PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … June 14th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Simply Phrased

I have no wonder

About the human blunder

It’s common, don’t you see

Like rain and thunder

Or a rumble down under

Always appears naturally

So beware of those

In pious clothes

Strutting in a snit

Stick up their nose

At the common Joes

Downright full of shit

Whereas average people

Without a steeple

Who replenish the Earth

Without a word

They are heavenly preferred

Industrious since birth

So worry if you must

Yet I will trust

That all is truly well

For if me and I

Is not enough for the Sky

Then simply phrased: “What the hell?”

 

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Jesonian… January 21st, 2017

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They tried.

They really, really tried.

Once folks discovered that Jesus of Nazareth was interested in love, mercy, peace and God, they attempted to make connection with him by being religious.

They couldn’t understand an itinerant minister who was so against organized theology that he hid out in the hills in the middle of the week, fellowshipping with folks, only descending to the synagogue on Saturday, to find more brothers and sisters.

Yet they tried.

First came Nicodemus, a Pharisee. He began his dialogue with Jesus by saying, “We know you are a teacher from God because you do such amazing works.”

He was a victim of church talk. He didn’t know how to chat like “real people.” He was hoping that he and Jesus could compliment one another and ruminate over the unknown questions of the universe, departing satisfied that they were both educated men.

Jesus ignored his religion and told Nicodemus that he needed to be “born again.”

It pissed the old cleric off.

On another occasion, Jesus was sitting at a well in Samaria when a woman with a history of multiple husbands, now living with a man, came to draw water. When, through conversation, she realized that Jesus was a Jewish rabbi, she began a religious argument–whether the Jews or the Samaritans were right. Here she was, a totally secular woman with no real understanding of the essence of God. But once she decided she was dealing with a religious adversary, she waxed ecclesiastical.

Jesus ignored her.

He told her to go get her husband.

He told her he had living water.

He told her that where we worship is not important–it’s how we worship that rings our bells.

And we must not forget the rich young ruler, who was so confident in his financial status that he felt the only thing he lacked was assurance that he had procured eternal life. He felt certain that Jesus was the person to ask about the afterlife.

“What must I do to inherit heaven?”

After a few minutes of back and forth, Jesus told him to go out, sell everything he had and give it to the poor. This was not the answer the pious young ruler wanted. So he left, sad.

Any further study of Jesus’ interactions with religious people of his day will give you a comprehensive awareness that all of them–all of the encounters–to some degree were failures.

Because the things that religious people need to do they don’t want to do:

  • Like Nicodemus, they do not want to personalize their salvation to be individually born again.
  • Like the woman at the well, they want to worship but not discover the “Spirit and the truth” of their praise.
  • And like the rich young ruler, they would rather memorize passages than generously give from their substance.

Whenever you bring religion to Jesus, he will challenge it–even attack it.

So do yourself a favor.

Skip the step.

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Good News and Better News… January 9th, 2017

 

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It is reported that animals can smell fear.

I do not know if this particular “sniffology” is passed along in the human family, but I am fully aware as I travel and interact with my brothers and sisters, that there’s a strong apprehension in the air.

It’s not so much an odor as it is a loss of confidence and a disconcerting sense that doom looms too close to the home fires.

So in a season when the church should be rallying from its stagnancy because of the yearning of the human spirit to relieve tension, our ranks still seem to be filing out the back door.

There are those in theology who conclude that it’s due to a lack of serious religious reflection, and others who believe that we’ve not yet struck the right chord with the younger generation concerning traditions and the teaching offered for their children.

If you will allow me, I will tell you:

  • We have too much God and not enough Father.
  • Too much Christ and not enough Jesus.

It’s similar to a chemistry teacher who constantly gives tests on formulas while never having the students do lab work.

Church is boring because the idea of God is stifling.

Church seems insipid because a Christ who offers eternal salvation doesn’t give us a Jesus who offers us Earth solutions.

We are stymied.

For fear of losing our “worship credentials,” we have sacrificed our human appeal.

The heavenly Father is a Creator, not a manufacturer. Not everything can be taught in a six-week series from the pulpit as we expound upon every reference in the Bible about love, and hope that folks will draw a pious conclusion.

Jesus was our brother–tempted as we are in every way and touched by our infirmities long before he became salvation through the cross. Thirty-three years of life can not be ignored because of three hours at Golgotha.

Until we have more of the Father and an abundance of Jesus, our churches will be full of dead men’s bones and promises that seem to have been “rain checked” until after death.

The good news is that God is our Father, Jesus is our brother and the Holy Spirit is not a ghost.

The better news is that the Holy Spirit has come to remind us about the goodness of our Father and the genius of Jesus.

 

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Good News and Better News … September 19th, 2016

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It is utterly amazing how many potholes on the highway of progress can be gloriously filled in with the marvelous cement of enthusiasm and repentance.

Although many people tout the power of thinking and prayer, our thoughts are often stuck in the past, and our prayers can be pious.

When I arrived in Marlette, Michigan, to meet up with Pastor Dave and the human beings who inhabit that region, I was looking for enthusiasm and repentance. Nothing of any significance is going to happen without this pair of miracle-workers.

Enthusiasm has a simple message: “I want to be happy.”

And repentance comes along cleansing the process by offering, “And I realize I may have to change to get it.”

Without enthusiasm. we eventually regress to complaining. And absent repentance, we always become “makers of great excuse.”

I was so pleased to encounter one friend after another in this gathered array of Michiganders, who expressed enthusiasm, and with tears in their eyes, realized the necessity of repentance.

Throughout my journey I have discovered that politics does not work because it’s so afraid of failure that it lies.

Education is limited because without the spunk of perseverance, it may not survive.

And religion is nearly comical because it pursues salvation without revering personal responsibility.

But the magic of enthusiasm followed by the anointing of repentance turns the human race into a livable sort, making folks able to co-exist with one another without gossip and murder.

I think this begins with how we answer the question, “How are you?”

We can decide to hide our feelings and say “fine” with varying degrees of apathy, or we can launch into a series of woes about our present condition, hoping for sympathy.

But I have found the perfect answer to “how are you?Here it is: “At first, a little overwhelmed, but by nightfall, kind of surprised at how well things turned out.”

I shall always remember the folks in Marlette with Pastor Dave and his evolving outreach. They brought to the sanctuary enough enthusiasm to welcome repentance.

That’s the good news.

The better news?

It turns out that enthusiasm and repentance are much easier to work with than defeat and stubbornness.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … May 11th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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PoHymn May 11

In a Manner of Speaking

One day I ceased talking to God

Refusing to persist in being a fraud

A sleepy saint with a muttered prayer

A person of belief who just didn’t care

 

Walking into church with pious ponderings

Distracted and annoyed by worldly wanderings

Mute I became to the Heavenly Host

No longer fearful of the Holy Ghost

 

I just wanted something real

Born of truth, minus my zeal

The silence ensued, to my dismay

God was absent from my everyday

 

Emptiness came and threatened me

But also peace that I was free

Of following tittles and jots of verse

Believing harder but feeling worse

 

Now just vacant of pious clutter

The window hidden behind the shutter

I settled in for an eternal choice

When all at once, I heard a voice

 

Soft and low, filled with insight

Common to my ear, sounding what’s right

It was the music of souls speaking nearby

Some who laughed and others who cried

 

So clear the feeling to my empty soul

Understandable to my half needing a whole

And then I knew God was always speaking

But I was too busy with my righteous seeking

 

To hear the song of my fellow-man

And perceive the meaning the best I can

God is not dead, just changed His location

To speak from the souls of every nation.

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Jesonian: Reasonable (Part 8) Priority … January 24th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jesonian hands

I am often reluctant to quote directly from the Good Book.

It is not due to a lack of respect or devotion to the volume. I would have a similar sensation about reading passages from Moby Dick if historically the Melville work had brought about horrific division and chaos.

But sometimes a particular passage from the Bible needs to be shared in its simplicity–and entirety–to point out how misunderstanding has driven us away from the consensus of what makes things good.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”

It is virtually impossible for a theologian to interpret that verse without adding his or her religious convictions, practices and pious overtones.

Yet it’s really quite simple. It’s divided into three sections:

  1. The kingdom of God.
  2. His righteousness.
  3. All these things.

To identify what these mean, you must have an awareness of the overall and abiding principles that are represented.

The kingdom of God is not a church, a belief system or a denominational approach to religion. Jesus made it clear that the kingdom of God is within us.

So the first step to establishing priority in our journey is to find ourselves.

The creation story tells us that God breathed into humans the breath of life and we became living souls. So if we can’t find that breath, we don’t know how to breathe. And all attempts we make to find the kingdom of God outside the confines of our own created space are not only futile, but often lead us in the wrong direction–trying to become sanctified without really being holy.

Here is the kingdom of God: I am happiest when I can be strong enough to help others.

  • We are not happy when we are weak.
  • We are not happy if we have sufficiency and choose selfishness.

The breath of God is the blessing of finding ourselves and then dispensing mercy to others.

We are told to seek this first.

Dare I say that many religious people are so riddled with insecurity and superstition that the only way they know how to express salvation to others is to load them down with guilt, intimidate them over their lifestyle, then stand back and judge their actions. It is a waste of time.

Get happy, be happy, and from that position of joy, find a way to make others happy.

Which brings us to His righteousness.

This is not my righteousness. This is not a general righteousness. This is God’s righteousness.

It doesn’t take too long in perusing the Good Book to discover that God is content when we grow in confidence so we can help others around us whom He would love to touch with His grace.

If you believe that God is stomping around Heaven, angry about the Ten Commandments being broken, you should probably read the Good Book a little more carefully.

“It’s not His will that any should perish, but that all come to repentance.”

Exactly.

Which brings us to the final thought: “all these things.”

While Wall Street and business tycoons try to figure out the secret to accumulating loot, the process is accessible. Satisfied souls who manifest a creative and passionate life become a magnet to material goods.

It’s just the way it works.

Everybody who chases money, fights for money or kills for money always ends up vanquished by those who are stronger. All the things we desire in life will be at our disposal when we find the breath so that we can breathe, become creative and allow our lives to be filled with passion.

So this little journey we have taken in the Gospel of Matthew is summed up best in this way to discover priority:

I will find the breath of God within me, which will enable me to breathe and become strong so I can help others. I do this because God has one great mission statement: help people. And in the process of finding my confidence, being creative and having a passionate life, the opportunity to gain what I need will be readily available.

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Ask Jonathots… October 8th, 2015

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I’m in a group of co-workers who play sports together–a great bunch of guys. Here’s the problem: one of the guys in the group lies to our boss at work all the time. He lies about being sick. He lies about relatives being sick. He lies to take unwarranted credit for work. He thinks that because we have this “sports connection” that no one would ever turn him in. So far no one has. I’m going to confront him about this. Suggestions on the best way to do it?

Here’s my suggestion on the best way to do it: don’t.

Any form of self-righteousness is actually doomed to failure, and truthfully, will prolong the evil you are trying to expose.

Built into the natural order is a system which protects us from destruction by unveiling the stupidity and mistakes of those who dare to ignore honest relationship.

In other words, it’s against the laws of nature to be a jerk.

Sometimes it takes a week for these individuals to be caught in their error, sometimes a year. But you will never successfully turn in a traitor or an offender and be considered anything less than a pious baby.

Here’s what I would suggest you do:

1. Make it clear to everyone, including him, that you are not party to deception.

2. Tell your friend that you will not judge him for his actions, but you will also not cover his butt if he gets caught.

3. Make sure that you are never at the scene of the crime.

In other words, proximity to his lies may actually convict you as a participant. When you know he is starting something ridiculous, step away.

4. Quietly leave a trail of sincerity and honesty at the feet of your boss so that if push comes to shove there will be no doubt as to your veracity.

Human beings make two major mistakes: they either give in to temptation and absorb the iniquity around them, or they foolishly think it’s their job to clean up the planet by pointing out all the sinfulness.

Don’t do either.

Believe me when I say that arrogance, indifference and deceit always get caught … and always get punished.

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