Jesonian: Depraved or Saved? … August 3, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesus healing

For those who are saved by grace, it would be wonderful to see them become more graceful. Otherwise, salvation by grace generates an insecure people who have lost hope, and threaten to become a disgrace.

What is salvation?

Is it as the fundamentalists believe–an admission of our entire, depraved, sinful nature, which has to be reborn through baptism so that we become acceptable in the eyes of God?

Or is it as the mainline denominational people believe–a submission to the teachings and philosophy of Jesus, while applying the traditions of the church?

I am most comfortable looking at salvation through the eyes of Jesus rather than the permutations brought about through denominations.

A Centurion once sent word to him, asking Jesus to heal his servant. He believed Jesus could do it from a distance, since he, the Centurion, felt that he was unworthy of a personal visitation. Jesus said he had never seen such great faith.

There was a woman at a well with five previous husbands, and was living with a man, but became the conduit for a revival in her town because she brought her curiosity, which was accounted unto her for salvation.

Zacchaeus decided to make reparations for all he had stolen from people, and Jesus said “this day salvation had come to his house.”

The woman caught in adultery hung around after the crowd departed, to receive a final verdict from Jesus. He confirmed her salvation by telling her that he did not condemn her, but challenged her to go and sin no more.

The woman with the issue of blood brought a plan. “If I just touch the hem of his garment, I’ll be well…”

The Prodigal Son came to himself and offered common sense. “I would be better off being a servant in my father’s house than starving out here in the wilderness.”

  • Faith.
  • Curiosity.
  • Reparations.
  • Humility.
  • A plan.
  • Common sense.

These are all part of the process of salvation. When we believe that the depravity of man must be established in order to prove that God’s grace has been extended, then we close the door to those who don’t require a complete overhaul, but instead, just a way to identify the source of the beautiful life that God has given them.

We must be careful that in the pursuit of proving that God is great, we allow for the disciples of Jesus to mature instead of becoming more meager in their character, to bolster the doctrine. Because as the Gospel of John tells us, “to as many as believed in him, gave he the power to become the sons of God.”

Salvation is an empowering experience. It is taking our spirit, which has been unplugged, and uniting it with the Spirit of God … to recreate the beauty of Eden in our soul.

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What’s So Funny? … May 9, 2013

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laugh maskI made one of those classic mistakes.

Spurred on by some friends and supporters, for a season I decided to advertise myself as a comedian or a humorist. It seemed like a good idea. After all, most people like light-hearted material over crusty pages with darkened corners.

But here’s what I discovered: arriving at my first engagement, fully promoted, a gentleman ambled up to me and said, “So I hear you’re a comedian.” (I would describe his tone as a mingling of spit and vinegar, accentuated with a sneer.)

I was in trouble.

For honestly, the best way to make sure that people will NOT find joviality in your material is to suggest to them that it is meant to be giggly. We are a highly independent species, bound and determined to push forward our own opinions, even if they’re wrong.

It took about two weeks, but I caught on. I dropped the foolish title from my advertising and decided to just go in front of the audience and let the chips fall where they may. Guess what? I was suddenly funny again.

So here’s what I learned from that experience. You might find it beneficial if you are in the pursuit of offering levity to the planet.

1. Don’t TRY to be funny.

2. BE funny–by sharing your “tries.” People love to laugh at our failures. You can call it sick, or just dub it predictable.

3. Don’t make fun of people. It’s cheap and eventually there is someone out there who will get a bead on your oddities–and decimate your character.

4. Make people believe in fun. In the midst of a world of turmoil, discussing the layers of conflict rarely brings about the energy to do anything about it. We have to believe that life is fun or we’ll stop showing up.

5. Don’t lose the humor of God. I was at a church service one time and we were all laughing, having a good time before the service, when the pastor said, “Let’s all calm down and get ready for worship.” I had to object. I replied, “What are you trying to do? Scare God away?” If God does not promote joy, then He’s probably pretty grouchy. I don’t think it does us any good to believe in a grouchy God.

6. And we promote the humor of God because God saves the lost THROUGH humor. The parables of Jesus are riddled by one-liners, set-ups and little stabs of comedy. If you can’t get people to look at their lives through the prism of jubilation and with a bit of jocular nature, the pain involved in changing is just too great.

So to answer the question “what’s so funny?” — it would be me, when I don’t TRY to be funny. And it would be you AND me when we realize that “be of good cheer” is the only way to overcome the world’s tribulation.

 

 

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New Covenant … May 8, 2013

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new covenant umcIt seemed like a good idea. It almost always does. When anyone at any time is looking for a way to create or generate a Utopian situation, the main idea that comes to the forefront is to try to make everyone just like us.

God was no exception. In His original “garden plan” of uniting with mankind, He created an ideal environment with ideal circumstances so that ideally, man and God could co-exist practically as equals.

Always remember–the perfection of God is not discovered in His lack of errors, but rather, in His willingness to evolve to better efforts. Once God realized that human beings don’t make good gods, a process was set in motion to get them to understand how to come closer to heavenly conclusions, even if it was just “Ten Commandments at a time.”

They didn’t do so well with that either. Free-will creatures are rarely enticed to righteous decisions by being told what to do.

So one day God just threw away the old covenant–tossed it like a really bad worksheet of a math problem that failed to grant resolution. He came up with a new covenant.

What is a covenant? In its simplest form, it’s just an agreement. But little do we mortals realize that agreement is the grease, fuel and energy of the universe. Without it, we manufacture friction, which keeps things in constant danger of explosion. So what is the new covenant–the new agreement, if you will?

1. Humans can’t be Godso therefore it’s foolish to ask them to be godly. To impose religiosity on them makes them more obnoxious than omnipresent.

2. So God became a human. Yes, Jesus of Nazareth lived a completely human life, speckled with problems, discoveries, pursuit of wisdom, foibles and failures which had to be renovated by resurrection.

3. To teach humans to work with humans. My conclusion after traveling for many years is that most of us would like to have God as our co-pilot–and the rest of the people on the earth stuck in baggage. It doesn’t work that way. My quality is certainly evaluated by how well I play with others.

4. To create humanity–a little bit of heaven on earth. What is humanity?

a. We are not alone.

b. We are not better

c. So get to working together.

This is the New Covenant.

Tonight I go to a tiny church in Sunnyvale, Texas, that has dubbed itself New Covenant.

I am very impressed with their name–especially if they have come to the precious realization that humans can’t be God, so God became human, to teach humans to work with humans, to create humanity–a little bit of heaven on earth.

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Quatrain of Knowledge … May 7, 2013

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Something to know

Know to learn

Learn to grow

Grow to something

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Published in: on May 7, 2013 at 1:06 pm  Comments (1)  
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Is It Still There? … May 6, 2013

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flagHave you ever listened closely to the lyrics? (Actually, since it was originally a poem, maybe I should say “the stanzas.”)

I’m talking about The Star Spangled Banner, penned by Francis Scott Key. After all, the emotion of the song is a yearning curiosity about whether the defenders of Ft. McHenry had survived the all-night battle–if the flag was still waving, proclaiming victory.

We’ve grown so accustomed to hearing the song sung by young, spoiled, famous pop artists, who are more concerned about the pitch range than they are about the emotional range, that we somehow have lost the significance of the message.

That night in Baltimore Harbor, Mr. Key was frantic about whether the United States would be able to continue its mission, initiated 36 years earlier with the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

He was nervous. He was anxious for a little light to be shone on the day so he could determine the future of our nation.

For this I know–after all the scandals, ill-advised wars, foolish clinging to bigotry, financial disasters and even the broaching of civil rights which have peppered our history, we still remain a country which insists on pursuing the simple concept of personal freedom.

But like Francis Scott Key, I sometimes wonder whether The Star Spangled Banner is still there in the midst of all the partisanship and vendettas put out by less-than-scrupulous leaders in this country, who have more of a vested interest in their own personal wealth and position than they do in the deeper treasures of liberty.

But I am not cynical. I still believe I live in a magnificent country.

It all came to bear on me the other day when I received an email from my daughter-in-law, who was born and raised in China. She sent an attachment of a file, with her singing a song she will be auditioning tomorrow, to possibly perform for the UCLA graduation. It was The Star Spangled Banner.

First, I was astonished that she was a singer. She had never shared that talent with me in all of our varied conversations. She had listened to me croon away many times without piping a note herself. But when I listened to her gentle, sweet voice intone our national anthem, I was brought to tears–especially when I heard her share the phrase, “Oh, say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave–o’er the land of the free …?”

When she hit that high note, a chill went down my spine. Not because it was loud or intense. No–because I realized that here was a Chinese girl raised in among an intelligent and intuitive people, who had used her abilities to arrive on the shores of America to expand her education, and was now singing the praises of the “land of the free.”

You see–that’s America.

America isn’t about listening to a bunch of old codgers, sitting around in over-stuffed leather chairs discussing the subtleties of politics. America is a beautiful young girl from China, who still honors her country of origin, but comes to harvest the benefits from the freedom and opportunities provided by this republic.

It was beautiful. It struck a patriotic chord in me that still resounds this morning.

So you can feel free to continue to be part of the pervasive attitude that is trying to  preserve an America long gone or initiate an America yet unrevealed.

As for me, I will celebrate the power of the immigrant–that soul who has traveled to our shores to find the missing pieces of his or her life.

So here’s to my daughter-in-law and her beautiful spirit. I don’t know if she’ll win the audition or not–but she’s already proven that The Star Spangled Banner is still there.

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Ten Things God Wants from the Church… May 5, 2013

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10. Human beings that are not afraid of each other

9. Give as the Lord has prospered you

8. A sense of good cheer

7. Music and worship from the heart

6. Integration

5. A “judging free” zone

4. Humanity

3. The philosophy of Jesus expressed with power

2. Joy and fullness

1. NoOne is better than anyone else.

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Mush-mellow … February 2, 2012

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It startled me.  Yesterday someone suggested that I was becoming more “mellow.”
 
God forbid. Mellow is like grits without gravy, mush without maple syrup and an apple you purchase on Tuesday afternoon, knowing you’d better eat it quickly because by morning it’ll be rotten. No, I don’t really like mellow.
 
Neither would I want to be considered confrontational. Confrontational is the equivalent of someone who orders their Mexican food with extra hot sauce and then, to prove the point, squeezes the juice of three jalapenos over the top.
 
What I would like to do is matter enough that what I am impacts the world around me. That’s tricky. Candidly, most people do not like to be taught. We just don’t. That’s why within months of leaving school, our brains immediately begin to download knowledge from our minds like it’s on a sinking ship. It’s the whole teacher-student relationship that really troubles us. Because even when we’re little toddlers–two or three years old–and someone is trying to explain how to tie our shoes, we become impatient, saying, “I know. I know. I know.” Of course, we DON’T know, but that doesn’t make taking further instruction any easier.
 
We just reach a point where we think we should know things–and to be further taught on the subject is not only annoying, but somewhat emotionally debilitating. Yet change is needed. So how can you create the necessary renewal, revival or even renaissance in our society without becoming the schoolmarm, trying to take everybody back to the classroom to rehash old subjects? Well, let me first list the things people will NOT tolerate. I gave you one already.
 
1. Being taught. I know some of you will insist that you ARE teachable, and I appreciate the idea that in some areas you may be, but we all possess a bit of “know it all” that prevents us from acquiring all the information that would benefit our lives. Part of that is because:
2. No one wants to feel inferior. That’s really not a bad thing. In some ways, feeling inferior is much more dangerous than feeling superior. Sensations of being better than other people are usually quickly alleviated in the general commerce of humanity. But inferiority can hide out as shyness, being introverted or just having a bad day. So sometimes it’s difficult for people to receive new information without feeling they’re inferior in the process.
3. And the third obstacle to enriching the lives of human beings on this planet is family. Most people will find that when truth is unveiled, parts of it will be contrary to things that were taught by their families. They are immediately put in a Catch-22. We all want to grow but we don’t want to abandon our traditions. Jesus phrased it well. He said “if you let people taste new wine, they will quickly turn to you and say the old wine is better.” It’s not. We’re just terribly frightened of stepping on the graves of our ancestors on our way to building new roads to the future.
 
So you have those three things in the way of trying to create good change. I used to believe that God had called me to change people’s minds. I got over that pretty quickly. People do not change their minds because you ask, suggest or even because it’s the right thing to do. Worse yet, you have what we might call the twenty-four-hour change–where folks will adopt a new idea, but be much more critical about its value than they are towards their old opinions, so at the first sign of difficulty, they will abandon the fresh concept as unworkable.
 
So it’s not so much that I’ve gotten mellow. It’s just that I think I’ve discovered the best approach to being a contributor to humanity without coming across as “boss man.” And here it is: I will change my own mind thoroughly and then go ahead and do it.  And I will do it well enough to make you jealous.
 
That’s right. Human beings change because they’re jealous of what other people have. Now, you can reject that assertion because it doesn’t sound pretty or nice, but nonetheless, I think you will find that if you follow it through, it’s true. If you want everybody to wear red socks, the best thing to do is convince yourself that red socks are important and start wearing them all the time with a confident heart. Pretty soon you will notice there are other folks around you buying red socks. They will be quick to let you know that it had nothing to do with YOU wearing red socks; no, it was a personal choice they made because they suddenly remembered that their favorite color was red.
 
It doesn’t matter. You can’t matter in life if folks aren’t jealous of you, and of course, if they are jealous of you, there is a chance they can become your enemies. This is why Jesus was so insistent on us loving our enemies. Because just in the process of changing your own mind, doing something and deciding to perform it well, you will make tons of friends–but also some enemies. They are not your enemies because you are wicked, evil or hard to get along with. They are just jealous and have decided to channel their jealousy into impatience instead of impersonation. It’s the risk you take.
 
If you try to blend in with everybody around you, they will spend one hour appreciating your presence and then you will disappear into the background. If you come in and try to take over and tell people they’re wrong, they will righteously resist you because you are robbing them of their free will. But if you focus on yourself, change your own mind, do what you know you’re supposed to do and do it well, the end result will be the energy that really does generate revolution.
 
Jealousy.
 
For instance, the Soviet Union did not fall because we threatened them with missiles from every corner of the world. They just threatened us back with the same number. The Soviet Union fell because they ran out of bread, were jealous because of our many brands, and because, for the life of them, they couldn’t hatch a rock band as good as the Beatles. They were jealous.
 
If we would just take the time to focus on what our minds should be and what duties will come out of that thinking, and then practice that to the point of excellence, we will produce a jealousy which will promote duplication–or give us a handful of enemies to love. Either way, the world is quivering in the presence of our footsteps and journey.
 
It’s not so much about being mellow as it is about being smart. Don’t chase a dog that’s running away from you. Be careful buying tomatoes if the room smells too much like tomatoes. They’re on their way out the door. Feel a little uneasy if your used car salesman is smiling during the signing of the papers. And don’t ever believe that you have the convincing power to change anyone’s mind. People change when they are jealous of what you have.
 
Now that can make you mellow. And if that’s what they mean by mellow, bring it on. But that particular style of mellow does create some adversaries.
 
And as long as we understand that not everybody is going to love us, it makes it a lot easier for us to love everybody.
 
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