to deny your sensation of wholeness, to admit your lack?

3. Can you extend the same mercy to others? Grace is soon dissipated by the absence of mercy. For as Jesus said, “The measure I measure out to others will be measured back to me.”

You may think you have a great social gospel or that your liturgy is significantly deep and meaningful, or maybe that your fundamentalism will squeak you through the doors of heaven when others are rejected.

I suppose you might consider yourself to be progressive–where you only use the Gospel to explain your own mission statement.

But you will find that in your hour of need, your faith has to be able to set you free–because if you’re not free, you can’t free anyone else.

And if you’re in bondage, no matter how good your intentions, you will soon bind up all the world around you.

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Jesonian: Doctor’s Report… November 23, 2014

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Jesus and MM big

Jesus had a penis.

Not only do these two words, “Jesus” and “penis” somewhat rhyme, but they are also included by a doctor named Luke in his account on the life of the Nazarene, stating that at eight days of age, the little fellow was circumcised.

Let me explain that circumcision is normally associated as a procedure done to the male penis.

So it is rather doubtful if any denomination or theologian would question the authenticity of Dr. Luke’s report, but instead, would find anyone such as myself, who would highlight it, as being gauche or perhaps sacrilegious. (For after all, our greatest concern is not to discover the truth, but instead, to make sure it fits in with present thinking.)

But it is very important to us that Jesus had a penis. And if you happen to be a male yourself, you understand that this appendage comes with a package of possibilities and problems.

The Good Book does nothing to deter us from understanding this. It states that Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are, and that he was touched with our infirmities.

But the importance does not lie in discussing the propriety of the “Jesus penis,” but to realize that deep within his teaching is a sensuality that cannot be mistaken.

  • He referred to the church, which he founded, as “the bride of Christ” and to himself as “the bridegroom.” What’s that all about?

He made it clear in the Sermon on the Mount that “he who looks on a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery in his heart.” Is this speculation? Doctrinal intrigue? Or personal discovery?

  • He told Nicodemus that “we all must be born again.”
  • He brought everything of heaven down to earthly understanding. Thus the use of parables.
  • And even though the modern church focuses on the Eucharist, which, by the way, has us eating his flesh and drinking his blood–quite intimate–the shocking experience of that Last Supper was when he stripped his clothes away, wrapped a towel around his waist, and washed the feet of his comrades.
  • He felt no embarrassment in telling the multitudes that a man and woman were meant to cleave to one another and become one flesh.
  • He incurred the wrath of the sexually inhibited Pharisees when a woman who was a prostitute came and anointed his feet with her tears as she kissed them, wiping away the moisture with her own hair. That’s seductive.

His ministry was intimate.

  • So tender was his sensitivity that rather than healing lepers at a distance, he insisted on making a sensory connection by touching them.
  • He placed all the children on his knee and put his hands on them to bless them.

When you remove the sensuality from Jesus, you lose an understanding of the compassion he had for his fellow human beings.

And where did that compassion come from? Was it merely infused from a supernatural Holy Spirit, generating power from on high?

Or was it a man who had a penis, who was therefore made more sensitive to his brothers and his sisters?

Dr. Luke did us a favor. He let us know that Jesus lived a life with genitalia. Therefore Jesus pissed, he had wet dreams, he had erections and he had inclinations to lust–because the little fellow who rents the downstairs insists on all of that.

We will be a better church when we realize that Jesus was born with no advantage, but because he allowed the Holy Spirit into his heart, it opened the door to a love of others that was accentuated by his sensory anointing. 

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